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The Best Vegan Hair Dyes

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Whether you're vegan, committed to using products that are entirely cruelty-free, or simply looking for a less harsh way to color your hair at home, a vegan hair dye is what you'll need. The best vegan hair dyes are still effective when it comes to results, but, "What makes professional color lines vegan is that no animal-derived ingredients are ever used," explains Vinzar, co-founder and master colorist of The Clean Beauty Lab, a vegan salon and hair care line. "These brands never test their products on animals, and they promise to never sell their products to countries who insist on animal testing," he says, adding that vegan hair dye brands should be recognized by animal welfare organizations like PETA. According to colorist and Mezkla salon founder Lizbeth Vargas, vegan hair dyes also tend to be gentler on hair. "Most hair dye contains some form of protein in the color, however, vegan hair dye substitutes keratin for plant-based protein," she explains. "The plant protein has little to no effect on the overall visual end result of the color, but the vegan formulas are less harsh than non-vegan dyes so there is less damage," she says, adding that "when hair is damaged, it becomes porous and won't hold color as long."

The Experts

Vinzar is a New York City-based hair colorist with over a decade of professional experience. He co-founded The Clean Beauty Lab, a vegan salon in NYC, which has developed a vegan hair care line. Vinzar serves as the salon's master colorist and specializes in blonde color.

Lizbeth Vargas is the founder of the Los Angeles salon, Mezkla. As the colorist director, she specializes in bright, rainbow hues. Vargas is an Arctic Fox ambassador.

How To Tell If A Hair Dye Is Vegan

As Vinzar points out, you'll typically find that vegan hair dyes call out their vegan status on their packaging, and may include an icon or logo from an organization like Leaping Bunny or PETA. "Additionally, you could check ingredients and make sure you see plant-based ingredients like hydrolyzed soy protein or plant-based dyes like chamomile, indigo, or saffron," Vargas explains.

How To Use Vegan Hair Dye At Home

Just like non-vegan dyes, you'll find vegan options in a range of colors and formula types (look for permanent dyes if you want something long-lasting, and semi-permanent dyes for color that fades after a few weeks). Before you get started, Vargas says to do a patch test and check all of the dye's ingredients to make sure that it doesn't contain anything you're allergic to. To protect against stains, be sure to have Vaseline for your hairline and gloves for your hands, as well as a cape or an old towel or T-shirt.

"Always apply color to clean or day-old washed hair," Vargas recommends. "Buildup of oils from dirty hair can keep the color from penetrating the hair shaft," she cautions. Once you're ready to start dyeing, Vargas advises that you section your hair into four parts to apply your color more easily and evenly. And don't stray from the directions when it comes to how long you let the color sit. "Color that is left on too long can irritate your scalp or damage your hair," Vargas says. "For longer lasting color, don't wash your newly colored hair for a day or two if possible, and make sure you use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner."

Shop The Best Vegan Hair Dyes

In a hurry? Here are the best vegan hair dyes:

1. The Overall Best Vegan Hair Dye: Naturtint Permanent Hair Color

2. The Best Vegan Hair Dye For Bold Colors: Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color

3. The Best Vegan Hair Dye Kit: Better Natured Hair Color

4. The Best Vegan Hair Dye For Root Touch-Ups: dpHUE Root Touch-Up Kit

5. The Best Vegan Hair Dye Drops: Shrine Drop It Multi-Use Non-Permanent Hair Colour

01
Expert’s Pick: Best Vegan Hair Dye

Vinzar emphasizes that he always recommends having your hair colored in a salon by a professional, but if you're a longtime DIY-devotee, Naturtint Permanent Hair Color is his top pick. "I do have some clients who color at home with Naturtint," he says of the permanent color. Vegan and cruelty-free, the dye is also free from artificial fragrance, ammonia, petroleum, and parabens, making it gentle on both the scalp and hair. It contains hydrolyzed oat protein and hydrolyzed corn protein instead of keratin, as well as fatty acid-rich olive oleic acid and meadowfoam seed oil to restore moisture and add shine. In each box, you'll find the colorant, color developer, a nourishing quinoa mask, protective gloves, and an instruction leaflet. Plus, it’s available in over 30 shades of blonde, brunette, red, and black.

Dye Type: Permanent Available Shades: 35 Size: 5.75 oz.

02
Expert’s Pick: Best Vegan Hair Dye For Bold Colors

"The pigmentation is incredible and the consistency of the product is smooth, which makes it easy to apply," Vargas says of Arctic Fox’s semi-permanent hair dyes. Though it's a DIY-friendly formula that's free from damaging chemicals like peroxide, ammonia, and PPD, Vargas explains that she uses it on her own salon clients, and that the color can last for up to 20 washes. In here, hydrolyzed soy protein replaces keratin, and the vegan formula also includes ingredients that work to condition dry hair and balance the scalp's pH level. Choose from over 25 bold colors, including dark blue, lime green, bright yellow, and silver.

Dye Type: Semi-Permanent Available Shades: 26 Size: 8 oz.

03
Best Vegan Hair Dye Kit

To make the at-home process easier, this Better Natured hair color kit comes with everything you need. In addition to your vegan cream color and activator, the kit also includes an applicator bottle to help you apply the color, gloves, a barrier cream and cleansing wipe to prevent the skin around your hairline from becoming stained, and shampoo and conditioner packets to care for your freshly dyed hair. Coconut oil and a blend of Tahitian palm milk, coconut milk, and orchid milk help give your hair a soft, silky finish, and the formula is free from sulfates, silicones, parabens, petrolatum, and mineral oil.

Dye Type: Permanent Available Shades: 12 Size: 2 oz.

04
Best Vegan Root Touch-Up Kit

If you're mostly concerned with concealing unwanted gray roots between salon appointments, a targeted approach will be much easier and faster. DpHUE’s Root Touch-Up Kit is a permanent color solution that was specifically designed to cover up to 1 inch of new gray hair growth at the part and hairline. Because the kit comes with enough color for two applications, you'll also receive two sets of gloves, two disposable mixing bowls, and two disposable processing caps in addition to your color, activator, shampoo and conditioner packet, as well as a brush for applying the color. To help nourish hair and lessen any damage that comes with using permanent dye, ingredients like hydrogenated castor oil, shea butter, and argan oil have been included in the color cream and activator (both of which are vegan).

Dye Type: Permanent Available Shades: 5 Size: 2 Applications

05
Best Vegan Hair Dye Drops

For a totally unique way to dye your hair, Shrine is a U.K.-based beauty brand that developed the first non-permanent hair color in drop form. No matter which color you choose, the Shrine Drop It set comes with a mixing bowl and tool, plus a bottle of (vegan) drops that lets you play scientist. The color was designed to be mixed in with your conditioner, and you can use anywhere from two to 30 drops to achieve your desired results (two drops are meant to tone, six drops will give you a soft pastel shade, and 30 drops will give you the most vibrant color). Each bottle contains 200 drops, so it’ll really last you, too.

Dye Type: Semi-Permanent Available Shades: 9 Size: 0.68 oz.

Experts:

Vinzar, master colorist and co-founder of The Clean Beauty Lab

Lizbeth Vargas, colorist director and founder of Mezkla