For decades, at-home hair color has largely remained the same: making your decision at the drugstore largely based on the model’s unnaturally shiny hair color on the box. The salon experience isn’t too much more transparent: what shade you get at the end is often a surprise. SF-based start-up Madison Reed is taking as much guesswork out of the DIY process as possible, first by developing a new made-in-Italy formula with a low chemical profile (meaning no ingredients like ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD—or animal testing, either). Instead, there’s argan oil, keratin oil, ginseng root extract, and more. Launched direct to consumer, the online platform matches you to your desired shade via a straightforward quiz—with helpful explanations and no false promises (“Permanent color is not capable of lightening previously colored hair, so although you indicated that you would like to go lighter, this is not possible”).
The appealingly packaged box that gets delivered to your home contains not only the color and activator, but two pairs of gloves, a cap, barrier cream, cleansing wipe, and shampoo and conditioner. What you don’t see in the box but also have access to is all forms of customer service: phone, chat and email with a professional colorist (with options to send photos for a personal recommendation in less than 24 hours), but most importantly, a satisfaction guaranteed attitude. The kit’s one-time purchase is $25, but signing up for membership lowers it to $20.
In addition to Madison Reed’s quickly expanding line of hair color products, which includes glosses, color primers and root applicators, they’re making it easier to look on point, all the time. The newly opened Color Bar in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood offers quick root touch-ups or glosses in the same amount of time you’d have a massage—or less. Their color bar builds upon the success of now-ubiquitous blow-dry bars but is the first to offer something as complicated as color at an affordable, efficient scale (their quickest root “reboot” is only $35 and takes 35 minutes). It’s a genuine option to pencil in before your next big—or small—event.
There’s currently one other location in San Francisco, but the brand hopes to open more across the country over the next few years. Reservations can be booked online, with an exact breakdown of how long each service will take.
Images courtesy of Madison Reed