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At-home hair color can be a quick and easy solution, but of all the colors out there, blonde can be the trickiest to DIY. Generally speaking, if your natural hue is super dark and/or you’re looking to achieve a super light (think platinum) result, it’s best to save the blonding process for the pros. That being said, if you want to brighten or tweak your existing blonde, or aren’t making a big color transition, go ahead and take matters into your own hands.
The secret to success? Seek out products that come in a variety of hues so that you can find the best shade for you; as any blonde will tell you, not all blondes are created equal. Warmer tones (think golden, honey, even butterscotch hues) are choices for warmer complexions, while cooler shades (ash, wheat) are particularly pretty on those with cooler complexions. Also important: Finding formulas with nourishing and hydrating ingredients built-in since coloring your hair, and lightening it in particular, can be drying and damaging.
Ahead, the best blonde hair dyes that check all of our boxes. Try them out and see for yourself if blondes really do have more fun.
Best Overall: Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme Extra-Light Natural Blonde 100 (Chamomile)
No matter whether you want to conceal tell-tale dark roots, blend in some grays, or score an entirely new color, this guy can do it all. It comes in 45 shades, including a nice mix of five blonde options, and is also packed with moisturizing ingredients. Namely, avocado, olive, and shea oils, as well as separate ampoule of grapeseed oil and an ultra-hydrating conditioner to use immediately post-coloring. Soft, shiny, blonde hair here you come.
Best Drugstore: L'Oreal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color 9A Light Ash Blonde
Even though this product has been around since 1973, it remains an at-home hair color staple, particularly for blondes. There are, wait for it, 17 different blonde tones to choose from, ranging from pale platinum to strawberry blonde to even a trendy lilac blonde. It also comes with a conditioner meets shine serum hybrid that imparts mirror-like shine from root to tip. Plus, the color is fade-resistant, so it stays the same for up to eight weeks.
Best Permanent Color: Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
With 11 blonde shades to choose from, there’s something to fit every preference here, no matter whether you want a light and icy blonde, a medium beige blonde, or a rich caramel blonde. Each of the shades is multi-tonal and dimensional (read: appears completely natural) and is ammonia- and PPD-free. We also appreciate that the brand has a money-back guarantee; if for some reason you don’t love your color, they’ll refund you completely.
Best Semi-Permanent Color: Clairol Natural Instincts
If you’re not exactly sure of which shade of blonde you’re going for or just don’t like to commit to color, a semi-permanent option is the way to go. Unlike permanent color, these formulas fade out gradually every time you shampoo. Our go-to in this category lasts up to 28 washes and works in just 10 minutes. Not to mention that it’s also made with 80% naturally-derived ingredients, including good-for-your hair coconut and aloe.
Best for Highlights: dpHue x Kristin Cavallari Blonding Brush
Highlights are a very tricky technique to master (read: you probably should leave it up to the pros), but you can easily score a similar effect with this mistake-proof solution. Lemon juice plus hydrogen peroxide in the formula work to slightly lighten your hair, while the brush tip makes it easy to apply on targeted spots to create that highlight effect. (It’s also infused with purple pigments to counteract brassiness and keep your blonde bright.) Work it onto either damp or dry hair; it’s heat-activated, so you can either hit it with a blow-dryer or let it do its thing naturally once you go out in the sun. Just FYI, this is meant for those who are already blonde, so don’t try it if you’re a brunette.
Best for Damaged Hair: Schwarzkopf Simply Color Hair Color 9.0 Light Blonde
If years of coloring have taken a toll on your hair, it’s more important than ever to make sure that every time you do color, it’s with a gentle, nourishing product. Enter this newbie. It earns big points for being ammonia-, alcohol-, and silicone-free; it also doesn’t contain PPD, a common ingredient in many permanent hair color formulas that can cause some seriously problematic allergic reactions. What it does contain is a plethora of good-for-your hair ingredients. We’re talking strengthening oat milk and soy protein, as well as mega-moisturizing argan oil.
Best for Easy Application: Hally Color Cloud Atomic Blonde
The airy, mousse-like texture of this newbie makes DIY-ing a total breeze (not to mention completely mess-free). It’s the first ammonia-free foam hair color out there and is also free of PPD and resorcinol, two other often-used chemicals. Instead, it's loaded with good-for-you hair ingredients such as aloe and chamomile. The whole mission of the brand is to keep things easy, which is why the collection of shades is also streamlined. So while this is the only blonde color, it actually works well on a variety of base tones, given that it’s a demi-permanent color that will gradually fade with time. We also love that the brand gives back 1% of profits to mental health organizations that provide resources to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth.
Best Lightening Shampoo: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
Both DIY hair color beginners and those just looking for a super subtle change will appreciate this lightening shampoo. It works gradually, brightening and lightening your base color to make it look naturally sun-kissed each time you suds up. Credit citrus and chamomile extracts; the formula is free of both ammonia and peroxide, making it very gentle. Plus, it works on all shades of natural, color-treated, and highlighted blonde.
Best Maintenance Shampoo: Matrix Unbreak My Blonde Shampoo
The new sudser is geared not only towards all shades of blonde but also any shade of lightened hair in general. Why? Simply put, lightening your hair, whether at home or the salon, takes a toll on your hair. This one boasts technology that restores your hair’s natural pH (which is altered when you lighten it) and helps to reinforce the protein bonds that are damaged during the lightening process. It leaves your hair stronger and healthier-looking, which in turn is just going to make your blonde hue look that much better.
Best Conditioner: Biolage ColorBalm Chai Tea Color Depositing Conditioner
Great for medium to light blonde base tones, be they natural or colored, this multitasker is the easiest way to both punch up your color and give your hair a little TLC. Per the color part of things, it imparts a temporary dye that gradually washes out; it’s subtle, yet enough to add back vibrancy and refresh the tone. Leave it on for anywhere from five to 10 minutes, depending on how intense of an effect you want. And per the conditioning part of things, it’s super nourishing and hydrating, almost more akin to a mask than a conditioner. In short, it’s the best addition to your weekly or bi-weekly color upkeep strategy.
Best Shade Range: Wella ColorCharm Permanent Liquid Color
Not all blonde shades are created equal, which is why we appreciate that there is a wide variety of blonde tones to choose from in this line. We’re talking over 30, ranging from icy cool to warm caramel to buttery strawberry blonde—and everything in between. No matter which one you choose, the permanent color is a great long-lasting option and also has the added benefit of offering 100% gray coverage, too.
Best Custom Color: eSalon Custom Hair Color Set
Like we said, going blonde can be tricky, and finding the best shade for you can make all the difference. Enter the beauty of this personalized option, which combines in-salon expertise with the ease of at-home coloring. You create a profile, answering questions about both your existing color and where you want to end up. A pro colorist then blends up a shade (and formula, they offer both permanent and demi-permanent color) made especially for you, which takes into account not only your color but also things such as texture and length. You even get personalized instructions. Given how tough blonde can be to DIY, it’s a great way to ensure you end up with the best blonde hue for you.
As a general rule, blonde really is one color that’s best to leave up to the pros. That being said, if you’re confident in your DIY abilities and want to take matters into your own hands, you can try the Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme (view at Walmart), a permanent hair color that’s super conditioning and has a nice array of blonde shades available. The Clairol Natural Instincts (view at Ulta) is our favorite semi-permanent option, lasting up to 28 washes. And if you also want to just test out the DIY blonde color waters without making a major commitment, we like the John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (view at Ulta), a sudser that gradually lightens natural and color-treated blonde shades, as well as the dpHue X Kristin Cavallari Blonding Brush (view at Ulta), a heat-activated powder that’s choice for refreshing and counteracting brassiness in existing highlights or adding a subtle brightening effect to your natural blonde.
What to Look for in Blonde Hair Dye
Ammonia-free options are undoubtedly gentler for both your hair and scalp, but if you want lots of lift (i.e. to go much lighter than your base tone), a formula with ammonia is really the only way to achieve that.
Demi-Permanent vs. Permanent
Demi-permanent options gradually fade out over time as you wash your hair, a nice choice if you want a more subtle effect. Permanent color grows out over time, ideal if you want to minimize touch-ups.
Choosing a color that contains nourishing and hydrating ingredients is the best way to help minimize damage. You’ll still want to treat your hair with TLC (AKA use lots of hydrating and reparative products), but this is a good way to get a leg up.
Can you dye your hair blonde without bleaching it?
Only if your hair is light brown or dark blonde naturally, as at-home blonde hair dyes can usually only lift three levels or lights, says Kristen Fleming, color director at 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. Otherwise, there does need to be bleach involved. And keep in mind blonde hair dye also isn’t going to lift or remove any other hair color that may already be in your hair, she notes.
Is blonde hair dye safe?
Yes, (it’s with bleaching where you start to get into more iffy safety territory), but just keep in mind you may not get the best result. “It’s very hard to get a natural-looking blonde color at home, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re open to a very golden blonde color,” says Fleming, who says blonde really is best left up to the pros.
How long does blonde hair dye last?
Demi-permanent tones fade out over time, usually after a few weeks. Permanent formulas will last until they grow out, but Fleming notes that their intensity can still fade over time.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there.
Meet the Expert
Kristen Fleming is a colorist and the color director at 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. She has over 15 years of experience working at some of Chicago’s top salons, as well as on models in New York Fashion Week. She specializes in creating beautiful, personalized hair colors and is well-known as a blond expert.