The 5 Least-Damaging Box Hair Dyes

It can be scary the first time you try to dye your hair at home, especially if you're already dealing with dry or damaged tresses. It gets easier as you get used to it, and your hair can actually turn out silkier as long as you invest in the least-damaging box hair dyes. The ingredient that tends to be so harsh on your hair is ammonia, so frankly, the less ammonia in a product, the better. When searching for a gentle hair dye, be sure to read the box and check for an ammonia-free formula. The dyes that do the least damage have very low or no ammonia in their formula to preserve your hair's natural shine.

You also want to look for products that are infused with "extras" to help your locks recover. Be on the lookout for soothing ingredients like keratin or silk extracts that will smooth out your hair and nourish it after dying. There are even some conditioner hair dyes out there that actually do condition your hair while tinting the color.

And, as with any at-home hair dye, you'll do the least damage to your hair if you follow the instructions carefully. Thankfully, most box dyes have clear instructions for how to safely use them.

No matter which product you go with, you also have to consider your personal style. Here's a round-up of some of the least-damaging hair dyes for any style.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


Best Overall, All Things Considered: Revlon Colorsilk Beautiful Color

That's right, you can snag this luxe hair dye for only $3. Not only is the price amazing, but thousands of reviewers swear this dye is both really effective and gentle on your hair. This highly pigmented dye is infused with both silk extracts and keratin to soothe color-treated tresses. There's also no ammonia in this non-drip formula, so you can feel confident knowing your hair will come out silkier than before you dyed it. This comes in more than 40 different shades and has the backing of nearly a thousand Amazon reviewers.

According to one reviewer: "Back when I just colored to cover grays I used Colorsilk, so I thought I would give one of their light blondes a try and I'm so glad I did! My hair is softer and actually looks and feels like hair again (bye-bye, crispy straw strands!), and there is now dimension to my color. Even though I'm naturally auburn, this blonde is so multi-tonal and convincing that it could be mistaken for my natural color."


Runner-Up: Garnier Olia Ammonia-Free Permanent Hair Color

Another best-seller, this silky hair dye uses the power of real flower oils to nourish your locks during and after the dye process. There's no ammonia in this product, and the unique oil blends make up 60% of the total formula, making this dye safe for all types of hair. And bonus: It also features a no-drip formula so you can dye at home without worrying about staining your bathroom.

According to one reviewer: "I was afraid to dye my very damaged hair that I had accidentally over lightened. It wouldn't tone at all and I wanted to just go back to my natural color, I thought I'd give this a shot and lucky for me it worked like a charm and if anything my hair feels nicer than it did before. I'm so so glad I tried this, I got exactly the color I wanted. I'll never use another hair color brand again!"


Best For Natural-Looking Highlights: L'Oréal Paris Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color

Even though this multi-tonal hair dye does have ammonia in its formula, hundreds of Amazon reviewers insisted that this is an excellent choice for creating subtle highlights, without having to resort to using more-damaging bleach. The key is in the blend of a unique multidimensional dye and the "color shimmer" conditioner. This conditioner literally makes your hair sparkle and shine, and the kit comes with enough that you can use it even after dying to soothe damaged hair. Plus, this kit comes in over 50 shades, so you can find the perfect highlight-base color combo.

According to one reviewer: "This is the most awesome product I have ever used! It actually lightens your hair several shades without getting that brassy look or without bringing out the red in my hair. My hair actually looks light brown with some blonde highlights, and I did not need to use a highlighter! L'Oreal has found a magical product. This product also makes your hair very shiny. It is worth every penny."


Best For Touch-Ups: L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Rescue

If you just need to cover your roots, this touch-up kit is the perfect solution. The dye itself is low-ammonia and comes out as a gel that actually clings to your roots without dripping. This kit also comes with a soft-bristled brush that you can use to pull through your hair without getting any dye on your fingertips. And even though the dye is already gentle to begin with, this kit makes it possible to only color grown-out hair, saving the rest of your tresses from more damage. This dye comes in 17 different colors, so you can find the perfect match for your hair.

According to one reviewer: "I get salon highlights every 12 weeks. Tried this in a pinch since I had two events and no time to do professional job. Product was very easy to use. Mixed and applied within a few minutes and left on for about 8 minutes. One bottle did my whole head and some to spare. Results were amazing and very natural. I highly recommend this product and would use it again."


Best For Bright Colors: Punky Semi Permanent Conditioning Hair Color

For a semi-permanent color that lasts a long time, this cream conditioner dye is an absolute must. For one, comes in a ton of fun, eye-popping colors that last for up to 40 washes. The dye itself also doubles as a luxe conditioner that actually nourishes your hair while it's recoloring it. On top of that, the formula is paraben- and ammonia-free, so it won't further damage your hair when you decide it's time to reapply.

According to one reviewer: "This product worked really nicely on my hair. I did not bleach it before using it and my natural hair color is light brown. It worked even without bleaching. Just darker than it would be if I had been blonde or bleached.The smell was good, smelled like sweet grapes. [N]ow it’s been a month since then and there’s still some color left."