When it comes to coloring hair at home, there can be a lot of highs and a lot of lows—and choosing the right dye can mean the difference between a glossy, gorgeous new shade or a color that you hate and a bathtub stained black.
Almost anyone who has become an expert at dyeing their own hair will tell you a semi-permanent hair color is the way to go. Semi-permanent allows for natural color changes without extensive damage or commitment beyond 28 washes. Because they don’t contain bleach or lifting agents, you can’t use semi-permanent dyes to dramatically lighten your hair—your best bet is to stay within the range of your natural hair color by two or three shades. Whether it’s your first time DIYing your hair color or you’re a seasoned at-home dyeing pro, one of these formulas is bound to be the best semi-permanent hair color for you.
Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color
For super-gentle color that won’t compromise even fragile hair, Natural Instincts is your best bet. It’s formulated with aloe, vitamin E, and coconut oil—without ammonia. In 23 liquid shades and eight rich creme colors, there are tons of options to choose from, and it only takes 10 minutes to get the job done. Plus, the included Color Treat conditioner is so good, we wish we could buy it without the box.
L’Oréal Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color
L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi Permanent Hair Color only lasts about 4-10 shampoos, but that just allows you to experiment with all their fun pastel colors. Colorista has 7 bright shades designed for light blonde/bleached hair and 4 shades with a hint of color designed for brunettes, no bleach required.
John Frieda Precision Foam Hair Color
If this is your first time coloring your hair at home, a foam dye like this one is a great choice for ease of use—there’s no dripping, it’s a cinch to apply evenly, and there’s just less to worry about. For boosting your color and keeping it looking fresher for longer, incorporate John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss in between regular colorings.
Originally published November 2015. Updated July 2017.