The 5 Least-Damaging Box Dyes for Your Hair (according to a pro hairstylist)

coloring hair at home


As you can see, there are various kinds and brands of dye for your hair, but when it comes time to talk about your hair’s health, they aren’t all created equal.

To make sure you fully understand the topic, let’s start at the beginning by taking a look at the differences between the two kinds of dyes: permanent and semi-permanent.


  • Since semi-permanent dyes don’t contain ammonia, they’re less damaging for your hair, so I’d especially recommend them for you if you have dry or damaged hair. But, they don’t last as long as a permanent dye.

Semi-permanent dye lasts approximately three weeks; after that, you’ll need to touch up your color.


  • Permanent dyes are a whole different ballgame because they’re best for hair that is at least mediumly healthy, maybe that has split or dry ends, but is otherwise pretty healthy.
 If your hair is completely damaged, then you shouldn’t use permanent dye because it will dry out your hair even more from the ammonia in the dye.  


  • The ammonia is what makes the color stay in for longer for approximately 6-7 weeks, after which time you’ll need to touch up your color.

So now you know, if your hair is at least mediumly healthy and you want to only to touch up your color every month and a half, you should go for permanent dye.


But there are still a few more differences between the two kinds of dyes that I think it would be helpful for you to be familiar with.

That’s why if you’re worried about your hair’s health, stick with me because I’ll tell you:

  • Why semi-permanent dyes damage your hair less
  • When it’s a good idea to use permanent dye
  • The brands of semi-permanent and permanent dyes that are less aggressive for your hair


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Why semi-permanent dyes damage your hair less


Like I explained in the beginning, semi-permanent dyes don’t contain ammonia, but that’s not the only difference between semi-permanent and permanent dyes.

Do you want to know why they’re better for dry or damaged hair?


  • It’s because when you apply them, you’ll use a 9 or 10 volume developer, while with permanent dye, you’ll use a 20 or 30 volume developer, depending on which brand you choose.

So, in not having ammonia and using a developer with a smaller volume, the semi-permanent dye will damage your hair less.


  • Another difference between the two is their consistency.

If you decide to use a semi-permanent dye, you’ll notice that it’s not as creamy as the permanent dye mixture when you make the mixture for your hair.

It’s a more gel-like mixture, or, depending on the brand, it might seem more like a mousse; it doesn’t have a strong odor, and it won’t irritate your scalp.


 These are the kinds of differences that are most noticeable and the reasons why semi-permanent dye is best for weak, damaged, or dry hair.  

Are there any important disadvantages to using semi-permanent dye?


  • Yes, the biggest disadvantage is how long it lasts. Semi-permanent dye only lasts 3-4 weeks because it’s made specifically for protecting your hair.

That’s why you’ll need to touch up semi-permanent dye at least every 4 weeks.

Also, semi-permanent dyes don’t usually come in a kit, so you’ll need to buy all of the ingredients, like the tube of dye and the developer, separately.


Now, let’s move on to permanent dyes.


Permanent dyes

Permanent dye contains ammonia, uses 20 volume developer, and should be used on hair that is at least mediumly healthy.

That means that you can still use permanent dye if you have split or dry ends, some frizz or if you’ve already use dye in the past.

And you’ll say to me, but how come I can use permanent dye if my hair isn’t completely healthy?


  • You’ll see. Although ammonia and peroxide developers damage your hair, they don’t do any excessive damage. Plus, it’s only the first time you dye your hair that you need to apply it to your entire head of hair.

After that, you only need to apply the dye as maintenance, touching up your roots where your base color shows through.

That’s why you can use permanent dye on mediumly healthy hair, because you don’t need to cover your entire head with dye, damaging all of your hair.


Your hair will get a few weeks to rest from the chemical processes, so it will have some time to recuperate. Plus, during that time, you should be taking the opportunity to hydrate and repair your hair.

Do you want to know why permanent dye lasts longer?


Because the ammonia combined with the developer lifts your hair’s cuticles so your hair can better absorb the pigment.


  • Another difference between permanent and semi-permanent dye is permanent dye’s consistency. A permanent dye mix is creamy and has a stronger odor.

And there’s also a small chance it might irritate your scalp, which is why I recommend that you don’t wash your hair for 48 hours before you use the dye.


  • Permanent dyes have two forms: a complete kit, or you can buy the tube of dye and developer separately.

I always recommend choosing the kit since it’ll give you everything you need for using the dye: instructions, gloves, and even a post-color treatment.


Now that you know the most important differences between the two kinds of dyes, we’ll take a look at which brands of each are the healthiest for your hair and why.


5 brands of safe permanent and semi-permanent dyes for your hair

Any of the following dyes will leave your hair in good shape and won’t do any extra damage to your hair fiber.

You should always try to choose internationally known brands. It’s very important for your hair’s health to do so.

I want you to keep that in mind because it’s key.


Although there are many brands to choose from, the biggest difference between semi-permanent dyes and permanent dyes is that permanent dye is cheaper to make.

That’s why there are hundreds of brands of permanent dye.

On the other hand, semi-permanent dye isn’t as cheap for manufacturers, so there are fewer options out there.

What am I trying to get at here?




Like I always tell my clients, it’s better to spend a little bit more on dye upfront and not a fortune on repairing damaged hair after the deed is done.

With all of that in mind, let’s get into which brands of dye are the safest for your hair. We’ll take a look at semi-permanent dyes first.


Semi-permanent Dyes



does not ruin hair

Check all Natural Instincts shades and prices on Amazon


This semi-permanent dye comes in a complete kit with a 9-volume developer.

It contains aloe vera and coconut oil, which will nurture your hair during the color process since coconut oil is good for damaged hair.



ammonia free

Color Touch uses 6-volume developer, which makes its consistency gel-like, and you’ll need to buy the tube of dye and developer separately.

This semi-permanent dye also does not contain ammonia. Since the developer is a relatively low-volume developer, it almost doesn’t damage your hair at all.

It’s an easy product to use because of its gel-like consistency, and it has a nice scent.


Permanent Dyes



comes in box

Check all Revlon Colorsilk shades and prices on Amazon


This product has silk extracts that penetrate your hair fiber alongside the dye, protecting your hair from the developer’s negative effects.

It uses a 20-volume developer, a small amount of ammonia, and the pigment concentration is low.

Another advantage? It doesn’t contain any extra chemicals that could damage your hair.



safe for hair

All of L’Oreal’s lines are excellent, but this line, in particular, contains pro-keratin to repair your hair during use.

It also uses a 20-volume developer and low concentrations of ammonia.

When you use the dye, the keratin penetrates your hair fiber, repairing it, which will leave your hair nurtured and without doing it any extra damage.



get rid of the orange from hair

The mixtures from this line are thick and creamy, and they also use 20-volume developer and a low percentage of ammonia.

The creamy and thick consistency will hydrate your hair while you use it.

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