This post was most recently updated on March 6th, 2023
In terms of DIY beauty treatments, at-home hair color can be an enjoyable experience if you invest in a luxurious yet affordable alternative to over the counter hair dyes. This will guarantee you achieve your color goals for the glow-up you have planned for the summer or winter. Or provide you with that much needed coverage for your grey roots. This Madison Reed reviews article will show you whether or not their hair colors are worth buying.
So what is Madison Reed?
If you are a DIY colorist, you may have heard about their famous Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit.
Madison Reed claims that their customizable hair color kits are safe from harmful chemicals while giving a long-lasting salon-like experience at home. Is that so? You will find the answers here on our review.
About the Brand
Madison Reed founded in 2013 by Amy Errett got its iconic name from Amy’s daughter. This is a famous American brand known for their hair color and hair care products. They skyrocketed to popularity at the time of their inception as the brand disrupted the traditional norms of the hair color industry by offering solutions to the pain-point of coloring hair at home, safely. In fact, the US Chamber of Commerce calls Amy’s company, a revolutionary company redefining the norms of the haircare industry.
As a prestige beauty brand in the hair dye industry, Madison Reed has been awarded many Allure Best of Beauty Awards. Their Root Touch Up Kit and Root Touch Up + Brow Filler won the Allure 2022 Best of Beauty Awards for Best Hair Color in the Root Coverage category. In previous years, Madison Reed has also had three other wins, including Radiant Hair Color in 2021, Color Reviving Gloss in 2020, and Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit in 2018.
The Formula to Madison Reed’s Success
Madison Reed’s mission is “to provide the best, most luxurious hair color made with ingredients you can feel good about.”
While we all know hair dyes are amazing, making us feel younger and more confident instantly, picking hair dye for your hair can be tough. There are tons of options available on the market along with a lack of transparency about the use of unsafe ingredients by manufactures. It’s important you chose wisely to prevent damage to your hair.
Thus today, the brand has a subscription-based service through its brick-and-mortar “Color Bars”, and online stores. As of November, 2022, they opened their 75th Color Bar, making them one of the fastest growing haircare brands in the US. They also have partnerships with Ulta, Ulta Beauty at Target, Sephora, Amazon, and QVC.
Madison Reed Comes Under Backlash
The brand, Amy Errett spent nine months perfecting to make sure it was filling a gap in the color industry has gained credibility among many people. However, as we want to be as transparent as possible in this review of Madison Reed, we do want to inform you that the brand did come under fire for a lawsuit claiming that it was not actually void of harsh chemicals as it claims.
We”ll take a closer look at that in the side effects section.
Madison Reed’s Product Lineup
You probably knew Madison Reed is for DIY-hair color products. But did you know that Madison Reed doesn’t only provide these gorgeous hair dyes? They also offer other hair care products such as treatments, tools, and accessories. Here we give you a quick overview of them.
Madison Reed has an array of products for women’s hair colors. If you’re looking for permanent and semi-permanent hair colors, and toners, Madison Reed’s got you covered. Given below are images of Madison Reed’s Hair Color + Highlights systems.
Not just for women, the brand also provides Men’s Hair Color products. They are available in 5 natural-looking colors for hair and beard. It comes in a kit system that includes Color Gel, Color Activate, Shampoo, and Gloves.
The brand also offers the Quick Fixes For Grays system. It is temporary color to camouflage grays on your roots. It is available in two types.
Besides Hair Colors systems, Madison Reed also offers hair treatments and tools. Given below are pictures of other Madison Reed products.
Since the product range is massive, in this article, priority has been given to reviewing Madison Reed’s Hair Color products.
Madison Reed Reviews: Hair Color Systems
What’s special about Madison Reed is that they provide a Color Translator and Color Quiz for those of you who need a recommendation on hair color. You can even have a Virtual Consultation with a colorist for the best color selection, application assistance, and more.
Color Translator is a Madison Reed innovation that matches the hair dye you are currently using with Madison Reed alternatives. So if you’ve dyed your hair before and want to add more vibrancy to it, Color Translator can help you find the best Madison Reed color based on the brand and your current hair color.
Not only that, but you can also take part in the Color Quiz to find your best Madison Reed color. The questions asked are also very simple such as:
- Current hair color?
- How often you dye your hair?
- What color your eyes are?
- Whether your hair has been chemically processed before?
After you answer the questions asked, the system will display the best shade for you.
The brand offers salon-quality hair dye products, from semi-permanent to permanent hair colors. All their hair color products are enriched with keratin, argan oil, and ginseng extract. The company claims that the hair dyes are dermatologist tested and developed in Italy according to strict EU safety standards. Let’s take a closer look at their best seller hair color systems.
Permanent Hair Color
It is the answer for those who love long-lasting hair color. Permanent Hair Color is suitable for all hair types, packed with healthy, natural ingredients like keratin, argan oil, and ginseng extract. This hair dye will make your hair shinier and more conditioned. It is available in 57 natural-looking colors that are designed to figure out the exact shade to suit your complexion, and style, and to cover your gray roots.
Madison Reed’s Color Quiz will make your life easier in terms of customizing the right kit for you. Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color comes in a kit, which includes:
- Customized Instructions
- Barrier Cream
- Cleansing Wipe
- Radiant Cream Color
- Conditioning Color Activator
- Protective Cap
- Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner
Ideally, this permanent hair dye will stay just as vibrant as it was the day you colored it, at least until the roots grow in. You can reapply the color every 4-8 weeks.
Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color is best for covering grays, maintaining natural color, and changing hair color to either darker or lighter up to 2 levels.
What Customers Like: “I was extremely impressed by the directions and the packaging. I’ve never had an at-home hair color go so smoothly and not make any mess at all. The process itself is really top-notch!”
What Customers Don’t Like: “It does not damage the hair, maintains the shine, but does not last long on the hair. Need to color every few weeks.”
Color Reviving Gloss
This range is classified as semi-permanent hair color. Whether you want to add dimension or reinvigorate your color vibrancy, Color Reviving Gloss is the top option. It’s the perfect dye to add shine and change color without redoing your hair color. Semi-permanent hair dye is the safer option because it won’t permanently change your hair color and structure. So, it’s great for those who are looking for short-term color changes.
Color Reviving Gloss is available in 7 semi-permanent shades and 1 universal clear shade.
- Crema helps reduce yellow or orange tones in blond or gray hair.
- Espresso is suitable for brunette hair to neutralize red or orange tones.
- Barolo and Canella are perfect to get an intense color.
- Amaretto, Miele, and Prosecco work to add dimension and shine.
- Clear Glassa is designed to refresh color vibrancy instantly.
This semi-permanent typically will last up to 2-8 washes and is suitable for all hair types. It doesn’t provide 100% gray coverage like the permanent hair color. In fact, it isn’t designed to cover grays whatsoever.
What Customers Like: “This product works great and I love the color. Minimal smell, multiple uses per bottle. Recommend coloring right before a big event because it does not last more than 2-3 washes.”
What Customers Don’t Like: “Loved the color and how gentle it was on my hair but, it didn’t cover the gray.”
Root Touch-Up + Brow Filler
We know that embracing gray hair is not for everyone. But, today you can easily camouflage your grays with Root Touch-Up by Madison Reed when you don’t have time to color your hair. Root Touch-Up + Brow Filler are temporary concealer designed to camouflage your gray hair instantly by adding instant color to your hair roots but can be washed out more easily than Root Touch-Up Kit (Root Reboot.)
Root Touch-Up is packed in a small bronzer-like compact and available in 6 shades. It easily brushes onto your hair and stays put until the next shampoo. Not only that, this resists rain and sweat as well as doesn’t stain your pillow or clothes. Not only for gray hair but it is also designed to help define your brows. One pack of Root Touch-Up will last for about 60 uses.
What Customers Like: “No residue on my white pillows, doesn’t make my scalp itch, and it really does cover up my roots.”
What Customers Don’t Like: “The product is OK for coverage but it’s hard to actually get the product onto the brush and your hair. Took me forever to keep going back and forth to try to get some coverage.”
Root Touch-Up Kit (Root Reboot)
Just like Root Touch-Up + Brow Filler, this kit also temporarily covers gray hair with artificial pigment. As a demi-permanent hair color, Root Reboot will stay longer than Root Touch-Up. It’s a color-depositing, demi-permanent hair dye designed specifically to cover your roots and hairline in just 10 minutes. The kit contains:
- Hair Color Cream
- Color Activator
- Color Therapy Conditioning Mask
- Cleansing Wipes
- A Reusable Mixing Bowl
- A Reusable Application Brush
Root Reboot is available in 8 shades. Each kit can be used for two applications. It usually lasts up to 2 weeks, and easily washes out with shampoo without compromising your underlying hair color.
What Customers Like: “It’s just the right amount for a root touch up and it looks so natural and blends in beautifully.”
What Customers Don’t Like: “I left the color on longer than recommended, but the color washed out the very 1st time I washed my hair.”
Men’s Hair Color
Formulated exclusively for men, Madison Reed Men’s Hair Color subtly reduces grays for hair and beard instantly. It’s also suitable for all types of hair. One kit will last for two applications, which include:
- 2 Pack of Color Gel
- 2 Pack of Color Activator
- 2 Packets of Shampoo
- Easy-to-follow Instructions
Men’s Hair Color comes in 5 natural colors. Simply apply the Color Gel to dry hair, then mix with Color Activator. With as little as 15 minutes, you can rinse with shampoo and see the result for yourself. Don’t leave for longer than 30 minutes. The color will stay up to 2 weeks, so you can regularly recolor it if it starts to fade.
What Customers Like: “No irritation to the skin. The color lasted about 10 days.”
What Customers Don’t Like: “You have to use the whole package at one go – works out expensive if you don’t need all of it.”
Madison Reed hair color systems come in various options, and each of them has different longevity and purposes. All products have pros and cons themselves. Each person may face diverse results and longevity depending on their hair type and coloring technique. Check the next section to learn the basic comparison between the permanent, semi, demi, and temporary hair colors of Madison Reed.
Comparison Between Madison Reed Hair Color Systems
To make it easier for you to pick the right product, this section will show you the differences between them in terms of function, longevity, color option, and more. Check the table below to get a better understanding.
|Who is it for?||Function||Longevity||Options|
|Radiant hair color kit||Women with all hair types. But some men also use the product.||Covers grays, maintains the natural color and changes hair color up to 2 levels.||4 to 8 weeks||57 shades|
|Color reviving gloss||Women with all hair types||Adds shine or dimension, refreshes faded color, reduces brassiness, and adds tint color.||2 to 8 washes||7 semi-permanent shades and 1 clear shade|
|Root touch-up + brow filler||All hair types with gray roots||Camouflages your grays and defines your brow.||Stays put until the next shampoo||6 shades|
|Root touch-up kit||All hair types with gray roots||Cover your gray roots and hairline longer than Root touch-up + brow filler.||Up to 2 weeks||8 shades|
|Men’s hair color||Exclusive for men with all hair types||Reduces grays for hair and beard.||Up to 2 weeks||5 shades|
The table above shows that each system has its special function in meeting your hair coloring needs. While several systems share the same functionality, they still differ in terms of longevity and color options. For example, to cover gray hair you can use Root touch-up + brow filler and Root touch-up kit. But if you prefer a longer-lasting color, you should opt for the Root touch-up kit. Root touch-up + brow filler will be more suitable for those of you who want an instant and simple application, and don’t mind a shorter lasting duration.
After learn about Madison Reed hair dye options, let’s move to the next section to educate yourself about the ingredients of their hair color.
Madison Reed Controversy: Is It Really Safe?
To decide whether or not Madison Reed hair colors are safe, we can check through their full ingredients (check in the next section). Today, Madison Reed is more transparent by providing a full list of hair color ingredients, which is important for customers who want to use their product.
As we mentioned earlier, Madison Reed claims that its products are free from harsh chemicals. They state that their hair color is free of:
- Titanium Dioxide
Madison Reed is equipped with the ‘Smart 8-Free’ formula. But, recently, the brand has come under fire for the use of ethanolamine which may cause damage to hair and failed to issue ingredient warning information to consumers that ammonia substitute may pose possible side effects in some people. Is Madison Reed’s hair color safe? Is it safe for thinning hair? To answer these, we’re going to check the chemical breakdown section to make sure it is completely safe or not. Let’s see the ingredients that may harm or irritate your hair, scalp, or skin.
We use the ingredients of the Medium Golden Brown shade from the Permanent Hair Color range. You must know that even though all companies claim to be free from several ingredients, they use other ingredients instead as substitutes. Here are the full ingredients.
Madison Reed hair color is formulated with hair-loving ingredients to reduce damage to your hair, such as Keratin, Argan Oil, and Ginseng Extract. In this section, we will provide the benefits of each of their key ingredients.
Madison Reed claims that their hair dye formula is infused with Keratin. Keratin has many benefits for our hair, one of which is strengthening hair that is damaged by chemical and mechanical agents. For this reason, in hair dye, Keratin helps reduce levels of damage caused by chemical ingredients. Keratin also helps smooth the hair cuticle and fill in damaged areas on the hair shaft, leading to a reduction in the porosity of your hair.
Derived from the seeds of the argan tree in Morocco, Argan Oil is also found in many Madison Reed hair color blends. Argan Oil helps hydrate hair, reduce frizz, and reduce chemical damage in hair dyes. Basically, Argan Oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, such as oleic acid and linoleic acid which can add a protective layer to your hair shaft. This can reduce the effects of breakage and reduce split ends.
Ginseng is formed by ginsenosides which have a positive effect on the hair growth cycle and prevent hair loss. The phytosterol component in ginseng nutrition is effective in minimizing premature gray hair. Ginseng extract helps nourish the scalp, strengthens hair follicles and roots. It not only promotes new hair growth but also prevents them from weakening and breaking.
Madison Reed may claim to be ammonia-free, but instead, they do carry ethanolamine. It fulfills the same function as ammonia, increasing the pH levels, and thereby, opening the hair cuticle. That’s what makes the color stay longer and cover the grays. EWG rates ammonia 2-6 (with 10 being the most toxic), while ethanolamine is rated 5-6, depending on usage and dosage.
Ethanolamine has also been connected with hair damage and hair loss although there aren’t sufficient studies to make concrete claims. Ethanolamine can remove the natural cuticle lipid and the 18-methyl eicosanoic acid which can lead to cuticle damage. It also may increase the risk of birth defects so if you’re pregnant, breast feeding or family planning, please avoid any permanent hair dyes. However, unlike ammonia which has been extensively studied and tested for its effects on hair, so far ethanolamine has not been studied further yet. More in-depth clinical trials on ethanolamine are needed.
Para-Toluene Diamine Sulfates
Moreover, Madison Reed’s Hair Color also claims to be PPD-free. But, the manufacturer uses Para-Toluene Diamine Sulfates (PTDS) as a substitute for PPD. They can provide long-lasting hair color that has a natural look. Which is very important for such permanent hair colors. However, EWG rates PTDS 7 out of 10, the same as PPD. Para-Toluene Diamine Sulfates have a potential risk of causing an allergic reaction. Hence, anyone who is planning on coloring their hair should do a patch test to prevent allergic reactions. Don’t forget to always wear gloves while coloring your hair.
Madison Reed Reviews – Side Effects
After we take a quick look at the ingredients, they may cause some side effects to customers. Some users have experienced side effects while using it. We have analyzed several reviewers on Amazon and Instagram, and here’s what we got:
- Itchy scalp
- Leave hair dull and dry
- Blister in the patch test area like a 3rd-degree burn
- Hair breakage
There is no safe permanent hair color because they all have to use chemical ingredients to do their job. Make sure you always have to take precautions by cross-checking your allergies with related product ingredients. Before taking a full application, it is very important to always do a patch and strand test to make sure that it is completely safe for you to take any hair dye. So it’s important to make a well-informed decision to try the product.
Madison Reed Reviews: Before and After Pictures
Here we come to the most important part. Social proof will show whether or not the products work just like the brand claims. To get those, we’ve compiled several real users from Amazon and Instagram. Check the pictures below to see them for yourself.
Several users also noticed that their hair looks shiny and vibrant after using Madison Reed’s Permanent Hair Color. Meganus said that there are no breakage, frizzy, or dry issues. She used Madison Reed in Modena Brown to fully cover her grays. Kayla also said that the quality is great and the color makes her hair shinier and softer than before. However, some people said that it won’t last long on their hair. Overall, the hair color is easy to use, and pigmented, and leaves their hair shinier, softer, and more moisturized.
Madison Reeds Alternatives
There are several options to choose from when seeking a hair color brand. Here we will be looking at a couple of alternatives to Madison Reed that may suit your hair needs.
Let’s take a look at them one by one!
eSalon is an award-winning brand that creates custom color and hair care kits for customers based on an online questionnaire. The idea is that you can get salon-quality hair color and results at home with the eSalon Personal Colorist Kit. Similar to Madison Reed, eSalon is also free of ammonia, PPD, phthalates, parabens, SLS, and titanium dioxide. The key ingredients include Keratin, Quino & Jojoba Esters, Aloe Vera, and Silk Amino Acids. eSalon hair color formula is cruelty-free, but not vegan.
Their hair colors are suitable for all hair types, and up to 100% gray coverage. eSalon’s demi-permanent hair color will fade naturally, lasting up to 24 shampoos. While the permanent hair color will begin to fade after about 4-6 weeks. The eSalon Personal Color Kit currently costs $32.50 per pack. Each kit contains Hair Color, Developer, Shampoo, Conditioner, Stain Guard & Stain Remover, Gloves, and Instructions.
Read our esalon review to learn more.
Who doesn’t know L’Oréal? It is one of the largest cosmetic brands in Paris. L’Oréal has developed activities in the field concentrating on hair color, skincare, make-up, and hair care. As for hair color products, L’Oréal provides permanent hair color, semi-permanent hair dye, bleaches, and many more for all hair types. L’Oréal offers several “vegan” hair color options, and the products are cruelty-free. Their permanent hair color has up to 22 shades. Unfortunately, L’Oréal’s permanent hair color contains ammonia, except their semi-permanent hair colors. Each pack of L’Oréal Excellence Permanent Hair Color currently costs $12.08.
Revlon was founded by brothers Charles and Joseph Revson, and chemist Charles Lachman. The brand not only offers hair color products but also skincare and personal care. Revlon Permanent Hair Color is available in a wide range of shades for each color family: blonde, red, brunette, and black. Their products are ammonia-free and have vegan options. Unfortunately, Revlon is not cruelty-free. The permanent hair color has up to 37 shades. With Total Color by Revlon, you may need to recolor your hair at the new hair regrowth after 4 to 6 weeks. But overall, the color will stay vibrant as it was the day you colored it. Revlon Colorsilk’s price is ranging from $14.99 to 19.99 per pack.
The similarity between Madison Reed and its alternatives is that they both come in kit form. However, only eSalon has as complete contents as Madison Reed, unlike L’Oreal and Revlon kits which are not as varied as Madison Reed. Of the three brands above, eSalon provides the most expensive option and L’Oréal offers the cheapest of them. However, the eSalon is only $2.5 higher than Madison Reed. Unfortunately, Revlon’s Revlon products are not cruelty-free, but they do offer the same Vegan option as L’Oréal.
Madison Reed Reviews – The Verdict
To conclude, Madison Reed has received positive feedback from customers and boosts 4.3 stars out of 5 from 1,451+ ratings on Amazon. The products are easy to use, which is very important for DIY hair colors. But some have chosen not to use the products again because of the side effects they experienced. Madison Reed does not contain ammonia or PPD, which is great. But, what makes people concerned about it is their substitute that also harms your hair.
Check the highlighted information below to get a better understanding:
|What We Like||What We Don’t Like|
|Good gray coverage, super pigmented, and long-lasting color.||You won’t find light or pastel colors.|
|Vegan, cruelty-free, and Smart 8-Free.||Contain harmful substitutes, such as Ethanolamine and Para-Toluene Diamine Sulfates.|
|Give soft and shiny after using it.||May cause more hair loss.|
Thus, these Madison Reed reviews have covered their hair color systems, ingredients, and real-life experiences based on authentic reviews. We hope you read everything carefully to decide if this is the right hair color for you. Let us know in the comment section how you like Madison Reed Radiant Kit Color. Check the Frequently Asked Questions section below if you have any questions about Madison Reed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Madison Reed better than a drugstore?
Yes. Madison Reed is safe and clean because it doesn’t contain metals like the drugstore hair colors do.
How long does Madison Reed’s hair dye last?
Permanent hair color will stay just as vibrant as it was the day you dyed it. But, you can start to retouch your hair after 4-8 weeks. Demi-permanent color will last up to 2 weeks and semi-permanent color fades after 6-8 washes.
Is Madison Reed good for gray hair?
Yes, absolutely. You can use Madison Reed Radiant Cream Color if you have too much gray to touch up. Because it’s a permanent hair color, it will give you up to 100% gray coverage. If you want a simple solution, you can use Madison Reed Root Touch-Up products. It is available in powder and liquid.
Is Madison Reed safe to use?
While Madison Reed products are free of ammonia, PPD, etc., but it doesn’t mean they’re really safe. The company uses substitute compositions like ethanolamine and PTDS, which can be as harsh as ammonia and PPD. If you have a certain allergic reaction, are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, you have to avoid using them.
What are the healthiest hair dyes?
Wherever you are, you will not find 100% healthy, natural hair dyes. Every hair dye needs chemical ingredients to do their job. Research is important before taking any hair color. It will help you with a lot of information about whether hair dye is safe or not.
What happens if you leave Madison Reed for too long?
You may get darker results than you expected. Make sure to not leave for over 30 minutes. Read and follow the instructions very carefully.
Read also: Goldwell Vs. Redken: Is Goldwell Better Than Redken?, Madison Reed Vs eSalon: Which Hair Color is Better?