I like using and talking about products that are safe for the environment, animals, and ourselves!
Oway Hcolor Hair Color Review
For the past few years, I've been reviewing and exploring the ingredient lists of many professional "organic hair color" lines. I always put the term organic hair color in parentheses because, as I've mentioned multiple times, 100% organic hair color does not exist. So after many requests, I've decided to review Oway's Hcolor line and do it a little differently than before.
Instead of just listing ingredients and giving some nuggets about performance, I wanted to do a hair color review that had more meat so-to-speak. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know if I should just go back to looking at just ingredients (I cover that here too)!
What Is Oway Hair Color?
When I contacted the company, they gave me this info:
Oway Hcolor is a professional ammonia-free hair color made with biodynamic, organic and fair trade ingredients.
- 89 permanent colors
- 5 tone boosters
- Made in Italy
- Certified cruelty-free by PETA.
I then had to Google what "biodynamic" means, and it's actually quite interesting. It’s an ecological farming system that views the farm as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. The health and well-being of the farm animals, the farmer, the farm and the Earth are all viewed as integral parts that make up the whole. Not only do they not use pesticides or chemicals, but they also don't use machinery and t's also all hand grown and picked, which they say creates "stronger, purer plants that are a step above organic."
After learning more about this, I have to say, I am into it! Any farming that is more eco-friendly and kind to animals is a win in my moral codebook.
Another ingredient type I am seeing for the first time in any professional hair color brand is Fair Trade. If you don't know what Fair Trade means, it means that the ingredient was obtained in an ethical way. Meaning the farmers get paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.
I have to say, I am impressed at the lengths Oway has gone to create a product that is ethically sound. I love the idea of what they are doing, but at the end of the day, the products have to perform.
So let's get into the full Oway Hair Color Review. I ordered a try-me kit so I got my hands on 10 colors, 3 activators and also added their ammonia-free lightener, Hbleach.
Grey Coverage Results
I'll admit as a hair colorist the first thing a color line has to do is cover grey. Grey coverage clients are my bread and butter behind the chair, it's the first thing I'll put to the test. Here are my findings of Oway Hcolor:
I didn't have to take a million steps to cover greys!
In previous "organic hair color" lines they always stressed the importance of pre-washing or using heat. I didn't have to do this with Oway, and my goodness, what a time a money saver. Many of my clients hated processing under heat (menopause is tough), and I am glad that it is no longer a requirement.
It covered the grey 100%!
The Oway technical manual recommends using at least half of your formula as natural if you have resistant greys. So I used 1 part 4.0 and 1 part 4.05 equals pts with 6% activator for 40 minutes and the results were a beautiful, shiny chocolate mocha brown. What I liked most about the type of coverage I got was that it didn't look chalky or painted on. I've used other non-ammonia color lines that covered grey and it looked drabber.
My client's comments
She is already accustomed to no smells or itchy scalps when she sees me, but even she remarked on how her hair looked and felt softer than ever. I also saw her four weeks later for a retouch and was excited to see the color had not faded off tone. A big win in the land of more natural color lines.
My Observations of Oway Hair Color
While I loved the results of Hcolor, I also wanted to touch on a few observations I made while testing it out.
Use a scale!! I REPEAT, use a scale!
My first application with Hcolor I struggled, the results just weren't there. Then I called the support line and didn't realize that using a scale is absolutely necessary with this color line. Once I started weighing my color, it all came together. They also pointed out that you would save money and get more consistent results if you weigh it. I now use a scale for any and ALL colors, not just Oway.
All of my formulas were very spot on
I noticed that Oway's Hcolor is very true to swatch. I always consult the color wheel when learning a new color line, but by my fifth application, I was already jiving! In the past I have used lines where I would get unpredictable results or the swatch book was just so off I couldn't use it beyond showing my clients some pretty colors.
The creamy buttery consistency is nice to work with
It's easy to see how this color leaves the hair so nourished and soft. Not only does it spread and saturate the hair beautifully, but it also goes a long way. I couldn't believe how far one tube of color went. I didn't have to keep packing on color like I did with previous color lines and that was also a nice time saver
It is worth mentioning that I found the naturals in levels 5 and 6 to be warmer than expected. I mentioned previously that I found the color to be true to swatch and this is true aside from a little extra warmth in those levels of the natural series. I mixed 6.1 (6 ash) and (6.0) hoping for a neutral result, but it was on the warmer side. I am limited in the colors I purchased so maybe there is a quick fix for this, but it is something I noticed.
Oway Hbleach Review
I want this review to be mainly about Oway hair color but I just couldn't help but mention Hbleach. Hbleach is their ammonia-free lightener and just like the color, the consistency and results were great.
Hbleach uses plant butter to create a creamy plant butter-based lightener and instead of ammonia, they use potassium persulfate to lift the hair. The formula also contains lavender essential oil. I did on scalp lightening with 9% activator and my client didn't feel a thing. Her hair also felt better after we lightened it! Another fantastic feature I am not accustomed to with lighteners (unless using Olaplex of course).
Oway Hcolor Ingredients List
It wouldn't' be a full review if I didn't breakdown the ingredients list of Oway Hcolor. I was impressed with the results of Oway's hair color and lightener, but the ingredients aren't perfect. I counted a total of 6 biodynamic/organic/fair trade ingredients, which is actually the purest plant ingredients I've seen so far in a line, but it still contains all different types of synthetic pigments which are the number one allergen in hair color.
While this line may have a lot of organic/ natural components, I still highly recommend not referring to as an "organic hair color" unless you are ready to explain to clients that it still has chemicals that can cause allergic reactions. But that goes for any "organic hair color line" not just Oway.
Oway Hcolor Full Ingredients List
|Ingredient||Function/ Derived||Skin Deep Score|
Surfactant (Vegetable derived)
Surfactant (Coconut oil and ethanolamine)
Surfactant (shea butter derived)
Surfactant (Vegetable Glycerin / Stearic Acid)
pH Riser (Synthetic)
Humectant (Vegetable derived)
Perilla Seed Oil**
Pure Plant Ingredient
Hydrolyzed Cottonseed Protein**
Pure Plant Ingredient
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein**
Pure Plant Ingredient
Jojoba Seed Oil**
Pure Plant Ingredient
Hibiscus Flower Extract**
Pure Plant Ingredient
Date Seed Oil
Pure Plant Ingredient
Citrus Fruit (Vitamin C)
Citrus Fruit (Vitamin C)
C12-13 Alkyl Lactate
Emollient (Veg Alcohol / Beet Sugar -lactic acid)
Di-C12-13 Alkyl Malate
Emollient (Veg Alcohol / Apple Malic Acid)
Skin Conditioner (Veg Alcohol/Tea Tree salicylic acid)
Di-C12-13 Alkyl Tartrate
Skin Conditioner (Veg Alcohol / Fruit)
Tri-C14-15 Alkyl Citrate
Skin Conditioner (Veg Alcohol / Citric Acid)
Viscocity Controller (Synthetic)
Chelating Agent (Synthetic)
Preservative (Sodium Salt/ Fruit)
Preservative (Potassium Salt / Sorbic Acid)
Film former (Synthetic)
Fragrance (Natural/Synthetic Blend)
Toluene 2,5 Diamine Sulfate
Oway Hair Color Ingredients: The Good
- Has a higher amount of pure biodynamic/organic ingredients than most lines
- Ethanolamine isn't that high on the list, which means good things for the hair's pH and how it feels on the scale.
- It feels, looks and performs like a high-quality coloring product.
- Little to no damage inflicted on the hair
- Colors are vibrant and true to shade.
Oway Hair Color Ingredients: The Bad
Like I previously stated, there is still synthetic pigment in this color line (much like all colors except some brands of henna), but I noticed that with Hcolor there are a lot of different types of pigment. In previous color lines that I've used, there wasn't such a diverse set of pigments. I don't know for sure, but I would think this may cause more allergies. None of my sensitive clients reacted, but I definitely would patch test before using on someone with known pigment sensitivities
Oway Hair Color Review Conclusion
All in all, I am excited to say that the performance and the way Oway hair color made my clients' hair look and feel blew me out of the water. As far as more "organic hair color" lines go, this may be my favorite experience to date. I have yet to try out some of their reds or purples, but from what I've seen so far, it looks promising.
Another thing that came to me during this review is that I am actually PROUD to give my money to a company like Oway. It seems they have gone above and beyond to create an ethical color line that cares about all inhabitants of our planet (plants, animals, humans).
I liked that many of the ingredients are derived from vegetables instead of synthetic sources, and the company took the time to point it out. However much like any permanent, oxidative hair color line, Oway still contains the "necessary evils" to perform and that means synthetic pigments and a pH-adjuster.
I am very excited to see what Oway comes up with in the future to replace some of these synthetic ingredients, and again, all in all, I loved my time spent with the color line and so did my clients.
What do you think about my Oway Hair Color Review? Would you like me to go back to just talking about ingredients? I am thinking about re-writing my old reviews to include more juice like performance. Would you all be interested? Comment below!
I have had many message me about where to buy Oway. At this time you can only buy Oway in the United States.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Janet on August 07, 2020:
How can this product be safer if it contains phenyldiamine which is the same as phenylenediamine PPD? OR is it mislabeled in your list? This is a major allergen for many people. I was so excited to read your review thinking I may have found a safe permanent hair color only to see this ingredient in the list. Very disappointing.
Luke on April 26, 2020:
Thankyou for this. Its very helpfull. I have stand tested some of the colours and having a wella background i found the 6 natural a little lighter/translucent than wella but the smell and the ethos of all products is amazing.
Monica on February 28, 2020:
I haven't used this color line at all, but I have been researching it. Your review is very helpful!!! I am a hair stylist and salon owner and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2019, it has put me on a search for safer products. It is quite an overwhelming journey, every time I think I found a good product line, however when you really dig into the ingredients you find there often misleading... I love your research and all your input!
Howard on December 05, 2019:
Great review, thanks!
I haven’t gotten around to using it for on scalp bleaching but I’ve had amazing results with the Copper and Red hues, and the way the hair feels after is without peer.
My clients also remark about the absence of any overpowering chemical odour both during application and processing.
I’m sure this company and its products will go from strength to strength,
Thanks again for the review
Gold Salon Tokyo
AnnaG on December 05, 2019:
Great reviews thank you! I have been a hairdresser for 11 years- I moved to an "organic" line of hair products about 4 years ago. I would say there are improvements in using such companies- but having done quite a bit of research- and have struggled to find natural and organic hair products that really are- particularly in colouring. I feel I have decided that some companies are pretty good and have tried to dial down the chemical and synthetic content- but generally we still aren't free of PPD's and Ph adjusters.
I no longer colour hair for this reason- I love colour- it helps us cover grey, it lets express our personality, it's beautifying and enhancing- but I can't keep washing chemicals down the sink and recycling the plastic colour bottles the colour comes in. I can't make it add up if I would really like to be as natural and waste free as possible. I found Beauty Kubes- plastic free shampoo and conditioner- fantastic and no build up on the hair!
Generally things are improving but it's a shame we have to wade through green washing to get to the truth- thank you for the information you share- it's a huge help!
samching on June 20, 2019:
Eileen G on May 04, 2019:
I always get my roots touched up with the same color: 30g 10-1;
30g 30 volume. Okay. In the past it came out bright and blonde. Now the past two times it has come out grey or beige! My hairdresser said oway is not consistent????? Is she doing something wrong??
IB Smart on September 23, 2017:
For those of you who have used tOway or who have used it on their clients: is the fragrance to the person with the color in her hair after the processing is complete? Is it noticeable after the hair has been washed again? How have fragrance sensitive individuals handle the fragrance in this product?
Beth on May 18, 2017:
This the first review that I have read, that you have authored. Excellent amount of information... not too little, not too much!
Gail Lockwood on March 22, 2017:
Rosey, good review! I want to comment on those that think that over the counter and henna are good alternatives to professional options. While I understand budget is usually the main factor, a more natural environment is the second. Please understand folks that if we are using, Davines, Oway, O&M etc.. we too are looking for a cleaner environment to work in since we spend more hours exposed to it than you. With that said, it also means we are wanting to provide for our most sensitive of clients an opportunity to be able to step back in the salon. While the ingredients are more pure and are naturally derived, yes allergies are a concern, but don't get that confused with side effects of synthetic alternatives, parabens, ammonia, etc. Either way, patch test, patch test , patch test. Your stylist should offer it and you should advocate as the consumer for it. Side effects are not allergic reactions, and yes you can have both to synthetic color lines. But if you have a reaction to Oway , then its an allergic reaction to one of its purest ingredients and is not dangerous, its not a side effect. This is not a dismissal, but a clarification on the difference. I am well aware of Anaphylaxis reactions too so again patch test patch test patch test.
Rosey (author) from Austin, TX on March 17, 2017:
I understand where you're coming from Angela but I dont think Oway is misleading, actually quite the opposite. "Organic hair color" is a term that everyone in our industry uses quite loosely not just companies. The major issue at hand is education, teaching stylists and clients what that term actually means because it is misleading in nature. As for the color Hcolor is the best color Ive used so far and for your cruelty free rabbit label, the color is certified by PETA. Like I said, I'm proud to give my money to a company like Oway but the "organic hair color" term has got to go.
Angela Austin on March 16, 2017:
I never write or leave comments but as a stylist for 12 years... and being very sick the last year with a kidney disease.. I feel I have too! Oway H color and the company as a whole is very misleading. After falling for the whole marketing approach, I can say it is not a great product or company policies. I myself will give detail on my blog about why... from the coverage of hcolor to the employees knowledge that works for them. But thank you so much for the review, you actually got me to write one! Cheers to that! Do your research folks and read labels, look for the cruelty free rabbit! This industry has turned to all about the mighty buck:(
Rosey (author) from Austin, TX on March 03, 2017:
I hear you Cyndi. I actually just found out Oway has a color line called Hnectar that is both fragrance and ppd-free. It's on my radar to review next, but is only for salons and hair stylists.
Cyndi on December 01, 2016:
Hi, I really appreciate your reviews. I'm looking forward to more. Someone in your comments section recommended Original Mineral and I'd love to see that ingredient list (can't find it online). For me, the biggest no-no is synthetic fragrance. So Oway is out of the question for me, as are many others that may be low-toxic in other ways.
I currently use Light Mountain Natural (Cover the Gray Dark Brown) (actually certified organic because it has just two ingredients, both organically grown plants: henna and indigo). It's inexpensive, I can do it myself at home (I can't even walk into most salons), and it's gorgeous on my hair. The downsides are it takes forever (about 5 hours total) and is messy, both of which I could live with if it actually lasted. The colors last pretty close to forever on my brown hair (it darkens it a shade and adds auburn highlights) but the dye on the gray washes out in 1-5 washes. Sometimes the indigo doesn't stick but the henna does and I look like I have a starburst on the top of my head (as my gray is coming in fast).
So I'm looking for a product that will work on my gray, in pretty much any shade of dark brown close to my original color, without giving me a migraine, asthma attack, or worse.
Itzi on November 07, 2016:
Thank you! Nice from you that you put the full ingredients list. I hope you'll continue to do it in your next reviews, because it's sometimes very difficult for us consumers to obtain it. And it's of big importance for people who are trying to choose a safer hair dying option. I'm very specially interested in a o&m and a hnectar review. Eco Colors and Natulique would be great too.
Natasha on October 25, 2016:
I was wondering what the safest over the counter hair color .
Lani on October 15, 2016:
Thank you! Yes, I have encountered some of the dishonesty. That's why I'm grateful for your reviews. Looking forward to the next one.
Rosey (author) from Austin, TX on October 03, 2016:
I would say no. They have high levels of ammonia in their color line. Something I didn't realize until I opened up a tube. Ammonia is one of those ingredients that I just don't understand why it's still in hair color. My eyes water and I cough immediately, and clients are a fan of the odor. Another thing I notice.. there is a trend with hair color companies on the their boxes to put "may contain" and it's always the bad ingredients people react to like pigments... I find this practice verydishonest. Of course it contains pigments or it wouldn't work. All Nutrient is another ammoniated hair color line that does that unethical listing of ingredients... I say NOPE
Lani on September 25, 2016:
Thanks for the info. Sounds good. I'll be on the look out for the Iroiro review to come next. But one more question on the ecocolors, you said they don't have much in the way of color options but were they good otherwise?
Rosey (author) from Austin, TX on September 23, 2016:
Thank you very much. I wish I had more time on my hands to do more. I was thinking of doing a fashion organic color line called Iroiro next (they are direct dyes though). You know what..... for now yes. Oway their hcolor has been my favorite. Though I just heard they have a line called hnectar which looks promising too. Keep checking back. I am trying to do these more often
Lani on September 20, 2016:
Thanks for the teaser. Looking forward to your upcoming "organic hair color" reviews. Of the ones you have tried thus far, do you have one that is your "go to" organic hair color?
Rosey (author) from Austin, TX on September 19, 2016:
Hi Lani! Thank you for your feedback. I am happy you found the meatier review useful. I think I will start using this as the format for all of my "organic hair color" reviews moving forward. I've used both O&M and Ecolors. so I could give good feedback on those too.
I can tell you for starters that the Ecocolors line doesn't provide much in terms of color options and the O&M line is very ashy, but I can save all of this for my next review. :) Thanks for stopping by with your feedback!
Lani on September 10, 2016:
So grateful for your posts! The ingredient list is most essential but love that you added a meaty review. Would you do a review of O&M, Original & Mineral?