The Best Hair Dyes For Keratin-Treated Hair

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Keratin treatments come with a lot of rules. During the three-day developing process after your treatment, you can't pull your hair back into an updo (or any style that might cause dents), you can't wash your hair, and you can't even get your hair wet (which is pretty unfortunate if it happens to be raining). But what about dyeing your hair? To find out, Elite Daily turned to Nikki Lee, colorist and co-owner of Nine Zero One salon in Los Angeles, who says that the best hair dyes for keratin-treated hair (when going the DIY route) are ammonia-free formulas. But most important of all is when you dye your hair. "Typically, you should color before the keratin, but if you must color after the keratin treatment, wait at least two weeks," Lee says, explaining that dyeing your hair before the two-week mark can interfere with the setting process of your keratin treatment. While this is a pretty universal rule, Lee notes that there are different types of keratin treatments, which may come with their own set of rules. "Always make sure to ask your stylist what the manufacturer's instructions are for the product they're using," she stresses. Additionally, Lee shares that you'll want to check all of your hair products for sulfates, which can strip the keratin from your hair. "Ammonia-free color and sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner are more gentle and will help the keratin to last," she says.

The Expert

Nikki Lee is a Los Angeles-based colorist who specializes in blonde and multi-dimensional hair color. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Nine Zero One salon, as well as the hair care line, In Common. Lee's ever-growing list of celebrity clients includes Selena Gomez, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Duff. She currently serves as the Garnier celebrity colorist.

The Tools You’ll Need

Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need to properly dye your hair at home. Your boxed dye might come with some tools, but you'll want to be sure you have the following essentials on hand:

  • Clips to section off your hair as your work.
  • Gloves to prevent any staining on your hands.
  • Vaseline to apply along your hairline to prevent staining.
  • A small plastic mixing bowl and brush for mixing and applying the dye.
  • Two boxes of dye (if your hair is shoulder-length or longer, or if you have thick hair).
  • A button-front shirt or other old loungewear you don't mind getting stained (plus, garbage bags or old newspapers to cover the surrounding floor and counter surfaces).

How To Dye Your Own Hair

You'll always want to read through the directions for your specific hair dye before you get started (including completing a strand test in advance), and many companies even post complete how-to videos on their social media channels that you might find helpful. Once you're ready to apply the color (making sure to wait those two weeks post-keratin treatment if you're dyeing your hair after), Lee recommends you begin by sectioning your hair (which should always be dry when dyeing, FYI). "Part hair down the middle, and then separate into four sections — two in the front and two in the back," Lee says. "Then, take ¼-inch subsections and apply color from the roots to the ends," continues Lee, who says that you may need some extra assistance when you get to the back of your hair. "Comb through each section after applying the color to help with saturation," she adds. After you've applied the color and waited the recommended time on the box, wash your hair thoroughly (finishing with the conditioner that comes with your dye), and you're all set.

Shop The Best Hair Dyes For Keratin-Treated Hair

In a hurry? Here are the best hair dyes for keratin-treated hair:

  1. Best Permanent Hair Dye For Keratin-Treated Hair: Garnier Olia Ammonia-Free Hair Color
  2. Best Permanent, Fragrance-Free Hair Dye: Naturtint Permanent Hair Color
  3. Best Hair Dye For Root Touch-Ups: Madison Reed Root Touch Up Kit
  4. Best Demi-Permanent Hair Dye: Clairol Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Color
  5. Best Range Of Bold Colors: Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color

1. The Pro's Pick: Best Permanent Hair Dye For Keratin-Treated Hair

This Garnier Olia Ammonia-Free Hair Color gets Lee's top pick because of its oil-infused formula. To encourage softer, shinier hair, the colorant uses a combination of vitamin- and fatty acid-rich oils, including castor oil, sunflower seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, and camellia seed oil. In addition to being formulated without ammonia, the dye is also free from silicones, parabens, and phthalates. Plus, it's a cruelty-free and vegan option with more than 10,000 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers.

Type: Permanent Available Shades: 30 What’s Included: Developer, Colorant, After-Color Conditioner, Gloves Cruelty-Free: Yes

2. Best Permanent, Fragrance-Free Hair Dye

If you're sensitive to synthetic fragrances (and harsh chemical smells from ingredients like ammonia), try this Naturtint Permanent Hair Color. The cruelty-free and vegan dye contains 92% botanical ingredients, including meadowfoam seed oil and hydrolyzed wheat, oat, soy, and corn proteins to simultaneously condition and color hair. Naturtint's after-color conditioner is also packed with nourishing ingredients like hydrolyzed quinoa, shea butter, and vitamin E, which the brand says will give your color a glossier finish.

Type: Permanent Available Shades: 35 What’s Included: Developer, Colorant, After-Color Conditioner, Gloves Cruelty-Free: Yes

3. Best Hair Dye For Root Touch-Ups

Even if you stick to root touch-ups only at home, those same rules about waiting two weeks after your keratin treatment still apply. Madison Reed’s Root Touch Up Kit gives you everything you need for two full applications, including all of your coloring tools (gloves, mixing bowl, and brush). Because it's a permanent color, the touch-up kit will completely cover unwanted roots, and the color cream is formulated with ingredients like argan oil and hydrolyzed keratin to further strengthen and smooth your hair.

Type: Permanent Available Shades: 7 What’s Included: Color Activator, Color Cream, After-Color Mask, Gloves, Mixing Bowl, Application Brush Cruelty-Free: Yes

4. Best Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

If you're dyeing your hair a shade that's close to its natural color or darker, consider a demi-permanent option like Clairol Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Color. The ammonia-free color is still capable of covering unwanted roots, but it won't lift or lighten your hair the same way a permanent dye can (which also makes it less likely to damage your hair). Clairol's color cream and after-color mask use ingredients like coconut oil and aloe vera to leave hair moisturized and soft, and the formula has more than 13,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.

Type: Demi-Permanent Available Shades: 42 What’s Included: Color Activator, Color Cream, After-Color Conditioner Cruelty-Free: No

5. Best Range Of Bold Colors

Unlike its longer-lasting permanent and demi-permanent counterparts, semi-permanent hair dye sits on the surface of your hair. The good news is that semi-permanent formulas are less damaging to your hair's health, but the bad news is they don't last all that long (you'll likely experience color fade from the first shampoo). For anyone wanting to keep their bold color fresh between salon appointments or to add a temporary pop of color to their hair, Arctic Fox’s Semi-Permanent Hair Color gives you dozens of neon and pastel shades to play with. Cruelty-free and vegan, Arctic Fox's at-home dyes infuse hair with conditioning ingredients as they deposit vivid color, with the shade range including everything from neon green to eggplant purple.

Type: Semi Permanent Available Shades: 26 What’s Included: Color Cruelty-Free: Yes


Nikki Lee, colorist, co-owner of Nine Zero One, and Garnier celebrity colorist.