A Newbie’s Vegan Girl’s Guide to Colored Hair

Dina May 28, 2012 29
A Newbie’s Vegan Girl’s Guide to Colored Hair

Honesty hour, guys and gals: have you ever felt like you were born with the wrong hair color?  I did! I have always wanted weird, mermaid-like colored hair—minus the length. I am a pixie at heart: short hair all the way. But I digress. Until recently, I used only dark colors. Let me rephrase this statement. I would try to be brave and go “light,” freak out, and then dye my hair back to black. I did not just go back to black—I would go all the way with definitive words, darn it: “blue black,” “midnight black,” or “blackest black.”
If you are a newbie to hair dyeing the vegan way, like me, let me share my “wisdoms” thus far.

  1. If you are a brunette, you will have to bleach your hair to actually see the colors—unless you want to go for subtle hair changes. This is part of why I used to dye my hair back to black right away; the colors never looked quite the way I had hoped.
  2. Those darn boxes lie, I tell you! I have stared at those Revlon boxes, daydreamed to be this magical girl with Weasley auburn hair, and then ended up with dark brown hair instead. Experiment for a while. Sometimes, you may have to dye you hair gradually to get what you want. Some brands just don’t work for your hair. Oftentimes, you need to give your hair a longer time for it to soak up the dye.
  3. If you are dyeing your hair at home, like a ninja, know that the results are usually going to surprise you. I was not amused when my hair had a cheetah print theme going on (er—my hair decided to go brownish orange with patches of faded black still around). At the same time, I was happy my hair turned strawberry blonde when I was aiming for cotton candy pink.
  4. Have a sense of humor about it. No, I am serious here: do not cry. I spent so much time crying about my hair color, trying to “fix” it, and then chickening out by going back to black. It did not get to be fun until I realized that it would always be pretty if I decided that it was so. You are pretty (or handsome) no matter what hair color you have.
  5. Do your research. I ended up buying non-vegan hair developer from Sally’s—their products, in general are not vegan, I have discovered—Ion, a mostly vegan friendly company, makes hair bleach and developers, both of which you can pick up at your local Sally’s (or beauty supply store). I also bought Beyond the Zone’s Color Jamz, which is a mysterious company with no clear view on animal rights or animal testing. I contacted them to get clarification and/or confirmation. I’ll keep you in the loop.
  6. Manic Panic, the next hair dye I bought, is vegan and, according to the Smiling Sally’s Saleslady, has longer lasting power. (I think a hair dye update may be in order? Maybe we can do a battle of hair dyes? I hear there’s also another vegan brand called Special Effects at Hot Topic! Who’s up to it?).
  7. Oh, this leads me to my next advice: Give your hair a break. You have to be kind to your hair. Nature’s Gate makes this awesome pomegranate sunflower shampoo and conditioners that are vegan, sulfate and paraben free. They are for colored hair. And, you can find them at Target. How cool is that?
  8. Create a hair pampering routine. What the Smiling Sally’s Saleslady recommended was to wash your hair with shampoo only once or twice a week. Other than that, condition it every other day. I actually use dry shampoo now (Tresemme!), too, on the days where I don’t wash my hair, so the color does not fade so quickly. Also: that way, my hair does not look greasy and icky!
Image courtesy of Flickr‘s The Commons.

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  1. Kiera36 May 28, 2012 at 11:38 am -

    Thanks for the shampoo tip…I’m totally going to look for that Nature’s Gate stuff at Target!  I’m running out of my super-expensive Intelligent Nutrients shampoo, which I could only justify buying because I only wash my hair (with shampoo) once a week.  (I use baking soda the other time.) 🙂

  2. michele May 28, 2012 at 11:59 am -

    I’m not sure if this product is vegan, but I get it at Sally’s and they do not test on animals, which is my first requirement.  Thanks for the article.

  3. Jessica May 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm -

    As a professional hair colorist, and a vegan, might I add:
    9. Seek the advice of a licensed hairstylist, who dyes hair for a living, who can tell you what will work on your hair and what will be a disaster. The cashiers at Sally’s may be quite knowledgable, but they are not hair colorists. Asking a pro will keep you from grabbing the next box of black hair dye to cover up your unwanted results.

  4. Natalie Kenis May 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm -

    just FYI – Revlon tests on animals…

  5. Chic Vegan Dina May 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm -

    That’s a very good suggestion, Jessica. I think that would’ve saved me so much money and time. I actually got to talk my hair dresser a lot about my next hair move. Mwahah! But, this is definitely a good point. 🙂 

  6. Chic Vegan--Dina May 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm -

    Ah, good point, Natalie. From what I understand, they are in this weird, mysterious position where they say they don’t test on animals but won’t sign the necessary paperwork to guarantee that they won’t do it. But, this is a good FYI to throw out there, definitely. 

  7. birdie May 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm -

    A note on #6:

    I have been a hair chameleon myself for about 7 years now, so I’ve had some experience 😉

    I love Manic Panic and have used it quite a bit. They’re great for getting really vibrant color (but only if you bleach your hair first); but even when you use the pink/red/purple shades on brunette hair, they’ll give it a really beautiful tint. I used Hot Hot Pink on brown hair once and the result was really beautiful.

    All that being said, I should warn everyone that Manic Panic is the messiest hair color product I’ve ever used. It will stain literally everything, so you have to be REALLY careful with it. If you color your hair with Manic Panic, you will have to spend the next month or so washing your hair directly under the faucet and NOT during your regular shower. I made that mistake once and my shower ended up looking like a pink murder scene. That stuff gets everywhere. But is is vegan and much better for your hair, so you have to take the pros with the cons.

    Also, question: are there any brands of more permanent, natural-looking at-home colors that are animal-friendly (other than henna)?

  8. wildflower June 3, 2012 at 7:27 am -

    All very good advice! I had best luck with LUSH Caca (henna bars -vegan of course) in Brun and Noir. My hair could never hold the dye for very long, not even with chemical dyes- and after 2 weeks it would be back to its mousy matte blah colour. And worst of all my hair would be even drier. sigh. Fast forward to Lush cacas… the colour selection is limited, but lucky for me I like both ‘Brun’ and ‘Noir’ bars. Best of all my hair feels so much healthier since I started using them. It even has a slip. I didn’t know my hair could do that. 😀 Sure,  application is a bit messier and takes longer time, but i process the whole bars in my food processor so I have the henna powder ready when I need it. I discovered Cacas about a year ago, and been colouring my hair once a month. Very happy with it so far. Best part is, no one had to suffer and die for it!

  9. shelby June 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm -

    Manic Panic is great if you want your color to not last very long. Special Effects last a little longer, and is pretty cool. 9 or so of their colors glow under a black light. If you’re looking for fun colored dye, Splat is really cheap, comes with bleach and developer, and a HUGE bottle of color for about 10$ and never, and I mean never, comes out. I’ve attempted to dye and bleach over my pink underside to no avail. 

    Oh, and that Pomegranate Sunflower shampoo, best shampoo ever, even if you’re hair isn’t colored, it makes a wonderful difference. Also, how are you finding Special effects at Hot Topic and nature’s Gate at Target? SE is a mail order only brand and for Nature’s Gate, I have to make a special trip to health food store =/

  10. Dina Abdel Hady June 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm -

    Oh, Special Effects were around at my local Hot Topic, from what I hear. I need to interrogate my sister’s friends further regarding this matter, because, like, that’s not cool if they got me psyched for reason. I personally never saw them there. I’ll definitely look into Splat. That sounds really cool. Pink hair is love, Shelby. Total love. 

    The Pomegranate Sunflower shampoo is fabulous, right? I love it so much. It’s totally available at my local Target–both of them, Rite Aide, and at CVS. It’s just tucked away with all the “earthy, hippie” stuff like Yes to Carrots, Burt’s Bees, and so on. I say try to look there. 

    Thanks for the comment and all the advice! 

  11. Dina Abdel Hady June 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm -

    Oh gosh. One of my friends is so in love with those LUSH henna bars. They apparently last long. There’s no Lush around me, unfortunately. But, people can order them online! Thank you for the comment. ^_^

  12. Dina Abdel Hady June 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm -

    My pleasure, Michele! Thank you for the comment. 

  13. Dina Abdel Hady June 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm -

    I hope you love the shampoo as much as I do, Kiera! (Baking soda, ooooh, smart idea!). Thank you for the comment. 

  14. Dina Abdel Hady June 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm -

    Thanks for the warning, Birdie. Oh man. I have the cotton candy pink dye by Manic Panic. This will be fun! 

    I am not sure about what brands are out there–I’m in the process of discovering what is animal-friendly and effective still, but this website lists some ideas: 


    Most of what I have found invovles hennas. 

  15. SoozieQ July 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm -

    Dina, any word on Beyond the Zone? I love Noodle Head but am going to feel horrible if I have purchased something that tests. I know I should have checked it out first. Please let me know. Thanks!!

  16. Peaceloveamber August 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm -

    As far as professional hair color goes. This includes those companies that have products sold to the general public. Here’s my list of vegan hair color: Chi(they don’t use ammonia either which is better for your hair), all loreal associated companies(Redken, Matrix etc.), Pravana(chromasilk vivids are the vibrant “crazy colors” mermaid red, purple, pink, blue all that). The pravana is my favorite for the bright colors. Plus going professional is good for your hair. Most over the counter has a higher volume than nessicary. Most ion companies are fine just look up what sallys has and research the testing and you will be good to go.

  17. Nikky September 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm -

    I swear by SFX, been using it for almost 5 years continuously. I found that leaving it in for at least 2 hours makes it lasts really long. Manic panic lasts about a quarter as much as SFX, it washes out so quickly.

  18. Spiruleena~Dreams September 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm -

    Ooh! I think a lot of really daring ladies (or gents) out there want to know which brands are vegan friendly. I have a list!
    Manic Panic
    Color FX

    And those are my absolute favorites. I frequently dye my hair blue, purple, pink, and I’m very mindful of the brightness and vividness of the colors. These dyes work EXCELLENTLY and last a while. Whether you’re doing semi-permanent or a rinse, these dyes are vivid and gorgeous!

  19. softrbreeze March 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm -

    Manic Panic didn’t take to my hair at all sadly…

  20. Emily Rodriguez April 21, 2013 at 7:18 am -

    Special Effects is at Spencer’s and Hot Topic in Nevada…

  21. teake May 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm -

    Unfortunately, none of Pravana’s color lines are vegan. They do have a product line that is vegan, but the silk in their color lines makes them not vegan 🙁

  22. Mandy July 3, 2014 at 10:03 am -

    It’s ironic that you say do your research and state that you use Revlon. Revlon test on animals and sell in China (where it is law to test all cosmetics sold on the market on animals). Yes I’m well aware that they donate a lot of money toward alternative testing methods but I know they don’t actually use any of the methods which are invented, this is extra insult as far as I’m concerned.

  23. Dianne
    Dianne July 3, 2014 at 10:24 am -

    Hi Mandy. Thank you for your comment. This post is several years old. At the time it was written, China had not yet allowed US cosmetics companies to sell in their country. The list of companies that do and don’t test on animals change on a regular basis, and at one point, Revlon did not test on animals.

  24. Emily H March 16, 2015 at 11:59 pm -

    Hi! I was just wondering if you ever heard anything from Beyond the Zone!? I’ve been trying to find out if they’re cruelty free or not and I haven’t been able to find anything.


  25. Dianne
    Dianne March 17, 2015 at 11:25 am -

    No, sorry, we haven’t.

  26. Emily H March 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm -

    Hi!! I emailed beyond the zone and this was the response, “Company policy is not to include any non-animal testing claims on the label. The EU Cosmetic Directive bans this claim from cosmetic labels and Beyond the Zone is distributed Internationally. Although the finished product may not be tested on animals, it is difficult to guarantee the raw materials were not tested on animals.” From my understand they do test on animals.

  27. Veganryche May 2, 2015 at 11:24 pm -

    I just had a salon that uses Redken products tell me that their color line is not vegan…

  28. Dianne
    Dianne May 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm -

    Thanks for letting us know. This is a very old post, and some companies have changed their animal testing policy since it was written.

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