Cruelty-free, vegan hair dyes are a great alternative to conventional, chemical-laden hair dyes that are full of harmful chemicals, animal derivatives and have been tested on animals.
Conventional hair dyes contain chemicals like ammonia and p-phenylenediamine (PPD, and many others that have been linked to a host of human, animal, and environmental health risks.
So, what are the alternatives? What are the best natural, plant-based, cruelty-free, vegan, and non-toxic hair dyes to use instead?
Whether you’re looking for a natural, organic shade or a neon rainbow, there are loads of great options to choose from!
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about vegan hair dyes that are healthier for all of us, including animals and the environment!
We’ll look at the difference between non-vegan and vegan hair dyes, how to choose the best vegan hair dye for your hair, and then review some of the best vegan hair dye brands that are also cruelty-free and environmentally conscious.
Ready? Let’s jump right in!
Skip to What You Need
- 1 Non-Vegan vs Vegan Hair Dyes
- 2 Short List of Cruelty-Free and Vegan Hair Dye Brands
- 3 Choosing the Right Shade of Vegan Hair Dye
- 4 Natural, Zero-Waste Hair Care for Dry, Damaged, and Color-Treated Hair
- 5 8 Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Hair Dyes
- 6 Wrapping Up
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 References and Useful Resources
Non-Vegan vs Vegan Hair Dyes
Permanent hair dyes are more dangerous than temporary or semi-permanent options.
Permanent hair dyes contain high concentrations of ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and p-phenylenediamine (PPD), which is a coal-tar/petroleum product. These are there to open up the hair follicles, bleach the natural color and deposit the dye color.
The harsh chemicals in conventional hair dyes also harm the environment, when they’ve washed down the drain after you rinse them off.
They lead to changes in the pH of water sources, and react with other chemicals in the water, creating toxic compounds.
PPD is particularly bad, for both humans and animals, as well as the environment. The European Union recognizes PPD as a “wildlife and environmental toxin, as an irritant, as a restricted occupational hazard, as toxic or harmful for use on skin, and as an immune system toxicant”.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes PPD as a “known human respiratory toxicant and as generally toxic to animals in moderate doses”.
Vegan hair dyes, on the other hand, are made with no animal-derived ingredients. If they’re vegan and cruelty-free, none of the ingredients are tested on animals.
As they’re plant-based, many contain none of the toxic chemicals seen in conventional hair dyes, or contain significantly fewer chemicals, at much lower concentrations.
Choosing a natural, plant-based, ethical option is better for you, better for animals, and better for the environment!
As Mike from Wisebarber states:
“For the same reason vegan meats are becoming more popular, people are looking for alternatives to hair products and beard products that are also cruelty-free. As we turn a new page in our world, we’re going to have to find better ways to use products that don’t harm animals. This way, they’ll be sustainable, and the world will be a better place. You don’t need to use animal-based products to have a nice beard or hairstyle in 2022.”
Here are some of the best cruelty-free and vegan hair dyes to choose from:
Short List of Cruelty-Free and Vegan Hair Dye Brands
Vegan and cruelty-free are not always synonymous. Some vegan brands still test on animals, which makes them vegan but not cruelty-free.
Luckily, some great brands are both vegan and cruelty-free, and eco-conscious:
- Good Dye Young
- Lush – Henna Dyes
- Manic Panic
- Surya Brasil
- Lime Crime
- Umberto Giannini
- Arctic Fox
We’ll cover each of these brands in more detail below, but first, let’s take a look at what to consider when you’re buying a cruelty-free and vegan hair dye.
Wondering which dye will be best for your hair?
Let’s take a look at how to choose the best vegan hair dye for your hair type and desired results:
A Quick Buyer’s Guide to Vegan Hair Dye
Finding the perfect vegan hair dye is pretty simple – here is what you need to know:
Choosing the Right Type of Vegan Hair Dye
There are several different types of vegan hair dye, which work in different ways and last varying lengths of time:
- Temporary and Semi-permanent: lasts 2 to 6 weeks and then fades out with washing. This type of dye is the least damaging for your hair and does not involve opening the hair follicles up to deposit dye within the hair. Rather, pigment coats the outside of the hair and can gradually be washed off.
- Permanent and Demi-permanent: permanent hair colors last 6 to 8 weeks, then roots need to be touched up, and/or color begins to fade a little. This type of hair dye changes the color of your hair permanently by using ammonia to open the hair follicles up, hydrogen peroxide to bleach the existing hair color so that pigments and PPD can be absorbed by the hair. This type of hair dye is the harshest on your hair but will achieve a permanent change if that is what you’re aiming for. Demi-permanent hair dyes are permanent dyes that contain less ammonia.
- Natural/organic formulas: natural hair dyes, like Henna and Indigo, are a great option if you want to skip the chemicals completely. They’re generally semi-permanent or permanent formulas. They do not open up your hair follicle and deposit pigment inside each hair but they do ‘super stain’ your hair. These will take a very long time to fade out or never fade out completely unless you do something to strip the color off your hair. This is doable but can be very damaging to your hair in the process.
- Color Depositing Hair Conditioners: these are conditioners that you use like any other conditioner, but they gradually deposit color onto your hair that builds up over time. If you have ever been platinum blonde, you most likely used a purple or blue conditioner ‘tone’ your hair and stop it from going yellow or green. Color depositing conditioners work in the same way and the color will fade out when you stop using them.
Choosing the Right Shade of Vegan Hair Dye
There is also a myriad of colors and shades to choose from, from natural shades to vibrant primary colors and neon shades. Choosing the right color makes all the difference to the final look!
This video by Manes by Mell details how to choose the best shades, based on your eye color and skin tone:
Right, now that you know what types of vegan hair dye there are to choose from, and you know what color you’re looking for… You’re well on your way to finding your perfect vegan hair dye!
Natural, Zero-Waste Hair Care for Dry, Damaged, and Color-Treated Hair
Coloring your hair, especially with conventional hair dyes that contain high concentrations of ammonia and peroxide, can leave your hair dry, damaged, and brittle.
Many deep conditioning shampoos and conditioners contain keratin and other animal-derived ingredients, silicones, and other less-than-ideal ingredients. Like most hair care products, they’re also packaged in plastic, which is often not easily recyclable.
Thankfully, there are some great, all-natural, vegan, and cruelty-free brands making zero-waste shampoo and conditioners that are designed specifically for dry, damaged, and color-treated hair!
One of the best we have found is Amor Luminis, an Australian brand that makes high-quality, all-natural hair care bars that are Vegan and Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty-free.
Their zero-waste Dry/Damaged Hair Pack contains a shampoo bar, a conditioner bar, a plastic-free compostable soap holder, and a container to store them in.
Both the shampoo and the conditioner contain no harsh chemicals, no parabens, phthalates, SLS, SLES, or palm oil, and they are formulated with a blend of plant oils, plant extracts, and pure essential oils to fortify, nourish and promote hair cuticle repair.
They ship internationally, and you can find their Dry/Damaged Hair Packs here: Amor Luminis Dry/Damaged Hair Pack
Regularly using an all-natural deep conditioning shampoo and conditioner can do wonders for damaged hair, both before and after coloring.
Right, let’s take a look at some of the best cruelty-free and vegan hair dye brands!
8 Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Hair Dyes
1. Good Dye Young
Good Dye Young is a haircare and color brand that is both cruelty-free and vegan. They make a stunning array of bright, vibrant colors that are mixable to get the perfect shade. Good Dye Young semi-permanent vegan hair dyes last 6 to 8 weeks and are ammonia-free, formaldehyde-free, peroxide-free, and PPD free.
They also have a range of temporary dyes that last 4 to 6 washes and ‘hair makeup’ that lasts just one wash. Good Dye Young is great for experimenting with colors before you commit, or just for a burst of short-lived color for the fun of it!
Best For: Bright, vibrant colors that are very temporary and semi-permanent.
Price Range: $18 (hair colors) – $30 (haircare)
Where to Buy: Good Dye Young
What the Reviews Say – (3.3/5):
- Highly pigmented and vibrant colors
- Nice fruity smell
- Non-damaging on hair, even for those who change colors frequently
- The black is not as dark or pigmented as the other colors
- Washed out too quickly for some
2. Lush – Henna Dyes
Lush – Henna Dyes are made from 100% natural ingredients and contain no synthetic chemicals at all. They’re great for natural colors, from deep and vibrant reds, chestnuts, and browns to a dark, blue-black.
Lush is a great brand when it comes to ethical and environmental practices. Their products are all vegan and cruelty-free and most are made with Fair Trade ingredients. They use as many natural ingredients as possible and manufacture in ways that reduce their impact, such as using renewable energy. They also strive to be part of a circular economy and be zero-waste.
Best For: 100%natural, mostly organic dyes in natural shades from red to black.
Price Range: $13 per block
Where to Buy: Lush
What the Lush Reviews Say – (4/5):
- Highly conditioning and leaves hair shiny and soft
- Very natural-looking shades
- Covers grey hair very well
- Great for people with sensitive skin and/or allergies
- Completely natural/zero chemicals.
- The application can be messy and henna stains anything it comes into contact with
- Some reviewers found that the Brun didn’t take on their hair
- Needs to be left on for a long time to get full saturation
3. Manic Panic
Manic Panic is a cruelty-free and vegan hair dye brand from the USA. They make a very wide range of semi-permanent hair colors, and temporary color sprays. Manic Panic colors are deep and intense, which is great for darker colors like deep blues, greens, and reds. They also have a range of colors that glow under a black light.
All their products are made in the USA and are Paraben, Ammonia, Resorcinol, PPD, Phthalate free.
Best For: Pastel, neon and deep, intense colors, temporary and longer lasting semi-permanent dyes.
Price Range: $9.99 – $17.99
Where to Buy: Manic Panic on Amazon
What the Reviews Say – (4.3/5):
- Intense, highly pigmented colors
- Takes really well on hair without needing to pre-bleach it
- No harsh chemical smell during application
- Can be added to conditioner to make a DIY toner
- Single tubs can last multiple applications on medium length hair
- Some reviewers found that it washes out too quickly
- Doesn’t show up nicely on very dark hair
- Some reviewers found that it didn’t take well on their hair
4. Surya Brasil
Surya Brasil is a natural, organic, cruelty-free, and vegan brand from Brazil. They make several different cosmetic and personal care products, including henna powder and henna cream hair dyes.
Surya Brasil henna hair dyes are completely natural and organic and contain no ammonia, PPD, or peroxide. They come in a variety of natural shades, including blondes, reds, burgundies, browns, and deep brunette/black.
Surya Brasil is a very ethical- and eco-conscious company. They actively seek to reduce their impact on the environment, aim for zero-waste, use responsibly sourced ingredients and ensure ethical labor practices throughout their supply chain.
Best For: Natural shades and burgundies, semi-permanent color.
Price Range: $18.49 per box
What the Amazon Reviews Say – (4.1/5):
- Deeply conditioning formula
- Covers greys well if you apply it correctly and leave it on for a long time
- No nasty chemicals and smells nice
- A great alternative for those with allergies to chemical hair dyes
- The container can be capped and the mixture used for future applications
- It needs to set for a very long time (up to 12+ hours) to be completely saturated
- The application can be messy and challenging to do by yourself
- Washes out quite quickly if you wash your hair daily
5. Lime Crime
They make semi-permanent colors, in either full coverage or lighter tint variations. Their full coverage range has 25 different shades to choose from!
Lime Crime is both PETA and Leaping Bunny certified, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Best For: Rich colors and pastels, full coverage, semi-permanent and temporary tints.
Price Range: $17 – $22
Where to Buy: Manic Panic
What the Lime Crime Reviews Say (4.3/5):
- Very bright and saturated colors
- Some reviewers found that it lasts longer than other brands before washing out
- Smells really nice
- Takes better and lasts longer on hair that’s been colored or bleached in the past
- One jar was more than enough for a medium length, full head application
- Easy to apply, with little color transfer but does bleed a bit in the shower
- Some reviewers had a skin reaction to the dye
- Washes out quite quickly and bleeds in the shower
- Some of the shades didn’t come out as advertised on bleached hair
Herbatint is an Italian brand of vegan hair care and hair dyes. They’re a certified B corporation, which means they’re held to a high standard of ethical, social, and environmental practice. Their products are all vegan and cruelty-free, use as few chemicals as possible, and use organic botanicals wherever possible.
Their permanent gel hair dyes come in 36 mixable colors that are made with natural botanical extracts and are ammonia, resorcinol, paraben, alcohol and fragrance-free.
Herbatint’s 8 vegetal colors are completely natural and made from organic plant-based compounds like henna and indigo.
Best For: Natural shades of blonde, red, brown and black, that are permanent or semi-permanent.
Price Range: $13.99 – $15.65
Where to Buy: Herbatint on Amazon
What the Amazon Reviews Say (4.4/5):
- Great coverage, especially greys
- Mild formula so the permanent color is still good for people with allergies
- No harsh chemical smell
- Natural shades that can be mixed to match your natural color
- Bottle is re-capable so you can keep the mixture for touch-ups or future applications
- Not true to color on some natural hair colors
- Permanent gel does contain low amounts of PDD, which can cause a reaction
- Some reviewers found that hair was difficult to manage after using the permanent gel
7. Umberto Giannini
Umberto Giannini is a vegan haircare brand from the UK. They’re a certified B corporation and take ethical, social, and environmental sustainability seriously. From using 100% renewable energy at all their owned and operated locations, to using fully recyclable packaging, they have considered the environment every step of the way.
Umberto Giannini’s Flowerology range is 100% cruelty-free and vegan. The permanent hair colors are made with as many natural and organic ingredients as possible and are 100% free from ammonia, resorcinol, cocamide DEA, silicones, SLS/SLES, gluten, and mineral oils.
They also make a range of temporary hair color masks in shades like ‘cherry blossom’ and ‘berry brunette’ for a more colorful and playful take on hair dye.
Best For: Permanent hair color in natural shades of blonde, brown, red, and black.
Price Range: £10 – £28
What the Amazon Reviews Say (4.2/5):
- Gel formula is easy to use – less mess and no drips
- Colors are saturated and look very natural, with some variation
- Covers greys nicely
- Worked well for someone who’d had allergic reactions in the past
- Non-damaging and hair was manageable afterward (despite the conditioner sachet size)
- Colors come out a bit darker than expected
- Conditioner sachet is too small
- Long or thick hair requires two boxes
8. Arctic Fox
Arctic Fox is a vegan and cruelty-free brand of haircare and hair dyes based in California. They make a wide range of highly pigmented semi-permanent hair colors in bright colors and deep hues.
They use all natural ingredients, and none of their products contain harsh chemicals like ammonia, peroxide, PPD or ethyl alcohol.
As a company, Arctic Fox is deeply committed to ethical practices and humane treatment of animals. They are 100% cruelty-free and they donate 15% of their profits to charities working to prevent animal cruelty.
Best For: Bright colors and deep/dark colors that are semi-permanent.
Price Range: $10.99 (colors) – $16.99 (color diluter)
What the Amazon Reviews Say (4.5/5):
- Vibrant colors that last weeks (depending on how often you wash your hair)
- Smells like grapes
- No-mess formula is easy to apply and doesn’t drip or stain
- Doesn’t transfer onto clothing or pillows
- Covered grey roots well
- Some shades didn’t take or only colored the root area
- The Transylvania shade turned some people’s hair greenish and transferred onto clothing
- Stains skin, towels, porcelain, etc. during application
- Some reviewers found that certain shades change their color at all
In conclusion, there are so many great cruelty-free, vegan hair dyes to choose from!
In this guide, we have looked at what makes vegan hair dye a better choice for us, for animals, and the environment. We also looked at the different types of vegan hair dye, how to choose the best shade, and some of the best cruelty-free and vegan brands to choose from.
Whether you’re looking for mermaid’s hair, a neon rainbow, subtle naturals, or losing the grey – there’s a wonderful, ethical, healthier option that will suit you perfectly!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a vegan permanent hair dye?
Yes. There are several brands that make vegan permanent hair dyes, including Tints of Nature, Umberto Giannini and Herbatint. Check out the full guide for more info on permanent hair dyes that are vegan and cruelty free.
What hair dyes are vegan and cruelty-free?
8 of the best vegan and cruelty-free hair dye brands are:
1. Good Dye Young
2. Lush – Henna Dyes
3. Manic Panic
4. Surya Brasil
5. Lime Crime
7. Umberto Giannini
8. Arctic Fox
Read the guide for on each of these brands and why they're a great choice for vegan and cruelty free hair dyes.
Is vegan hair dye cruelty free?
Not necessarily. Vegan products do not contain any animal products or derivatives, but they may still be tested on animals. Luckily, there are loads of great brands that are both vegan AND cruelty free! Check out this guide for more details on some of the best vegan hair dye brands to consider.
References and Useful Resources
American Cancer Society: Hair Dyes and Cancer Risk
Chemical & Engineering News: Cancer Risk Studies Raise Questions About the Safety of Long-Lasting Hair Dyes
Ethical Elephant: Cruelty-free vs. Vegan – What’s the Difference?
Environmental Working Group (EWG): Hair Color With Less Harm: New In-Home Hair Dyes in Skin Deep
Environmental Working Group (EWG): Skin Deep Database
Plant-Based News: 14 Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look Out for In Make-Up and Beauty Products
Renew Alliance: 9 Toxic Ingredients in Your Hair Dyes To Avoid