Once upon a time, if you wanted to change the color of your hair, you were at the mercy of a drugstore box dye brand or a hairdresser using dyes that were, more than likely, not cruelty-free and/or were filled with animal-derived ingredients. But the best vegan hair dyes available today are quality formulas that come in a wide variety of shades, from natural to daring. And, as more of us make the switch to vegan or are simply becoming more conscious of the ways animals are sometimes harmed for the benefit of beauty, the demand for vegan hair dyes that actually work has only increased.
Cruelty-free vegan hair dyes are often vegetable-based dyes, like henna, that come in temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent formulas. Some of these dyes contain good-for-your hair ingredients like essential oils and cocoa butter that can actually make your hair look even more lush and shiny (as opposed to brittle and dry), and many are free of ammonia and yucky, dehydrating chemicals. If you search long enough, you'll even find a few vegan dye brands that boast eco-friendly and recyclable packaging. You'll be able to gift the planet with beautiful and thoughtful hair color.
Whether you're looking for a solid chestnut brown vegan dye or unicorn hair dye shades like Pony Purple, these 10 vegan hair dyes will satisfy your color desires and deliver impressive results that will convince you to make the switch, for good.
1. Permanent Vegan Hair Color That Covers Grays
Lots of semi-permanent vegan hair dyes are great for delivering a hint of pretty color, but aren't as effective in coloring grey hair. This permanent vegan hair dye provides vibrant color without ammonia, parabens, and alcohol and gets rid of greys in a flash. It's a gel dye that comes in 25 natural shades that range from platinum blonde to black with myriad brown, red, and blonde shades in between. Reviewers say the color lasts a long time and is very gentle.
2. A Semi-Permanent Henna Hair Dye That Strengthens Hair
A lot of reviewers say they have made the switch to henna hair creams after experiencing allergic reactions from dye. This plant-based formula stands out because it is rich with essential oils like ylang ylang and rose, which leave hair soft and shiny, covers grey, and makes hair appear and feel thicker.
While a lot of other hennas come in powder form and require that you do a little bit of mixing to achieve great color, this is a cream that's ready to go. You may need to free up some time while applying it, though: more than a few reviewers report getting excellent and rich results after leaving the color in their hair to penetrate for 60 minutes to up to three hours. You can find an array of mostly deep and golden brown, black, and red shades.
3. An Award-Winning Semi-Permanent Dye That Smells Amazing
This semi-permanent vegan hair dye won the 2017 Libby Award for best vegan hair dye and it's not difficult to see why it came out on top. All of its highly-pigmented and vibrant shades are free of formaldehyde, PPD, and parabens, plus they're mixable, so you can snag a tube of black to create darker tones or add a touch of Fader and add it to you color to produce a pastel shade, allowing you to customize your look. Sunflower extracts and soothing bergamot essential oils add nourishment and conditioning to your hair. Be aware though that the color will stain — and though it can temporarily color them, it isn't the best solution for greys.
4. A Vegan Botanical Formula That Conditions Hair
This 100 percent bontanical hair color conditions your hair while you color. Aside from the hair dye, the kit also includes a hat and gloves, so you don't wind up coloring your neck and hands, too. And, this adorably-packaged henna-based hair color is recommended by The Safe Shopper's Bible: A Consumer's Guide to Nontoxic Household Products, Cosmetics, and Food.
5. A Henna Powder Formula That Comes In 13 Natural Shades
Boost your hair's volume and create an intense shine that lasts for weeks with this natural henna powder, which comes in 10 shades (all of which are in the warm red and brown family, because henna has its limitations when it comes to hues). This powder is free of parabens, peroxide, and ammonia, and it's cruelty-free, too, giving you a bold, gorgeous color without any chemicals. The addition of natural herbs like amla and neem powder provide conditioning effects that help strengthen each strand.
One thing to be aware of when using henna for the first time: You may not always get the exact shade on the box. Factors including your hair's natural color and undertones and any dye you've previously applied can affect the final results.
6. A Permanent Vegan Hair Dye With A Shine-Boosting Formula
This dairy-free, vegan hair color is free of ammonia and parabens and comes in 19 natural shades. Reviewers say it does a great job of covering greys without "stinky chemicals," but that you may need to follow up with an additional conditioning treatment, because the formula can be drying on some hair types.
One factor that makes this hair color stand out is that it has added certified-natural oils and extracts like jojoba oil, grapefruit peel oil, and lemon peel extract. These oils condition hair and revive its shine so that, in addition to changing or freshening up your color, you hair will look, feel, and be healthier than before.
7. A Semi-Permanent Unicorn Hair Dye That Won't Damage Hair
Want unicorn hair but always assumed the trade-off for achieving crazy, bold color was breakage and dry hair? Lime Crime's unicorn hair color line is gently, won't damage your hair, and requires no toner or developer. It washes out after several shampoos — so no commitment is required if you decide you want to make the switch from "Salad" (an intense green) to Chocolate Cherry. The color requires no DIY-ing on your part: open the jar and apply.
It's important to note that Lime Crime provides two formulas: tint, which is lighter and will really only show up if you already have blonde or light hair, and full coverage, a more pigmented range of shades that can work in most hair colors.
8. A Cult-Favorite Vegan Hair Dye Available in 51 Bright Colors
The OG of semi-permanent crazy hair color cream remains Manic Panic, a 100 percent Vegan brand that fades with each shampoo. If you have light hair, you could get lucky and wind up with a vibrant color that sticks around for eight weeks, but those with darker hair will have to either bleach their hair first or be content with a few pretty highlights that will likely fade faster.
When it comes to hair shade options, few have Manic Panic beat. This brand gives you an incredible 51 shade options — from watercolor pastels to intense "High Voltage" hues like purple and Cleo Rose — and the world of color is truly your oyster when you choose this brand.
9. A Long-Lasting Dye That Comes in Tons of Vibrant Shades
This cruelty-free, PPD-free, and vegan hair dye comes in 21 super vibrant shades like lagoon blue and apple green and is scoring major points among reviewers because they last a much longer time than some of their competitors (expect color to last for about 25 washes). These semi-permanent shades are rich, highly pigmented and, unlike many other dyes, are actually hydrating and will help make strands softer. The dye can be super messy though, so be careful to cover the area where you apply it with towels or old shirts and to be patient and apply it slowly.
10. 10. A Colorful Chemical-Free Dye That's Safe For Sensitive Scalps
If there's a way to actually condition hair while coloring it a vibrant shade like Virgin Pink or Sunset Orange, that would be a great thing, right? That's pretty much the magic behind Arctic Fox vegan semi permanent dyes, which are long lasting, contain added non-gmo protein conditioners, and have zero ammonia and peroxide. These dyes are designed so that they smear and bleed less, something your poor white towels will appreciate, and with every purchase, 15 percent of profits are donated to help prevent animal abuse.
The color fades with each shampoo and you can expect to need a refresh after about six weeks. Choose from among 14 shades, most of which are super bright and punchy.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.