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Best Hair Dye for Dark Hair

by Madison Reed September 15, 2023

Torino Brown 5NA - Dark Smoky Brown - Best Hair Dye For Dark Hair from Madison Reed

Image by Madison Reed

Are you looking for a way to give your hair a fresh look? Do you want to color your naturally dark hair? That’s perfect because we’re your hair coloring specialists! In this article, we’ll tell you the best at-home hair dyes for dark hair. Are you ready? Then read on!

Coloring Dark Hair – Everything You Need to Know in a Nutshell

Before we tell you the best hair dye for dark hair, let’s chat about the challenges related to coloring naturally dark hair. It’s not as simple as with blonde or even light-brown hair.

The main difficulty with coloring dark hair is when you want to lighten it. It is recommended to only choose shades that are up to two levels lighter than your natural hair color. (Check out our hair dye colors chart to see the scale.) It is also important to know that if your hair already has color on it, adding a new color on top will not lighten it. The general rule is "color does not lift color." This means that depending on your current hair color, you might not be able to get a desired outcome with every box hair dye.

The only way to lighten hair that is already color-treated is by using bleach or other color-removal products. A gentle way to slowly go lighter over time is to use Prime For Perfection. This is a treatment that will gently remove excess color buildup of artificial pigment. It will not drastically lighten your color like bleach or other harsh color removers, but is a great way to start to take your hair lighter while keeping it looking and feeling healthy. 

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The Best Hair Dyes for Dark Hair

Our Madison Reed assortment of hair dyes offers many options for dark hair. Plus, all of our colors are free of harsh ingredients¹, so they don’t just look gorgeous, they also feel gentle on your hair². So, what are the best at-home hair dyes for dark hair? Let’s take a look at several options, depending on your natural hair color.

Black hair

Let’s start with the darkest hair color possible: black. If you want to stay within the range of your natural black hair color, there are some beautiful shades to give you shiny richness and maximum gray coverage, if you need it.

  • Bolzano Brown - 4NMG – This dark brown color is ideal for those of you who have the darkest black hair. If you are wanting to lighten your naturally dark color and love warm, slight reddish undertones with a mahogany-golden result, this is a great shade to change up your natural color.

  • Torino Brown - 5NA – This is another one of our favorite box dyes for dark hair. The cool, smoky tone will help minimize too much warmth or red showing through when taking naturally dark hair lighter. Since it’s on level 5 of our shade scale, we recommend it if you have light black or dark brown hair.


  • Parma Black 2.5NNN or Ravenna Brown 3.5NNN - If you want to stay within range of your natural hair color, but want to up the richness and gray coverage, then these two shades will do just that.


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Dark brown hair

We’ve already discussed black, so let’s get to some beautiful dark brown shades. The versatility of dark brown allows for a wide array of color choices. Here are some of our faves:

  • Portofino Red - 6NRR – This medium amaretto red is positively mesmerizing. With this eye-catching color, you’re sure to spark passion and show off your adventurous side. This is definitely one of our best colors for dark brown hair when you want to go red.


  • Modena Brown - 5.5 NNN – Perfectly neutral, this color is wonderful if you want to make a change, but not go too wild. It’s ideal for any occasion and will look great with most complexions.


  • Pescara Black - 2NNA – If you want to go darker, this shade will give you the darkest, purest black you can find. The richness and shine will be incredible when you want to go dark. This is the darkest black available – and a great way to truly embrace this hair color.


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lf your hair isn't naturally dark brown or black, but is still on the darker side in your color category, we have some gorgeous suggestions for you. 

Dark red hair

We, of course, can't forget about our natural redheads. Since red hair has a lot of orange pigment, you need to choose your hair dye carefully. 

  • Bolzano Brown - 4NMG – Yet again, we have this beautiful warm mahogany brown dye. Applying this color will embrace the natural red tones in your hair and result in a deep mahogany or auburn brown color, which looks just fabulous!

  • Napoli Brown - 5NGV - If you wish to change your natural red hair to a true brunette result, this shade will minimize the red tones in your hair and give you a true chocolate brown.

  • Carrara Crimson - 7RC –If you're looking for a vibrant ginger hue, this vivid color is the perfect choice for you. It combines light red and copper tones to infuse your hair with a radiant warmth.


We've also written about color for hair that is dyed red in our article What Color Can I Put over Red Hair. Have a peek if that’s you! 

Dark blonde hair

Now, let's dive into dark blonde. It serves as an excellent foundational color, making it possible to achieve both lighter and darker shades. So, which hair dye is ideal for dark blonde hair?

  • Roma Blonde - 10NVA –If you want to make your naturally light hair even lighter, this is the perfect dye for you. The light, icy blonde is especially flattering on those with fair complexions and rosy undertones in their skin.

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The Takeaway

So, there you have it - the best hair dye for each type of dark hair. Give them a try and share your thoughts in the comments – your fellow DIY-ers will thank you!

Looking for the best color for your hair? Read our article about hair color astrology or take our online quiz, "Which Hair Color Suits Me?


¹ Free of ammonia, PPD, resorcinol, parabens, phthalates, gluten, SLS and titanium dioxide

² According to an independent consumer study