Until last week, I thought shelling out upwards of $250 for highlights and a root-covering tint was totally legit. At least in my neck of the NYC metropolitan area. Then I discovered Madison Reed, a new home hair color company, and even this DIY hair color skeptic just might be a new convert.

I dabbled in hair color from the box when I was a teenager living in the Midwest, but as soon as I moved to New York and worked in the beauty business, I admit getting hooked on the prestige of going to a celebrity colorist. But like so many of us, once my kids came along, the time and money spent hauling myself to a fancy salon seemed ridiculous. Still I never considered going back to the box until I heard how great Madison Reed sounded. They’re actually used in salons, and even count legendary hairstylist Sally Hershberger as an advisor, which definitely upped  their street cred with me.


Madison Reed at home hair color as good as the salons


Turns out Madison Reed’s combination of ease, tech and amazing formulations works for me. If the thought of choosing from among their 27  hair colors is daunting, you can call, e-mail, or chat online with their “Color Crew” of professional colorists who will help you pick the perfect shade. You can even send them a selfie so they can make personalized recommendations which is pretty genius.

I like to think that I can choose the color that suits me best, so I decided to forgo the assistance and brave it alone–with just a little help from their hair color advisor recommendation engine on site.


Madison Reed home hair color online color advisor


I chose the Como hair color shade which is light brown with hints of mahogany. The instructions in the box were super easy to follow, and thanks to the ammonia-free formula, there was no unbearable smell. After 30 minutes,you just use the color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner included, then dry. I will admit mine came out a bit redder than I had expected (maybe I should have consulted with the Color Crew, after all), but the high-gloss was gorgeous and all of my grays were gone.

I mean uh…what grays? I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

I like that Madison Reed formulations are all free of questionable ingredients like parabens, resorcinol and ammonia. They have added healthy ingredients like argan oil, ginseng root and keratin, which I find actually make your hair look and feel healthier after you color it.

After a couple of days, my new shade really grew on me. I admit I’ll probably go back to the pros for highlights every so often, but for now I’ve traded Madison Avenue for Madison-Reed–and I’m not looking back.

 The new Madison Reed home hair color is $29.99 per kit. Order from the Madison Reed website and get support from one of their color experts. Or sign up for auto-delivery for regular shipments.