Gone are the days of questionable hair dye ingredients and strong chemical formulas.
Whether you’re strictly vegan or not, opting for a cruelty-free brand of hair dye can help your hair and the environment.
Plus, vegan hair dyes come in all kinds of shades, from natural hues to more vibrant shades. As more and more people make the switch to a more humane lifestyle, the demand for vegan hair dyes is only going to grow.
What Are Vegan Hair Dyes?
Well, for one thing, vegan hair dyes are produced without harming animals, either by using animal-derived ingredients or testing the results of the product on animals.
Ninety-five percent of animals used in experiments are not protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Vegan hair dyes, on the other hand, use plant-based sources and vegetable-based dyes such as henna to achieve rich and radiant hair color.
There is a wide range of vegan hair dyes out there, spanning temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent formulas.
You’ll have to read the ingredients list on your chosen box of hair dye, but some formulas contain hair-healthy ingredients such as cocoa butter and essential oils.
Lots of conventional hair dyes are made with ammonia, which penetrates the hair shaft and can lead to more extensive damage. Fortunately, the majority of vegan dyes are ammonia-free but still manage to create lasting results.
How Did We Find the Best Vegan Hair Dyes?
To find the top vegan hair dyes, we wanted to find brands with good corporate values and a commitment to offering vegan products and cruelty-free products.
We reviewed their ingredients list and compared each product to competitors in the vegan hair dye marketplace. It was also crucial to check out user reviews and understand what customers who used the product had to say.
What Are the Best Vegan Hair Dyes for Curly Hair?
Below are the top three vegan hair dyes that you should try out when it’s time for your next hair coloring treatment.
1. Light Mountain: Best Botanical Blend Hair Dye
Light Mountain natural hair color and conditioner is a vegan formula rooted in botanicals.
The henna-based formula gives your hair a conditioning treatment while you color it, making it a complete kit.
Plus, Light Mountain has the backing of influencers in the conscious consumers’ sphere.
The formula is certified organic and is free of parabens, ammonia, peroxide, and metallic salts. That means that the product’s formulation doesn’t include chemicals that will strip your hair of its natural oils.
Rather, Light Mountain uses a fine henna powder to create a creamy consistency that achieves lasting results. The ingredients list is sparse: henna, indigo, and senna leaf powder.
This semi-permanent vegan hair dye isn’t the best smelling, but it comes in 16 beautiful shades and it is all-natural.
There’s a bit of a learning curve to using this dye, as it requires you to mix common home ingredients such as tea and lemon into the botanical powder.
According to customers, it’s worth it for the vibrant color you get from this henna-based hair dye.
- All-natural and organic formula
- Gorgeous, vibrant color
- Includes complete color and conditioning kit
- Has a strong smell
- Takes some getting used to due to the learning curve
2. Manic Panic: Best Budget Buy
Manic Panic is a wildly popular semi-permanent formula that is backed by 40 years of experience.
Over the years it has become a name in quality at-home hair dye, and it’s vegan!
Manic Panic is available in 51 shades and the line also includes a “pastelizer” for creating a more subdued color. Honestly, you could also just mix some light-colored conditioner into the mix instead.
This formula will gradually fade as you wash your hair, so it will only last for a few weeks.
Those with darker hair will have trouble holding onto the color without bleaching their hair, so for best results, they should lighten their hair before applying the Manic Panic formula.
A four-ounce jar of Manic Panic usually costs less than $10, so it’s a great choice for those on a budget. It comes in a ready to use, no-mix formula, making it a bit easier to use than the Light Mountain multi-step process.
That being said, this doesn’t product penetrate the hair follicles, but just sits on the outside of the hair shaft, which explains why it’s not a long-lasting solution.
Still, it’s free of parabens, gluten, ammonia, phthalates, resorcinol, and PPD. Plus, the mix and match shades allow you to create a custom hair color.
- Mixable color and tones
- Ready-to-use formula
- Less effective on dark hair
- Washes out rather quickly
3. Surya Brasil Henna Cream: Best Pure-Henna Formula
Surya Brasil Henna Cream is a solid choice for curly girls, as it strengthens your hair without exposing it to harsh chemicals.
This is a wonderful vegan formula for those with a sensitive scalp or who have experienced allergic reactions to harsher hair dyes.
It smells pretty good for a hair dye, and that could be because of the essential oils in the formula, such as ylang-ylang and rose flower.
Other botanical ingredients include chamomile, Indian sandalwood, jasmine, Brazil nut extract, and aloe vera leaf extract.
Surya Brasil is a bit more expensive than other hair dyes, costing approximately $15 for a 2.31-ounce box.
Still, it’s a convenient pre-mixed formula that adds shine and strength. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to wait around 48 hours for the henna to set. That means no washing!
This vegan hair dye works on all tones and while it won’t get you complete gray coverage, it can blend your grays with a rich tone that looks mature and radiant.
- Easy-to-use henna-based formula
- Great for those with sensitive scalps
- Includes essential oils for hair health
- A bit pricey compared to others
- Requires 48 hours for the henna to set
Common Questions About Vegan Hair Dyes
Perhaps, but any hair coloring process is going to weaken your hair somewhat.
Consider the fact that each hair on your head is a fiber that is protected by the cuticle. When you dye your hair, especially if you are using permanent hair color, you can damage your hair’s keratin protein structure.
This will diminish your hair softness and shine and make it more prone to future damage. If you’re still set on dyeing your hair, be sure to use a chelating shampoo and a deep conditioning treatment before you get started. We always recommend starting with clean, well-conditioned hair.
For reference, the semi-permanent color tends to be less damaging than permanent color since it mostly sits on the outer cortex of your hair rather than making its way into the cuticle.
Also, for best results, you will want to wait at least a day or two before you wash your hair again. The next time you wash your hair, use products that are formulated for color-treated hair.
Believe it or not, henna is very common among women with curly hair because it’s a natural formula free of potentially harmful additives and harsh chemicals such as parabens.
Plus, as a bonus, henna can help maintain your hair’s shine and strength.
It’s possible. However, it really depends on what it is that you’re allergic to. Even plant-based and vegan products can cause allergic reactions in some people.
When using a new hair dye, it’s best to test out of a small strand of your hair before committing to covering your entire head.
Sometimes using a vegan hair dye isn’t enough, as harsh chemicals and additives can be lurking just about anywhere.
First on our list is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS for short. It’s used often in shampoos, but can find its way into hair-coloring products, too.
The function of SLS in hair dye is to break the tension along the surface of your hair, which allows the product to make better contact with the hair.
Some health professionals claim that SLS is carcinogenic, but it’s still a widely debated topic. Next is PPD, or p-Phenylenediamine, which is derived from ammonia.
PPD works to help the pigment stick to your hair, and it’s especially prevalent in darker hues.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to be allergic to PPD in some capacity, and its effects can get worse the more often you use PPD-containing hair dyes.
Ammonia is another common hair dye ingredient and one that can be hard to get away from. It’s known for being a toxic chemical, but that doesn’t keep it out of common household products such as hair color.
Ammonia works by getting your hair shafts ready to accept new pigment, allowing for a more effective dyeing treatment.
That being said, ammonia also damages your hair by raising its pH level and depleting it of protein and moisture.
Lastly, Resorcinol (or dihydroxy benzene) is known to increase a person’s cancer risk, as well as disrupt their hormone production and irritate the skin.
Even so, it is useful in hair dyes because it helps the color stay longer. Similar to PPD, some people have more serious allergic reactions to Resorcinol, so it’s best to avoid it.
It’s easy for consumers to get confused by all of the claims that brands make on their packaging. Two claims that seem identical are cruelty-free and vegan, but in reality, they are quite different.
The term cruelty-free refers to a product that wasn’t tested on animals. However, that doesn’t mean that the product is vegan, or free of animal-derived ingredients.
It’s easy to spot a “vegan” or ”cruelty-free” logo on a product, but a look at the ingredients list can show a different story.
Unfortunately, there is not much regulation in the use of labels such as “organic” and “all-natural,” which can lead some consumers astray.
For instance, if you’re looking at the ingredients list and you see 4-ABP, that indicates that the product contains Resorcinol, a carcinogenic substance.
Nope! Even a vegetable-based dye could still contain animal products or harsh chemicals.
Also, vegetable-based products could be tested on animals, but the vegetable-based sticker leads to a different perception. Remember that companies can use a label that says “plant-based” without the product being vegan or plant-based.
Maybe, but probably not, since most hair salons don’t carry a ton of vegan and cruelty-free products.
One known exception would be an Aveda salon, which will offer products from their line of plant-based and cruelty-free hair colors.
This isn’t to say that you can’t find a hair colorist with vegan values, it just might take some research to locate one in your area.
The Surya Brasil hair dye is a henna-based formula, which might cause some confusion. Is it vegan? Is it plant-based?
Most of the henna you will find today is made entirely of natural plant-based materials, making it a vegan option.
It’s worth noting that henna isn’t entirely the same as a hair dye since henna and traditional hair dye interact with different parts of the hair.
Henna binds to the keratin in the hair’s cuticle while hair dye penetrates the inner cortex of the hair.
Don’t be fooled though, because henna can stay in your hair for a long time!
The Final Word
When it comes to finding the best vegan hair dye for your hair, it will take some digging and researching.
Every head of hair is different, and while hair colorists at your local salon can point you in the right direction, they don’t always have all of the answers.
It’s great that you want to opt for a hair dye formula that is cruelty-free and vegan but just be aware that your search will take a bit longer.
Trust us. it is worth the wait as you will reduce the probability of adding potentially damaging chemicals to your hair. This will reduce your risk of an allergic reaction, too.
Give these three vegan hair dyes a look and see if any of them feel right for you. Best of luck finding your next hair color, all while protecting animals and the health of your hair.