I colored my hair at home with this $22 kit and got salon-worthy results

When salons closed their doors, this affordable hair dye was my solution.
The Permanent Hair Color kit included steps that were easy to follow for a first time user.
The Permanent Hair Color kit included steps that were easy to follow for a first time user.Megan Foster / NBC
By Megan Foster

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I've learned to do a lot on my own since I started working from home in mid-March: I mastered the art of making cafe-worthy iced coffee, committed to gym workouts in my basement and finally mustered up the courage to use my air fryer. But when I decided to color my hair at home, I knew the risk of error would be far higher.

I’ve been getting my hair professionally colored every three months since 2018. I was ready for a touch-up at the beginning of April when stay-at-home orders forced hair salons to close their doors, leaving me with incoming roots for the foreseeable future. I wasn’t socializing as I usually would, but my natural brunette roots prompted me to take the dying job into my own hands with help from a brand called Madison Reed.

Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color Kit

I first learned about Madison Reed in March when the 3rd hour of TODAY featured founder and CEO Amy Errett. The brand’s mission is to provide hair products made with quality ingredients that adhere to strict safety standards, which made me more comfortable about at-home hair color.

According to a spokesperson from the brand, Madison Reed saw a 12x increase in sales during April, which they attribute to customers sheltering in place. The most popular product? The $22 permanent hair color subscription.

I ordered the kit in hopes that I could pull off a salon-worthy job — and was thrilled when it surpassed my expectations.

Before receiving the color kit, I visited the Madison Reed website to take a quiz about my desired results. It asked about my skin tone, eye color and hair dye history. From there, I was matched with my color and given additional product recommendations such as the color reviving gloss and toning glaze to help enhance my at-home coloring experience.

I wanted to learn more about my quiz results and the permanent hair color kit recommendation, so I utilized the chat feature to get in touch with a color specialist. She asked me to send a few pictures of my hair and explained how the products would work to help me achieve the results I wanted.

When the kit arrived at my door, it took me a couple of weeks to gain enough courage to start the process. I watched a few helpful tutorials on the brand's site, gathered my supplies and headed to my bathroom to attempt my first at-home hair dye journey.

The kit contains everything you need to color your hair: Radiant Cream Color, Conditioning Color Activator, shampoo and conditioner, a cap, gloves, barrier cream and a cleansing wipe.

I started by sectioning my hair into pieces I can easily paint and mixed half of the Radiant Cream Color and half of the Conditioning Color Activator in a small bowl. I used the small brush to paint the lengths of my hair and worked my way up to my roots. When every last strand was covered in hair dye, I waited about 45 minutes for the color to settle before rinsing.

One of my favorite parts about the process was washing my hair with the shampoo and conditioner. Both are formulated to protect and maintain color-treated hair, have a refreshingly subtly eucalyptus and mint fragrance and left my hair feeling nourished and smooth.

After washing and blow-drying my hair, I was amazed to see that my fresh color looked almost identical to my hair after a salon visit.

After one dye treatment, I saw a visible change in my hair color and hair texture. Megan Foster / NBC

The Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color Kit surpassed my expectations not just because of the salon-worthy results, but also because the instructions were easy to follow and the kit included everything I needed to color my hair. I was also happy to see that the products are made with ingredients that are designed to nurture, hydrate and strengthen hair.

The standout was the quality of the color. It looked very similar to the color reflected on the Madison Reed site, which I found impressive. I was matched with a cool blonde tone because I wanted to go lighter, and it didn't leave behind any brassy or yellow tones, which was a concern for me. When talking with friends who have previously colored their hair at home, I heard complaints that the results were flat and dull — but this kit gave my hair the same shine and dimension I would expect to see after visiting my salon.

Although I was drawn to at-home hair color because my salon was temporarily closed, I will definitely be using Madison Reed products in the future. In comparison to the $200 I hand over to the salon every few months, this kit was an easy, budget-friendly solution.

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