Allure May 25, 2024



15 Best At-Home Hair Color Kits for a Vibrant, Compliment-Attracting Look


We found every permanent (and temporary!) formula worth copping—and to save you salon money.

Whether you want to try out highlights or go for all-over dye, today's best at-home hair color kits have stepped up their formulas, shade selection, and ease of use. Many formulas have built-in or include conditioners that'll boost shine. (Dullness, who?) Don't get us wrong, we love a salon moment, but the time (and cost) of getting professional dye jobs can add up. So, instead of keeping up with constant appointments, extend the life of your in-salon color treatments—or ditch them altogether, depending on what you're going for—with these vibrant formulas.


Best Overall: eSalon Made for You Custom Hair Color

Why It's Worth It: Take the guessing out of coloring your hair with eSalon's Made for You Custom Hair Color, a tailored service that features in-house colorists hand-mixing a color kit made just for you. Its high-quality, ammonia-free pigments are so spot-on that it's won four Best of Beauty Awards and four Readers' Choice Awards to date—no big deal. After answering a quick set of questions about your hair texture, skin tone, amount of grays, and so forth, a colorist whips up a bespoke batch of permanent or semi-permanent dye, delivered right to your door.

Editor Tip: Allure tester Liana Schaffner previously said in her review of the kit that this is an ideal set for hair dye beginners. "It basically makes DIY at-home hair color foolproof—the beauty equivalent of a soufflé recipe that won't collapse below sea level," she wrote.

Formula Type: Permanent or semi-permanent | Available Shades: Custom color only

Best Hair Gloss Kit: Kristin Ess Signature Hair Gloss

Why It's Worth It: Not only does the Kristin Ess Signature Hair Gloss (available in eight shades) boost your color's vibrancy, but it also keeps your hair feeling healthy and looking super shiny. Its Alkaline Neutralizing System adds a layer of much-needed protection, preventing hard-water minerals from being deposited onto your hair and scalp. "This is a great option for somebody who wants to adjust their hair at home and it works for all hair types," says bicoastal hair colorist Cherin Choi. The color will last three to four weeks and gradually fade depending on how often you wash your hair.

Editor's Tip: This gloss in the shade Copper Penny went viral on TikTok for the particularly stunning shine and color boost it provides to faux and natural redheads alike.

Formula Type: Temporary | Available Shades: 8

Best Color-Depositing Conditioner: Davines Alchemic Conditioner

Why It's Worth It: Craving a hair color update but don't want to commit just yet? Try the Davines Alchemic Conditioner, also recommended by Choi. Each of its five temporary shades will gradually fade more and more after each shampoo. How long the color lasts depends on your hair health and the shade you choose.

Editor Tip: For an even application, "It's always best to start in the back and work your way forward to the front of your hairline," says Choi, who says this formula will work best on lighter hair as the pigments will not be visible on dark hair.

Formula Type: Temporary | Available Shades: 5

Best Semi-Permanent Dye: Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Why It's Worth It: Unleash your creativity with Good Dye Young's Semi-Permanent Hair Color, a vibrant lineup of neons and jewel tones. Fitting for essentially every hair type from straight to curly to tightly coiled, this Hayley Williams-backed formula provides fun, pigmented color that lasts up to four to six weeks. Check out their site to shop the variety of electric colors it comes in, like magenta, gold, peach, and teal. And because it's infused with bergamot essential oil, the citrus scent gives off uplifting vibes during application. If you're looking for something a tad more low-key (read; no mixing required), check out the Best of Beauty-winning DyeDeposit, a color-depositing mask.

Editor Tip: Allure senior news editor Nicola Dall'Asen loves that this formula's vibrancy and brightness didn't dim for up to two months post-application. "You can mix your Good Dye Young shade of choice into your conditioner for a boost of pigment in between touch-ups, but this formula is so long-lasting, you probably won't need to—and that's on Good Dye Young being low-key magical," she said in her review of the dye.

Formula Type: Semi-permanent | Available Shades: 6

Shiniest Results: IGK Permanent Color Kit

Why It's Worth It: Get head-turning, shiny hair with IGK's Permanent Hair Color. This easy-to-apply formula is recommended by Lorena Martinez Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, for its vibrant, dimensional color that looks as if you've just stepped out of a high-end salon. "It focuses on increasing the shine level, which many at-home color kits lack," Valdes notes. Plus, the formula also leaves your hair feeling softer and smoother. Choose from 21 shades, including various shades of brown and black, as well as light cool lavender, dark coppery blonde, and more.

Editor Tip: To maintain its shine as you wash it, we recommend using an at-home hair gloss in between dye sessions.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 21

Best Demi-Permanent: Hally Color Cloud Foaming Hair Color

Why It's Worth It: Hair color is a tool for self-expression and Hally Color Cloud makes that easy to achieve. The demi-permanent color (which means it lasts up to 24 washes) comes in six shades like Atomic Blonde and Lavender Avalanche, is simple to apply, doesn't leave a mess, and washes out in four to six weeks.

What makes this kit unique, though? It's also like a spa in a box. After prepping your hair with the included clips, you take out the provided gloves, mix the formula, add the foam into your hands, and fully lather it into dry hair for 30 minutes. While you wait for the color to process, relax with a pair of undereye gels or de-stressing putty (both included in the kit) before you shampoo and conditioner as usual. The last step: Enjoy your fresh, new color.

Editor Tip: If you're looking to bleach your hair, Hally has its Totally Clean Bleach set, an easy-to-use bleaching kit that takes the guesswork out of the process. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Best of Beauty-winning Hally Shade Stix (or Glitter Shade Stix) is perfect for a one-day stint, like a music festival or birthday blowout.

Formula Type: Demi-permanent | Available Shades: 6

Quickest Cover-Up: Color Wow Root Cover Up

Why It's Worth It: Color Wow's Root Cover Up, a four-time Best of Beauty Award winner for best root coverage, is a mainstay on the desk and bathroom counter of many an Allure staffer for its ability to cover grays and outgrown roots in a pinch. The pressed powder comes in eight shades (from platinum to black), is free of waxes and dyes, and has the smooth texture and finish of real hair. And because it contains double-ended zinc particles that attach the pigments to each strand of hair-like microscopic magnets, this powder won't budge, even through a downpour or a swim.

Editor Tip: Allure executive beauty director Jenny Bailly gives this pressed hair powder kudos for its innovative brush-on application, which provides precise coverage, and flexible, crunch-free texture. "It's not just for dealing with gray roots," she said in her review of the Root Cover Up. "It will also lighten up dark roots or deepen light ones. It'll even make your hair look thicker."

Formula Type: Temporary | Available Shades: 6

Best Balayage Highlighting Kit: Madison Reed Light Works At-Home Balayage Highlighting Kit

Why It's Worth It: Madison Reed's Light Works At-Home Highlighting Kit helps you achieve the balayage of your dreams in the comfort and convenience of your own bathroom. The set comes with a patent-pending, wishbone-shaped applicator that deposits a lightening cream with a bleaching agent along each section of hair to distribute a perfectly spaced balayage effect.

It also comes with a toner, which is standard in the salon highlighting process, but rare in-home kits. These, plus an innovative post-treatment mask that's included in the box, are the reasons we gave it a 2018 Best of Beauty Award—and we still can't get over this find.

Editor Tip: After highlighting your hair, make sure you provide brass-busting maintenance in between dye sessions with Madison Reed's Color Therapy Mask in Perla, a purple-toned deep conditioner that neutralizes warm tones.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 4

Best Shade Range: L'Oréal Paris Féria Shimmering Permanent Hair Color

Why It's Worth It: Whether you're looking to go dark and bold or want to touch up your (faux) natural color, L'Oréal Paris's Féria Shimmering Hair Color line has you covered. You have 38 shades total (you can check out the full range here) to choose from, each featuring the brand's vibrant, multi-toned formula that gives your permanent tint a more dimensional appearance.

This collection's nourishing formulations are as delightful as their radiant results. Each dye is enriched with a blend of sunflower and coconut oils that significantly minimize dryness and brittle texture. This kit also comes with a bond-repairing conditioner that leaves strands smoother, stronger, and softer than before you dyed it.

Editor Tip: The Féria hair dye lasts at least six weeks, depending on your natural hair color and the pigment you use. To prolong your color, we recommend minimizing your wash days, as skipping wash days allows the color to sit in your hair longer.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 38

Best for Damaged Hair: Maria Nila Color Refresh

Why It's Worth It: If your hair has gone through one too many bleaching sessions without proper hydrating maintenance, take a break from drying, damaging permanent color. Instead, try Maria Nila's Color Refresh, a luxe color-depositing hair mask that releases vibrant pigments onto strands while smoothing and softening them with conditioning argan oil. Depending on your current hair color, you can create anywhere from a light tint to a head of vivid color in 10 minutes max.

Editor Tip: Any of the 15 colors available can be mixed together to create a custom color that'll nourish rather than damage your hair. Just keep in mind that this is a temporary formula that'll last for at least four washes.

Formula Type: Temporary | Available Shades: 15

Best Lightening Kit: Arctic Fox Bleach, Please Complete Hair Lightening Kit

Why It's Worth It: Arctic Fox's Bleach, Please kit comes with everything you need to lighten your hair in preparation for pastel colors like cotton candy pink, lilac, or platinum. You get a vegetable-based cream bleach, a 35-volume developer enriched with mango and cocoa seed butters, and a pair of latex-free gloves. What's more: The bleach has a violet base to help cool down yellow tones, just like a toner or purple shampoo would.

Editor Tip: For the best results, Arctic Fox recommends using this kit on hair that hasn't been washed in at least 24 hours.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 1

Mess-Free Formula: John Frieda Precision Foam Colour

Why It's Worth It: "Anyone who's applied hair color knows that dripping is an annoying part of the application process," says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Damian Monzillo about the advantages of foam application. When you use John Freida's Precision Foam Color, an Allure Best of beauty Award winner, you're left with a "clean bathroom and hairline," he says. Keep in mind that most box kits come with 20 volume developer, which means that the formula can lift hair "exactly one level lighter than where you currently are," Monzillo points out.

Editor Tip: To ensure no one knows you've just dyed your hair, Monzillo recommends using a little bit of Vaseline on and around your hairline skin to prevent any color lines from sticking around. He also advises dividing the hair into half-inch sections while dyeing to allow the color to absorb better. This may seem like overkill, but the results are always better when you take your time.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 19

Best Color Booster: DpHue Color Dream Demi-Permanent Kit

Why It's Worth It: DpHue's Color Dream Demi-Permanent Kit features eight natural colors such as Cool Blonde or Light Brown that won't fade for up to 16 washes. This ammonia-free formula is formulated to be a color enhancer that adds a subtle oomph to your current color—whether it's already color-treated or virgin—and even blends up to 20% of your grays if you're encountering some early bloomers. Whatever the case, this is a fabulous refresher or toner to keep handy in your shower for in-between color sessions.

Editor Tip: For fast-acting root touch-ups, try DpHue's Best of Beauty-winning Root Touch-Up Kit. "This one gave me full coverage and rich, shiny color that lasted until the professional color appointment I finally made it to a month later," said Bailly in her review.

Formula Type: Demi-permanent | Available Shades: 8

Best Scent: Clairol Nice'n Easy Permanent Hair Dye

Why It's Worth It: Clairol revamped its original formula for its Nice 'n Easy hair dye to axe the usually nauseating ammonia-laden scent of most box dyes. Instead, you'll catch a whiff of floral lilies in its drip-free formula. On top of its pleasant scent, this elevated formulation contains coconut oil to offset the usually drying process of coloring your hair. Of course, even with the upgrade, you still get the same gorgeous at-home color that makes this approachable box a drugstore staple.

Editor Tip: If you prefer an ammonia-free, demi-permanent formula, try Clairol's Natural Instincts box dye, which contains moisturizing coconut oil and aloe vera extract.

Formula Type: Permanent | Available Shades: 38

No Mixing Required: Christophe Robin Temporary Gel

Why It's Worth It: Apply the tinted Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel straight from the bottle (no mixing required) to conceal sparse gray hairs and rinse until the water runs clear. Once you're done, you'll find that your color is more luminous—and your grays less apparent—through at least five shampoos. Important rule: Cleanse with a silicone-free shampoo before applying this gel to towel-dried hair. Don't shampoo after rinsing.

Editor Tip: If your scalp is sensitive, you'll be glad to know that this formula is infused with oat fakes to keep irritation at bay.

Formula Type: Temporary | Available Shades: 4

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding the right hair dye shade

The first rule of thumb—and a solid piece of advice to live by—is that looks can be deceiving. It may seem like your dream shade is staring right at you, but our best bet is to turn the package around and see how the formula will actually look on your hair type, explains hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, who the Kardashian-Jenner family has on speed dial.

"Be sure to thoroughly consult the chart on the side or the back, which gives a better indication of where your hair color will end up, based on your beginning hue," says Fitzsimons. Dana Ionato, a colorist at Sally Hershberger's Downtown salon in New York City, agrees: "The color always ends up lighter than the model's hair on the packaging [because] the developer in at-home permanent dyes is very strong—stronger than the ones we use in the salon—so it lifts the color and makes it lighter than what you see on the box."

Even if you consult the back of the box for guidance, it can still be tricky to figure out your perfect shade. According to Ionato, for at-home permanent dyes, your best bet is choosing a color that's a touch darker than what you're going for because of the strong developer. But, for semi-permanent dyes, it's the opposite. "Semi-permanent formulas don't have a developer, meaning they get darker and darker the longer you leave them in your hair, so it's safer to choose a color that's a bit lighter from the get-go," Ionato explains.

According to Fitzsimons, conditioning is another crucial step you don't want to miss. "Using a deep conditioner at the end of the dyeing process seals the cuticle, so your strands stop absorbing the color," he says. “If you skip conditioning, you'll end up darker than you expected.”

Meet the experts

Cherin Choi, bicoastal hair colorist
Lorena Martinez Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago
Damian Monzillo, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist and colorist
Andrew Fitzsimons, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist


How we test and review products

We always enlist a range of testers for our makeup vertical, but hair-care products and tools are another story. While there are certainly products that can be used across different hair textures, lengths, curl patterns, thicknesses, colors (natural and unnatural), and needs, hair products are often created with specific consumers in mind. Many are created in order to address a concern (dandruff, breakage, brittleness) or to work most effectively for a specific hair type (4C curls, wavy hair, gray hair). You wouldn’t want to pick up a purple shampoo that’s only been reviewed by someone with, say, auburn hair, or a diffuser that's never been tested by anyone with curls—right?

For our review of the best at-home hair color products, we enlisted the help of multiple editors, writers, contributors, and professional colorists to find the most vibrant, long-lasting hair dye formulations. Testers considered performance across four primary categories: efficacy, texture and experience, fragrance, and packaging. For more on what's involved in our reporting, check out our complete reviews process and methodology page.

Our staff and testers

A beauty product is a personal purchase. You might be searching for a face cream to address persistent dryness or a new nail product to add to your Sunday self-care routine; you may simply be browsing around for the latest launches to hit the hair market. No matter what you seek or your individual needs and concerns, Allure wants to ensure that you love anything we recommend in our stories. We believe that having a diverse team of writers and editors—in addition to the wide range of outside testers and industry experts we regularly call upon—is essential to reaching that goal.

After all, can we really say a skin-care product is the "best" for people over 50 if the only testers we've solicited opinions from folks who have yet to hit 30? Can we honestly deem a high-end diffuser worthy of your hard-earned cash if it's never been tested on curls? We're proud that our staff spans a wide range of ages, skin tones, hair textures, genders, and backgrounds, which means that we are able to fairly assess any beauty product that comes into the beauty closet.