Style

The 4 Best Ammonia-Free Hair Dyes

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.

Closeup woman hands dyeing hair using black brush. Middle age woman colouring dark hair with gray roots at home
Shutterstock
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

Ammonia is a common hair dye ingredient — it’s what lifts the outer cuticle around the hair shaft to allow the color to set in. This process can cause your hair to be stripped of protein which leaves it prone to breakage. Luckily, if you color-treat your own hair, there are more ammonia-free hair coloring options than ever, and many of them also tout nourishing natural ingredients. Whether you’re searching for a permanent hair dye or a temporary dye you can use without bleach, the best ammonia-free hair dyes offer a gentler alternative for your hair and scalp than traditional at-home dyes.

Beyond just looking for dyes that claim to be ammonia-ree, those with more sensitive scalps will also want to look for hair dyes that are both ammonia-free and without paraphenylenediamine (PPD). PPD is a chemical substance that is commonly found in even the more natural permanent hair dyes, because it’s incredibly effective at creating long-lasting, natural-looking color — but it can cause everything from mild skin irritation to dermatitis and even hives in some people. Both the Clairol Natural Instincts and Light Mountain Natural hair dye picks below are notably free from PPD.

No matter what your hair or skin type, choosing hair dyes infused with nourishing ingredients is a smart move. That's why almost all of the dyes below are formulated with an added conditioning agents like coconut oil, flower oils, or keratin.

And, if you're looking for a hair dye that's also cruelty-free, paraben- and sulfate-free, or vegan, there's an option for you below as well. What's more, all of the at-home coloring kits below feature at least six different shades, with one pick featuring 34 hues. The best part: All of the coloring options below are $25 or less and highly rated on Amazon.

1

The Best Overall Ammonia-Free Permanent Hair Color

  • Available shades: 30, including ash blonde, fire red, golden chestnut, brown black, and ebony black

Naturtint Permanent Hair Color is formulated without ammonia, silicones, parabens, mineral oils, formaldehyde, artificial fragrances, gluten, and sodium lauryl sulfate. It also promises to be vegan-friendly, and Amazon shoppers give it a 4.5-star rating after more than 4,000 reviews. This plant-based, permanent hair dye uses organic plant and seed oils to naturally nourish and condition hair, and it guarantees long-lasting results. It’s ideal for all-over hair color, and it comes in 30 different shades.

According to one reviewer: “This is a wonderful product that I have used for years. It colors beautifully, lasts the full 30 days (to cover grey) and looks great. No need to subject your hair or your scalp to harsh chemicals when this does the job. It is worth the money.I wouldn't use anything else.”

2

The Best Drugstore Ammonia-Free Hair Dye

  • Available shades: 34, including a range of blondes, browns, reds, and blacks

Garnier Olia Ammonia-Free Hair Color is formulated with a 60% oil blend — with natural oils from sunflower, meadowfoam, passionflower, and camellia oleifera seed. It promises to deliver gorgeous color and even guarantees to leave your hair looking healthier and shinier after use. There's no harsh smell, either, and it's available in 34 shades.

According to one reviewer: “Highly recommended, I get massive headache and burning feel with ammonia! This is a perfect product for me, works great color come out nice!”

3

The Best Ammonia-Free Semi-Permanent Hair Color

  • Available shades: 37, including pecan, toasted almond, cherry red, rich plum, and black

The new-and-improved Clairol Natural Instincts is formulated without parabens, ammonia, or PPD. It also uses 80% natural ingredients, including conditioning aloe vera and coconut oil. This dermatologist-tested pick is available in 37 shades, and it promises to last for 28 washes. This dye comes in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging to boot, and thousands of Amazon shoppers give it a 4.5-star overall rating.

According to one reviewer: “I have used Natural Instincts numerous times over the years and I absolutely adore it - i am a hair model so my hair gets beat up regularly - die, dry, bleach, tint, teasing etc. This is the only hair color that i will use at home on myself... and because its non permeant and lacking ammonias, its gentle and does not interfere with hair in between my shoots.”

4

An Ammonia-Free Hair Dye That’s Also Cruelty-Free

This all-natural, U.S.-made hair dye is formulated with henna, and it’s free of ammonia, PPD, and peroxide. A product of Lotus Brands, Light Mountain Natural Hair Color & Conditioner is made with fair trade-certified botanicals, and it’s Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free as well. Amazon shoppers love this pick, giving it a 4.7-star overall rating with nearly 1,700 reviews weighing in.

This option is great for all-over hair color, and it comes in 16 shades including auburn, spicy cinnamon, dark brown, light red, and mahogany. The only downside is you’ll need to leave this dye on for a few hours to achieve maximum results.

According to one reviewer: “I've been using this product for approximately 10 years. I love that it is all natural. It can be messy, and it will stain things if you drip on it. Use an old towel for a few washes after because it will stain the towel. My daughter actually tried it for the first time last month and was impressed at how healthy her hair feels. I very fine hair but this product really helps my hair stay healthy. No ammonia smells. No fired hair. I love this stuff!”