Our hair is one of the best accessories we can wear. With just a couple of tweaks in our hairstyle, we can dress up or dress down any outfit we like.
Hair is creative, it’s beautiful, and it can be an extension of our most authentic self. But hair dyes can often contain harmful chemicals that aren’t safe for us or the environment. Dyes can even contain animal-derived ingredients!
But having great hair doesn’t have to come at the expense of our furry friends nor does it have to be environmentally harmful. Here, we’re going to explore cruelty-free, vegan hair dyes that give you a great color payoff without any harm.
Note: While these brands are all vegan and cruelty-free, they are not necessarily sustainable. However, we have specifically chosen brands that come as close to the values we like to see as possible (i.e., they don’t use harmful additives in their hair dyes).
Wait, There’s Vegan Hair Dye?
It might come as a surprise to you that there are a lot of cruelty-free, vegan hair dye brands on the market. After all, what animal-derived components can be in your hair dye?
It turns out, that there are a couple of non-vegan ingredients in typical hair dyes that make them not vegan-friendly and not cruelty-free.
For example, hair dyes may sometimes contain animal-based glycerin. And although glycerin can come from vegetable sources, manufacturers are often vague or unsure about where they source this ingredient.
Another common animal-derived ingredient in hair color is keratin, an animal protein that can also be found in your hair and nails. Keratin helps protect your hair and keep it healthy, hence, is a common component in many hair dyes available today.
With that, let’s take a look at some of the best vegan hair dye brands with cruelty-free hair colors that don’t damage your hair or cause harm to animals during the entire process.
Good Dye Young - US
If your late 2000s music scene was a mix of Paramore songs, then you’re familiar with Hayley Williams’ bright orange hair which has become such a symbolic aspect of the award-winning band.
Good Dye Young is the love child of Hayley and her hair stylist Brian O’Connor, and this hair dye brand is all about self-expression and allowing yourself to be colorful and happy in celebration of your authentic self.
What We Love: Color Edition
Good Dye Young is heavy on bold, expressive colors that spark attention, and conversation, and show off your hair’s true colorful potential.
GDY hair dyes are semi-permanent hair dyes that will give your hair color for 4-6 weeks with proper care. The brand currently does not offer any permanent hair dyes.
Their cruelty-free formula is super vibrant and pigmented but may be mixed with GDY fader for a lighter look. If you want pastel shades in your hair but still want to buy from GDY, we highly recommend trying out their fader formula and experimenting to your heart’s content.
GDY also has color-depositing products that last for up to 10-15 washes (more if you have pre-lightened hair). These dyes have a lighter pigment load than conventional hair dyes so they’re perfect for times when you just want to accentuate an already existing color.
If you want to experiment with color without committing to it, go for Poster Paste! It’s a temporary hair make-up formula that can be applied when you’re getting ready and rinsed out at the end of the day.
GDY offers an extensive range of colorful products with varying levels of commitment to colorful hair.
Bonus: Each GDY listing shows you just how long the color pay-off will last on your hair (when platinum) so you can easily estimate how vibrant the color deposit is going to be. Of course, results will vary on different hair colors and textures.
Good Dye Young products are all vegan and cruelty-free and do not contain any PPD or peroxide. Their hair vegan hair dyes are also ammonia free and do not involve any other harmful chemicals.
GDY dyes are completely safe for all hair types and will not leave your hair damaged. These dyes even contain conditioning properties that help preserve and correct your hair’s porosity, which may get damaged during bleaching, heat styling, and other chemical processes.
The brand also uses sunflower extract in its dye formulas to help protect your hair from harmful UV rays and preserve the hair color longer.
If you’re interested in viewing a full list of ingredients, each product listing has a complete list of the ingredients used as well as a list of common dye chemicals that are NOT in their formula.
GDY is Leaping Bunny certified so you can rest assured that there are no animal-derived ingredients within any of their formulas.
Sustainability & Ethics
Good Dye Young is still on its very first steps towards a more sustainable business. At the moment, they’re taking initiative by informing customers about the best ways to recycle their product packaging. You can read more about it here.
GDY has also partnered with EcoCart to provide buyers the option to purchase GDY products completely carbon-neutral. As we explored in our discussion on insetting, carbon neutrality is not the complete solution to our environmental woes, but it is a good start.
All Good Dye Young products are made in the US.
oVertone - US
oVertone is a Colorado-based hair solutions company that’s revolutionizing the way we think of hair color.
Founded by a lovely duo, oVertone is first and foremost, a brand that focuses on giving customers beautiful, vibrant colors without the damage and dryness that comes with traditional hair coloring methods.
What We Love: Color Edition
What oVertone does is not hair dye per se—not in the sense that the dye will open up your hair follicles and deposit pigment that way. Instead, oVertone uses coloring and daily conditioners to color and maintain hair.
Now, color conditioners are by no means a new technology. They’ve been around for decades and there have even been many drugstore brands that have color-depositing conditioners—although we can’t attest to how effective those are.
But what sets oVertone conditioners from others is that this semi-permanent alternative to hair dye does not contain any of the harmful chemicals often present in typical hair dye.
oVertone will not damage hair and will keep it strong and healthy while still keeping a vibrant shade.
Because oVertone does not use harsh alcohols and chemicals in their color-depositing hair conditioners, their products are not meant to be one-time applications.
Instead, they have a coloring conditioner that will deposit plenty of pigment onto your hair, and then daily conditioners to maintain that color as you desire. Since you constantly touch up your hair through these conditioners, your hair color can stay fresh for a much longer time.
oVertone conditioners are mostly colorful hues like pink, rose gold, red, orange, blue, purple, and green, but they also have more natural hair colors like ginger and black.
oVertone conditioners are reliant on plant-based oil such as linseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and evening primrose oil, among many others. Specific ingredients can be found on each listing.
All oVertone products are completely vegan and cruelty-free, and they always will be. The brand only works with US-based suppliers that have cruelty-free and vegan processes, so you can rest assured that your hair color is not achieved through unethical means.
oVertone is also certified by PETA-certified as cruelty-free and vegan.
All their products do not contain any wheat, so they are safe for anyone with celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivities.
oVertone hair conditioners are free from the following:
- Phthalates, SLS, SLES, Parabens, DMDM Hydantoin, Urea, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, and Formaldehyde
Sustainability & Ethics
oVertone is not a sustainable brand per se, nor do they market themselves as an eco friendly, sustainable company.
However, the mere fact that they omit plenty of harmful chemicals from their products is already a great start, especially considering how frequently these chemicals are used in the industry.
One of oVertone’s missions is to cultivate an environment where people can freely express themselves—a feature that’s evident in how they do business. Read more here on how the brand bridges beauty, culture, and all the intersectional issues that roam free in the world of beauty.
Herbatint - Italy/US
Herbatint is the oldest vegan hair dye brand on this list. Founded in 1970, this company has been paving the way for ammonia-free hair color for decades—long before more modern brands came up in the market.
Today, Herbatint remains the best choice for easily accessible permanent hair color that is safe and gentle on your hair.
What We Love: Keeping it Natural
Unlike previously featured brands, Herbatint is all about natural hair colors. Their primary collection consists of 36 shades you can mix and match as desired.
They have copper, mahogany, golden tones, and a range of ten natural colors from black to platinum blonde, among an assortment of other colors. They even have more fashionable colors like purple and orange.
Herbatint permanent hair color covers 100% of gray hair even on the first application. This coverage is achieved with a unique and gentle formula that will not damage your hair and keep it strong and healthy.
Herbatint products are dermatologically tested on sensitive skin so they’re great if you’ve previously had reactions to hair dye that aren’t approved for those with skin sensitivity.
Herbatint developers only have 3% hydrogen peroxide at most (equivalent to a 10-volume developer). This ensures that hair does not get damaged during the coloring process and hair remains strong and vibrant throughout it all.
However, this also means that their dyes will not be able to lift your hair color beyond 2 tones. If you’re looking to lighten your hair from black to blonde, for instance, Herbatint is not the right choice.
In the instances when you want to go from really dark to really light, you will have to accept the consequences and additional care that come with having bleached hair.
Herbatint originated in Italy but is widely available worldwide, including in the United States.
Herbatint cruelty-free, vegan hair dyes contain eight organic herbal extracts that help maintain your hair’s vitality and health. The brand’s formulas do not contain any ammonia, parabens, or resorcinol. They also do not use alcohol and fragrances in their products.
This cruelty-free brand has permanent dyes that have excellent gray coverage without compromising your health, animal welfare, and the environment.
The eight herbal extracts include the following:
- Aloe vera
- Witch Hazel
- White Birch
- Chincona Calisaya
Herbatint products are also gluten-free and their ingredients are always nickel-tested.
However, Herbatint does use PPD (p-Phenylenediamine), a common ingredient in hair colorants that have been known to cause allergic reactions.
Nevertheless, the brand only uses a small percentage of this ingredient and at concentrations much lower than what is permitted by EU regulations.
Sustainability & Ethics
Herbatint is a certified B Corporation and they have been so since 2016. In 2017, they further improved this designation by becoming a certified Benefit Corporation, the first company outside the US to do so.
Being a B Corp means that Herbatint operates on the highest levels of sustainability and ethics, a feat that only about 2,500 companies in the world have achieved.
Herbatint has been shaking up the hair care industry since 1970 by abstaining from many of the common harsh chemicals used to lighten the hair. Herbatint uses naturally-derived ingredients as much as possible and they always stay within the bounds of EU regulations.
They are certified under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP – ISO 22716) and ISO 9001 Certification for their entire Quality System. They also have a LEED-certified Herbatint Campus where energy savings and employee comfort are some of the brand’s top priorities.
You can go through more details of how Herbatint has created a positive force through their business on their Impact Report.
Tints of Nature - UK
Tints of Nature was founded in 1995 in the spirit of creating more natural beauty products during a time when beauty often meant harmful chemicals, especially in the hair.
Fast forward nearly three decades later, Tints of Nature remains true to its goal and has continued to produce hair dye and other beauty products as close to nature as possible. The brand has never tested on animals and is now completely vegan and cruelty-free.
What We Love: Keeping it Natural
Tints of Nature has a few different product categories in its collection. They have a collection of permanent hair dyes as well as a selection of semi-permanent henna hair dyes.
The brand mostly manufactures cruelty-free, vegan hair dye in natural colors like browns, reds, and blondes. Their henna collection only has nine colors—also on the more natural side of the color spectrum.
In their henna collection, you will find colors like mahogany, golden brown, burgundy, red, light brown, and several others.
If you’re going for a temporary look or simply want to experiment with a new color, then the semi-permanent henna hair dye is an excellent option. You can also use the products in this range whenever you want to add depth to your current hair color.
But if you want something that will last longer, we suggest going for their permanent hair colors. However, these products do have a slight amount of PPD in them so if you’re avoiding this particular ingredient, then semi-permanent hair dyes are the way to go.
Tints of Nature products are predominantly made with natural ingredients. Their permanent dyes are made with 75% certified organic and 95% naturally-derived ingredients. Meanwhile, their henna dyes are made of over 95% naturally-derived ingredients and have 15 certified-organic components.
The brand does not use any ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, or sulfates in any of its formulations. But again, they do use a small amount (0.42%) of PPD for their permanent dye collection.
As much as possible, Tints of Nature will source from nature and will only entertain synthetic ingredients when a suitable natural alternative is not available for use.
Over 75% of the brand’s ingredients are sourced within the UK, which helps guarantee quality ingredients that aren’t obtained under unethical conditions. Ingredients not sourced in the UK must undergo a strict quality control process to conform to the brand’s needs.
While all formulations are now vegan, previous batches of the brand’s sulfate-free shampoo contain a milk derivative and this version may still be circulating in stores. If you want to buy said shampoo, make sure to order from their online store where all formulations are updated.
For more information on cruelty-free, vegan shampoo, check out our guide here.
Sustainability & Ethics
Tints of Nature has always been passionate about the environment and sustainability. The brand actively tries to reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact throughout manufacturing, distribution, and even disposal.
The brand has been using 100% recycled cardboard for its packaging ever since 2003, saving more than 200,000 kgs of virgin cardboard in the process. You can learn more about the life cycle of packaging materials here.
Their packing chips are also corn-based and fully biodegradable, which is a pretty efficient way to ensure packages are secure during transit while also reducing the impact of plastic waste.
And since products are manufactured in the UK with predominantly UK-sourced ingredients, the brand’s supply chain becomes significantly shorter. Thus making their production process more eco friendly.
Lime Crime - US
Founded in 2008, Lime Crime is a cruelty-free, vegan beauty brand founded on the idea that beauty can be non-conforming and self-expression can be done without following the rules.
With the tagline “Never Blend In,” Lime Crime encourages us all to be our most authentic selves, whether it means doing something intense like coloring our hair in the most vibrant colors or something as simple as donning a shade of lipstick we love.
What We Love: Color Edition
Right off the bat, you can tell that Lime is all about the colors. Their cruelty-free hair dyes are made to give you the most colorful hair with the best color payoff.
The brand offers vegan semi-permanent dyes as well as temporary dyes that wash off after one night of fun (or as soon as you want to wash your hair).
Lime’s full-coverage semi-permanent hair colors come in 35+ different shades. Most of their colors are quite vibrant so you may need to tone them down if you’re looking for a more pastel hair color. Use Lime’s diluting agent to achieve a more muted tone.
If you’re going for a super vibrant look, it’s important to remember that colors will not show up on dark hair. And unless you bleach your hair to a lighter base color, colorful tones will rarely show.
Lime also has a bleaching kit, but we recommend you research extensively first before attempting to bleach your hair at home. No matter how hard you try, bleaching extensively will always give you damaged hair; it’s just the degree of damage where it varies.
Once you have bleached hair, we recommend you build a strong vegan hair care routine that will help keep your vibrant color and shiny hair.
Vibrant, colorful hair often means bleach—unless you already have incredibly light blonde hair. And unfortunately, bleach keeps your hair dry and you need to exert extra effort in caring for your hair to maintain its strength and shine.
The good news is that Lime Crime’s semi-permanent vegan hair dye is formulated with conditioning ingredients that boost your hair’s shine and keep it moisturized.
All Lime products are made without PPD, peroxide, and ammonia. And of course, all their hair dyes are vegan and cruelty-free. Lime Crime is vehemently against animal cruelty and does not use any animal products in their formulations nor are their products tested on animals.
Do take note that Lime products have a sweet scent, so there is some fragrance within the formula. If you’ve had a history of reacting to fragrances, we recommend contacting the brand first before trying out their product.
Lime Crime also uses glycerin in their products but since they are certified vegan and cruelty-free by both PETA and the Leaping Bunny Program, we’re certain their glycerin does not come from animal sources.
As always, you can check the product listing for the full list of ingredients.
Sustainability & Ethics
Lime is not necessarily a sustainable brand, and they have never marketed itself as one. However, they have taken certain steps towards becoming more eco friendly.
The brand now uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) material in its packaging, which reduces the environmental impact of production and allows waste to be used again.
All of Lime’s products are made locally in Los Angeles, California.
Some Tips When Dyeing Your Hair
Dyeing your hair can be a very exciting activity, especially when you’re doing it for the first time! But coloring can also be a nerve-wracking task when you’re dealing with semi-permanent or permanent formulas.
To add to the stress of it all, if you want colorful hair, bleach is almost always involved, which is another behemoth of a task on its own. Here are some of our best tips when dyeing or bleaching your hair for the first time.
If you’re doing your hair at home, it is essential to research before doing anything.
Do your due diligence before buying materials and make sure the dye you get is suitable for your hair type.
A common mistake many people make when dyeing their hair for the first time is that they do it impulsively without knowing anything about it beforehand. So, anytime you get the urge to dye your hair right then and there, don’t do it if you don’t have prior experience.
It’s always best to read up on the best bleach or the best cruelty-free hair dyes you can use for your hair level and type.
YouTube is a great repository of information from professionals who can guide you through your hair coloring journey.
Fair warning, as much as there is legitimate information floating online, there are also plenty of misconceptions. Try to treat this process as an in-depth project where you need to compare sources and information.
Get Your Hair Light Enough
If you’re going for a colorful color or an incredibly light shade like ash blonde or gray, you will need a light base (think level 8-10 hair). If you don’t get your hair light enough, you may not achieve the color you want.
Unfortunately, there’s no safe way to lighten hair on that many levels without using bleach. If you already have super light hair, then you may be able to skip the bleach, but this isn’t the case for the vast majority of people.
If you have a similar hair color to what you’re going for, like naturally red hair to a neon red hair color, you may also be able to get away with not using any bleach.
But generally, getting your hair light enough is a crucial part of getting a bold color, so make sure to consider that.
Section Hair Properly
One of the most common ways at-home dye jobs can go wrong is an uneven or patchy result. This happens when hair isn’t bleached or dyed evenly, resulting in a splotchy color application.
To avoid this, make sure to section your hair properly so you can work in smaller segments of hair, thus ensuring the dye is deposited evenly throughout every strand.
Do A Patch Test
Patch testing is an integral part of trying out any new beauty product or item, especially with something that often contains irritants, like hair dye.
Even if your cruelty-free, vegan hair dye is made with natural ingredients, it may still affect sensitive skin. So to make sure your body doesn’t react negatively to any of the dye’s ingredients, do a patch test 48 hours before you commit to using the dye.
Be Careful About Bleaching Already Treated Hair
There have been plenty of horror stories online about the terrible effects of bleaching jobs gone wrong. One of the worst ways the process could go wrong is if you applied bleach on relaxed hair or hair that has been previously chemically treated.
Doing this may cause your hair to fall out in clumps, which is the last thing you want.
If you have damaged hair, please go to a salon and seek professional assistance before doing anything drastic to your hair structure.
Coloring your hair is an exciting process made even better by using dyes from vegan and cruelty-free brands. After all, the best hair dyes are the ones that give us excellent color payoff without compromising our values.
Although it may seem surprising, vegan hair dyes are just as effective as conventional ones and they will color your hair just as vibrant, and just as alive.
And with that, we hope this list of cruelty-free, vegan brands will help you pick out the perfect color for your new do!