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Colorists charge a premium for their services because they're professionals; they know the ins and outs of hair color more than the average person. Still, that level of expertise comes at a certain price, which—depending on how often you switch up your hair hue or touch up your roots—can add up fast. The good news is you can get similar (if not better!) results without ever leaving home with boxed dye available at the drugstore.
Whether you're looking to save some Benjamins or are searching for your next DIY project, we rounded up the best drugstore hair dyes to give a go.
Best Overall: Clairol Natural Instincts
Coloring your hair at home can be intimidating, especially if you're worried about damaging your strands. But with Clairol Natural Instincts, you can put all of your boxed dye fears at ease. The formula is ammonia-free and boasts a blend of coconut oil, aloe, and vitamins to condition hair during the dye job. The result is hair that looks radiant with enhanced color and shine. As for timing, 10 minutes is all it takes for it to work its magic, leaving you with color that will last for 28 washes, covering grays and roots. That's way less time than it would take in the salon chair, so really it's a no brainer.
Best Brunette: John Frieda Precision Foam Colour
This kit makes at-home coloring a cinch and the unique foam formula simplifies precision color application, so you can deposit color exactly where you want it. The even saturation includes 100% gray coverage and leaves you with vibrant color. And with just 30 minutes of processing time, you'll still have plenty of time left over to check things off your to-do list.
Best Blonde: Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme
This little box does it all: You can cover grays, lighten dark roots, or just get a new hue altogether. The permanent formula goes easy on locks and nourishes with grape seed, shea , and avocado oil, which penetrate deep into the hair. This conditioning action helps hair hold onto the color from root to tip, extending the life of the shade, leaving you with a rich, bold color.
Best Black: Clairol Nice 'n Easy
When you have black hair, covering grays can be challenging. Luckily, this formula is up to the task. Boasting 100% gray coverage, it makes it look natural with a range of luminous tones and highlights. Even though it’s heavy-duty, you don’t have to worry about that chemical smell—this one has a fresh, floral fragrance instead. It conditions along the way, leaving hair shinier and softer than when you started. Plus, the non-drip formula won’t make a mess of your entire bathroom.
Best Red: Revlon ColorSilk Beautiful Color Hair Color
Red hair dye has a tendency to fade fast, so you’ll want a formula with major staying power, and this one does the trick. Thanks to Revlon 3D Color Gel Technology, the permanent dye delivers a natural look from root to tip, with a boost from the multi-tonal color that gives dimension. The combination of silk proteins condition to leave strands shiny and soft. Plus, the dye is infused with UV defense to protect color from the sun and extend its vibrancy.
Best for Root Touch-Ups: Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-Up
Whether you always opt for at-home color or prefer to see a professional for root touch-ups, this kit will stretch your hue between colorings. The permanent color perfectly blends into your shade to deliver 100% gray coverage. The precision brush makes it a cinch to apply and speeds up the process. It only takes 10 minutes to color roots and grays, but the hue lasts up to three weeks.
Best for Highlights: L'Oreal Superior Preference Glam Lights
Highlighting your own hair isn’t always easy, which is why it’s often left to the professionals. But this kit makes it much more doable to do on your own by breaking the process down into two steps. First, fill the highlighting brush that comes with the kit with the formula. Next, brush it through your hair from root to tip wherever you want to deposit color. Yep, it’s really that simple. The brush is designed to blend the highlights easily, while the formula leaves strands glossy. And the process is quick, too.
Up next, check out our guide to the best shampoos for colored hair that won't strip your fresh dye job.