• 8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More) 1
  • 8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More) 2
  • 8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More) 3
  • 8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More) 4
  • 8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More) 5

8 Best Japanese Hair Dyes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Kao Liese, Palty, and More)

Dyeing hair has been on-trend recently, but it can be expensive to do. Why not try an at-home kit instead of heading out to the salon? They're perfect for trying out different colors and getting a feel for dyeing hair in general. Japanese hair dyes, though formulated with dark, black Asian hair in mind, can also work great for other types of hair, but always make sure to conduct a patch test in case!

To figure out what's best to use, we evaluated and tested eight of the most popular hair dyes found in drugstores in Japan and e-commerce sites. We tested them based on: three criteria: 


  1. how vivid the color was
  2. how gentle the dye was on hair
  3. how long the color lasted

Our favorite was Liese Prettia Bubble Hair Color; check out why below!

Experts featured in this article

Miyuki Okishima
Andrea Toma
  • Last updated: 06-15-2021
  • 60,370 views
Table of Contents

Best 3 Japanese Hair Dyes

Based on our in-house testing, we ranked a couple of the best Japanese hair dyes you can find online. Keep in mind our overall scores are not a simple averaging out of each product’s test results; some tests were given more weight than others, which is reflected in our rankings.

※As for our pictures, the top half depicts a hair sample after bleaching but before dyeing; the bottom half depicts the hair sample after dyeing. Also, note that some prices are converted from the original Japanese ones for your viewing convenience.

1

KaoLiese Prettia Bubble Hair Color

British Ash

$6.41

Japanese花王 リーゼプリティア泡カラー ブリティッシュアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation20 total, including British Ash, New York Ash, and California Beige
TypeFoam
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness5.0
Gentleness4.0
Longevity3.0
Overall score5.0
2

Henkel JapanFreshlight Foam Type

Berry Ash

$7.25

Japaneseヘンケルジャパン フレッシュライト 泡タイプカラー ベリーアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation7 total, including Berry Ash, Airy Ash, and Sugar Ash
TypeFoam
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness4.0
Gentleness3.0
Longevity3.0
Overall score4.0
3

DariyaPalty Foam Hair Color

Girly Ash

$6.58

Japaneseダリヤ パルティ 泡のヘアカラー ガーリーアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation15 total, including Girly Ash, Natural Ash, and Ice Greige
TypeFoam
Treatment included?No
Vividness4.0
Gentleness4.0
Longevity2.0
Overall score4.0

Compare the Best 3 Japanese Hair Dyes

Image
1
Kao Liese Prettia Bubble Hair Color 1

Kao

2
Henkel Japan Freshlight Foam Type 1

Henkel Japan

3
Dariya Palty Foam Hair Color 1

Dariya

Name

Liese Prettia Bubble Hair Color

Freshlight Foam Type

Palty Foam Hair Color

Features

Our Top Choice - Get Subtle, Salon-Quality Ash Without Leaving the House

Best for Getting a Lovely, Clear, and Ashy Finish

Best for Neutralizing Red Tones and Still Achieving Color

Price$6.41$7.25$6.58
Japanese花王 リーゼプリティア泡カラー ブリティッシュアッシュ(医薬部外品)ヘンケルジャパン フレッシュライト 泡タイプカラー ベリーアッシュ(医薬部外品)ダリヤ パルティ 泡のヘアカラー ガーリーアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation20 total, including British Ash, New York Ash, and California Beige7 total, including Berry Ash, Airy Ash, and Sugar Ash15 total, including Girly Ash, Natural Ash, and Ice Greige
TypeFoamFoamFoam
Treatment included?YesYesNo
Vividness5.04.04.0
Gentleness4.03.04.0
Longevity3.03.02.0
Overall score5.04.04.0
Link

More Great Japanese Hair Dyes to Consider

While our top three picks were great overall, here are a few more choices that may appeal more to those with certain tints they'd like to achieve and who are looking for more subtle effects.

Dariyaannadonna every Hair Color

Cat Greige

$15.55

Japaneseダリヤ アンナドンナ エブリ ヘアカラー キャットグレージュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation10 total, including Cat Greige, Elephant Grey, and Rabbit Beige
TypeLotion
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness3.0
Gentleness5.0
Longevity3.0
Overall score3.0

DariyaPalty Foam Pack Hair Color

Marshmallow Ash

$7.57

Japaneseダリヤ パルティ 泡パックヘアカラー マシュマロアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation10 total, including Marshmallow Ash and Candy Ash
TypeFoam
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness3.0
Gentleness1.0
Longevity1.0
Overall score3.0

mandom corp.LÚCIDO-L Milk Jam Hair Color

Classic Milk Tea

$5.53

Japaneseマンダム ルシードエル ミルクジャムヘアカラー クラシックミルクティ(医薬部外品)
Color variation5 total, including Café Chiffon and Classic Milk Tea
TypeLotion
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness1.0
Gentleness3.0
Longevity5.0
Overall score2.0

hoyuBeautylabo Milky Hair Color

Natural Greige

$10.41

Japaneseホーユー ビューティーラボ ミルキィヘアカラー ナチュラルグレージュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation13 total, including Natural Greige and Sweet Ash
TypeLotion
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness1.0
Gentleness3.0
Longevity2.0
Overall score2.0
Japaneseホーユー ビューティラボ ホイップヘアカラー ミスティアッシュ(医薬部外品)
Color variation16 total, including Misty Ash, Ash Chocolat, and Classic Ash
TypeFoam
Treatment included?Yes
Vividness1.0
Gentleness2.0
Longevity4.0
Overall score1.0

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge

<Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist Miyuki Okishima>


Miyuki Okishima is a hair therapist as well as a hair and makeup artist. After working as the vice manager at a Tokyo salon, she began working freelance with magazines, theater, and bridal clients. She also works as a hair advisor for magazines, Internet programs, and manufacturers.


Ms. Okishima also pays house calls to the elderly and those with disabilities and creates medical wigs on a volunteer basis.

How We Tested the Hair Dyes

After picking up the nine popular hair dyes from e-commerce sites like Yahoo, Amazon, and from drugstores, we tested each for each of the following things:

  1. How vivid the color was
  2. How gentle on hair it was
  3. How long the color lasted

Then we gave them a score from 0.5 to 5 and ranked them.

Please note that the products listed in the ranking were independently scored after our editorial staff tested them. In addition, we do not guarantee you will see the exact results we did. Please read the product descriptions carefully before choosing.

Test ① How Vivid the Color Was

Test ① How Vivid the Color Was
The first thing we tested for was color. We gathered variations of the popular “ash” color (pretty much an ash brown) and looked for products that best expressed its multi-dimensional feel and subtle shifts between green, brown, and grey.
We followed the directions on the package and bleached several samples of black hair to a bright brown. We then compared the results that we got with the images on the package and gave the products that lived up to expectations the highest scores.

If You Want “Ashy” Hair, You’ll Like the Look of Bluish Dyes

If You Want “Ashy” Hair, You’ll Like the Look of Bluish Dyes
The three products that delivered what the box promised contained high amounts of toluene-2,5 diamine, a dye with a cool, ashy tone, as well as 2,4-Diaminophenoxyethanol Hydrochloride, which adds a blue cast to colors.
On the other hand, products that didn’t live up to expectations contained warmer colors–we saw a lot of p-Phenylenediamine, a dye that adds a red tint to hair, or p-Aminophenol, which imparts an orange shade. When going for cool tones–such as ash brown, which is more grey than red–try avoiding these dyes as much as possible.

Test ② How Gentle On Hair the Dye Was

Test ② How Gentle On Hair the Dye Was

Next, we tested how damaging the dyes were. We attached a fine-tooth comb to a device that calculated pressure; we then combed through all of the dyed hair samples, measuring resistance and friction.

We determined that a low resistance score meant smooth, hydrated, and healthy hair; therefore, on this particular test, products that resulted in the least friction were rated the highest.

If You Want Gentler Dye, Look for a Formula That Contains Jojoba Oil

If You Want Gentler Dye, Look for a Formula That Contains Jojoba Oil

We actually couldn’t feel much of a difference when we ran our fingers through the hair samples, but when we measured them with our device, our lowest-ranking product produced a resistance score six times that of our highest-ranking product.

When we read the ingredients list, we found that two of the three products we found to be least damaging contained jojoba oil.
For those that aren’t already familiar with this magic ingredient, jojoba is extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant. It’s said to hydrate and protect both skin and hair. It’s a good ingredient to look for in hair dyes and treatments if you’re hoping to minimize any damage.

Test ③: How Long the Color Lasted

Test ③: How Long the Color Lasted

Finally, we tested for longevity. After dyeing the hair samples, we shampooed and dried each one seven times to see how the color would change with each successive washing. 


We then compared the color of the samples after the washings to their color before; the products that showed the least change were rated the highest.

Longevity Depended Less on Ingredients and More on What Dyes were Used

Longevity Depended Less on Ingredients and More on What Dyes were Used
A lot of the products we tested this time contained ingredients meant to preserve color, whether they be amino acids like theanine and taurine or silk protein. However, they still fell short when it came to maintaining the subtlety of a cool color like ash brown.

However, dyes that came out to a warm, reddish color stuck around for longer. Because cool colors tend to fade easily, we recommend using only mild shampoos (like amino acid shampoo) and investing in a treatment meant for cool, color-treated hair.

How to Choose Japanese Hair Dye – Buying Guide

Here are the five things you should look out for when picking out Japanese hair dye. To help give the best advice, we asked Ms. Miyuki Okishima to provide some of her big pointers for choosing a great hair dye.

Know the Different Forms of Japanese Hair Dye

Broadly speaking, Japanese hair dye comes either as a foam, lotion, or cream. Here are the advantages of disadvantages of each.

Foam is the Easiest to Use and Beginner Friendly

Foam is the Easiest to Use and Beginner Friendly
If you don’t want to put too much time or energy into dyeing your hair or if you’re worried you won’t do a good job of it, then go foam. You apply foam dye as you would a shampoo, so it’s intuitive, even for first-timers. There’s no need to section out your hair as you would with any other type of dye, and you don’t have to worry about getting a color brush.
However, it tends not to come out as vivid as, say, cream dye, so it’s important that you get even coats of foam throughout your hair. Also, the “flatter” a foam dye is, the harder it is to make it adhere to and color your hair, so make sure you whip it up good before application.
Miyuki Okishima
Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist
Miyuki Okishima

Using a foam-type hair color is like using a regular shampoo to dye your hair. So it's very easy to color your hair by yourself.


However, if you compare it to a cream-type product, it can be more difficult to figure out where you applied the product and where you've missed spreading it into. Make sure to be aware that you need to apply as much as you can all over to get a great finish.

Lotion-Type Applies Uniformly and Effectively on Long, Thick Hair

Lotion-Type Applies Uniformly and Effectively on Long, Thick Hair
If you’re worried about streaky color or if you have a lot of hair, try lotion dye. Lotion is thinner in texture than cream. It spreads well, so it’s easier to achieve even coats, and there’s less chance of you running out of product or finding sections of hair left undyed. 

If it comes in a bottle with a comb-shaped nozzle, all the better. You just rake the applicator through your locks, which makes it easier to color long or voluminous hair. 

Miyuki Okishima
Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist
Miyuki Okishima

Since lotion-type is runnier than cream-type dyes, they're also easier to blend and smooth into the hair. However, because of this, it can drip into the eyes, so just be careful and don’t apply it while bathing.

For a Professional, Vivid Finish, Use Cream

For a Professional, Vivid Finish, Use Cream

If you want the color to come out strong or you have experience in self-dyeing, then we recommend getting a cream dye.

Because cream dye is denser than lotion, it adheres more closely to hair, transferring more color. It also doesn’t bleed as much, making it easy target specific areas (so you can do things like go over sections where color takes longer to develop first).
For a Professional, Vivid Finish, Use Cream
On the other hand, it’s also easy to miss spots. To ensure you get one uniform layer of color, you have to section out your hair. We recommend parting your hair into six or seven sections and dyeing each one by one.
Miyuki Okishima
Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist
Miyuki Okishima

If you really want a good dye job, then cream-type dye sticks best to your hair. However, if you're not used to using this type of dye, then it's extremely easy to miss spots. I don't recommend it for beginners. It would be better to get someone's help if you want to try out a cream dye! 

Think About Color and Shade

Think About Color and Shade
Any dye’s going to be available in a number of colors, and bigger lines can offer around 20 different shades. Ash, pink, and beige tend to be extremely popular, especially in Japan, but even if the color is the same in name, it can look different depending on the brand.

So take a good look at the samples on the packaging, and think about which color, tone, and shade appeals most to you. 

Think About Color and Shade

And this almost goes without saying, but your original hair color’s going to greatly affect the end product. Most dyes will give you a number of before-and-afters, so make sure you’re looking at the before that’s closest to your current hair color.

Miyuki Okishima
Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist
Miyuki Okishima

When choosing a dye, try to first think of what color you want your hair to be. If you still can't decide on a product after that, then check your face and eye color to see what color would match best with your skin tone and eyes.


If you're worried about dyeing your hair badly, then I suggest going for a darker hair color, closer to your current color so that any mistakes won't stand out. To start with, try dyeing your hair one tone darker than the color you want your hair to become just in case.

Look for Included Treatments and Hair Care Products

Look for Included Treatments and Hair Care Products

There are likely many people who are a little hesitant about dyeing their hair because of the possible damage it can do. However, there are dyes that come with treatment and hair care items that can help minimize any negative effects that come with self-dyeing hair.

Some dyes include ingredients meant to treat hair as it’s being colored. Proteins like hydrolyzed keratin are often used to repair damaged hair shafts, and oils–jojoba being a popular variety–are used to add shine and moisture. Scan the ingredients list to determine what repairing ingredients, if any, are included and what their effects are.
Look for Included Treatments and Hair Care Products
Unfortunately, even if a dye has healthy ingredients or has hair care items packaged with it, it’s not going to offset all damage done to your hair. So, in addition to researching what ingredients are in the dye itself, try looking for products that include a hair serum or treatment as well to lessen the damage.
Miyuki Okishima
Hair & Makeup Artist, Hair Therapist
Miyuki Okishima

There are many types of treatments and hair care items included in different kinds of products and each can have a different effect on the hair, so it can be hard to decide what hair dye to get based on any single ingredient.


Hair aftercare is extremely important after dyeing your hair. Once you've damaged your hair even a bit, it's very hard to return your hair to its original state. Do your best to protect your hair from further damage by using serums and treatments.

Research How Long the Color Will Last

Research How Long the Color Will Last
Generally speaking, do-it-yourself hair dye will color your hair for about a month. However, some products don’t even last that long. Certain colors stick around for longer than others, and the state your hair is in (how moisturized, how healthy) also plays in role in the performance of your hair dye.
To find long-lasting products, it’s important to read reviews, but remember to take them with a grain of salt. Maintenance is also important, and a good shampoo or treatment formulated for colored hair can work wonders.

Don’t Forget to Check How Much Product You’re Getting

Don’t Forget to Check How Much Product You’re Getting
Finally, look at how much product you’re getting. It should say on the box, but one package of dye is typically only enough to treat medium to semi-long hair

If you don’t apply enough product, you may end up with faint or uneven coloring. Therefore, those with particularly long or thick hair should consider getting an extra box or two.

Make Sure to Conduct a Patch Test

Make Sure to Conduct a Patch Test

Hair dyes contain ingredients that can cause adverse and allergic reactions in the human body. These reactions include but are not limited to itchiness, skin irritation, and rashes. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms as a result of hair coloring in the past, then you should avoid dyeing your hair.

Make sure to read the instructions and any warning labels before usage of any dye. Take all necessary precautions, including conducting a patch test 48 hours before dyeing your hair. Most dyes come with instructions on how to perform a patch test, but it usually just involves applying a small amount of product onto your arm and letting it dry.
Make Sure to Conduct a Patch Test
Most permanent and semi-permanent dyes contain diamine, a coloring agent, as well as hydrogen peroxide, both of which can cause allergic reactions. Even if you haven’t experienced any symptoms up until now, it doesn’t mean you won’t in the future–allergies can be developed or triggered under different circumstances.
So before every hair dyeing session, make sure you carry out a patch test and are completely fine at the 48-hour mark.

Will These Dyes Work on My Naturally Black Hair?

Will These Dyes Work on My Naturally Black Hair?
Hair dyes do contain hair lightening agents, which work to remove some of the melanin from your hair and replace them with new pigments. But, generally speaking, if you treat hair while it’s still dark, it won’t turn out like whatever you see on the box. Most of those models are wearing the color you’d get if you were to treat bleached hair.
However, most packages of hair dye will give you three before-and-after images, one for light-colored hair, one for slightly darker colored hair, and one for dark colored hair, so you can get an idea of how a color will turn out on you. If you figure that you want to go for the lighter color and you have darker brown or black hair, then you’ll have to bleach your hair beforehand.

We also purchased and tried out the most popular boxes of Japanese bleach online, so check out the article below if you know you'll be needing to lighten your hair first!

Looking for More Hair Dyes?

Looking for More Hair Dyes?

If you're looking for a more specific hair color dye, such as a pink or black, then we've still got you covered! Take a look at the links below to find more amazing options for hair dyes that actually work to give you the color of your dreams.

Amazon's Best Selling Hair Colors

Summary

We rounded up members of our editing department, purchased the 10 top-selling Japanese hair dyes, and tested them all. We were pleasantly surprised by how even at-home kits could produce some nuanced, stellar colors. A lot of these products also contained restorative ingredients and treatments, which does a lot for peace of mind.

So next time you’re looking to add some color to your hair, keep this guide in the back of your mind, check out some of the brands above, and settle for nothing less than your ideal.

Author: Kano Ichiyama/Translation: Jasmine Li/Photos: Yuuki Inagaki, Koichi Miura

Date of ranking: March 20, 2019

Treat Your Damaged Hair With a Calming Shampoo

As mentioned before, taking care of your hair after the dyeing process is extremely important. If you are looking for a unique product that calms, invigorates, and treats your damaged locks, then look no further! This Intense Repair Shampoo by Sauce Beauty comes highly recommended by beauty blogger Andrea Toma.

Expert's
pick

Sauce BeautyChimichurri Mint Tingle Intense Repair Shampoo

$9.99

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