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The 10 Best Box Hair Dyes of 2019

Box Hair Dye: The Best of 2019

Without a doubt, a professional salon color looks great, but can be expensive and time-consuming. Salon stylists have the expertise and know hair color in and out so splurging on a high quality foil or color makes sense sometimes, but for most consumers the upkeep required just isn’t sustainable. The good news is that achieving fantastic looking color at home with a box hair dye is easier than it’s ever been. It may take some tinkering to find the right formula and color combination for your at home hair color, but the results are worth it. We’ve curated a comprehensive list of the most effective and best box hair dyes for whatever your individual style or needs require. Whether you want to dye your hair to cover up grays, touch up roots, change your color, or go for a rebellious color, the best box hair dyes will allow you to make a switch without causing damage to your hair.

Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Crème is this writer’s personal favorite because it leaves hair shiny and deep conditioned. It works wonders on grays and dark roots and is incredibly fade resistant. Unlike some strong color formulas, it never leaves hair smelling like bleach or ammonia, even for the lightest shades. Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Crème has a wide range of color options, and an especially rich selection for blondes, ranging from ashy to golden tones. Enriched with lovely smelling avocado, shea, grape seed, and coconut oils, the formula gently conditions hair without damaging your locks. This product is great for beginners or for those who have been coloring their hair for years. The package instructions are easy to follow and there are web-based resources that give you guidance for color selection and tutorials for the process from start to finish. There is a wide range of shades – blacks, blondes, reds and every color in between. It doesn’t matter if your goal is a wholesale change or a refresh of your natural color, you’ll find a shade right for you. The box includes plastic gloves, a tube of coloring crème, developer, which lifts out pigment from your hair, and a packet of fruit oil concentrate. Mixing them all together is easy with the bottle included in the kit. The oil concentrate is a cool feature of Garnier products, it leaves hair feeling smooth and smells heavenly. You’ll get full-coverage robust color that only takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. It’s translucent and looks more natural than most do-at-home box hair colors.

Key Features
  • Enriched with fruit oil concentrate
  • Available in 45 shades
Specifications
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: Garnier
Pros
  • Avocado oil scent
  • Rich conditioning treatment
Cons
Premium pick

2. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour

9.50 / 10

For total gray coverage without leaving an aftermath of drips and stains, John Frieda Precision Foam Colour is the ultimate solution. What we love about John Frieda Precision Foam Colour is that the airy, non-drip mousselike foam goes on white, leaving little mess, both on your face and your countertop. The after coloring conditioner makes hair soft and shiny. Included in your kit is one bottle of color developer, one tube of Intense After-Colour conditioner, a foamer for dispensing the product, and salon professional quality gloves. The instructions are straightforward and make it easy to use, even for beginning amateur colorists. For best results divide hair into smaller sections and work it through completely, the formula is light enough to get it through evenly from roots to ends, not missing a single strand. Working it through starting with the roots will provide the most even coverage. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour works especially well for blonde hair, making it glossy and shiny. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour expertly masks gray hair and brightens hair as well as professional formulas. The 20 volume developer will lift your hair one level lighter, providing vibrant color results. Processing takes about 20 minutes or 30 minutes for resistant grays. The color is pretty much true to the examples on the box and shows minimal fading or washing out after four weeks, although the color may be more intense before a couple of washings. It’s easy to use and hair is left wonderfully conditioned and shiny.

Key Features
  • Non-drip foam formula
  • Available in 12 shades
Specifications
  • Package Size: 2.5 x 3.8 x 6.4 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Foam
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: John Frieda
Pros
  • No mess
  • Color true to package
Cons

Revlon has been one of the top-selling hair color brands for many years. Revlon ColorSilk Beautiful Color is a great product within the Revlon family of hair care products that employs something called 3D Gel Technology as well has UV defense, which gives it unbelievable stamina, protecting it from the fading effects of the sun, and gray is completely covered. It’s available in a ton of shade selections that are relatively true to the box. It doesn’t add a ton of highlights, but if you are happy with an overall wash of color, Revlon ColorSilk Beautiful Color should work quite nicely. You will notice little to no fading between applications. Silk proteins work magic to leave hair conditioned and shiny. Applying as instructed should generate high quality results. It takes a few rinses before all of the product is completely washed out, which can leave hair feeling a little bit dry, but the after color conditioner makes hair feel soft and hydrated. Be careful with towels and clothes until you know the product is completely rinsed out. It’s an affordable product, readily available at any discount chain or drugstore. Revlon ColorSilk Beautiful Color is especially good for red and brown hues (the Burgundy shade is brilliant), leaving vibrant but natural color true to the box shades. It effectively covers grays and does not fade, leaving a soft and natural shine even after four weeks post-color. It’s readily available at most drugstores and discount chains at a very affordable price point.

Key Features
  • Available in 41 shades
  • Multi-dimensional, multi-tonal color
  • Infused with silk proteins
Specifications
  • Package Size: 6 x 3.5 x 6.2 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Liquid gel
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: Yes
  • Brand: Revlon
Pros
  • Protects hair from UV rays
  • Ammonia-free, so less damaging
  • Gives a natural, multi-tonal look
Cons
  • Some hair types might have a damaged texture after use

Clairol Root Touch-Up is the gold standard for quickly filling in roots if you don’t need a full-on color treatment. The application brush is easy to use, and it takes only minutes to use and lasts up to three weeks. It’s really the best solution out there for keeping color fresh without the time and effort of a full session. If you aren’t satisfied with your natural color or have those annoying grays that require a ton of maintenance it’s nice to have an option like Clairol Root Touch-Up so you can make a home or salon color last as long as possible. Like Clairol Nice ‘N Easy, this formula is especially strong on grays, blending seamlessly into your existing color. Unlike other root touch-up selections like wands and crayons that just temporarily cover up problem areas, Clairol Root Touch-Up is a permanent solution that won’t wash out after one use. It’s perfect for applications between salon visits. Clairol Root Touch-Up is a bottle of hair color and a small brush that you can use to apply color to your part and near your forehead where roots are most visible. You don’t get a ton of product, but it’s really all you need for the quick touch-ups that cover up the grays and roots that really stand out between full color applications. Pro tip: Choose a shade that is a shade or two lighter than your current color because home hair color results are often slightly darker than salon counterparts.

Key Features
  • Takes ten minutes
  • Available in 6 shades that blend with existing color
Specifications
  • Package Size: 2.4 x 7.1 x 6.3 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Gel
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: Yes
  • Brand: Clairol
Pros
  • Takes only 10 minutes
  • Kit is easy to use
  • Blends well with existing hair color
Cons
  • Does not last very long

L’Oreal Paris Excellence Color Crème gives you the salon-quality look you want from the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the price. It is formulated with high quality ingredients and looks natural while covering grays remarkably well. There are shades that run from conservative and buttoned-down brown or blonde to bold and dramatic reds. Grays are eliminated and hair is left healthy and shiny. The no-drip crème and single-tip comb applicator makes the color go on easily without much mess or an overpowering smell. It includes a triple protection system that protects your hair before, during, and after coloring your hair. L’Oreal Paris Excellence Crème Color doesn’t easily stain your skin when it’s washed off thoroughly before it dries. It’s easy to use whether you’ve colored your hair a hundred times or if it’s your first time. The color stays true without unwanted red or brassiness in brown or darker shades. Reds and grays that are covered up may fade a little bit, but overall it has terrific staying power. It also includes a pre-color moisturizer that helps with color absorption. As with many box dyes, for long hair you may need more than one kit for hair that is longer than shoulder length. Use a shade or two lighter than what your intent is because sometimes the results are slightly darker than the demonstration pictures on the box. With any color it’s important to apply evenly and not double up on the strands because overlapping can cause damage to the hair follicles.

Key Features
  • Available in 44 shades
  • Non-drip formula
Specifications
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: L'Oreal
Pros
  • Comb-tip applicator
  • Excellent gray coverage
Cons
  • Results sometimes darker than the box example

Clairol is one of the major go-to brands for all things color. Found in nearly every drugstore, Clairol Nice ‘N Easy is the flagship of the Clairol line because it never disappoints. The brand was re-tooled last year with a more allergy-friendly, non-drip formula, lessening the risk of users developing an allergic reaction to the product. Clairol replaced PPD and PTD, which can cause the scalp to be irritated, with a molecule called ME+, which controls allergy outbreaks. The new formula also does a better job controlling damage that hair processing can cause. When it comes to hiding stubborn grays, Clairol Nice ‘N Easy is a warrior, especially with black and dark blonde shades, penetrating deep into hair. Along with amazing gray coverage you’ll notice natural highlights and plenty of dimension. There is a huge range of shades to choose from, no matter what you’re looking for. The consistency of the formula can be a little bit runny, which means you may get a little more on your skin, which can be a difficult to remove with darker shades. The resulting shades are natural looking and true to the shades pictured on the box. Hair is left looking luminous and the coverage is great. You’d think with that kind of power a heavy chemical smell would come along with it, but the new formula has a light floral fragrance. Your hair will be shinier and in better shape that it was before you colored, no worries about damage or over-processing.

Key Features
  • Floral scent
  • Non-drip formula
  • Allergy gentle
  • Available in 54 shades
Specifications
  • Package Size: 2.4 x 3.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: Clairol
Pros
  • Floral fragrance
  • Excellent gray coverage
  • Hypoallergenic
Cons
  • Slightly runny formula
  • May stain skin

For statement color that adds extra depth and dimension to your hair color, we suggest L’Oreal Multi-Faceted Shimmering Color. The bold and intense shades go a step further than most box hair dyes, leaving full coverage results with edgy hues that aren’t available in other brands like platinum blonde, rose gold, metallic browns, and sapphire blacks. Even with all that color, it does not damage your hair, and it stays hydrated and shiny. The highlights and shimmer left after an application are truly stunning, much more vibrant than ordinary box hair dyes. You can achieve amazing depth even with neutral colors and there are plentiful shade options to choose from. It’s even possible to do a balayage technique with L’Oreal Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Color. The box kit includes a color gel and developing cream as well as a conditioning treatment, called Power Shimmer Conditioner, which seals in moisture and gives hair extra smoothness. It’s quite easy to use, even for those who haven’t previously done their own hair color. It may take a few rinses before the color completely washes out so be careful with towels and clothing until you’re sure all the color has been completely rinsed. There is some fading after a few washes so the color may not stay as intense with some hair types.The texture of the formula is not runny or drippy and doesn’t sting when it comes into contact with skin, but as with any hair dye, use petroleum jelly or another protective barrier around your hairline to protect your skin.

Key Features
  • Bold color
  • Available in 32 shades
  • Three times the highlights
Specifications
  • Package Size: 2.8 x 7 x 6.5 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Liquid gel
  • Gray Coverage: Not recommended for gray coverage
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: L'Oreal
Pros
  • Never dull or flat
  • Color is true to box
Cons
  • Narrow top of applicator
  • Takes a few rinses to wash out

8. Garnier Olia

9.35 / 10

As advertised, Garnier Olia is powered by, you guessed it, oils. The formula is a 60% oil blend, gathered primarily from natural flower oils. The oils allow color to penetrate deep into the hair strands, which makes the color stay more vibrant and last longer, even with the toughest shades. Hair is visibly restored after use because the oils repair and restore hair from deep down. The formula is non-drip, it smells great. Color is vibrant and hair is silky smooth. Gray coverage is complete and long-lasting. The formula is completely ammonia free and it’s so gentle that professionals even recommend it for touch ups between visits. Garnier Olia Brilliant Color is similar to salon formulas and leaves your hair in great shape after using. Coarseness is eliminated and dullness is exchanged for brilliant shine. Because of the lack of harsh chemical ingredients it is even non-damaging to dry, brittle and already damaged hair. The kit comes with a developer tube, a colorant tube, a set of gloves, and an after color conditioning treatment. If you are looking for an alternative to a professional color that is super gentle on your hair, Garnier Olia Brilliant Color is among the best color treatments available. The rich and smooth oil-based formula is gentle on both your hair and your scalp and is forgiving enough for those who aren’t used to coloring their own hair. It’s easy to apply, the colors are vibrant while still natural looking, with plenty of shades to choose from.

Key Features
  • Infused with natural flower oils
  • Comprised of 60% oils
  • Available in 34 shades
Specifications
  • Package Size: 3.4 x 3.9 x 6.5 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: Yes
  • Brand: Garnier
Pros
  • Ammonia free
  • Gentle on hair
Cons
  • Does not cover white hair

Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Intense Caring Color is fade-resistant and super healthy for your hair. It employs an anti-breakage technology to strengthen hair and prevent damage, improving even upon non color treated hair. The highly pigmented formula that is specially formulated for mature hair and it delivers excellent gray coverage and saturated pigment that holds color without excessive fading. The texture is thick and does not drip a ton and the overall process is easy to use without an overwhelming smell. It distributes color throughout the strands and there is usually plenty of formula to cover even slightly longer hair, but the formula really soaks in deep, repairing while it deposits the color. Hair is left shiny and vibrant, never dull, brittle, or dry. The brown hues have a lot of depth and never look dull (Try the Rich Caviar shade!). It comes with a tube of color cream, an application bottle, developing lotion, gloves, and a post color conditioning treatment. Because keratin is a reparative protein, it works to strengthen and repair broken hair strands and reinforcing them so they are less susceptible to damage. The post color conditioner is a workhorse and untangles even the curliest and unruliest locks. It works wonders on curly, frizzy, or overprocessed hair. The soft and shiny results leave hair looking like you just left the salon. It’s a slightly more expensive product than some drugstore brands, but the care it takes on fine and weathered hair makes it worth the extra you might spend.

Key Features
  • Low odor
  • Treats damaged hair, 80% less breakage
  • Available in 20 shades
Specifications
  • Package Size: 2.1 x 3.9 x 6.6 inches
  • Permanency: Permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: 100%
  • Ammonia Free: No
  • Brand: Schwarzkopf
Pros
  • One box is enough for shoulder length hair
  • Pigments help complement and flatter your skin tone
  • Ample grey coverage
Cons
  • Can be slightly runny

Another workhorse of the Clairol line is the Natural Instincts brand. It’s a semi-permanent, ammonia- free formula that lasts around a month, which is perfect if you want to experiment with one of the 30 natural color options, try something for a little while, or just use it to condition and add some dimension to your existing color. And if you’re looking for quick refresh, Clairol Natural Instincts is perfect, especially if you don’t have the time to sit through a lengthy color process. It’s not a complete gray solution, but if you have a few gray strands it will conceal them nicely, leaving a highlighted effect in the spots where the gray once lived. Coconut oil, aloe, and vitamins massage your hair strands, leaving it soft and shiny, and it only takes ten minutes. Although it washes out, it is resistant to fading while it lasts. The coverage goes on evenly and leaves hair soft. It’s really the best semi-permanent drugstore formula available. And as a plus it’s completely ammonia and paraben-free. If you’re looking to lighten your hair, try a shade or two lighter than your current color to lift more of the pigment out. Clairol Natural Instincts is a fabulous way to try something new without the commitment or worry that you’ll be left with for an extended time. And warmer tones can be slightly orangey so a cool or neutral tone may be best to avoid brassiness. A downside is that you might need two boxes of color to make sure that you have enough to last for longer hair.

Key Features
  • Available in 37 shades
  • Non-drip formula
  • 80% naturally derived ingredients
Specifications
  • Package Size: 7.1 x 3.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Permanency: Semi-permanent
  • Consistency: Creme
  • Gray Coverage: Partial
  • Ammonia Free: Yes
  • Brand: Clairol
Pros
  • No ammonia
  • Gentle on hair
Cons
  • May need to use two packages for longer hair

The best hair dye has evolved from harsh chemical processing that damaged hair and often caused a dry, frizzy, and over processed look to much gentler conditioning formulas that actually make your hair healthier than when you started. Patchy color, burned scalp, and severe odors are a thing of the past. The best box hair dyes will leave hair looking shiny and vibrant. Professional colorists frown on do-it-yourself hair color, but there is no reason you can’t achieve salon quality color without the hassle and expense of a trip to the salon. It can be a complicated process, but the products on the market today make it easy to get great results with just a little effort. If you need to make a major change or clean up an existing mess, a visit to a stylist might be necessary, but for most people home coloring can be done with relative ease.

Right out of the gate it’s probably prudent to start with a shade close to your natural color. Colors that look too black, brassy, or reddish are a dead giveaway for an amateur dye job. If you’ve never colored before, try to stay within your natural range, no more than a full shade lighter or darker. Ensure the color is appropriate for your skin tone and eyebrows. Going with a shade that blends and complements your natural look will allow for easier blending and upkeep. If you’re unsure about how to go about it, start with a semi-permanent color or a wash before going with a full-on permanent dye, which won’t wash out.

Engage your stylist. If you’re honest with your salon about why you want to try an at-home color, you might be surprised at the knowledge they are willing to share. They will know what your color level is and suggest an appropriate shade to use at home. If your hair is already colored and you’re doing a touch-up of roots or grays you only need to apply color to the roots and then lightly pull it through the rest of your hair for the last five minutes of processing.

Most hair dye is categorized by tones, neutral, gold, and ash. Natural blondes do better with neutral tones, brunettes should stick to ash colors to eliminate brassiness and red overtones. Rather than looking at the model on the box, look at the before and after swatches printed on the box to determine which shade is the best. And remember that any time you are taking your hair a level lighter, you will see orange or yellow, which are tricky to manage. Gray or coarse hair may require longer processing time and you might need two boxes of hair dye for hair longer than shoulder length.

If you’ve never colored your hair at home before it’s important to do a strand test to see how the color looks on your hair and to ensure that you are not allergic to the formula. Wear gloves to protect your hands and apply petroleum jelly or another kind of barrier around your hairline and neck to prevent the color from coming into direct contact with your skin.

Resources – Allure, Business Insider, Byrdie, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Good Housekeeping, Idea Hacks, Oprah Magazine, Refinery 29, Stylist, Today, Total Beauty

 

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