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Ammonia—sounds scary, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. This harmful chemical is used in hair dye to not only penetrate the hair but essentially damage the cuticle in order to deposit color. So as the formula sits in your hair, it does give you the shade you want, but at what price? Using ammonia in your hair can lead to dry, brittle, and overall unhealthy strands that no longer look or feel good.
Nowadays, more and more brands are releasing ammonia-free formulas and utilizing enriching ingredients that allow you to fresh your hair color and strengthen your strands at the same time.
Explore our favorite ammonia-free professional hair dyes below.
Runner-Up, Best Hydrating: Clairol Natural Instincts
If you’re looking to freshen up your color, but not lighten it, then this super-nourishing hair color formula is for you. Created with 100% pure aloe, chamomile, and ginseng to maintain your hair’s health, easy do-it-yourself color allows you to get a bright, updated look right at home.
Best Colorful: Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Hair Color
Craving to achieve rainbow hair status? Here’s your chance. In nine dazzling shades, this semi-permanent formula has true-to-color pinks, blues, and more. Ideal for any hair type, the professional-grade pigments really pop—giving your hair the brightest shades imaginable. Bonus: One user reviews that the cream doesn’t stain in the shower.
Runner-Up, Best Colorful: Manic Panic Semi Permanent Cream Hair Color
Manic Panic's cult-favorite color cream hair dye is available in shades across the rainbow—you can even mix them together to create custom colors of your own. (Translation: The possibilities for bold looks are endless.) The formula, which lasts four to six weeks, is also vegan and cruelty-free—plus, it doesn't contain ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, and gluten.
Best Kit: Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
For at-home, salon-quality color from start to finish, look no further than this kit from Madison Reed. The best part? All you need to do is text a well-lit selfie to 34757 and the company will shade-match you in an instant. The formula itself is great, too, featuring hair-friendly ingredients like keratin, argan oil, and ginseng root. It's also 8-free (meaning no ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, gluten, SLS, and titanium dioxide).
Best for Sensitive Scalps: Herb Speedy PPD-Free Hair Dye
If you suffer from severe skin allergies that may prohibit you from dying your hair, then we hope you’ll find solace in this PPD- and ammonia-free formula. Unfortunately, for some, both these chemicals can cause major skin irritation, even during the hair coloring procedure. This particular formula has neither, making it ideal for sensitive skin. The best part? Your new color will last up to 25 washes.
Best Organic: Indus Valley 100% Botanical and Organic Hair Dye
Get ready to be wowed by this botanical and organic hair dye. Along with being mild for every hair and skin type, this formula also helps to improve your scalp’s condition by removing dandruff and adding moisture to strands. Reviewers do note that because this is an organic formula, your hair color could continue to deepen days after application.
Best for Shine: CHI Ionic Permanent Shine Hair Color
In place of ammonia, an effective alkaline called monoethanolamine helps to maintain a consistent pH during the color process. The pre-mixed formula delivers a richer color with incredible depth that looks natural. And in addition to the vibrant color, this unique formula also provides strands with a glossy shine.
Best Henna: Lush Cosmetics Henna Hair Dye
Brunettes, all you need for a subtle color change is a block of this henna and hot water. Totally free of any chemicals, henna is the OG way of coloring your hair without the damage. Plus, the base is made of super-hydrating cocoa butter, with other ingredients like soothing Irish moss powder and stimulating ground coffee. Simply break up the block in chunks, add a little hot water, and mix until the consistency turns into melted chocolate (don’t eat it, we beg you).