Hair has evolved from mere stuff-to-protect-the-body-from-the-elements into a bona fide fashion accessory. We are not beholden to the hair we’re born with—we can dictate its destiny cut after cut and color after color.
And in this day and age when environmental and emotional stresses can turn us grey before our 30th birthday, we have more impetus than ever to give our hair a little zhuzh.
A great stylist can help you find and keep a color (or several) you love. It’s money well-spent. But regularly coloring your hair at a salon is both expensive and time-consuming, especially if you just need a root touch-up or want to go a little bold for a few weeks.
So at-home color is a go-to for many—especially in these days of shelter-in-place. But not all home hair colors are created equal. In fact, most of them are filled with chemical nasties that can not only damage your natural locks, but put your health and the environment at risk. And is there anything worse than going to color your greys knowing that color was first tested on an animal? No thank you.
If you’re going for a DIY job, do it the safest and most ethical way with these seven cruelty-free, at-home hair colors. Whether you’re aiming to keep your hair as close to its natural (or former) glory, or you’re going bolder than you ever have, there are some excellent options on the market. Here are seven to try.
1. Green Hare Mud
This all-natural hair dye company claims its products are so clean you could eat them. While that’s not recommended regardless of how safe the product is, the brand’s “zero chemical level of purity” will give you all the glory without the guts. Not only does Green Hare Mud offer a range of natural hair colors, but it also wants to keep your scalp and skin healthy with a range of hair care and skincare products just as clean as its colors. Hop to it!
Herbatint is the OG when it comes to all-natural boxed hair color. They’ve been stocked on natural food store shelves for decades, and for good reason. Consider these permanent hair colors the Beyond Burgers of at-home hair color. They work just like the commercial stuff, but they’re healthier for you and the planet. You won’t get any pastels or neons with Herbatint, but what you will get is consistent, effective, and affordable do-it-yourself dye. The company is also committed to sustainability initiatives, green packaging, and always being cruelty-free. And that looks good on everyone.
Looking for an at-home spa day? Remember your hair! Naturtint makes it easier than ever to color at home. Similar to Herbatint, Naturtint works best if you’re trying to cover your greys with a natural color. But even if you’re grey-free (lucky you!), you can take your locks up or down the ol’ color spectrum with ease—just step a shade or two in either direction at a time for best results. Also like Herbatint, Naturtint is a natural foods store staple; it uses pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that are only derived from plants, seeds, and oils. Every formula is free from ammonia, artificial fragrances, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s also free from gluten and heavy metals, making it an easy choice for those with any sensitivities (but patch tests are always recommended). Color lasts for up to five weeks and is easy to apply. Just the way it should be.
4. Arctic Fox
Bleached or unbleached, you can have the beautiful hair color you’ve always dreamed of—even if that color doesn’t have a name yet (blurple? rorange?) With Arctic Fox’s fully vegan range of at-home hair dyes that span the rainbow and somewhere way, way, over, the sky really is the limit. Er, actually, no it’s not. You can go way, way beyond with these semi-permanent colors. Made with all-natural ingredients free from alcohol, PPDs, and harsh chemicals, the result is long-lasting color that makes DIY experimenting easier and more than ever before. What are you waiting for?
5. Manic Panic
Manic Panic is no stranger to the at-home game. It’s been creating luxe, DIY color for nearly 50 years! It now offers a range from the professional-grade stuff to semi-permanent to the spray-on colors (for when you’re feeling extra). Fifteen percent of sales go to various charities every year including PETA, World Wildlife Foundation, and City of Hope. The iconic brand is known for coloring the punk rock set, but MP is suited to anyone who wants cruelty-free color. But this isn’t for the faint of heart—these colors are bold and unapologetic, just like you are.
6. Surya Brasil
Surya Brasil calls on one of the oldest forms of hair color—henna. Unlike other brands on this list, henna is 100-percent vegetable-based and totally chemical-free—that means no ammonia or peroxide. Henna is a natural color derived from plants. In India, it’s used to color hair, skin, and nails. Surya Brasil marries Indian Henna with Brazilian botanicals to create colors like “nothing else” on the market. Whether looking to change your shade or cover your grey, Surya Brasil says it will do that and more, offering shimmering, rich tones, and translucent shades. What’s better than that?
The UK’s answer to New York’s Manic Panic, Punky Hair Colour boasts a “rock ‘n’ roll soul.” The brand says it stays true to its roots, which are outrageously bold, over the top colors, made only from the highest quality vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. This isn’t your grandma’s hair color. Although, one look at you and it just may be soon enough.
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Please note: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in a Kinder box.
Jill Ettinger is an LA-based writer and editor focused on vegan and cruelty-free living.