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Finding a hair dye that shows up clearly and vibrantly can be difficult if you have dark hair. Usually, you have to first lighten your hair for hair dye to have any effect at all.
Bleach can permanently damage your hair, so it’s no wonder you don’t want to risk using it just for some new color. Luckily, there are dye options that let you color your dark hair without using bleach.
To help you find the dye that’s right for your hair color and goals, we’re going to walk you through the pros and cons of the top eight non-bleaching hair dyes.
What Colors Require Bleach?
However, it’s not magic. There are some colors you won’t be able to apply to dark hair. The obvious one first; you cannot make your dark hair blonde without bleach. If you want this done, we recommend a salon, so you don’t work with dangerous chemicals on your own.
There are a lot of products out there for just about every non-blonde color. You can potentially get some light colors or pastels to show up if you use a temporary spray or hair chalk.
However, based on how brown or black your hair is, a light color won’t show up well without lightening your hair first. But you can probably get something to show.
What Colors Can You Dye Dark Hair Without Bleach?
So, as we said, there are many options left if you don’t want to use bleach to change your hair color.
If you have very dark hair, your best bet will be other dark shades and colors. You can subtly change your hair between shades of brown and black. You could also go drastic and dye it midnight blue, magenta, or deep green. Dark and bold colors tend to show up well on dark hair.
You can also choose to change tone instead of color. This means if you’re a brunette, you can decide to make your hair a warmer or cooler brown. You can try depositing hints of violet with a semi-permanent dye for a cooler-toned Mahogany brown. You can also try adding touches of red and magenta to warm your hair to copper or auburn.
Reminders about Hair Type and Texture
Hair type, tone, and texture will all affect the final results of any of these dyes. For example, low-porosity hair types have a tendency not to absorb dye as well. So color won’t last as long or be as vibrant.
If you have extremely dark brown or genuine black hair, the tones you can get without bleach will probably be different than what’s shown on the box. Make sure to read reviews of each product to find out if someone with your exact hair type has used it.
Semi-Permanent vs. Temporary
Using semi-permanent and temporary dye options will also change your coloring choices. Some temporary options will sit on top of your hair, giving you a bold color (that will wash out in a day). You can potentially have a bright pastel with one of these dyes.
The same color won’t be as apparent in a permanent dye. This is because semi-permanent and permanent dyes penetrate the hair (so it gets absorbed and muddled by your natural color).
If you’re looking for a real change, most people will want at least a semi-permanent option, so that will limit your color choices. Of course, temporary dyes mean you get to try out many more colors without fear of commitment or making a bad choice.
Because both have their benefits, we’ve included both on this list.
Best Hair Dyes for Dark Hair Without Bleach
So now that you know what you can expect in terms of color choices and results, let’s look at the best non-bleaching hair dyes for dark hair.
The Splat Midnight Collection was made specifically for light brown and dark-haired people. Instead of penetrating the hair cuticle, it utilizes finely milled micro-pigments and attaches to the surface of your hair. While not permanent, this dye offers as much as eight weeks of solid color.
The color choices in the midnight collection range from dark blues and purples to a relatively light pink and ruby red. There’s even a jade green in there. Make sure that you’re buying the midnight collection, Splat also offers bleach-based dyes, but this collection is specifically bleach-free.
If you want a semi-permanent color that won’t damage your hair, then oVertone is an excellent choice. It’s a coloring conditioner, which will nourish your hair and slowly fade out, so you won’t have an awkward color-change period.
This conditioner brand has shades that were designed especially for light brown to very dark hair. Overtone uses the hair’s existing porosity to deposit color; you simply apply it before a shower, let it sit for 15 minutes, and wash it out, just like any conditioner.
3. Arctic Fox
Ingredients of Arctic Fox products are all-natural – no PPDs, harsh chemicals, or drying alcohols included. While Arctic Fox’s colors fade like other dyes, they retain enough color to match their original color spectrum. So, as the color lightens, the shades will continue to be the gorgeous tones that you wanted.
This is a temporary spray-on color that will pop against even the darkest hair. You can apply a bright and zany color for your weekend look and wash it out by your work’s start on Monday morning. This also makes it perfect for Halloween.
Go Intense Color Spray comes in nine bright and fun colors and isn’t super expensive, meaning that you can try them all. This spray works exceptionally well on thick, textured, curly or wavy hair.
The easy wash-out also makes this a good choice to use with kids (just don’t leave them alone with a spray can full of dye). So they can have fun, but you don’t have to leave them with blue hair for the next formal family gathering.
Manic Panic is one of the few on this list that wasn’t created as a hair dye for brunettes. Though they’re known for their bright punk/goth tones, these colors give a subtle boost to naturally dark hair.
If you visit their product page, you will find an option to select your hair dye based on your natural hair color level. And there are plenty of shades for unbleached dark hair also.
Manic Panic is strong enough to show up without bleach, and your hair’s natural darkness will keep the color in a workplace-with-a-dress-code friendly hue.
The only negative is that they have slightly fewer color choices than some others on this list. If you have naturally brown hair that you don’t want to bleach, Manic Panic could be your best choice for a subtle color pick-me-up.
As a bonus, they’re cruelty-free and vegan.
Adore Semi-Permanent Hair Color infuses each strand of hair with a vigorous burst of color. It comes in 40 colors and does not use peroxide, ammonia, or alcohol, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.
Adore’s dye conditions as it deposits color and is designed to leave your hair feeling soft and silky. It’s light on damaging chemicals, so you shouldn’t worry about reapplying when you want to touch up your color.
The Nutrisse Ultra Color line from Garnier was designed to create a one-step coloring process for all hair types. There’s no need to use bleach for even the darkest natural hair. This semi-permanent dye lasts up to 8 weeks and allows you to easily touch it up as needed.
With more than 20 colors to choose from in both natural-looking and trendy hues, Garnier is sure to have you covered. As a bonus, Garnier’s Nutrisse line uses a formula infused with avocado, olive, and shea oils, so your hair gets nutrients as you use it.
This is another permanent option that will give you bright, boldly colored hair for weeks before you start to notice it fade. The Flare Me Dark colors from Clairol is another collection that has been specifically made to use on unbleached (and un-dyed) dark hair.
You may have noticed a trend of dyes for dark hair being “extra-strength” (hyper-pigmented). This is no different, and you should be careful not to leave the dye in too long. It’ll definitely show up on dark hair, but some reviewers noted that the tone was uneven if you have variation in your hair or noticeably lighter color at the roots.
Because of these issues, this dye is lower on the list. However, it appears to work well if you follow directions and want the brightest color on your dark hair possible.
Dyeing your dark hair without bleach is hardly impossible or even difficult. Many beauty companies cater to brunettes who don’t want to permanently fry their hair with bleach.
With a bit of research, you can find the exact shade you want, using whatever permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary method you would like. Have fun and style yourself however you please.