Have questions about hair color? print

Frequently Asked Questions

Your hair color questions, answered

Add to Favorites


What products does Clairol make?
Clairol makes haircolor products. Choose from Semi-Permanent (lasts through 8-12 shampoos), Demi-Permanent (lasts through 28 shampoos), Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) or Highlighting & Blonding to help you look the best.

How do I try to match a shade from one brand to another?
Use our Try It On Studio to match your favorite shades among Clairol products or call 1-800-CLAIROL to get advice on finding a perfect-for-you shade.

Can I match a shade of a competitor's product
Call 1-800-CLAIROL (1-800-252-4765) to get advice on finding a perfect-for-you shade.

What if I can't find my favorite shade at the store?
Stores carry different levels of hair shade inventory. We recommend that you use Try It On Studio to find several shades that will work for you.

Where can I find product instructions?
Product instruction inserts are inside your haircolor box. You can also find instructions to several of our product


How do I determine which color product and shade are right for me?
Clairol has a range of coloring products—one of them could be just right for you. Call the Clairol Haircolor Experts at 1-800-CLAIROL (1-800-252-4765) for a free haircolor consultation. Get coloring recommendations and haircare advice from our specialists.

Should individuals with natural, uncolored hair use different haircolor products than those who have previously colored their hair?
It depends on the desired result. If you are coloring your hair for the first time and only want to enhance your natural color, try a Demi-Permanent (lasts through 28 shampoos) product close to your natural haircolor. If you want to go lighter, you need to select a Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) haircolor, then refer to the insert that comes inside your box of Clairol haircolor and follow the instructions for first time application. If you want to go more than 2 shades lighter or darker, call 1-800-CLAIROL for advice.

Should people who want to cover gray hair use different coloring products than those who don't need coverage?
Most Clairol haircolor products will blend or cover gray hair to some degree. If you have a small percentage of gray (not very visible), use a Semi-Permanent (lasts through 8-12 shampoos) product, such as Loving Care. If you have a higher percentage of gray hair (up to 50%), use a Demi-Permanent (lasts through 28 shampoos) product such as Natural Instincts, which will blend away gray hair On the other hand, if you have a lot of gray and want to cover it completely, use a Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) product. If you have 50% or more gray, use Nice 'n Easy Gray Solution.

How do I dramatically lighten my hair?
If your haircolor is a light brown or lighter, you can use a Permanent (lasts until you grow out your hair or recolor) haircolor in a high-lift blonde shade to get a dramatic-looking blonde. If you wish to go more than 2 shades lighter than your starting color, call 1-800-CLAIROL for advice.

If your natural haircolor is a medium brown or darker, and you want to be a blonde, you will have to use double-process blonding.

Another option is highlighting. Clairol highlighting products create natural-looking highlights on selected strands of hair. The look can be bold and dramatic or soft and subtle.

If you have already colored your hair and want to achieve a much lighter shade, or want to go back to your natural haircolor, you may want to get personal hair advice straight from Clairol Haircolor Experts at 1-800-CLAIROL (1-800-252-4765).

How can I test-run a color before committing to coloring my entire head of hair?
Strand test is a simple method for you to test haircolor on a portion of your hair before doing the entire application. (The instructions are in your haircolor box.) It's an important step because it's the only way to see exactly how the shade you selected works with your starting haircolor to achieve the resulting color. A strand test will also help you determine the exact timing you'll need to color your whole head.


I would like to perm and color my hair to have a new look. Can I do both on the same day, or is it better to do one before the other?
Clairol recommends that you perm first to ensure that the perming process will not interfere withy our newly applied color. If you're using a Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) haircolor, wait 7-10 days and shampoo at least once before coloring.

Some Semi-Permanent (lasts though 8-12 shampoos) and Demi-Permanent (lasts through 28 shampoos) haircolors can be used the same day as your perm-as long as your scalp is not irritated and is in good condition.

Check the package instructions to be sure. Either way, make sure you do a stand test before coloring your hair. Perms and relaxers can leave hair more porous and allow color to be absorbed faster.

I need some hair advice. I'll be visiting my hairdresser for a cut next weekend, and it's also time for me to reapply my haircolor. Should I get my hair cut before or after coloring?
We recommend cutting your hair first and then coloring it. And, of course, your color will enhance your cut.

Does the length of my hair make any difference in the amount of haircolor I will need?
Absolutely. If your hair is below shoulder length or very thick, you may need two boxes to fully saturate your hair. Also, keep in mind that the ends of long hair tend to absorb more color, so the timing may be different for your ends. So make sure you do your strand test.

If I'm going to color my hair, when should I shampoo it?
You generally shouldn't shampoo immediately before coloring because this will remove the natural oils that protect your scalp during the coloring process.

It's best to shampoo 12-24 hours before coloring with a Semi-Permanent (lasts through 8-12 shampoos) or Demi-Permanent (lasts through 28 shampoos) product; shampoo 24 hours prior to using Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor). But be sure to check the instructions inside the box because it can vary by product.

Can I mix shades?
Yes, but the hair advice we generally give is that, for best results, you mix shades no more than 2-3 shades lighter or darker than each other. In other words, you wouldn't want to mix a blonde and a black together. Also, you should mix the same brand of shades, so for example, only mix Nice 'n Easy with other Nice 'n Easy shades.

If Lately I've been noticing that the bottom of my hair is darker or lighter than the top. Why?
This effect sometimes happens if you don't do touch-up applications. If you apply haircolor to your entire head of hair whenever you see roots, you'll end up with coloring the older, more porous ends of your hair, which will result in color build-up. The solution is simple. Follow the instructions on your insert for Root Application only. Follow up with regular trims and your hair will look more consistent.

Once coverage is more uniform, do a retouch application. First, apply color to your roots only. Five minutes before processing ends, color the rest of your hair, if necessary.


Does hair type (curly or straight, dry or oily, coarse or fine) affect color timing?
Hair type does make a difference. An important consideration is hair's texture-when the individual hairs are coarse (large in diameter) or fine (small in diameter). Coarse hair generally takes more time to absorb color, so it requires a longer timing; fine hair generally takes less time to absorb color so it requires a shorter timing.

Hair that's dry or permed may absorb color quickly too. Because several factors affect timing, we recommend a strand test—it's a good way to predict the coloring time.

When should I start timing my haircolor application?
Set your timer as soon as you've finished applying haircolor.

Can I use my own conditioner instead of the conditioner in the haircolor box?
It's best to use the conditioner that comes with your haircolor. We give this hair advice because the conditioner that comes in the coloring package has been specifically tested for use with that haircolor to help create softness and shine.

Oops! I don't like the color-what do I do now?
For sound advice, call 1-800-CLAIROL (1-800-252-4765), our Clairol Haircolor Experts are there for you!


How long can I keep a box of haircolor before using it?
If you don't open the bottles, your haircolor products will generally last 3 years.

How do I keep my haircolor looking vibrant and beautiful—and prevent fading?
The first rule in keeping your color looking great is to reapply as often as recommended according to the product you choose.

Use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for color-treated hair. Avoid exposing your hair to the sun. Remember that the sun is a natural hair lightener, and overexposure can cause hair to fade or even change color.

Shampoo or rinse your hair immediately after swimming in chlorine or salt water. Chemicals left in the hair can accelerate fading, especially when mixed with the sun.

Can you color your hair too often?
Demi-Permanent haircolor will last up to 28 shampoos—if you wash your hair every day, that's about 4 weeks. Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) haircolor should be refreshed when your roots start to show, about 4-6 weeks. As long as you follow the instructions for root application only, you should not have any problems with color build-up.

Natural Instincts

Has the Natural Instincts product changed?
The Natural Instincts product has not changed. In early 2011, we upgraded the packaging, but the product itself remains the same.

What is the difference between Natural Instincts and Natural Instincts Vibrant?
Natural Instincts is a non-permanent, ammonia-free hair color that gently blends away gray and lasts through 28 shampoos. Natural Instincts Vibrant is a permanent hair color that provides 100% gray coverage and lasts up to 8 weeks.

Why have the instructions changed?
When we updated the packaging in January 2011, we updated the Natural Instincts instructions to more closely match the instructions of Natural Instincts Vibrant. However, as we are always striving to meet the needs of our consumer, we heard from our loyal users that the old method was preferred, so we have updated our instructions to ensure women achieve the best hair color result. Please find the updated instructions here and they will be found in the hair color boxes this summer.

Should I apply Natural Instincts demi-permanent to dry or damp hair?
Natural Instincts demi-permanent hair color should be applied to damp hair that is free of styling product build-up. For best results, do not shampoo immediately before coloring as the scalp’s natural oils help to protect it during coloring.

How long should I leave Natural Instincts demi-permanent on my hair?
If it’s your first time coloring, or you haven’t colored in more than 3 months - After the color is completely applied to hair, wait 10 minutes (or the time indicated by your strand test). For resistant gray hair, you may need to leave color on for an additional 5 minutes, for no longer than a total of 20 minutes.
If you color regularly, apply the product on damp hair first to your roots only and leave on for the majority of your timing. Apply the remainder of the color to the rest of your hair for the last 5 minutes.

Why have the gloves in Natural Instincts changed?
We continue to research additional options and are working to develop gloves that are technically effective and affordable, and appreciate the continued consumer feedback as we work to improve on the gloves that are offered.

I can’t find my favorite shade at the store – help!
A number of changes were made to the packaging in January 2011 to make it easier to select your correct color. Here are some helpful tips:

  • You’ll always look for 3 components on each Natural Instincts shade:
    • A shade number
      • With the upgrade, shade numbers were simplified by removing the preceding 0. For example, shade 06 is now shade 6
    • A “romantic name,” such as Toasted Almond or Hazelnut
      • The “romantic name” was moved from the front of pack to the top flap of the box. In all cases, the shades have not changed. Toasted Almond is still a “Light Golden Brown,” and Hazelnut is still a “Medium Brown.”
    • A “shade descriptor,” such as Light Golden Brown or Medium Brown
      • If you were previously using an “Ash” shade in Natural Instincts, those shade descriptors were all changed to “Cool” to align with the new Natural Instincts Vibrant palette. Those shade formulas are still exactly the same, only the descriptor word was changed. Here’s a list of conversions
        • 06 Linen – Medium Ash Blonde › NOW 6 Linen – Medium Cool Blonde
        • 10 Sandalwood – Dark Ash Blonde › NOW 10 Sandalwood – Dark Cool Blonde
        • 14 Tweed – Light Ash Brown › NOW 14 Tweed – Light Cool Brown
        • 24 Clove – Medium Ash Brown › NOW 24 Clove – Medium Cool Brown
      • If you’re still having trouble finding your shade in store, try visiting our product finder on www.clairol.com for more information, or to purchase online.