Madison Reed is one of the most popular home hair care brands in the US. The brand claims to be an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner, and to help customers “get gorgeous, lasting, award-winning hair color at home.”
But do hair products for the home really compare in quality to those at a salon? Do Madison Reed’s products contain ingredients shown in clinical studies to improve hair quality? Do the products contain any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Madison Reed hair products?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Madison Reed based on clinical trials to give our take on whether the brand is worth the money.
We’ll highlight some ingredients we consider to be questionable from a health perspective, and feature real, unsponsored Madison Reed customer reviews.
The ingredients in Madison Reed’s “Ravenna Brown” cream color are shown above.
There are a number of research-backed ingredients for improving hair quality in this formulation.
Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil was shown in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology to protect hair against damage.
Silica may be an effective ingredient for hair loss, given that a 2016 medical review reported that hair with higher silicon content has “lower falling rate and higher brightness.”
Silica and silicon are not the exact same thing; silica is an oxide of silicon.
Hydrolyzed keratin is another effective ingredient, and is clinically shown to increase hair volume and repair hair damage as we documented in our Ouai shampoo reviews article.
Panax ginseng root extract was shown to promote hair growth in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
While there are a number of potentially effective ingredients in this product, there are also several ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.
M-aminophenol was shown in a 1984 clinical trial to cause toxicity at the highest dose level, but this was when the chemical compound was included in diet so it doesn’t necessarily apply to topical products.
2-methylresorcinol was associated with a significant reduction in body weight gain in an animal study, suggesting it may have harmful effects on metabolism, but again this was when added to diet so it doesn’t necessarily apply to a hair product.
Toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate was shown in a 2014 clinical trial to cause “strong local inflammation” when applied to skin at a 1.60% concentration. This was an animal study which is a weaker standard of evidence than a human study.
The Barrier Cream, Cleansing Wipes and Shampoo that are sold with this hair color kit all contain fragrance, which was shown in a 2016 medical review to be potentially harmful to human health and to the environment.
Overall we consider Madison Reed’s hair coloring kit likely to be effective, not only for coloring the hair but also for potentially improving hair quality due to some research-backed active ingredients.
However, we do not currently recommend this product due to the inclusion of the inactive ingredients cited above. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of hair coloring products contain ingredients we consider questionable due to the nature of this type of product, so Madison Reed is not unique in this respect.
But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Madison Reed? We’ll review in the next section.
Real, Unsponsored Madison Reed User Reviews
A licensed hairstylist with a YouTube channel called “The Daily with Charlotte Z” reviewed Madison Reed in an unsponsored video:
A YouTube creator named Callie Mileham reviewed Madison Reed and included before-and-after images of the hair color and quality change:
Why Was Madison Reed Sued?
In 2022, Madison Reed was sued in a class-action lawsuit according to Top Class Actions.
The lawsuit alleges that the brand misrepresents their products as being free of harsh chemicals, while containing ingredients that may cause aesthetically damaging effects such as hair loss.
The plaintiff claims that after using Madison Reed for the first time, her scalp became irritated and she suffered hair loss.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that a compound called ethanolamine that’s in some Madison Reed formulations “is known to cause hair loss.”
At the time of publishing this article, the lawsuit appears to be ongoing.
How to Use Madison Reed Products
A YouTube video from the official Madison Reed channel contains a tutorial on how to color your hair at home using the products:
Real Customers Review Madison Reed
Madison Reed is sold on Amazon, which is a better resource for honest customer reviews in our opinion than a brand’s website.
Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit, Shades of Brown is the brand’s most popular hair coloring kit on Amazon, with over 1,900 reviews and a 4.2 out of 5 star average rating.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Fredda Bianco” who appreciates the convenience of the product and claims that Amazon is a better place to buy it than the brand’s website:
“This is amazingly easy and I have gotten so many compliments on the color. Are used to order from the Madison Reed website, but it took a while for the product to ship and you had to pay for shipping. Not so with Amazon prime. Highly recommend if you feel like you want to color your own hair.”
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “Kimberly S.” who claims that the product had little effect:
“When I tell you, there was absolutely no difference in my hair color! My hair looks exactly the same. The only thing the color did was to darken a few gray hairs at my temples and forehead and that is literally it.”
Madison Reed has an average rating of 1.35 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, with some users claiming the product causes hair loss, like this complaint from April 20, 2023:
“Their product made my hair fall out, including a baseball sized bald spot on my head.”
At the time of publishing this article, Madison Reed responds to the majority of complaints on their BBB page, which is a sign of a high-quality brand.
Is Henna a Safer Hair Dye?
A dermatologist and YouTube beauty influencer called "Dr Dray" has a video suggesting that henna is a natural alternative that's healthier than traditional hair dye products:
Pros and Cons of Madison Reed
Here are the pros and cons of Madison Reed at-home hair color kits in our opinion:
- Should be effective for changing hair color
- May be effective for improving hair quality
- Contains research-backed ingredients
- Much cheaper than salon treatment
- Most Amazon reviews are positive
- Contains some ingredients with questionable toxicity data
- Some products contain fragrance
- Currently being sued over products causing hair loss