The Best Purple Hair Dyes For Dark Hair

Hollywood’s top celebrity colorist spills on the types of purple hair dyes to use — and avoid — if you have brown or black hair.

Written by Marissa DeSantis
Elite Daily/Amazon
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

If you have brown hair, you probably already know that experimenting with rainbow-bright colors is better left to blondes. After all, unless you’re willing to bleach your hair first (a time-consuming and damaging process that requires the help of a pro), cotton candy pastels and neon dyes aren’t likely to even show up. But if you want to dye your hair purple, the good news is that it’s not completely out of the question. Celebrity colorist Nikki Lee assures Elite Daily that purple hair dye can work for darker hair tones, too. According to Lee, the best purple hair dyes for dark hair will be deeper purple colors that don’t require bleaching your hair first. “It will be more of a purple hue rather than a bright neon or pastel purple,” Lee says. “But if you have darker hair, only dark purple will show up unless you bleach the hair first.” When choosing a purple dye, you can opt for deep, cool-toned violets or warmer plum shades that will give you a Burgundy-purple finish. For more on what types of dyes to use, and tips on how to color your own hair at home, keep reading.

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.

Other Things To Consider

Depending on how long you want your color to last (and your level of expertise), you can choose between a permanent and semi-permanent hair dye. “A permanent hair color will lift the natural color first and then deposit color, which will permanently stay in the hair,” Lee explains of permanent box dyes.

You’ll typically be left with color that lasts anywhere from six to eight weeks, which most people prefer. But the ammonia and hydrogen peroxide often used in permanent dyes can also weaken and dry out your hair, which is why it’s important to look for dyes that contain conditioning ingredients. (Also, try to limit heat styling and always use heat protectants to properly care for your hair.) “Permanent color has more of a harsh grow-out line of demarcation,” Lee adds, noting that you’ll need to be more diligent about touch-ups. “Semi-permanent color just deposits color on top of the hair, which will slowly wash out over time,” Lee says.

With semi-permanent dyes, how often you wash your hair will determine how long the color lasts (usually no more than a few weeks), but they do tend to be gentler on hair and less high maintenance.

Tips For Dyeing Your Hair At Home

Before you get started, you’ll want to thoroughly read the directions that come with your hair dye and do a strand test. “Doing a strand test is always a good idea to make sure that you like the color and that your hair doesn’t have a bad reaction,” Lee says.

You’ll also want to have a few tools on hand to make the job easier. Whether you go for permanent or semi-permanent color, most at-home dyes just come with the basics (color and developer for permanent dye and color for semi-permanent dye). But you may also want to invest in some clips to section off your hair, gloves to prevent staining your hands, Vaseline to prevent staining along your hairline, and a small plastic bowl and brush for mixing and applying the dye.

“Always section the hair into four sections and then quarter-inch subsections to keep the application clean and ensure saturation,” Lee advises of how to color your hair at home. “Also, always use a comb to comb through each section after applying,” she adds. Beyond that, you’ll want to consider buying two boxes of dye if your hair is particularly long or thick, and don’t forget to properly prep your station to avoid getting stains on your clothes and countertops.

Shop The Best Purple Hair Dyes For Dark Hair

In a hurry? Here are the best purple hair dyes for dark hair:

  1. Best Permanent Cool-Toned Purple Hair Dye: L’Oréal Paris Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color in V28 Midnight Violet
  2. Best Permanent Warm-Toned Purple Hair Dye: Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color in V2 Dark Intense Violet
  3. Best Semi-Permanent Cool-Toned Purple Hair Dye: Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color in Purple AF
  4. Best Semi-Permanent Warm-Toned Purple Hair Dye: Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Full Coverage in Pony
  5. Best Purple Color-Depositing Conditioner: Overtone Purple For Brown Hair Coloring Conditioner

1. Best Permanent Cool-Toned Purple Hair Dye

For a true violet color that shows up on light brown to black hair colors, try the V28 Midnight Violet shade from L’Oréal Paris’ Feria line. To give the color more dimension, the box comes with a shimmer serum (designed to be mixed in with the developer and color cream) that’s packed with sunflower seed oil and coconut oil for maximum shine. The formula is a permanent hair dye for longer-lasting color, and the kit comes with everything you need to DIY — from gloves and dye to post-color shampoo and conditioner.

Type: Permanent What’s Included: Gloves, Color Crème, Developer Crème, Shimmer Serum, Conditioning Shampoo, Shimmer Conditioner, Color Booster Cruelty-Free: No

Relevant Review: “My favorite brand for a deep purple hair color. I have dark brown hair, and this color adds a beautiful purple hue that’s just subtle enough.”

2. Best Permanent Warm-Toned Purple Hair Dye

Lee is partial to the Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color line (she does work with the brand, after all), and notes that there are several purple shades for darker hair that don’t require any bleaching. The Dark Intense Violet shade received multiple five-star ratings from Amazon reviewers who reported that it gave a Burgundy-purple tone to their dark brown hair. To minimize damage from the permanent color, the box comes with an ampoule of nourishing grape seed oil. Plus, the color cream is infused with grape seed oil and sunflower seed oil, while the rinse-out conditioner is packed with nourishing avocado, olive, and soybean oils.

Type: Permanent What’s Included: Color Crème, Developer Crème, Fruit Oil Ampoule, After-Color Mask Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I really liked the color. It was definitely good if you have medium-brown hair and you want to actually see the color and not just in sunlight. Smell was nice and not over-powering. Did not burn either.”

3. Best Semi-Permanent Cool-Toned Purple Hair Dye

For anyone testing purple hair out for the first time (or who’s just opposed to a six-week commitment), opt for a semi-permanent dye. Arctic Fox’s Semi-Permanent Hair Color in Purple AF gives you a tint of cool violet color without any harsh chemicals like peroxide or ammonia. Instead, the cruelty-free and vegan dye contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and hydrolyzed soy protein. The coloring process is similar to that of a permanent color, except the brand recommends prepping your hair by washing it first with shampoo only, then drying it completely before applying the dye.

Type: Semi-Permanent What’s Included: Color (8 oz.) Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I didn’t figure my hair would be very purple because I’m naturally dark brown. This is the most purple I’ve ever been able to get my hair…I love it!”

4. Best Semi-Permanent Warm-Toned Purple Hair Dye

Another semi-permanent option that’s cruelty-free and vegan, Lime Crime’s Unicorn Hair Full Coverage in Pony is perfect for anyone who prefers a warmer, red-toned purple shade. Among the thousands of rave reviews on Amazon, many reviewers reported that the dye has a sweet, citrus-vanilla scent, and it also contains glycerin and hydrolyzed baobab extract to keep hair moisturized and soft. To help prevent the color from fading too fast, try washing your hair with cool water and always use a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo. (You may also want to check out some of these tips for making semi-permanent hair dye last longer.)

Type: Semi-Permanent What’s Included: Color (6.76 oz.) Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “My young daughter has been wanting to dye her hair, but I didn’t want to use harsh chemicals on her fragile hair! This stuff though is great…smells delightful, stayed in for about three weeks. […] But the best part is that it did not damage her hair at all. I honestly think it made her hair softer than it was! She also has darker brown hair and this color still showed perfectly!”

5. Best Purple Color-Depositing Conditioner

For an option that’s practically foolproof and also happens to be ultra-nourishing, try a pigmented conditioner that works by simply depositing color onto your hair. The Overtone Purple For Brown Hair Coloring Conditioner was formulated specifically for darker hair colors, and it contains a mix of moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba seed oil, and avocado oil. You can use the color-depositing conditioner on wet or dry hair (though dry hair will give you bolder results), and reapply it when you want more color.

Type: Semi-Permanent What’s Included: Color (8 oz.) Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “First time I found a product I liked that gave me the purple hair I wanted without having to think about bleaching my brown hair. Super easy to use with a fresh scent. Two days later and my hair still feels nice and not dried out from the dye. I have long hair that goes to my lower back and one container was enough to cover my whole head. […]”


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