Your confidence never feels quite as sky-high as when you’re walking out of the hair salon with fresh highlights or new color, right? (It practically makes you want to float home on a cloud!)
Unfortunately, this beauty booster isn’t quite as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes—it can sadly set you back hundreds of dollars. Plus, between mealtimes, work, and trying to keep your house from turning into a disaster zone— making it to the salon for a multi-hour coloring experience isn’t always you know, feasible. And sometimes, you just need to cover up those greys which ALWAYS pop up between appointments. It seems we’re seeing ads in our IG feeds and hearing commercials in the car for all these new direct to consumer hair color brands as much as mattresses these days, and it’s because they know that time is money, and we won’t have—or want to spend— either.
Enter at-home hair color kits. These can be a lifesaver between salon sessions or when you’re ready to try out a fresh look. With hundreds of options out there for color, though, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with which options which will actually deliver on salon-quality color. Don’t worry your roots off, though (yes, we said that). This guide will have those greys and more covered with the best at home hair color—even if the only place you’ll be escaping to is your bathroom for a few seconds of peace and quiet.
It might sound like this is stolen from a commercial, but this budget-friendly color kit from L’Oreal really will turn your faded hair color from drab to fab—and it will only set you back about $9. Some product highlights include that the color saturation is versatile: You can give yourself highlights, an ombre look, or put it on to cover up greys. It also has a built in shimmer conditioner to help keep hair hydrated and healthy. (And add some shine.)
It consistently ranks as a crowd favorite, with over 2,600 four-star reviews on Amazon. One reviewer sung its praises, saying, “This is the best color system that I’ve ever used, and I have used many different brands and colors because I have always liked to experiment. I don’t experiment any more. Feria is the best!”
Your hair may feel extra dry after using some at-home hair color, but that won’t be the case with this option from Redken, which is infused with avocado oil, organ oil and rice protein to give your hair extra moisture.
It also contains lower amounts of ammonia, which can be damaging and drying. It comes in 18 shades from natural ash to red/violet. One Amazon user sings its praises for her red hair, saying, “This is the best red hair dye I’ve laid my hands on! I’ve been through so many that don’t keep up with vibrancy and this just looks amazing! Super shiny, my hair is soft and vibrant red that lasts over a month before needing a touchup.”
If you’re not looking for all-over color, but just want to touch up your roots or hide some pesky greys that have inevitably popped up, this easy-to-apply color from Clairol has it covered.
Inside the box, you’ll find a precision brush that makes it simple to get the color directly on your roots. It also comes in 17 shades, so be sure to take care matching it to the root color that’s closet to your current or natural shade. One Amazon user said, “It looks just as good as the professional color. I mix two colors together, just like they do in the salon, and the color I’m getting is indistinguishable from what I was paying for at a salon. It is tiring, especially trying to get the roots at the back, but it is totally worth it. My hair is soft and shiny and looks like it’s been professionally colored.”
If you are new to coloring your hair at home, you’ll appreciate this choice from John Frieda, which comes in an easy to-use foam formula that won’t drip on your floor (or more importantly, drip on your forehead). The foam makes it simple to apply to your roots and spread throughout your hair, so you can get a deep, richer color overall, if that’s what you are after.
It’s also highly recommended for covering up greys. One reddit user commented, “It was super easy to use for a beginner and it just stuck with me. It’s only about $12 a box.”
As for colors, it comes in a variety of 20 plus shades, ranging from radiant red to deep cherry brown to light ash blonde, so you can find something that matches the exact color that you are after.
If you really want to protect your hair while you color it and have it look better than it did before, adding a Keratin treatment to the formula should do the trick! This smart combo from Schwarzkopf is extra nourishing and is highly recommended for damaged hair or hair that could just use a little extra love.
Even with all the extra nourishment, you still get the rich color you’re after. And it still guarantees to cover your greys with gusto and offer an infusion of color from root to tip. If you are sensitive to smell, you’ll love this low-ammonia formula. That’s likely why it has over 690 positive reviews on Walmart’s site. One reviewer who gave it five stars said, “This is the BEST hair dye on the market. You do not even need to wash it a few times to look good. It covers grey. There is nothing else even close to this. It looks like you just left the salon. Please don’t ever stop making this!”
One note is that if you have longer hair (past shoulder length) you might need two boxes to get the look you’re after—but the extra cost will be worth it for the silky locks you’ll end up with.
If you’re looking for a fun color outside the usual brunette, blonde, or redhead, you really want a product you can trust. Luckily Reddit users have lots of opinions on the matter, and lots of them overwhelmingly recommended Artic Fox. It’s a completely vegan formula and comes in lots of cheery colors like periwinkle, iris green and electric paradise pink. (Note that it’s semi-permanent, so it will last you about four to eight weeks before you’ll need to choose your next hue.)
Quick note re scent, y’all. One reddit commenter said, “I’ve used some Arctic Fox before, and in my experience, it stuck really well. It also smelled like grapes every time my hair got wet (I used purple), which would be good for people who like that scent (I hate grape-flavor). I I tried green, too, which smelled like green apple and was much more tolerable. I would recommend it.”
Not quite ready to take on the task of permanently coloring your own hair at home, but need those greys covered like yesterday? Consider a spray instead. This super simple version from Style Edit has almost 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon, so you know it’s going to be good. One user commented, “This is the best stuff ever! It totally extends my trip to the stylist, and I use it to cover my regular hair color that’s lighter than my dyed color. I don’t have gray hair and this works like a charm. It also washes out easily. It isn’t sticky and looks totally natural. In love!”
All you need to do is shake, spray on your roots, comb through, and let it dry. Now, this is just a temporary fix—it will wash out every time you shampoo. So you’ll need to apply regularly. Still, that’s likely the easiest option for day-to-day when you can’t make it to the salon.
As an added bonus, it doesn’t contain any mineral oil, parabens, petroleum, or peroxide, and it wasn’t tested on animals, so it is probably better than your usual dry shampoo. Plus, it gives your hair a nice shine without your scalp look oily.
If finding a clean beauty coloring option is important to you, you’ll feel really good about this choice from Schwarzkopf that contains zero percent (that’s right, none, zero, zilch) ammonia, silicone, or alcohol. There won’t be any disturbing smells or burning sensations to contend with. And it’s still a budget-friendly deal at only $10 per color package.
Plus, it has over 830 reviewers on Walmart’s site who gave it a thumbs up. One user commented, “I have been dying my hair for a long time. My family has a tendency to go gray early in life. So I have tried a lot of different brands. I was pleasantly surprised it had no awful chemical smell. I only had to leave it in for 30 minutes and it turned out just the shade I wanted with no burning or itching to my head. It also covered up all the gray, and I had quite a bit because I hadn’t colored my hair in a couple of months. I would definitely recommend this product to anyone wanting an ammonia-free dye.”
Need a little more help choosing a hair color than just going on Amazon and randomly hoping for the best? Head to Madison’s Reed’s website for an online color “consultation,” which is a custom quiz that will find the ideal color match for your hair.
It will ask you everything from the thickness of your hair to your hair goals (hydration? highlights? deep, rich color?) to what color your hair is currently and makes custom recommendations for exactly what you need. The hair gurus also make recommendations for what else you’ll need to buy like color-reviving shampoo or gloss to enhance the color. You can choose from permanent color to root-reboot to color reviver. There is a support team and video tutorials as well. Now if only they could make it this easy for everything else in your life that needs guidance.
At-home color can be intimidating to take on, but Josh Wood Colour is there for you. On their website, you’ll find all the support you need. You can take an online consultation quiz to find a color you’ll love, or email stylists a photo of your current color so they can match it (or make suggestions of a color that will work well for you.) The guidance doesn’t stop there, though. You can also upload questions for stylists via video chat or even book a one-on-one video color consultation where a stylist will walk you through everything step-by-step so you know exactly what to do.
As for color, each of the shades comes with a handy recommended shade shot plus. This creates a personalized, multi-tone color that will turn your hair into a glowing goddess. (For example, deep dark brown pairs with chestnut or smoky brunette.) Currently, there are shipping fees since the brand is UK based (coming to the states soon, we hope), but it’s a great way to get a world-famous colorist to help decide what the “new” you could look like.
Want to see even more great beauty buys? Check out our top picks for beauty must-haves.