Hair Dye

Everyone's hair coloring experience is different. For some, dying their hair is a set part of their schedule, penciled in on the calendar right along with dental appointments and PTA meetings. For others, it's a spur-of-the-moment decision made to change things up when life feels boring and mundane. Similarly, while some women are loyal to one particular brand and/or color, others love to shop around and experiment. Whatever your hair dye personality, it pays to keep up with new brands, colors and methods - especially true if you color your hair at home.

More than 70% of women choose to color their hair, whether to cover grey or enhance their overall look. It's uncertain what percentage dye their hair it home, but it's a safe guess the number has increased recently as American families tighten their belts in order to thrive in the current economic climate. Dying your hair at home has its challenges; it can be time consuming, a little messy, and doesn't always yield the results you hoped for. Still, considering the money you'll save, at-home hair coloring is definitely an option to explore.

When you're considering using a hair dye from the drugstore, you have to consider more than simply the color you want. One major factor women sometimes overlook is whether a particular box of dye contains enough product to cover their hair. The boxes may all be similar in size, but the actual bottles of colorant inside vary. The boxes should indicate how much product they contain. When in doubt, buy more than one. Nothing's worse than realizing you don't have enough product after dying half your hair!


Good Housekeeping tested some of the most popular hair dyes to determine which offer the best results for your money. Clairol Natural Instincts ($9) came out on top among store brands for coverage, shine and fade resistance. This ammonia-free formula gently adds color and shine and contains antioxidants that protect hair from damage. Because this dye contains no ammonia and is quite mild, it works best for subtle color changes.

Ever tried going light brown or ash blonde, but ended up with an unattractive brassy orange? This is a common problem for women trying to go up a shade or two, and choosing colors labelled "cool" usually doesn't help that much on its own. A salon product called a "drabber" can take the brassy edge off a hair color, but it's available only in beauty supply stores, can be hard to find, and is an added expense. Clairol has now introduced Natural Instincts Brass Free, a hair color with built-in brass-zappers that neutralize orangey tones to help give you the sophisticated ash tones you've always wanted.


Féria ($9.99) is L'Oréal's top-of-the-line hair dye. This product projects a vibe of luxury and pampering, and most users find it delivers on its promises. Féria contains an ample amount of product in each box. It also smells great and includes a very effective, long-lasting conditioning crème. Depending on the color you use, the shimmer this color provides can come off a bit brassy. Also, if you have a lot of grey, you may have to leave it on a little longer for full coverage.

Unevenness is one drawback of at-home hair coloring. The ends of hair usually differ in texture from the rest of your hair, and dye is absorbed differently by various hair textures, so you can end up with two different colors at once. L'Oréal Superior Preference ($9.49) helps protect the hair shaft during coloring for a more even, natural, salon style result.

Garnier Nutrisse hair color ($6.99) stands apart from the crowd for its emollient-rich formula and wide range of eye-catching colors. It contains avocado and grapeseed oil to help color penetrate and last longer. Garnier is especially popular among bottle red heads, because they can choose from dark auburns to light strawberry shades, or even one of the popular high-power "extreme" reds.

Users may find Nutrisse penetrates a little too well, meaning you can end up with a darker or more intense color than you bargained for - at least for the first week or so, after which, the excess colors fades off and becomes more true to the picture on the box. Overall, Nutrisse is a nice moisturizing hair color that stays put and conditions well

Sometimes, you want intense hair coloring results, or you'd like to make a reasonably big (3 shades or so) change in your hair color. If that's the case, Garnier 100% Color ($8.99) is a dye to try. This product contains concentrated pigments to rev up your tresses, and a vitamin- and micro-mineral enriched formula to help condition it smooth.


Dark hair colors can sometimes appear flat, dull, and boring. Revlon Colorsilk Luminista ($4.99) can help you create hair color that's sexy shiny, and full of light-catching tones. Luminista is specially formulated with mango butter to make dark hair lush and vibrant.
Highlights are notoriously tricky to achieve with an at-home kit, and most hair color experts suggest you instead opt for dyes with built-in highlights to give your hair the multi-tonal effect. Still, some women love the sexy streaks full on highlighting provides. If a home highlighting kit is a must-have for you, Revlon Frost and Glow ($12.99) might be your best choice. Reviewers rate this product highly for ease of use and overall color-lifting ability. Choose from blonde, honey or chestnut.

For The Guys

Men generally leave the shopping to us, even when it comes to products they'd be better off choosing themselves. When it comes to hair dye, some guys are reluctant to stand in the drugstore line with a product admitting to the world they're going grey. In cases like these, they need a little nudge from the women in their lives. If you're in the market for a hair dye for your man, Just For Men (7.99) is a classic option. It's formulated to cover grey and blend in naturally with his true hair color so it doesn't look "done."