Best Hair Dyes
Want a bold new look without paying a fortune in salon fees? At-home box dyes could be your holy grail to affordable and great-looking hair colour. Learn more about different hair dyes and what to look out for.
The world’s fastest hair toner, this product works in as quickly as 10 seconds to provide you with shiny blonde hair, free of brassy tones.
No peroxide or ammonia
Effective at neutralising brassy tones
Quick to apply
Vegan & cruelty-free
Very concentrated formula that can turn hair purple if you use too much
- Value for Money5.0 (3)
- Ease of Application5.0 (3)
JoBaz Hair Dye Remover · includes 2 listings
Hair dyeing troubles? No need to fret, this nifty product has a formula which can undo a recent disappointing dye job or years of dye build-up to reveal your natural hair colour.
A lot of rinsing is required to work properly
- Value for Money4.0 (5)
- Ease of Application4.7 (7)
Naturtint · includes 17 listings
Made of organic ingredients, Naturtint’s permanent hair dye provides full grey coverage and leaves your hair feeling shiny and soft.
No ammonia or parabens
Full grey coverage
Variety of shades
L'Oreal Casting Creme Gloss · includes 35 listings
Looking for colour without the commitment? L'Oreal’s semi-permanent hair dye collection can give you a glossy and natural finish without the use of ammonia.
Semi-permanent and lasts up to 28 washes
Leaves hair looking shiny
- Value for Money3.0 (32)
- Ease of Application4.1 (30)
This blue-based toner is used to tackle unwanted orange and gold tones in bleached hair. With no ammonia or peroxide, it is suitable for those with sensitive skin.
Contains no ammonia or peroxide
Can stain hair blue
- Value for Money1.6 (11)
- Ease of Application3.6 (12)
The last few years have seen the world take on many different hair trends from beachy balayages to Billie Eilish-inspired neon green roots. It’s no wonder you might be inspired to try something new with your hair or perhaps just maintain your roots and banish your greys. No matter the case, there is a dye on the market to help you achieve your goals.
Types of hair dyes
There are a wide variety of hair dyes available to suit your hair, the look you’re going for and the occasion. Each category of hair dye functions differently on a chemical level. Temporary dyes and colours do not penetrate the hair at the follicle but sit on top of it until it is eventually washed away. Permanent hair dyes use peroxide and other chemicals to sink into the hair at the shaft and change the composition of your hair permanently.
Temporary hair colour and wash out colour
These are usually synonyms for each other. As the name suggests, they are temporary and usually come out within 1-2 washes. Because they work by staining the hair instead of changing the composition of your hair, they come in many versatile forms such as chalks, sprays, mascaras and pastes.
Temporary hair dyes can be useful for parties, dress-up events, quickly brushing up greys or roots, weekends getaways or for testing colours on your hair before committing to them.
Because they only deposit colour and do not lift the colour on your head, your hair must already be light enough for them to have any great visible effect - those with light blonde or bleached hair can easily use these products.
Semi-permanent vs. demi-permanent hair colour
Continuing from temporary hair colours, there are other options if you wish to keep your new hair colour for longer than 1-2 days but not alter your hair colour permanently.
is one step up from a wash out colour and normally lasts around 3-6 washes or 1-2 weeks. The molecules of semi-permanent hair dye are large and therefore, do not penetrate the hair but act as a stain in the cuticle layer. Semi-permanent dyes can be used to add a refreshing layer of colour to dull hair and to make them appear softer and shinier.
Demi-permanent hair dyes last longer, typically for 24-30 washes or 4-6 weeks depending on the brand and type. They are most suitable for those looking for a more long-term hair change without the use of harsh chemicals such as peroxides or ammonia. Demi-permanent hair dyes can also be used to tone bleached blonde hair.
Toners are either low in ammonia or ammonia-free and are suitable for use on damaged hair. They do use a lifting agent (peroxide), however, to gently lighten the hair. Be careful to follow the instructions on the box carefully as over toning can stain very light blonde hair a blue or purple tone.
If this happens, use a clarifying shampoo and wash it a few times to rinse out the colour. Toners are temporary and usually last between 2-6 weeks.
Permanent hair colour
For the deepest colour deposit and the longest-lasting results, permanent hair dye is the go-to choice. These dyes use ammonia to enter the shaft of the hair, hydrogen peroxide to remove the natural colour of your hair and the dyes which can enter the hair shaft and infuse it with the new colour.
What colour to dye your hair
When choosing a colour for your hair, you should first consider your natural hair colour and which shades you could achieve realistically with minimal damage to your hair. Most hairdressers would recommend going 2-3 shades lighter or darker than your natural shade for the best results. You can also use the colour chart which is provided in many box dye packs to compare against your skin tone and decide on the best fit.
Types of dye placements and colouring techniques
There are many different ways to style and dye your hair, some people prefer to have a one-toned natural colour applied, however, others prefer to experiment with multiple shades and placements. There are many techniques and terms floating around like ‘babylights’ and ‘wetlights’, but they all typically fall into one of these following categories:
Full head - one colour
This involves dyeing the entirety of the hair in a uniform colour and is a popular choice among many who want to maintain a natural look but simply go a few shades lighter or darker. If you have dark hair and would like to go down 1 or 2 shades without using bleach, you should consider using a permanent box dye since they contain subtle lightening agents.
The full head of colour method is also suitable for those with light hair who want to change their look entirely with a bold, funky colour. Most box dyes can get you this look, provided you are starting with a light base, as it is very simple to apply evenly over the head and get a unified finish.
Full head - split hair dye
A split hair dye is also an achievable look that you can get right at home. It will require sectioning your hair into 2 (or more) parts and applying different coloured dyes to each section of your hair. This look has become particularly popular among the younger crowd with the popularisation of it through TikTok and Gen-Z celebrities.
As your hair grows, the roots will emerge in your natural hair colour, therefore to maintain the look, many people require a root touch up. This can come in the form of all the aforementioned dye products including a hair mascara, paste, cream or permanent hair dye. If your roots are darker than your dyed hair, then you will need to bleach them first before applying a matching hair dye.
Half head of highlights
Partial highlights can be used to frame the face and lighten the area around it. It leads to a very subtle and natural look. An ombre involves dyeing the bottom half of the hair whilst leaving the roots well alone. There are many highlighting kits available in stores but should only really be attempted at home if you know what you’re doing or have an experienced friend to help you. Otherwise, it’s worth heading to the salon for the best results.
Full head of highlights
Under this category falls highlights, lowlights, wetlights, babylights and all the forms of the balayage. They aim to portray a natural sun-kissed and multi-tonal effect by using dark and light colours to mimic the way the hair changes colour over time in the sun. The lighter parts are achieved using bleach which, in large quantities over a short time, may lead to hair breakage. Since even a professional hairdresser would have trouble achieving this look on themselves at home, it’s worth putting the box dye away and going to a salon for this one.
For those looking to maintain their professionally done balayage, many toners and purple shampoos are available to keep your lightened hair pieces from turning brassy.
Things to consider when buying hair dye products
Box dyes, are for the most part, very safe given that you follow the instructions accurately, but it’s worth checking the ingredients list to see if you may have an allergy to something in it. Even if you can’t spot anything, it’s useful to do a patch test to gauge your skin’s reaction to the harsh chemicals. Wash away colours and semi-permanent dyes do not have harsh chemicals in them and therefore do not require a patch test, but anything with a lifting agent does.
If you have sensitive skin or are simply worried about hair damage, you should consider using a hair dye with organic ingredients. While they may not last as long, they will be far less damaging to your hair.
Parabens, or preservatives, are often found in many beauty products, but there has been debate as to the safety of them. It’s better to be on the safe side and avoid this ingredient where possible.
Hair dyes with a vegan or cruelty-free stamp are something you might want to opt for if you are concerned about animal rights.
Ammonia is a common ingredient in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes as it opens the hair shaft, allowing the dyes to seep in. However, it can be very harsh on your hair and lead to split ends, loss of protein and damaged hair cuticles. For those with sensitive scalps and already damaged hair, choosing an ammonia-free hair dye could be very beneficial.