Madison Reed Hair Dye For Home Review

blonde hair woman

Are you wanting to try a new hair color but don’t have room in your budget for regular visits to a salon? Madison Reed Hair Dye may just be the answer you’re looking for.

Box dye can be scary. After all, not all hair color is created equal. If you’ve ever tried coloring products from your local drugstore, you may have a horror story or two of your own.

However, Madison Reed claims to be in an entirely different class than your average box dye. But do they live up to these claims? Let’s take a closer look and see how it compares to other products on the market.

Madison Reed: A Hair Color That’s Better for Your Health?


Madison Reed claims their hair dye for home use is much safer than other brands. They mention all the horrific ingredients found in other products, but not in Madison Reed’s formulas.

Their website is informative, but we did some deeper digging. Is Madison Reed’s hair color for the home actually healthier than the others?

We love products that say natural, or healthy but what we have learned is the labeling is not always clear. With people looking for healthier options, many products and ingredients have gone under the microscope so to speak.

When it comes to our food it may be easier to find chemicals listed on the labels but what about our beauty products? Are these ingredients easier to understand?

A recent advertisement for Madison Reed got us curious. The woman in the ad discusses how important it is to have the finest ingredients and how other products were just too darn dangerous to be putting on your scalp.

Our first impression was of a woman who was caring and passionate about bringing healthy products to other women. It sounded wonderful. It is exactly what today’s women are looking for. With so many dyes and chemicals, women are looking for healthy alternatives in all their products.

We found the website to be appealing and professional. It clearly discusses the importance of using good ingredients. Their mission statement is To make luxurious, at‑home hair color with ingredients you can feel good about.

Madison Reed and chemical concerns

Madison Reed’s site mentions 6 key ingredients their hair dyes don’t have; they are free of ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, and gluten. The site claims it is the first Smart 6 Free permanent hair color on the market.,

But ask yourself, why do so many hair dyes have ingredients like ammonia, and PPD? They must have a purpose. If Madison Reed eliminates those chemicals in their products what are they using to replace them?

Recommended Read: 55 Wonderful Blonde Hair Shades for Golden Dreams


Ammonia opens the cuticle layer of the hair allowing the color molecules to penetrate. This is important to get the hair to take on the new color and keep it for a long period.

Ammonia helps to make the hair dye permanent as opposed to temporary or semi-permanent. Madison Reed hair dye does not use ammonia for the process but instead uses ethanolamine.

According to the Environmental Working Group, ethanolamine is rated 5-6 on a toxicity scale. Ten is the highest. The EWG concerns over ethanolamine include respiratory toxicants and allergens.

It is also an ingredient that can cause skin irritations and should not be left on the skin for long periods of time. We’re not sure what that means because hair dyes are generally left on for up to 45 minutes. That is certainly enough time to irritate the lungs and skin.

Ironically, according to the FWG’s database, ammonia is rated lower in toxicity. It has a rating of 4-6. Although the difference is not huge ammonia appears to be safer.

If it the ammonia’s odor that bothers you, switching to ethanolamine won’t be much better. The smell is slightly weaker but very similar.


P-phenylenediamine is the chemical compound most popularly known as PPD. PPD is used to create a darker tone in hair dyes and tattoos. The Madison Reed website states how harmful this ingredient in and again claims how wonderful they are in NOT to use it in their hair dyes.

PPD can cause skin irritation, rashes, hives, etc. to the many who are sensitive to it. Madison Reed wants you to know this because they care, yet what they have replaced once again is not better. Madison Reed replaces PPD with Para Toluene Diamine (PTD).

According to the Skin Deep database which reports testing and toxicity PPD rates a 7 out of 10. The substitute, PTD  is rated an 8 on the toxicity scale.

Madison Reed’s site warns that anyone who has allergies to PPD may also have a reaction to PTD. However, they claim PTD reactions may not be as severe. In our opinion, any skin reaction is a serious one.


It is highly toxic to the immune system. In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. It is rated 8 out of 10 in the Skin Deep database.

Madison Reed uses 2-methylresorcinol to help add color to the hair cuticle. It is rated lower than resorcinol in the Skin Deep Database with a 4 out of 10 but the EWG states there is not enough data about the substance. Even though the toxicity rating is less, 2-methylresorcinol is still a hormone disruptor.

One of Madison Reed’s offensive ingredients is gluten. If you’re gluten-sensitive, avoid it at all costs, but most people are just concerned with consuming gluten, not putting it in their hair. Besides, why would gluten be in a hair dye, anyway?

Gluten is a protein found in grains. We have found no hair dye products with gluten, so stating your product is gluten-free is a marketing ploy.

Upon reading the full list of hair dye ingredients, it was difficult to find anything that actually sounds natural or healthy. We did notice keratin, and ginseng root squeezed in among the long list of chemical compounds. Other than that, nothing else impressed us.


Many products list fragrance on the label, but few name the specific ingredients used to create a fragrance. Companies are not required to list the exact content of this ingredient. This lack of disclosure prevents consumers from knowing exactly what is in the product.

While most fragrance chemicals are not available to the consumer, we do know some chemicals are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity.

A company that wishes to satisfy its health-conscious customer will use aromas from flowers, herbs, or essential oils. They will proudly display this.

When a product lists fragrance as an ingredient, you can be sure it is not natural. Madison Reeds’s ingredient list uses the term fragrance, so this is a clear warning sign in our opinion.

How to Select Your Perfect Shade of Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color

A woman with hair colored by Madison Reed products

Madison Reed has come up with a fabulous idea. They have developed a questionnaire that assists in you selecting the perfect shade based on your needs and wants. This can be beneficial to women who have no idea where to start when choosing a color.

The website takes you through a series of questions, such as how often do you color, what color is your natural hair and what color do you wish to get. It addresses the amount of gray a woman may have and the texture of her locks. The answers to these questions play a role in the outcome of your finished product.

When shopping at your favorite store to buy an at-home hair dye, you don’t have the ability to ask anyone which product or shade would be right for you.

Home coloring kits do not mention which color is best for a heavily grayed woman with straight hair as opposed to a woman with thick curly hair that has little or no gray. When shopping in a store, you pick a color, take it home and pray for the best.

Madison Reed even offers an online chat line or phone number so you may talk with a consultant. That is a feature that is unique and would make any woman feel more confident when deciding on what shade and formula to choose.

Recommended Read: 50 Black Cherry Hair Color Ideas for the Sweet & Sour

Is Madison Reed More Expensive?

A woman with light brown hair from madison reed hair dye

Madison Reed’s hair dye for home is a bit more expensive than what you will find in your drugstore. Based on what the kit offers, we would say it is more expensive than it really should be.

It is common for many hair coloring kits to come with gloves, a hair cap, and a sampling of shampoo and conditioner, so there is nothing extra here.

One addition however that we like is the barrier cream. This is a cream you put all along the hairline. It is great for the dye that may drip or run unto your skin. In most cases, hair dye will stain your skin if left on too long. The barrier cream will make it fast and easy to wipe off if this occurs.

We are guessing the reason it is so expensive is because of the fancy packaging and advertisement. The box that arrives in the mail is what you might call fancy. Each product in the kit also comes in its own beautifully colored, designed box.

We looked at other hair coloring kits and discovered their gloves and caps are all nicely placed inside the instructions. There is no need for extra packaging.

We don’t understand why this is necessary and for a company that claims to be a healthy alternative, they aren’t showing any signs of concerns over the health of the environment.

We are also guessing the high price tag is to pay for the advertising and on-call consultants.

Madison Reed can be purchased online and specialty salons. Having highly trained consultants is great, but we are not sure it is worth the price.


  • Online Questionnaire to help select shade
  • Online Instructions
  • Consultants available
  • Shampoos, conditioners, and other products offered to maintain hair color and shine.


  • Misleading ingredient information
  • Excessive packaging
  • High Price

How Madison Reed Compares

We compared Madison Reed with other healthy hair dye options

Surya Brasil

Surya Brasil Products Henna Cream, Chocolate, 2.37 Fluid Ounce

Buy on Amazon

Surya Brasil has spent the last 20 years committed to making natural hair care products, including henna for hair dying. Now talk about natural; all their ingredients are truly sourced from nature. There is nothing synthetic here. Surya Brasil uses formulas created by combining flowers, herbs, and ancient plants from the rainforest.

Because they do not use any preservatives or additives to penetrate the hair follicle, the dyes are semi-permanent. This means if you wish to maintain the color, reapplying the henna formulas will be more frequent.

Surya Brasil does not supply a kit, so you won’t get any gloves, mixing cups, or conditioning creams, but you will get the pleasure of knowing you are not using any harsh ingredients on your scalp.

Surya Brasil Products Henna Cream, Chocolate, 2.37 Fluid Ounce
  • SURYA Brasil Henna Cream-1 Box
  • Certified Cruelty Free - Vegan - Leaping Bunny
  • NO Ammonia - PPD - or Peroxide


  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Low price
  • Natural aromas, no added fragrances


  • Messy application
  • Semi-Permanent
  • Difficult to find in stores

Naturtint Permanent Hair Color

Natural Chestnut 4N 5.4 oz, Naturtint Hair Coloring

Buy on Amazon

Naturtint Permanent Hair Color is a mid-range product that also claims to be natural. Unless you are using pure plant botanicals, you will need to have some chemicals in your product. Synthetics are necessary to get a variety of shades. Chemicals are also used to open the hair follicles.

A company can choose to use extremely harsh chemicals or ones that are more gentle on the skin, lungs, and thyroid. Naturtint is one of those companies.

Although Naturtint’s hair dye kits contain many ingredients that aren’t all-natural they have some we liked in the cremes and color protectants such as rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, and pea protein.

Natural Chestnut 4N 5.4 oz, Naturtint Hair Coloring
  • Healthy, Vibrant Results. With Ingredients derived from plants and seed oils, Naturtint plant enriched products are...
  • Scientific Rigor. Naturtint´s manufacturer led to a permanent ammonia-free hair color in 1994. Through advanced...
  • Earth-kind Values. Taking care of our planet and minimizing our carbon footprint. Naturtint products are 100% vegan and...


  • Easy to use Kit
  • Great natural aromas
  • No ammonia


  • Misleading labeling
  • A small selection of shades to choose from
  • Difficult to find at most retail shops

Recommended Read: 50 Sublime Chocolate Brown Hair Shades

Final Thoughts on Madison Reed Products

Two girls laying in the grass, one with blonde hair and one with brown hair from madison reed

After much research on Madison Reed’s hair dye, we have concluded that the CEO’s passion to empower women to be their authentic selves does not apply to the company. We find the advertisement, and mission statement to be dishonest.

We understand finding a natural hair dye product is difficult, but some companies strive to make their dyes as safe as possible. Madison Reed has eliminated some harsh ingredients, but they slipped in some unsuspecting ones as substitutes.

If you want to alter your hair’s natural tones, we advise you to find products with ingredients that have a high safety rating. Madison Reed’s ingredients do not.

If ingredients are not your concern, then Madison’s Reed’s Home Dye Kits can be a luxurious choice. With consultants available to answer all your questions and a fun easy quiz to help you make a decision, using Madison Reed will give you the feeling you are an important consumer. Sometimes customer service is important, but you will pay an arm and a leg for it.

Have you ever tried Madison Reed products? What did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below.

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Last update on 2021-09-18 at 06:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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