The Best Box Hair Dyes to Touch Up Your Color at Home
One aspect of life that the pandemic upended was a regular beauty routine. As everyone came together to follow social distancing rules and stay-home orders to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, that also meant more people than ever were dealing with outgrown roots or dull color.
Yes, Southern women love keeping up with their hair color—and there's no shame in that. But when salons closed for the foreseeable future, it was time to find another solution to touch up color at home. Enter: box hair dye.
Box hair dyes sometimes get a bad rap, but as long as you take the time to choose the right option from a trusted brand—and follow directions closely—they're actually an easy, convenient, and affordable alternative for keeping your color fresh without going to a salon. And while some people may be returning to their trusty beauty parlors as businesses reopen and the public has access to COVID-19 vaccines, box hair dye is still a great option if you're in a pinch or on a budget. To help you out, we did the research and found the best box hair dyes you can buy online:
- Best-Rated Box Dye: Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color
- Best for Brunettes: John Frieda Precision Foam Colour
- Best to Cover Grays: Revlon Total Color Clean Hair Color
- Best for Blondes: Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel
- Best Non-Toxic: Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
- Best for Long-Lasting Color: Garnier Olia Brilliant Color
- Best for Quick Application: Clairol Nice N' Easy Perfect 10 Hair Color
- Best for Highlights: L'Oreal Paris Frost and Design Cap Hair Highlights For Long Hair
- Best for Redheads: Revlon Colorsilk Beautiful Color
- Best for Roots: Clairol Root Touch-Up
- Best for Bold Colors: Overtone Original Rose Gold Coloring Conditioner
- Best for Ombré: L'Oréal Paris Feria Brush-on Ombré Effect Hair Color
- Best for Damaged Hair: Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Cream
Before reaching for any ol' box hair color, though, it's important to find one that not only will work for your specific hair type and hair concern, but also won't botch your existing color. Keep reading to learn more about these box hair dyes and why they're great choices for every hair color, type, and concern. The best part? They're all under $40, so you can save money without sacrificing your beauty routine.
Best-Rated Box Dye: Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color
Thanks to its effective formula free of any alcohol, silicone, or ammonia, this permanent hair color is a top pick among reviewers. Not to mention, it's chock-full of hydrating and conditioning ingredients like botanical oat milk, soy proteins, and argan oil, so it won't dry out or damage your hair while coloring it. Reviewers love the depth of color it gives hair; some noted that the darker tones are very deep, so if you're concerned about going too dark, opt for one shade lighter.
Buy It: $9.97; amazon.com
Best for Brunettes: John Frieda Precision Foam Colour
The key to gorgeous brunette locks is the richness of the hue, so if your brown color is starting to go flat, reach for this unique foam formula. The advanced non-drip formula means your bathroom, clothes, and hairline will be stain-free after application. Reviewers love how concentrated the color is without making a huge mess, and they say it works wonders on thick, textured hair. It's even strong enough to color grays and gives hair a satin-like sheen that will look like you just left the salon.
Buy It: $11.92; amazon.com
Best to Cover Grays: Revlon Total Color Clean Hair Color
Revlon's newest color to hit shelves is seriously impressive. The vegan formula is free of harsh ingredients like ammonia, parabens,or sulfates, so it's gentle enough for sensitive scalps. Plus, it's made to completely cover up gray roots as well as touch up color. Reviewers say it's effective and very easy to use, and one user stated that unlike most hair dyes, this boxed color doesn't have a lingering harsh smell. Others raved about the included conditioning gloss, saying it left their hair soft and shiny post-dye and shampoo.
Buy It: Starting at $6.21; amazon.com
Best for Blondes: Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel
Coloring blonde hair at home can be very tricky, in fact, most professionals recommend avoiding it at all costs. That's why this temporary color gel is a great option for blondes. It won't dye your hair—so you won't have to worry about messing around with bleach or accidentally turning blonde strands orange—but it will help to conceal regrowth until you're able to visit your salon again for a full dye job. The ammonia-free gel uses a gentle formula composed of mostly natural ingredients for a subtle, gradual color touchup between washes. It even comes in two blonde shades—dark and golden—so you can match your natural color with ease.
Buy It: $35; sephora.com
Best Non-Toxic: Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
When it comes to hair dye, especially box dyes, there are plenty of not-so-good-for-you ingredients that could be included. If you're looking for a cleaner, non-toxic formula, the Madison Reed hair color kit is your best bet. It uses what the brand calls a "6-free formula." meaning its dyes are made without ammonia, resorcinol, parabens, gluten, phthalates, or PPD. Instead, it's formulated with keratin, argan oil, and ginseng root extract to give you permanent color in as little as 35 minutes. You can even text a photo of your hair color to the Madison Reed company for an instant shade match. Customers love the salon-quality dye kit, saying that it effectively colors grays and deposits rich color without irritating the scalp. Not to mention, it's also certified cruelty-free, making it a go-to pick for non-toxic hair dyes.
Buy It: $26.50; ulta.com
Best for Long-Lasting Color: Garnier Olia Brilliant Color
Many of us already love using hair oils for the moisture it gives our strands, but what if we told you that the oils can help deposit long-lasting color onto your hair, too? That's exactly what Garnier's Olia box dye uses to give you bright, permanent color. Thousands of customers left reviews for this oil-rich formula and say the color lasts until new growth comes in, and doesn't fade away after shampooing. The addition of flower-derived oils also means it leaves your hair feeling hydrated and shiny. With moisturized locks and bold color, what more can you ask for?
Best for Quick Application: Clairol Nice N' Easy Perfect 10 Hair Color
Let's be honest, we all have days when we're running short on time, and that's where this 10-minute box dye from Clairol comes into play. Yes, even pesky gray roots can be covered with fresh color in just 10 minutes and last up to two months. Even though it's not the longest-lasting color on the shelves, this option is surely a go-to when you're in a pinch for time. Reviewers love how quickly this color deposits and say that each shade is a great match.
Buy It: $23.51 for a pack of 2; amazon.com
Best for Highlights: L'Oréal Paris Frost and Design Cap
Doing highlights at home can be quite a challenge, but this pull-through cap makes it as easy as possible (even for longer hair). Despite the fact that highlights are notoriously hard to achieve without a professional, many reviewers were surprised at how natural-looking their highlights came out and how easy this formula is to apply. The kit also comes with two hooks, one for chunky highlights and one for a more precise look, so you can choose one or mix them up as you please. Plus, what southern girl wouldn't look amazing with caramel highlights and a sun-kissed glow for summer?
Buy It: $10.89; amazon.com
Best for Redheads: Revlon Colorsilk Beautiful Color
Amazon shoppers swear by this best-selling hair dye for red hair. It comes in multiple shades, from dark auburn to burgundy. Once you've selected a color, the kit has everything you need to refresh your hair tone, including a cream developer, an ammonia-free colorant, a conditioner, and gloves. The box dye has more than 28,000 five-star ratings, and one reviewer even said the red color looked so natural, no one could tell it was from a box.
Buy It: $8.04; amazon.com
Best for Roots: Clairol Root Touch-Up
For a quick root touch-up, turn to Clairol's easy-to-use root solution. You'll get a permanent color cream, a color-activating lotion, a tray for mixing, and a brush for applying. Available in 30 shades, it's a great way to make your color last or conceal gray hairs in between salon visits. The best part? It takes just 10 minutes to use, and the color will last up to three weeks, according to the brand.
Buy It: $12.98; amazon.com
Best for Bold Colors: Overtone Original Rose Gold Coloring Conditioner
If you're ready to go bold and embrace a more vibrant hair color trend, Overtone is a great place to start. The brand has coloring conditioners in a wide range of hues, from subtle rose gold to pronounced purple. There are different formulas for different starting hair shades, and they each add color and hydration in minutes. Simply apply to wet or dry hair, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, rinse, and style. You'll be left with an eye-catching hair color sure to rake in compliments.
Buy It: $32; overtone.com
Best for Ombré: L'Oréal Paris Feria Brush-on Ombré Effect Hair Color
There's no need to go to the salon for a well-blended ombré effect when you have this box dye from L'Oréal Paris. The kit includes a conditioning color cream, a developer cream, and a conditioning shampoo in the color of your choice. It also comes with a special brush that allows you to apply the formula to your hair while combing your strands for a naturally integrated look. Amazon shoppers say it's easy to apply and works great.
Buy It: Starting at $14.99; amazon.com
Best for Damaged Hair: Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Cream
Keep split ends at bay with Schwarzkopf's keratin hair dye. First, use the pre-color serum to condition hair, then apply the color cream that includes a keratin complex. Finally, finish the treatment with a special conditioner that repairs inner hair structure and coats strands for a long-lasting, healthy look. The brand promises up to 80 percent less hair breakage compared to untreated hair.
Buy It: $9.97; amazon.com