13 Best Ammonia-free Hair Colors for a Safer Coloring Experience

Written by Alvira Dsouza, Hair Expert
Updated on Feb 22, 2024
13 Best Ammonia-free Hair Dyes for a Safer Coloring Experience
13 Best Ammonia-free Hair Dyes for a Safer Coloring Experience
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As a haircare expert, I have always advocated for ammonia-free hair colors as they are better at minimizing potential hair damage. Hence, after studying and experimenting with numerous high-end and drugstore options, I began cherrypicking the best ammonia-free hair dyes from the lot. 

While a study conducted by the Journal of Cosmetic Science demonstrates how hair dyes formulated with ammonia damage the hair, another conducted by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reports significantly fewer allergies or irritations caused by a sample set, that used ammonia-free and PPD-free formulations. Hence, while hair color is an important, perhaps even inevitable part of many people’s beauty regimes, opting for dyes that are devoid of these nasties is pivotal. 

Fortunately, the dyes I’ve shortlisted contrarily consist of nourishing ingredients to help preserve hair health while delivering vibrant hues. My search led me to a fortunate discovery — a select group of ammonia-free dyes that not only met quality standards but surpassed them. These chosen products boast impressive longevity, ensuring your vibrant locks stay luscious for an extended period. Additionally, their application is user-friendly, providing a seamless coloring process for both professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Scroll down to uncover the top picks that promise a delightful fusion of quality, care, and captivating shades. Elevate your hair coloring sessions with these ammonia-free wonders for a radiant and healthy mane that truly stands out.

The 13 Best Ammonia-free Hair Colors

Amongst my top picks for ammonia-free hair dyes, the Revlon Colorsilk Permanent Hair Color shines due to its 3D Color Gel technology, which makes the hair color look natural and rejuvenated. Enriched with keratin proteins and silk amino acids, this product delivers a vibrant color and leaves the hair feeling silky and healthy. With an extensive range of 41 shades, it caters to diverse preferences. Ideal for all hair types, this at-home application offers a convenient transformation. The exceptional formulation places it as a leading contender on my list, promising beautiful, damage-free results. Besides, it’s a standout choice among 4k reviewers. 

Active Ingredients: Keratin and silk amino acids

Type: Gel

Shades: 41

Size: 4.4 oz x 3

Cruelty-Free: Yes

Pros
  • Offers gray coverage
  • Easy to apply
  • Hair coloring gloves are provided
  • Non-drip formula
  • A little goes a long way
Cons
  • Fades quickly
  • Best for Dark Shades

    Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color

    Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color
  • Arctic Fox’s vibrant hues and long-lasting results are perfect for those seeking a punky and bold hair transformation. Its strengths lie in the extensive color range, cruelty-free formulation, and the fact that it causes minimal hair damage. However, some users may find that achieving the desired intensity requires pre-lightening, which could be a drawback for those averse to bleaching. Additionally, while the color longevity is commendable, touch-ups may be needed for sustained vibrancy. Overall, this hair dye is ideal for adventurous individuals, but consideration of the potential need for pre-treatment and touch-ups is essential.

    Active Ingredients: N/A

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 15

    Size: 8 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Vegan
    • Has a pleasant, sweet scent
    • Easy to apply
    • Cost-effective
    • No mixing required
    • Free of PPD and peroxide
    Cons
    • May stain surfaces/skin/clothing
  • Best for Eccentric Color Shades

    Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Cream

    Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Cream
  • As someone who's embraced the vibrancy of Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Cream, I appreciate its eclectic range of colors. From deep purples to electric blues, the spectrum is extensive, allowing for creative self-expression. This at-home hair dye has been a reliable choice over the years, blending ease of use with the rebellious spirit often associated with youthful self-expression. Another plus point — the dye formulation doesn’t require any developing or tiresome mixing, so you can straight away scoop it out of the container and apply.

    Active Ingredients: None 

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 49+

    Size: 4 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Infused with conditioning agents
    • Lasts upto 4-6 weeks
    • No phthalates or resorcinol
    • Lean formulation
    • Wide shade range
    Cons
    • Washes out too fast
    • Stains surfaces

    Quick Tip

    Paint the dye onto wax paper first for a more accurate color representation, as it tends to appear brighter when concentrated in a bowl.

  • Best for Brunettes

    Clairol Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

    Clairol Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Dye
  • Next up on my list of ammonia-free hair dyes is the Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Dye, and here's why. Infused with aloe vera and coconut, this dye stands out for promoting healthy-looking hair. The ingredients not only enhance shine but also have a nourishing effect. Ideal for those seeking to blend grey hair seamlessly, it provides a vibrant boost while being gentle on all hair types. The no-cream formula makes it an excellent choice for blondes, brunettes, and those with black hair. With a lasting effect for up to 28 washes, it's a reliable and versatile option for a natural, refreshed look. 

    Active Ingredients: Coconut and aloe vera

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 37

    Size: 5.85 fl oz x 3

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Ideal for all hair types
    • Natural ingredients
    • Very moisturizing
    • Good lasting power
    • Doesn’t drip or stain
    Cons
    • Not allergen-free
  • Best for Blondes

    Naturtint Permanent Hair Color Gel

    Naturtint Permanent Hair Color Gel
  • Naturtint’s Permanent Hair Color Gel stands out as one of the best choices for vibrant, lasting color. Its ammonia-free and up to 92% naturally derived formula ensures a gentler approach to hair coloring. The rich green infusion in this gel provides excellent coverage. Applying it at home is a breeze, and the blend of hair-loving ingredients, including oleic acid from olives, meadowfoam seed oil, quinoa, shea butter, and baobab proteins, adds nourishment and vitality. Achieving a salon-quality look becomes effortless with this thoughtful combination of natural components, making it a top-tier option in the realm of permanent hair colors.

    Active Ingredients: Oleic acid

    Type: Gel

    Shades: 35

    Size: 5.75 fl oz x 6

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Vegan
    • USDA- certified
    • Suitable for sensitive scalps
    • Bolsters hair health
    • Paraben-free
    Cons
    • Could be relatively higher compared to some non-organic alternatives
  • Best for Dry Hair

    Garnier Olia Oil-Powered Permanent Hair Color

    Garnier Olia Oil-Powered Permanent Hair Color
  • This permanent hair color by Garnier epitomizes innovation in at-home coloring with its distinctive approach. Unlike traditional formulations where oil is typically reserved for conditioning, Olia uniquely concentrates the sunflower and camellia oil directly within the colorant. This strategic placement propels the hair dyeing process, maximizing the infusion of rich, vibrant hues. 

    As someone with thin hair, the result was not only an impressive and even color coverage but also a noticeable improvement in hair texture. The incorporation of oils, such as sunflower seed oil, enhances both the coloring efficacy and post-application hair health. 

    Active Ingredients: Sunflower oil and camellia oil

    Type: Oil

    Shades: 23

    Size: 15.3 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Softens hair
    • Very moisturizing
    • 100% gray coverage
    • Ideal for all hair types
    • Lasts upto 4-5 weeks
    Cons
    • Contains mineral oil
  • Best Gray Coverage

    Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color

    Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color
  • Achieve a naturally stunning hair color with Schwarzkopf’s Simply Color, renowned for its exceptional gentleness on both hair and scalp, minimizing any concerns about irritation or allergic reactions. This product provides a diverse palette of rich and radiant colors, ensuring even coverage from root to tip.

    Its distinctive and nourishing formula, featuring soy protein, oat milk, and argan oil, sets it apart by excluding harsh chemicals like alcohol, silicone, and ammonia. This top-tier box hair dye guarantees comprehensive and enduring grey coverage, with an intense color payoff. This combination offers not only a captivating color but also a hair care experience that prioritizes health and longevity.

    A quick tip: For an extended vibrant result, consider complementing it with Schwarzkopf's Color Boost.

    Active Ingredients: Argan oil

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 10

    Size: 2.0 fl oz x 2.0 fl oz x 1.7 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Contains natural ingredients
    • Vibrant colors
    • Offers 100% grey coverage
    • Sustainable packaging
    • Dermatologist-tested
    Cons
    • Not ideal for extremely sensitive scalps
  • Best Natural Formulation

    Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel

    Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel
  • Boasting a gentle, ammonia-free formula, this hair color gel by Herbatint not only delicately lightens your natural hair color but also effectively conceals grays. Including glycerin and Oleic acid adds a moisturizing element, ensuring a nourishing and moisturizing experience during the coloring process. This unique blend also incorporates scalp-soothing ingredients like aloe vera leaf extract, witch hazel leaf extract, birch leaf extract, and meadowfoam seed oil. 

    These components work together to create a calming and comfortable application. Crafted with organic and hair-friendly ingredients, this hair color not only preserves color intensity but also delivers impressive, natural-looking results. 

    Active Ingredients: Oleic acid

    Type: Gel

    Shades: 36

    Size: 4.56 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Alcohol-free
    • 100% gray coverage
    • Vegan
    • Eco-friendly and non-GMO
    • Fragrance-free
    • No parabens or resorcinol
    Cons
    • May fade away easily
  • Best for Salon-like Results

    Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit

    Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
  • For those seeking the ultimate at-home hair coloring experience, this Permanent Hair Color is the whole package. Infused with hair-loving ingredients like keratin, argan oil, and ginseng root extract, it imparts a vibrant color and leaves hair feeling healthy, conditioned, and shiny. The absence of harsh ingredients is a notable advantage, promoting a gentle application process completed in just 45 minutes. Besides, this kit includes every essential for a confident home coloring experience, from gloves to shampoo and conditioner suited for aftercare. 

    Active Ingredients: Keratin, argan oil, and ginseng 

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 36

    Size: N/A

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • 100% gray coverage
    • Quick application
    • Ideal for dry hair
    • Clear instructions
    • Includes post-color care products
    Cons
    • Some users dislike the scent
  • Best Semi-Permanent Choice

    dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color & Conditioner

    dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color & Conditioner
  • For those wary of staining home carpets during hair coloring, dpHUE’s Gloss+ offers a mess-free, in-shower color enhancement solution. I appreciate its quick application, adding a burst of color to both natural and color-treated hair effortlessly. This versatile at-home hair color not only tones down highlights but also provides uniform color and shine without the need for a developer or mixing.

    The semi-permanent formula coats rather than penetrates the cuticles, allowing for flexible usage without compromising hair health. The option to mix shades adds a personalized touch to the experience.

    Active Ingredients: No information

    Type: Cream

    Shades: 11

    Size: 6.5 oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Leaping bunny certified
    • Ideal for direct application
    • Sulfate-free
    • Makes hair soft and manageable
    • Gluten-free
    • Vegan
    Cons
    • Less gray coverage
  • Creme of Nature Moisture-Rich Hair Color

    Creme of Nature Moisture-Rich Hair Color
  • Among my top picks, Creme of Nature's moisture-rich hair color stands out as a perfect choice for curly-haired gals. The new formula, when used as a complete system, leaves hair in better condition, thanks to the infusion of ultra-moisturizing mango and shea butter conditioner. This ammonia-free option provides multi-dimensional color with radiant shine and ensures 100% gray coverage for those pesky silver strands. 

    The transformative experience of vibrant, long-lasting color, coupled with the nourishing properties of shea butter, caters specifically to curly hair needs. It's a go-to solution for those seeking a blend of style, health, and vibrant color in their curly locks.

    Active Ingredients: Shea butter

    Type: Liquid

    Shades: 9

    Size: 2 fl oz x 1.7 fl oz

    Pros
    • Cost-effective
    • Easy application
    • Clear instructions
    • Doenst dry out the hair
    Cons
    • Limited shade range
  • Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Hair Color

    Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Hair Color
  • For those hesitating to commit to vibrant shades, Good Dye Young offers the perfect solution with their semi-permanent hair color. Crafted by makeup artist Brian O’Connor and Paramore's lead singer Hayley Williams, this brand ensures super-rich color through vibrant pigmentation. The fragrance, infused with essential oil Bergamot, provides a soothing and relaxing scent, creating a delightful coloring experience. Sunflower extract adds exceptional conditioning properties, eliminating the need for additional conditioner. 

    This non-permanent hair color not only offers UV protection but also boasts a high-quality, creamy formula with highly pigmented and mixable colors, allowing you to experiment without the long-term commitment. Overall, it earns a solid rating of 4.4 out of 5 for it’s efficiency and vibrant tones!

    Active Ingredients: Sunflower oil 

    Type: Cream 

    Shades: 26

    Size: 5 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Lasts 15-20 washes
    • Formaldehyde-free
    • PPD-free
    • Paraben-free
    Cons
    • Not ideal for sensitive scalps
  • eZn Pudding Hair Color

    eZn Pudding Hair Color
  • Last, but certainly not least, I'm thrilled to introduce the Korean hair color brand eZn, featuring Pudding — an exceptional choice for embracing cottage-core pastel vibes. The unique pudding-type formula injects a playful element into the coloring process. Mixing the two liquid agents and giving it a good shake transforms them into an innovative, bouncy pudding-type hair dye, ready for my creative touch. 

    The smooth gel-type cream ensures vivid and full coloring effects, enriched with hydrolyzed silk, hydrolyzed keratin, and hydrolyzed collagen for continuous luster and sheen. With easy application, this fuss-free method lets me use my hands for thorough color coverage, creating a vivid, natural, and hair-friendly look.

    Active Ingredients: Hydrolyzed keratin and silk

    Type: Gel

    Shades: 12

    Size: 2.36 fl oz

    Cruelty-Free: Yes

    Pros
    • Ideal for thick hair
    • Quick absorption
    • Innovative formula
    • Vibrant shades
    Cons
    • Limited color range

    After trying and testing the top picks, I've crafted a handy buying guide just below. It ensures you make the most of your choices and utilize the selected hair dyes effectively for the best results.

    What to Look for in Ammonia-free Hair Dye?

    When choosing ammonia-free hair dye, several key factors contribute to a successful and satisfying coloring experience. Here's a detailed guide on what to consider:

    1. Ingredients List:

    A crucial aspect is examining the ingredients list of the hair dye. Look for alternatives to ammonia, such as MEA (monoethanolamine) or ethanolamine. These compounds function similarly to open the hair cuticle for color absorption but are gentler on the scalp. Ensure the absence of harsh chemicals such as peroxide, PPD, resorcinol, phthalates, etc. that may cause irritation.

    2. Nourishing Ingredients:

    Opt for ammonia-free hair dyes that go beyond just adding color. Look for products enriched with nourishing ingredients such as botanical extracts, vitamins, and oils. These elements not only enhance the vibrancy and longevity of the color but also contribute to the overall health of your hair. Nourished strands are more resilient, reducing the risk of damage during the coloring process.

    3. Color Range:

    Explore the color range offered by the brand. A diverse palette provides flexibility and allows you to express your creativity. Whether you desire vibrant reds, cool blondes, or rich brunettes, having an array of options ensures you find the perfect shade for your unique style.

    4. Hair Concerns: Gray hair coverage becomes an effortless journey with semi-permanent hair dyes enriched with natural flower oils. Whether you're embracing blonde shades, bold colors, or opting for a brilliant hue on brown or dark hair, the wide range ensures versatility. Silky hair is a result of carefully curated ingredients like grape seed oil and plant-based oils that prioritize pigment purity. The ingredient list features neon yellow and pre-blended colors, offering intermixable bases for a personalized touch. Beyond aesthetics, the formula considers environmental stressors, making it a thoughtful choice. Convenient cleansing wipes containing propylene glycol add a practical element to the coloring experience.

    5. Dye Type:

    Ammonia-free hair dyes typically fall into three categories: semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in selecting the right product for your needs:

    • Semi-permanent: Offers temporary color that gradually fades with each wash.
    • Demi-permanent: Provides a bit more longevity than semi-permanent, fading over several weeks.
    • Permanent: Delivers long-lasting color until new growth occurs.

    Choose a dye type based on your preference, commitment level, and how frequently you want to refresh or change your hair color.

    Why Should You Use Ammonia-free Hair Color?

    1. Gentler on the Scalp:

    Ammonia-free hair color eliminates the harshness associated with ammonia, reducing the risk of scalp irritation. Hence, they are ideal for individuals with sensitive skin, making the coloring experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

    2. Minimizes Damage:

    The absence of ammonia results in a milder formula, minimizing damage to the hair structure during the coloring process. This promotes healthier hair by reducing the risk of dryness, breakage, and split ends.

    3. Reduced Allergic Reactions:

    Ammonia-free formulas are less likely to cause allergic reactions, making them a safer option for those prone to sensitivities. This offers peace of mind, especially for individuals with a history of adverse reactions to traditional hair dyes.

    4. Pleasant Coloring Experience:

    Ammonia-free hair color eliminates the unpleasant odor associated with ammonia-based products. This enhances the overall coloring experience, making it more enjoyable for both the user and those around them.

    How to Use Ammonia-free Hair Color?

    1. Perform a Patch Test:

    Always start by performing a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to any components of the dye. Apply a small amount of the product on a discreet area of your skin and wait for any adverse reactions before proceeding.

    2. Read And Follow Instructions:

    Carefully read and follow the instructions provided with the ammonia-free hair color product. Each product may have specific guidelines for application and processing times, ensuring optimal results.

    3. Start with Unwashed Hair:

     Begin the coloring process with unwashed hair to allow natural oils to protect the scalp. Avoid using conditioner before applying the dye, as it may create a barrier that hinders color absorption.

    4. Even Application:

    Section your hair and apply the color evenly, ensuring complete saturation of each strand. Use a brush or applicator for precise application, especially if you're targeting specific areas or creating highlights.

    5. Recommended Processing Time:

    Adhere to the recommended processing time provided by the product. Over-processing or leaving the dye on for too long may affect the final color result.

    6. Rinse Thoroughly:

    After the processing time is complete, rinse the hair thoroughly until the water runs clear.  Follow up with the provided conditioner to lock in moisture and enhance shine.

    7. Dry Hair Application:

    For optimal results, apply ammonia-free hair color to dry hair. Wet hair may dilute the color, affecting the vibrancy of the final result.

    8. Protective Measures:

    Wear the gloves provided with the product to prevent staining on your hands. Consider using an old towel or shirt during the application to avoid staining your clothing.

    By following these steps, you can achieve vibrant and healthy-looking results with ammonia-free hair color, ensuring a pleasant and effective coloring experience.

    Conclusion

    As you embark on your journey to find the best ammonia-free hair dyes, keep these factors in mind. Opt for a product like Revlon Colorsilk Permanent Hair Color, known for its ammonia-free formula and wide color range. Another excellent choice is dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color & Conditioner, providing vibrant shades while conditioning the hair. Make informed choices based on your preferences and commitment level. Whether you opt for a temporary change or a long-lasting transformation, ammonia-free hair dyes offer a gentler, more nourishing alternative for achieving the vibrant and healthy hair you desire.

    FAQ's

    Is ammonia-free hair dye effective?
    Yes, ammonia-free hair dyes are effective in providing vibrant and long-lasting color. Since ammonia-free hair dyes consist of alternatives like MEA or ethanolamine, they ensure effective color absorption without the harshness of ammonia.
    Are ammonia-free hair dyes better for hair?
    Ammonia-free hair dyes are generally considered better for hair because they minimize damage. The absence of ammonia reduces the risk of dryness, breakage, and split ends, promoting healthier and more nourished hair.
    Are ammonia-free dyes effective at covering grays?
    Yes, ammonia-free dyes are effective at covering grays. They penetrate the hair shaft to deliver color without the need for ammonia. Choose a product labeled for gray coverage and follow the application instructions for optimal results.
    Is ammonia-free hair dye damaging to hair?
    Ammonia-free hair dyes are less damaging than traditional dyes with ammonia. The milder formula helps maintain the integrity of the hair structure, reducing the risk of damage. However, it's essential to follow proper application procedures to minimize any potential negative effects.
    Is ammonia-free hair dye safe during pregnancy?
    Ammonia-free hair dyes are generally considered safe during pregnancy. However, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional and conduct a patch test before use to ensure compatibility and minimize any potential risks.
    How do you dye your hair with professional products?
    Dying hair with professional products involves following the instructions provided with the specific product. Start with unwashed hair, perform a patch test, apply the dye evenly, adhere to recommended processing times, and rinse thoroughly. For professional results, consider seeking guidance from a licensed stylist.
    What is the difference between hair dye with ammonia and without ammonia?
    The primary difference lies in the opening of the hair cuticle. Ammonia-based dyes use ammonia to do this, while ammonia-free dyes utilize alternatives like MEA or ethanolamine. Ammonia-free dyes are gentler, reducing scalp irritation and minimizing damage to the hair structure.
    How often should I touch up my hair color with an ammonia-free product?
    The frequency of touch-ups depends on the type of ammonia-free product used. Semi-permanent dyes may require more frequent touch-ups (every few weeks), while demi-permanent and permanent dyes offer longer-lasting results (every 4-6 weeks or as needed).
    How long does ammonia-free hair color last?
    The longevity of ammonia-free hair color varies based on the type of dye and individual factors. Semi-permanent colors may last a few weeks, demi-permanent colors last several weeks, and permanent colors provide longer-lasting results until new growth occurs. Proper care and maintenance also contribute to color durability.

    Why Trust Pinkvilla

    Alvira, the hair care expert, meticulously compiles a list of the best ammonia-free hair dyes for those prioritizing hair health. These dyes eliminate harsh chemicals, ensuring a gentler coloring process. With ingredients like nourishing oils and botanical extracts, they offer vibrant results while minimizing damage. Alvira's selection prioritizes both aesthetics and the well-being of your hair, making them the go-to choice for a radiant, chemical-free color experience.

    Our product experts study the specifications of every product we suggest and try them out to bring what’s proven to be worthy of your money, time, and energy. We also have subject matter experts from various fields like Fashion, Skincare, Haircare, Home Decor, and Health and fitness on board to make sure our suggestions are credible and trustworthy. You can trust Select to be your faithful shopping guide for all the right reasons!

    Author BIO
    reviewer
    Alvira Dsouza
    Hair Expert

    With a keen eye for detail and a passion for hairstyling, Alvira is a certified Hair Expert who brings the latest tre More