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Hair Dye Without The Damage: How to Dye Dark Hair Without Bleach

No bleach? No problem!
October 06, 2023

When you have dark hair, sometimes you might feel as though your light-haired friends get to have all the hair color fun. Using bleach to lighten your strands before you can achieve your desired hair color can be time-consuming and expensive — not to mention damaging to hair

If you thought there was no way to get your desired color without bleaching your mane first, think again. There’s always the option of going to a salon and letting the professionals care for your dark hair, but we know that’s not always an option for everyone. Thankfully, you can dye dark hair without bleach right from home with the right hair dye that minimizes damage. Here, learn how to dye dark hair without bleach with a few holy grail hair coloring products (from semi-permanent washouts to permanent colors) to refresh your dark mane for a bleach-less dye job.

Can You Dye Dark Hair Without Bleach?

You can dye your dark brunette or black hair without bleach. However, this will depend on what color you’re trying to dye your hair. You can always dye your dark hair a darker shade of red, brown or black depending on your starting hair color. But we know you’re probably wanting something a little more fun than a similar (but darker) hue of your natural color. That’s where you’ll want to look towards semi-permanent hair colors that’ll tint hair fun shades of red, blue and purple without hair bleaching.


If your hair goals involve a medium honey blonde or cowboy copper mane, you’ll have to use some form of hair bleach to lighten strands. You can use an at-home hair dye to lighten dark strands, but the results will vary depending on how dark your hair is. If your end goal is a “no bleach” look, then you’ll want to leave behind light hair ideas in favor of darker colors that keep your hair’s health in mind. Below, learn how to dye dark hair at home without bleach using three different types of hair dye.


How to Use Temporary Hair Dye For Dark Hair Without Bleach

The first option for coloring dark hair without bleach is to use a temporary hair color that’s made to work with a dark base color. These hair dyes are specifically formulated to be vibrant and true-to-color without having to lighten your dark strands prior. They’re also super convenient for experimenting, planning a Halloween costume or trying on a new hair look without the commitment since this type of hair dye washes out.

If you love to switch it up and want some bold, fun hues, opt for a spray formula, like L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray. The temporary hair color spray allows you to instantly create bold looks that wash out with just one shampoo session. shades of blue, silver, red, rose gold and more are formulated to allow for vivid color on all hair types — no bleach required.

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Keep in mind the below steps when you dye your hair with this color spray.

Step 1. Give the can a good shake before each use.

Step 2. Section the hair to spray strands thoroughly and hold the can four to six inches away from dry hair before spraying. 

Step 3. Wait a few minutes for the color to dry completely before layering more color. 

Editor’s tip: Don't spray too much at once! The color becomes more vivid as it dries. Go slowly and build the color until you reach your desired shade.


How to Use Semi-Permanent Hair Dye For Dark Hair 

Perhaps you would like your hair dye for dark hair to last longer than one shampoo — but you still don’t want to commit to a permanent change. Enter semi-permanent hair color: The L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color line features four shades (teal, burgundy, maroon and bright red) specifically formulated for dark hair colors. The semi-permanent hair dye is also ammonia-free and lasts through four to eight shampoos — the perfect amount of time to test drive a fun hair hue. 


Keep in mind the below steps when dyeing hair with this semi-permanent color. For more details check the instructions included in each kit.

Step 1. Choose the sections of your hair that you want to color to customize your look. You can opt for dyed front pieces for a TikTok-approved money-piece look or tint your overall mane for a colorful hair moment. 

Step 2. Saturate dry strands with your desired color (or colors). 

Step 3. Set a timer and wait 15 to 30 minutes for the dye to stick to the hair. The longer you wait the more vibrant the color will be. 

Step 4. Rinse the dye out thoroughly, style and enjoy your new colorful hair.


How to Use Permanent Hair Dye For Dyeing Dark Hair Without Bleach

If you want your hair color change to stand the test of time, then it’s all about looking for shades that will show up on top of your dark strands. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to go for colors that are darker than your starting shade, or at least stay in the same color family. 

Need some recommendations? Here are a few drugstore-favorite permanent hair dyes for dark hair that won’t require breaking out the bleach. Make sure to follow the application instructions that come with whichever dye you choose since they may be different depending on the dye. 

For edgy black strands with a high-shine finish, try the L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color in Ultimate Black or Black Sapphire. These hair dyes will take dark brown or dark red strands to a vibrant inky black color with minimal fading. 

Another ideal color for dark brown or red hair colors, a deep brown shade offers an edgy look for full coverage, even with gray hair. For a rich brown color that’s as head-turning as it is fade-defiant, try the L'Oréal Paris Excellence Créme Permanent Triple Protection Hair Color in Dark Ash Brown or Dark Chocolate Brown

For a statement red or crimson-tinted dark mane, try the L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Color in Deep Burgundy or Auburn Brown. Both of these color options work on dark brown or black hair colors for a red-tinted look that embraces the pumpkin spice or cowboy copper trend that’s taking over social media. 

For an on-trend pop of vibrant color that will transform your ‘do without ravaging your strands’ health, choose one of the pigmented shades from the L'Oréal Paris Féria Midnight Bold Multi-Faceted Permanent Hair Color line. Formulated specifically for dark hair, these shades of purple (Violet Eclipse or Orchid Glow), blue (Cosmic Azure) and red (Blood Moon) coat hair with intense color without bleach. 

Whenever you’re in doubt about the results of hair color, use the L’Oréal Paris Hair Color Concierge for expert guidance and to see what hair looks like before and after applying hair dye. With this online hair color tool, you can consult with live experts and professional colorists before, during and after your hair color process. You can even schedule a one-on-one video chat with a L’Oréal Paris pro to help you dye your dark hair with peace of mind.


How to Maintain Newly Dyed Dark Hair

After dyeing your mane, perk up your color and hair's health right at home using a hair care system formulated to treat color-treated hair. 

1. Use a Shampoo and Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair

When washing your hair, reach for the L’Oréal Paris Sulfate Free Bond Repair Shampoo with Citric Acid and the L’Oréal Paris Sulfate Free Bond Repair Conditioner with Citric Acid. This pairing is formulated with non-stripping ingredients that deliver beautiful-looking and vibrant hair with the infused citric acid that penetrates inside the hair cortex to rebuild weak hair bonds.

2. Add a Hair Treatment for Extra Moisture

On days when your colored strands are feeling extra parched and could use a little more love, use the L'Oréal Paris Bond Strengthening Pre-Shampoo Treatment. This vegan formula is also sulfate-free and formulated with a bonding care complex to repair damaged hair in just one use. Hair is instantly hydrated and breakage is reduced when this treatment is used alongside the corresponding shampoo and conditioner. 

3. Refresh Color with an At-Home Hair Gloss

Finally, to help preserve your hair color, use the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss once a week in either of the many red, brown, silver, black and blonde shades available (or even clear). In one 15-minute session, you can enhance your hair tone, boost your color and deep condition your strands. 

Dyeing dark hair at home can be a fun process when done right. You can take your strands to the next level with a color refresh using one (or several) of the coloring options mentioned above. Don’t be afraid to try out a new color, wash it away and try again with semi-permanent colors, or make things more permanent with one of the aforementioned L’Oréal Paris at-home box dyes. Whichever you choose, the results will be vibrant dark hair without the potential bleach damage. 

Next: What Comes Inside a Hair Color Kit

Photo Credit: Matthew Kelly

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