The 6 Best Ammonia-Free Hair Dyes: Reviews & Guide 2019

We hear so much about harmful chemicals and the toxicity of certain health and beauty products. How much of this should we take seriously and how much can we ignore? If you like to change up your hair color or are getting early signs of grey hair the easiest solution is at home hair dye.

It is important to know that some hair dyes can be extremely harmful to the structure of your hair follicle. Dying your hair consistently over time, breaks down the hair strand, leaving your hair brittle and weak. This can cause hair loss and breakage.

The main ingredient in most off the shelf hair dye is ammonia. Ammonia is a chemical compound. The ammonia in hair dye forces the hair follicle to expand. Once the follicle has expanded then the hair is able to deeply absorb the color of the dye.

The splitting of the hair follicle to let in the dye is what ultimately weakens the strand causing breakage and permanent damage to your luscious locks.

How can you do your hair and reduce damage? The answer is in ammonia-free hair dye.

What is ammonia free hair dye?

Ammonia free hair dye is hair color which does not contain the chemical compound ammonia. As explained previously ammonia breaks down the hairs strength and should be avoided in hair products.

If a hair dye is ammonia free it is not the same as a natural or organic hair dye. Ammonia free hair dyes often still carry some strong chemical, but without ammonia, it is much less damaging than products with ammonia.

Ammonia is not only harmful to your hair strength. The fumes which ammonia give off can be harmful to your eyes, lungs, and skin.

When dyeing your hair always go for an ammonia free brand, as it is the best option besides natural, organic or no dye at all.

Is ammonia-free hair dye safe?

Let’s be perfectly clear here. We are not saying that ammonia-free hair dye is the safest option. The best option is to not dye your hair at all. Then next best is natural henna or an organic dye.

Although if you are looking to permanently dye your hair, then make sure the dye you use is ammonia free.

It is not the healthiest option, but it is the better of two evils. We all know to change the color of our hair causing damage to its health. The same occurs with blow drying or straightening our hair. Both heat treatments will do damage to your hair, but we need to choose the option where the least damage happens.

When it comes to dyeing hair the least damage with best results are ammonia-free hair dyes.

Difference between ammonia and ammonia free?

Very simply ammonia hair dye contains the chemical compound of ammonia which is harmful and damaging to your hair as it expands and weakens the strands to let the dye absorb deep into the hair.

Ammonia free hair dye does not contain this compound of ammonia but it will still contain other chemicals which help the dye absorb deep into the hair.

Many brands have come out with ammonia free products. It is always important to know your ingredients as some brands simply replace the ammonia with ethanolamine which is as harmful as ammonia.

If we compare ammonia hair dye against ammonia-free hair dye, the ammonia-free advantages out weight the disadvantages.

Advantages of ammonia-free hair dye

  • Less harmful to the hair strand
  • Keeps hair stronger
  • Permanent color finish
  • Avoid harmful ammonia fumes
  • No skin irritation or harmful effects

Disadvantages of ammonia-free hair dye

  • Still contains harmful chemicals
  • May not be organic or natural
  • May replace ammonia with other harmful ingredients

How to best apply ammonia-free hair dye

As mentioned before ammonia-free hair dye still contains certain chemicals in order to successfully color your hair.

This means that you should apply ammonia-free hair dye with the same caution you would any other hair dye.

Always do a skin test sometime before applying the hair dye. A skin test will let you know if you will have an allergic reaction to the product you are about to use.

It is also always a good idea to do a strand test. Take a piece of hair from the back under part of your head for the strand test. Apply the product as per the instructions on the box or packaging.

A strand test is helpful to see if the color is going to give you your desired result.

With any beauty product be sure to read the instructions thoroughly before starting the application process.

Always wear the gloves provided by the hair dye to protect your hands during application.

It is also always a good idea to apply Vaseline or a similar product to the edges of your hairline before attempting to color your hair. Best practices involve applying Vaseline along your forehead, and on the back of your neck and ears to avoid the dye transferring onto those areas.

Never use hair dye for eyebrows or lashes. The strength of hair dye differs from the strength used on eyebrows or lashes. Look to purchase specific eyebrow and lash dye for those areas.

Top ammonia-free hair dyes reviewed

Garnier Hair Color Olia Oil Powered Permanent Hair Color

Garnier is a well-known internationally trusted brand in the hair and color industry. This Garnier hair color is made up of oil-based ingredients ensuring your hair maintains a healthy smooth glow after coloring application.

The product has zero ammonia but works with peroxide to color the hair effectively.

The oil ingredients are 60% of the products makeup. They include sunflower oil, meadowfoam, passion flower, and camellia. All of these ingredients work to keep your scalp and hair strand hydrated.

The oils in the ingredients not only work to keep the hair and scalp healthy but it assists in the coloring process too.

They offer 31 different shades in this zero ammonia range. It is the perfect product to cover stubborn greys and get a long-lasting ammonia-free color.

The Garnier brand is extremely helpful and informative when it comes to choosing the best color for your hair.

This product can lighten your hair up to 2 shades lighter. Always consult the product’s instructions when going lighter. The Garnier Olia color lasts between 4 – 6 weeks before you will need to touch up your roots.

When dyeing your hair always avoid a lot of sun exposure as it can damage the hair as well as change your desired shade.

Check out their write up and color advice to make sure you are comfortable with the shade you chose.

Shea Moisture Nourishing Color

The Shea Moisture is a coloring crème which works with a non-drip formula to color your hair. Any Shea products are normally used for drier hair in need of a hydration boost.

This product is also a great option for ethnic hair. It is an ammonia free product and does not contain any sulfates.

With the Shea Moisturizing Nourishing Color, you get the Shea Moisture treatment mask. Apply the mask onto your hair after the application of the dye.

The Shea Moisture treatment mask treats and hydrates the hair. Some of the key hydrating ingredients in the mask include mongongo and hemp seed oil.

The mongongo oil works to hydrate and revitalizes the hair, while the hemp seed stimulates hair growth. These ingredients work well to maintain a healthy head of hair and to reverse the damage the dye process may have caused.

The treatment mask also includes baobab protein and apple cider vinegar. All proteins work to build strength in hair. The apple cider vinegar is great to keep your hair shiny and silky smooth.

This is a permanent hair dye and will work to cover grey hair. It does not seem like they offer many light colors. Therefore this product is best suited if you are looking for darker shades.

As with any hair care product carefully follow instructions and carry out the necessary skin and strand tests 48 hours before your full application.

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent

Clairol is another internationally known brand in the hair color industry. They have a great range and are now offering us their Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent shades.

Do not be fooled, although the product is called Natural Instincts this does not mean it is made from 100% natural ingredients.

Being a semi-permanent hair dye they still need to make use of some chemical ingredients in order for the product to give you the desired results.

What the Natural Instincts range does offer is an ammonia free color with a stack of ingredients which are natural and super healthy for your hair.

Even though you will still have some chemical ingredients n the product the effects will be lessened by their inclusion of some oils and minerals to maintain the health of your hair.

These ingredients include aloe, vitamin E and coconut oil. Aloe is an amazing succulent plant which contains an enzyme working to repair dead skin cells on the scalp aiding in hair growth. Coconut oil is also known to promote hair growth and thickness of hair.

The vitamin E acts as a super oil to ensure hydration and moisture in your strands.

This semi-permanent color fades naturally from your hair. This means you won’t experience any root lines. The color lasts up to 28 washes and covers grey hairs by 50%.

The Natural Instincts range is for you if you want to have fun changing up the color of your hair without the damage associated with dying.

It is not the best product if you need to cover up very stubborn grey hairs. A light grey cover will work but do not expect full coverage from this range.

Keune So Pure Permanent Hair Color

Keune is a Dutch family hair business which has grown into an international brand. Not as well-known as many of the off the shelf department store brands but a great quality hair product.

The So Pure color is not only ammonia free but it is paraben free too. Keune’s So Pure Permanent Hair Color also contains a whole bunch of fantastic ingredients to restore and enrich the condition of your hair when coloring.

Some of these ingredients include the essential oil argan, jasmine, and sandalwood. The argan oil is an amazing hair and scalp conditioner as it supplies your hair and scalp with vitamin E oil.

The jasmine has a calming effect and a wonderful scent, keeping the hair smooth and silky. Last we have the sandalwood which acts to stimulate hair growth and give volume to your hair.

All round Keune’s is a great international brand with some standout ingredients offering a permanent color.

The branding is clean and simple, giving you the feel of a slick natural product. They have a wonderful backstory, as well as a full range of hair care and color products which are worth checking out.

This product comes all in one it is not a kit which you mix together. Pretty convenient when you’re looking for a quick and easy color solution.

They offer 39 different shades so be sure to have a look at all of them before making your choice.

Herbatint 6C Permanent Herbal

The Herbatint range is really more on the natural side of hair coloring. Although still a permanent color they brand themselves as an herbal solution for your color needs.

The Herbatint permanent hair color is a gel coloring kit. They pride themselves on being a herbal color.

The Herbatint range comes in a variation of 30 different shades and is said to give great coverage to grey hair too.

This hair color range is free of harsh chemical and ammonia free. This is great as you can change your hair color often without the associated damage.

The ingredients are made up of a range of proteins and plants based botanical extracts.

The proteins build up the hair structure and strength ensuring as little structural damage when dyeing the hair.

Some of the ingredients include Cinchona, Rhubarb, and Walnut. The bark from the cinchona tree is used for medicinal purposes. For hair, cinchona is great to stimulate hair growth.

The rhubarb works as an ingredient to color the hair to the shade you need. Walnuts, like most nuts, contain omega fatty oils which are essential for smooth silky hair and improve the condition.

This is the best product for anyone with a sensitive scalp who need to cover up greys or simply wants to change hair color.

For longer hair, you must use the entire contents of the product. Shorter or medium hair you can use the contents twice. Read the instructions fully before a full application.

Although it is a natural product, you should always do a skin allergy test. You make have a slight allergy to natural ingredients too. This is why it is so important to do the tests 48 hours before use.

This is slightly more expensive than your normal off the shelf hair color, but if you want the least damage done to your hair then it is worth paying extra.

L’Oréal Inoa Ammonia Free Permanent Hair Color

L’Oréal is a huge international brand when it comes to health and beauty. They have a great name in the hair color sector too.

Their Inoa product is the ammonia free range for L’Oréal. It is said to have 100% coverage of grey.

As mentioned previously if a product is ammonia free it does not always mean it is natural. So be aware of the other ingredients the product has in order to ensure that 100% coverage.

This product works with using oils to penetrate the hair strand. This can be used on any hair type for up to 6 weeks of fully colored hair.

It works with a low dose of a chemical to open the hair strand for the dye to get in. The oils work to ensure little damage is done to the strand when dyeing the hair.

This is also a great product because it comes in 113 different colors, and can lighten or darken your hair by up to 3 shades.

The L’Oréal Inoa is pre-mixed and ready to use and comes in 1 tube. It is a very impressive product with a large range of colors and at a good price.

As always be sure to do a skin or allergy test before use. Inoa offers a wide range of shades if you feel confused as to which shade to choose to be sure to consult their color chart and or a hair coloring professional before use.


In conclusion, these are a great range of ammonia-free hair colors. If you need the cover of grey hair and have sensitive scalp or skin then the Herbatint is worth the money.

If you are looking to color your hair often and change it up, without the harmful effects then the Clairol is your number one go to.

Looking to cover stubborn grey hair or unsightly roots, the L’Oréal is your best bet.

Either one you go for make sure it is ammonia free and you carry out all tests before. Happy coloring!