A Safer Way to Color Your Hair; Madison Reed Review

If you are looking for a healthy way to color your hair, Madison Reed Hair Dye offers the best option! Learn how Madison Reed ingredients are the healthiest on the market for the best grey coverage! If you have been looking for madison reed hair color reviews, I’m excited to share my experience with you in this blog post.

Let’s face it, for may of us getting gray hair stinks! And while embraced my early-gray transition, refusing to color my hair for over 3 year as I was in my mid-30’s I just HATED the way my hair was transitioning.

Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated and taking care of my skin, has kept me looking much younger than my peers. When coloring my dark hair, the decision was not one that I made lightly. I spent countless hours researching the different natural better hair color options, and perhaps even more time experimenting with my own hair using several different methods.

And I have to admit, much of my experimentation ended in giant messes, alligator tears and less than optimal results. But don’t worry!! I’ve found a solution for anyone and every one who’s looking to color their hair in a safer way!!

My Safer Hair Color Failures

Henna and Herbal Based Hair Dyes are undeniably one of the safest options available. And when I first decided to color my hair, unlike most people I was solely focused on finding the perfect natural solution. However, in reality I found that henna and herbal hair colors completely and totally suck.

Not only are they are very messy to apply and must stay on your hair for a very long time, they are even messier to rinse!!

And that’s AFTER you struggle to find your perfect color match. For me (my hair extremely dark brown, but not quite black hair) these perfectly natural options barely covered my resistant grays and faded very quickly.

I did my best to accept a lifestyle where every 3-4 weeks I’d be spending an entire day coloring my hair (and spending nearly $400 a year), but even though I hated my gray hair I hated henna and herbal hair colors even more. Even though henna and herbal based hair dyes weren’t for me, they may work great for you. THIS is the henna based color that I found to be the best of the ones that I tried and would recommend.

Next, I started experimenting with less time consuming options. For nearly a year I was ALMOST happy using THIS Natural Organic Hair Color in soft black for roughly $20 a box. The ingredients were really clean, it only took an hour to apply but it was still messy and my covered gray faded rather quickly into copper/red highlights after just 2 weeks.

Then I heard of a 100% non-toxic hair color option that doesn’t dye your hair it restores your hair to it’s natural color. Yes, sounds like voodoo and pretty much felt like it too. This product involved a 3 step ‘color’ process, which took roughly 2 hours of time.. Imagine coloring your hair with black hair dye 3 times in a row, yielding roughly 75% gray coverage.

The mess was overwhelming for me. Color, Rinse, Color, Rinse, Color, Rinse. The 2nd & 3rd steps were applied to wet hair that turned into a matted, knotty mess of straw. I found myself hating this process even more than henna.

While henna was messy and took forever, at least it didn’t immediately dye everything black it came into contact with.  The last time I used this product, I spent then last step crying because I was so exhausted. I decided to paint my bathroom wall to cover the dye splatters and never-ever use it again.

There I was, frustrated and my gray roots were growing in. $39 every 4 weeks, hating the process and fast fading coverage weren’t working for me. I’d honestly had enough and contemplated giving up again and letting nature run it’s course – then I found Madison Reed.

A Safer Way to Color Your Hair, That Actually Works!

It sounds so cliche, but an ad for Madison Reed popped up in my Facebook feed claiming to make luxurious, at-home hair color with ingredients you can feel good about.

Madison Reed didn’t claim to be 100% natural or organic, but they did promise to be a safer hair color option.

We are a company built on integrity, innovation, and love—for you and for your hair color. We believe in a better way and we believe in beautiful naturally healthy-looking hair color and that all women deserve it.



From hair color bars, color-matching for your skin tone & hair types to caring for your color, to step-by-step guidance of your at-home hair color experience…our personalized approach to service ensures you can color with total confidence in finding the perfect shade. Plus when in doubt Madison Reed Customer Service is there to help you from your first time through extra pairs of gloves or to replace a dry cleansing wipe!

Crafted with care

We’ve partnered with honest and transparent manufacturers in Italy, just outside of Milan—operating under strict EU regulations—to curate a high-performance quality collection of hair color products including our color and gloss.

At the forefront of innovation, we created the first ever Smart 6-Free permanent hair color: Free of ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, and gluten. And we added hair-loving nutrients including keratin, argan oil, and ginseng root extract to protect and pamper hair.


From our professional colorists, our community, and the entire Madison Reed team… we thrive on listening, understanding, and creating beautiful lasting relationships (and very good hair days). Our expert colorists are here to answer all of your hair color questions from start to finish—call, email or chat.

We represent progress, innovation, and an entirely enjoyable 360° experience. An ingenious approach to hair color…Madison Reed is color with a serious conscience.

My Madison Reed Hair Color Experience

I’ve been using Madison Reed’s POSITANO BLACK (3NNA Black with hints of deep cool brown) for the past 6+ months which is the perfect match to my (then) current hair color and seamlessly cover my stubborn grays. To put it simply for my madison reed hair color review, I fell in love with Madison Reed the minute I opened my first color kit.

WOW is the only way to sum it up.

I knew the internet is lacking when it comes to madison reed reviews sharing authentic experience using madison reed products, so I wanted to keep this post alive years after I have ditched hair color completely and embraced my grey. I while I don’t use Madison Reed to cover my greys anymore I do use their madison reed color reviving gloss to keep my hair looking it’s best.

Here’s the thing, when I used to use chemical color (way before I became crunchy) and even when purchasing natural coloring options, the kits were always painfully basic. But not with Madison Reed.


They give you EVERYTHING you need, for a fool-proof & less messy hair color application:

  • Not just 1 BUT 2 pairs of real rubber gloves not those cheap-o plastic produce bags in the shape of a glove stuck to an instruction sheet. The gloves are the thick black kind that you can reuse, they don’t leak and you won’t push your fingers through them.
  • Disposable Cap to put on overtop of your color, so you don’t make a big mess while your waiting. (incase you haven’t realized I hate hair color messes)
  • Packets of both Barrier Cream to put on to protect your ears and hair line AND a Cleansing Wipe to early clean up messes!
  • Ample sized Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioners to use following your coloring.
  • They also give you a Sample of Root Touch Up Makeup for Hair, which initially I thought was silly, but this little sample has helped me extend my time between colorings to nearly 2 months!

The Madison Reed Hair Color process is pretty much exactly what you would expect. Mix the tube into bottle, shake well. Apply to hair and set your timer. The entire process for my hair takes roughly 45 minutes, including root application, end application, rinsing and washing/conditioning.

Madison Reed’s coverage is completely flawless. No exceptionally messy application processes, no all day swamp-head and perfect coverage of my VERY resistant grays. My hair is glossy, smooth, shiny with depth/highlights like I’ve never found in boxed hair color before. In fact, I feel that overall my color match is better than I’ve ever found even from a salon, since my natural color is very unique. And – just to be sure it wasn’t just my opinion I get only the best feedback from my friend AnnMarie who cuts (and previously colored) my hair.

Every time I see her I’m pestering her for her opinion on my hair color and she’s VERY picky. Madison Reed gets her thumbs up too! The first few times I colored my hair with Madison Reed, I was retouching my roots every 4-5 weeks because the process was so easy.

But even after nearly 7 weeks my grays are still 90% covered with only very minor fading. And while I have about 1/2 inch of new gray growth, their Root Touch Up Makeup for Hair has has been a game changer.

With my first kit I enjoyed the sample so much that I purchased the full size product – then use the samples I get with my kits for travel. Today, while writing this post I’m actually coloring my hair…. in real time, like as I’m typing…

Resistant Gray Tip: Always applying color on your normal part area and around your face, basically whatever is most obvious grays, apply color to first so it has the longest to color. Then attack the rest of your roots..

I leave mine on my roots for 30 minutes then apply all over for another 5 minutes. The rinse really well. Wash and condition with the samples included in your kit, which are really fabulous and pretty safe as well. Style as usual and celebrate saying good-bye to your grays!

Here’s my Before & After from 10-23-2016 (again real time, as I’m typing this post)

Madison Reed Ingredients

Madison Reed is as passionate about what ingredients they use IN their products as what they leave OUT. Their cream conditioning color is dermatologist tested and crafted in Italy according to strict European Union (EU) safety standards for hair color formulation—meaning, they will never use certain potential ingredient offenders in our formulas. Instead, they choose to use ingredients that nourish your hair. Every product they offer is Leaping Bunny certified, the international gold standard of cruelty-free beauty.

The delivery system of any hair color formula plays a key role not just in the performance of the color, but also in how the color affects the health of the hair and scalp. Because Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color is a unique cream conditioning formula, it has clear benefits over gel hair color formulas commonly found in other hair color brands. The cream-based formula of our Radiant Hair Color:

  • Creates a more consistent and uniform color result
  • Achieves superior gray coverage
  • Provides conditioning benefits to hair
  • Helps creates a barrier on the scalp from the dyes in the formula
  • Helps avoid overlap with prior applications of hair color, and therefore less likely to overprocess hair over time


They didn’t just formulate their award-winning color without harsh ingredients,* Madison Reed went even further and tested the permanent hair color formula under the supervision of an independent dermatologist, Dr. Zoe Draelos, to clinically confirm the safety and benefits of their irritant free beauty Smart 8-Free formula Radiant Hair Color on the hair and scalp.

The study demonstrated that when used as directed, radiant cream color is non-damaging to hair and is non-damaging to scalp health. * Free of ammonia, PPD, resorcinol, parabens, phthalates, gluten, SLS, and titanium dioxide.

  • Ammonia Free – Ammonia is an ingredient commonly used in hair color. It has a strong odor, and exposure to ammonia fumes can skin irritation, eyes, throat, and lungs, causing watery eyes, itchy scalps, coughing, or burning. Madison Reed never uses ammonia in any of their formulas. Instead, they use ethanolamine, an ingredient that helps give predictable, permanent results, without any harsh odor.
  • PPD Free – PPD is short for para-phenylenediamine, a hair dye traditionally used to create darker shades of hair color. It is known to be an allergen and skin sensitizer. Contact with the skin can cause dermatitis in susceptible individuals. Although many manufacturers use PPD in their products, Madison Reed uses alternatives. One key ingredient used to replace PPD is PTD, a Para Toluene Diamine (PTD) ingredient called Toluene 2,5-Diamine Sulfate (TDS). Color with PTD creates the same rich, dark shades as toxic versions. While PTD can also be a skin sensitizer, PTD is generally shown to have a lower likelihood of allergic reactions than one would expect from the use of PPD.  Color Reviving Gloss, Color Therapy™ Mask, and Root Touch Up do not contain PPD or PTD.
  • Resorcinol Free – Although it’s used in most permanent hair colors due to its efficacy in coloring hair, you won’t find resorcinol in their formulas as it is classified as a hazardous chemical and can be toxic to the immune system. In fact, resorcinol has been formally classified as an irritant by the European Union, and has been prohibited in cosmetic products in several countries. Resorcinol is a skin sensitizer, and can be one of the ingredients that users are allergic to in hair dye. Instead, they use 2-methylresorcinol, which has a different molecular structure, and which the E.U. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety classified as lower-grade skin sensitizer compared to resorcinol.
  • Paraben Free – Widely used in beauty products as a cosmetic preservative to promote longer shelf life, there is concern that parabens may interfere with the endocrine system. While current analysis concludes that they are safe at the levels presently used in other cosmetic products on the market, the long-term impact of parabens continues to be researched, Madison Reed does not use parabens in any of their formulas.
  • Phthalates Free – Phthalates are often used as solvents and plasticizers in shampoo and styling products, and many are banned in the EU. Some studies have found that phthalates might have some effects on reproductive hormones. Madison Reed does not formulate products using ingredients that contain phthalates.
  • Gluten Free – Gluten is sometimes found in wheat proteins used to preserve the structure of the hair. However, for those that are sensitive to gluten, we decided to err on the side of caution, and have removed it from all of our formulas. We never use ingredients that contain gluten. Instead of wheat proteins, we use keratin, a natural protein found in both hair and skin, to preserve and strengthen hair.
  • SLS Free – SLS is a surfactant, meaning it lowers the surface tension between ingredients and creates the lather often associated with shampoo and other hair products. However, SLS is also known to strip the protein from hair, depleting the hair and scalp of beneficial protective oils. Products containing harsh surfactants like SLS are also known to contribute to color fade. In severe instances, SLS can also irritate the scalp, causing redness, dryness and itching. For this reason, we never use sodium lauryl sulfate in our products, opting instead to use sodium laureth sulfate, a gentler alternative. Sodium laureth sulfate is also used in our formulas to ensure a full, even application of color, and total removal of color from the scalp and hair while rinsing.
  • Titanium Dioxide Free – Some evidence shows that in high concentrations pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust may be linked to cancer, allergies, immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity, among other problems.  We never use titanium dioxide in any of our formulas.

Madison Reed is Cruelty Free Hair Color

Madison Reed product is Cruelty Free & LOVES animals. Nothing we make is ever tested on them. Everything we make is Leaping Bunny certified, which is an international stamp of approval that recognizes no animal testing is used or commissioned in any phase of product development by our company, its labs, or ingredient suppliers. Learn more about our cruelty-free Leaping Bunny certification.

Healthy Ingredients in Madison Reed Hair Color

Madison Reed has a commitment to adding more good for you ingredients into their award-winning hair color to enhance your hair health. Here are a few healthy Madison Reed ingredients worth noting:

  • Keratin is a naturally-occurring protein that composes the structure of hair. The addition of keratin to strengthen and fortify hair. Keratin infuses hair with additional protein to restore elasticity and help prevent breakage.
  • Argan Oil is a multi-tasking ingredient that nourishes hair from root to tip. It contains vitamin E that can help repair damaged ends and protect hair from future breakage. It restores shine and adds natural smoothness, while hydrating and softening to leave hair feeling silky and healthy.
  • Ginseng root extract is a unique fortifying ingredient, and is able to penetrate into the hair to improve individual strand strength, soften hair, and alleviate split ends.

Please note that the above is not a complete list of all ingredients. You can find more ingredient information in the details section of each product page.

All permanent hair color contains ingredients which could potentially cause an allergic reaction. DO NOT use these products if you have already had a reaction to hair color product and/or you have a sensitive, irritated, or damaged scalp. Always consult your physician if you have questions or concerns. Read more about Radiant Hair Color Safety Precautions and Ingredients.

Madison Reed is Safe AND Affordable

My first order was $42.50 – including the basic kit + an extra tube of color for my long hair + upgraded pro color bowl and brush which was suggested for best results. Admittedly, I felt that was a little more expensive than I wanted to spend.

HOWEVER, the only reason it was expensive was the add-ons that I added and strongly suggest them as a one time upgrade to their luxurious hair color.

Madison Reed offers a convenient Auto Ship program where you select the shipment frequency and each color kit is only $25 with shipping.

The best part for me is that I’m not left scrambling – rushing to order a new hair color kit when a special occasion pops up and I realize my roots are a mess – I always have a kit ready to color my hair every 4-6 weeks!

Currently, I am coloring my hair every 6-7 weeks (which is when my regrowth is very noticeable) which will cost me roughly $200 per year. Totally affordable compared to the other options I’ve used and especially in comparison to salon hair coloring services.

How to Get Started with Madison Reed

Getting started with Madison Reed couldn’t be simpler since they help you pick the prefect shade for your radiant hair color kit.  If you still need additional assistance Madison Reed is always available for individualized help via email and even chat – you can also send them your photo and they will make a personalized color recommendation!

I also strongly recommend adding the Pro Coloring Bowl/Brush Kit and Coloring Accessory Kit to make your hair coloring experience salon quality and the least messy. These are one time additions but you will thank me, as if better ingredients wasn’t good enough 🙂

If you enjoyed my madison reed hair review, Read these Healthy Hair Care posts next:

** I wrote this post in 2016 when I was still coloring my hair and had not embraced my grey hair. As of this updating this post in 2024; it’s important to disclose that I have not colored my hair since 2018 in any way. As my grey growth continued, as it always does, I have learned to lean into it and I like how it looks now. Thanks in many ways to so many amazing ladies coming forward sharing their own beautiful natural hair.

** I believe each and every person should choose what feels right for them. There is no right or wrong way to live your life. If you feel better without grey hair then PLEASE try Madison reed and ditch those toxic hair colorings and expensive salon visits. Or if you are ready to embrace your natural hair color, I also support you!

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  1. Hi there, You mentioned that you had used henna and I had a question. I put henna in my hair and the Madison Reed website says you can’t use their product over henna. I read that after I ordered some color from them. Now I’m nervous to use it but it seemed to have worked fine for you. Did you ever run into anything that said you can’t dye over henna or that you have to let it grow all the way out? Thanks for any info or insight!

    1. It was several years in-between henna and Madison reed. Henna is a very difficult product to use and recover from using, there should definitely be a warning!
      I would try a small hidden piece of hair as a test before using it on your whole head.

  2. OMG its like I wrote your blog! I struggled thru MM henna for over a year! I was so determined but I absolutely hated taking an entire day to do my hair once a month and it didn’t last ever! Just about to try Madison Reed and thats how I found your blog. Wish me luck!

  3. I wish I had seen this before today! I just colored my hair with the salon stuff.. I have had my cosmetology license for almost 17 years, so I get products at wholesale cost, but I think I might try your stuff next time!

    Btw, I’m loving the EO’s and the diffuser I got from you last month! Thanks again for such a great deal!

    1. Cathy – I guess you didn’t read my post 🙁 perhaps it’s best to read before you comment. I talk specifically about my experience with other hair colors.

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