The best home hair dyes

A trip to the hairdresser’s isn’t an option right now, but that’s no reason to put up with dark roots or grey hairs if you don’t want to. Enter our pick of the best home hair dyes
Photography: Stocksy

Before we start talking about the leading home hair dyes – we’ve selected the best of the best below – you first need to do a patch test on your skin. This involves dabbing a small amount of the dye behind your ear and waiting 48 hours to check that your skin doesn’t react adversely – now is not the time to have an allergic reaction!

Now back to the best way to colour your hair at home. It’s important to be realistic about the result you want – a home hair dye can only do so much! So, if you have dark brown hair and you want to be transformed into a blonde, a home hair dye is not the way to go – that’s a job for the professionals. Likewise, highlights. ‘How you can do your own highlights at home baffles me,’ says expert colourist Josh Wood. ‘I struggle to do them in the salon!’ What a DIY dye can do is make your hair one or two shades warmer or cooler than its natural colour. ‘If you’re unsure which shade to choose, always go slightly lighter than you think,’ advises Josh, ‘because you can always go darker afterwards if it’s too light, whereas it’s harder to go lighter.’ But DIY hair care doesn’t end there. Here are your options when it comes to colouring your own hair at home right now:

Permanent hair dye

What is it? As the name suggests, a permanent hair dye will cover grey hairs and change the colour of your hair. The dye contains a lifting ingredient that opens up the hair shaft and allows the colour to penetrate. This creates a long-lasting effect that you can only change by colouring over it or growing it out.

How do you use it? It’s a pretty standardised procedure. After you’ve done your skin patch test and there’s been no reaction, mix solution A with solution B, shake the bottle thoroughly and apply all over your hair, working from the front to the back in half-inch sections. The developing time varies, depending on the effect you want, but it’s usually around 25 minutes.

What should I buy?

Garnier Olia 2.0 Black Diamond Permanent Hair Dye is a deep black shade that’s filled with intense conditioning oils to leave hair feeling soft and looking shiny.

Clairol Nice n Easy Permanent Hair Dye 6RB Light Reddish Brown will not only give stunning, deep-red results, but it comes with an after-colour conditioner that’s packed with hydrating ingredients.

Semi-permanent hair dye

What is it? Unlike a permanent colour, semi-permanent doesn’t contain any lifting ingredients; it works, instead, by depositing colour on the outside of the hair shaft, without changing the structure. These types of colour will cover greys but fade with washing. Some semi-permanent hair shades are called glosses.

How do you use it? Just like a permanent colour, you mix solution A with solution B, then shake the bottle and apply, starting at the roots and working down to the ends. Leave it on for the the recommended processing time, then rinse off.

What should I buy?

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi Permanent Hair Dye 5 Hazelnut is made with 80% naturally derived ingredients and lasts up to 28 washes.

L’Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss 515 Chocolate Truffle Brown Semi Permanent Hair Dye leaves hair a shimmering cool brown, which is enriched with Royal Jelly for extra nourishment.

Root touch-up

What is it? A tinted powder or temporary dye that you can spray or brush onto roots or grey hairs to conceal them instantly.

How do you use it? Simply spritz or dab where you need it, and you’re done. The results are instant, quick and fuss-free, but wash out fast, too.

What should I buy?

Josh Wood Colour Blending Brushes are an easy way to hide those unwanted roots or greys for up to three washes. Just load the colour onto the brush and swipe over any regrowth. Available in three shades: darker blonde, lighter brown and darker brown.

L’Oréal Paris Magic Retouch: choose from either a mascara-wand applicator (available in five shades), which you can brush along your roots or over grey hairs (perfect when you just have a few) or, if you need to cover a larger area, opt for the aerosol spray (comes in 12 shades).

Pastel hair dye

What is it? If you fancy a soft pastel colour, there are some amazing options. You need to be either naturally light blonde or have bleach in your hair for them to show up. If you want to bleach your hair beforehand, try Schwarzkopf Color Expert Lightener L9, which will make your hair seven colour levels lighter.

How do you use it? These are usually pre-mixed formulas you apply all over shampooed, towel-dried hair. Again, developing times vary, but it tends to take around 15 minutes. The vibrancy of colour will depend on how light your hair is to begin with. and it will begin to fade after two or three washes.

What should I buy?

Bleach London Rose Gold Super Cool Colour is really easy to use and adds a soft, pastel pink colour. Just slather it over towel-dried hair, wait and rinse off to reveal your new hue.

L’Oréal Paris Colorista Silver Grey Permanent Hair Dye Gel High Intensity Permanent Hair Colour is a shimmering silver-grey shade.

Schwarzkopf LIVE Lightener + Twist Cool Lilac 104 is a stunning lilac tone.

Bleach London Grey Violet Toner sits prettily in between silver and purple.

Bright and bold hair dye

What is it? Looking to make more of a statement with your hair colour? Bright hair dyes that pack a serious colour punch are what you need. Just as with pastel hair dyes, the lighter your hair colour, the more vibrant the shade will appear.

How do you use it? These are pre-prepared colours. Apply to clean, towel-dried hair, wait for it to develop – around 20 minutes – and rinse off.

What should I buy?

Bleach London Super Cool Colour in Violet Skies is a punchy purple.

Garnier Nutrisse 6.60 Ultra Fiery Red Permanent Hair Dye is a fiery shade that works well on darker hair tones.

Schwarzkopf LIVE Amethyst Chrome U69 Permanent Hair Dye is a deep-purple tone.