Thursday, August 14, 2008

Product.... Review? Clairol Natural Instincts

From the archives: A couple summers ago, I decided to take out my highlights by going over them with a semi-permanent colour. I had... shall we say "interesting" results. Even though this is an old post, it still gets some comments, so I think it's worthy of another mention. I've actually toyed with using Natural Instincts again (in a lighter shade, of course), since it did leave my hair really really shiny, but I've yet to take the plunge. For now...


Ok, fine, so maybe I was overreacting a bit. The hair is dark, but it's not that dark. The freshly dyed hair, still wet from the shower, combined with the late hour and the long black nightgown sort of made me feel like I should wear lots of eyeliner and draw pentagrams everywhere. But today, after a good night's sleep and some berry lipgloss, things don't seem quite so bad.

Let's start at the start, shall we? Because I'm so indie and cool*, I apparently like to do the opposite of what the seasonal hair trends are. In the winter, when everyone's going dark, I get highlights. When the sun comes out and people go lighter, I have manic compulsions to take out all my highlights and go monotone. The many highlights I'd had from months past were getting kinda freaky. Plus, there were hella roots, which is never a good look. So after months of saying that I wanted to cover my streaks, I finally took the plunge.

A very capable stylist once told me that the best way to grow out highlights was to use a semi-permanent rinse in a shade close to your natural (or base) colour and apply it all over your head. Because of its low peroxide levels, the rinse won't lift your natural colour, but it will cover any lighter strands. As it's not a permanent dye, the colour will eventually fade and wash out gradually, but your highlights will still grab on to a tiny bit of the darker hue. After 3 or 4 weeks, repeat the process. By the 3rd time, your highlights should be close enough to your base colour so that roots are not noticeable. This repeated dyeing shouldn't be too harsh for your hair, since you're not bleaching or lifing any colour.

Sounds good in theory, right? So yesterday, off I go to pick up a box of semi-permanent dye. The only one I could find at the drugstore was Clairol's Natural Instincts, which made brand selection pretty darn straight forward.




The Hazelnut shade is described as a medium brown, and I chose it because it was fairly neutral. I didn't want to go with too warm of a shade since I didn't want it to deposit with a red tinge, and I feared that a really cool shade would make things look ashy. And I like Hazelnut coffee and Hazelnut chocolate and Hazelnut ice-cream, so it seemed like the right choice for me.

The process was fairly simple: pour the developer into the dye, then shake the bottle like you're channeling pre-crazy Tom Cruise in Cocktail (I miss you, pre-crazy Tom!). After it's thickened, squeeze the product from the pointed spout onto your hair, starting at the roots and working down.

10 minutes later (or up to 20 min if your hair is resistant), you're supposed to rinse the dye away to discover your great new colour.

So what went wrong? Maybe I should have followed instructions and not left it on for 20 minutes (what? I thought my hair was 'resistant'. It is not.). Or maybe I should have picked a lighter shade. Because somehow, the dye made my BASE colour darker than before. WTF? My base IS black, how could it get any darker?

As it turns out, most of my hair was probably an "off-black" (is that even a term?) to begin with. Between the highlighting and the sun and the 14 years of hard mountain water I'd been subjecting my hair to, my natural colour had faded. And so, now not only were my highlights covered, my overall colour was darkened, leading to my mild-to-medium-rare freak out last night.

In all honesty, it's not that bad. It's more the shock than anything. The highlights are still visible, albeit much darker than before. The ends of my hair seemed to absorb more colour, which is not a surprise since the ends are always drier. Besides, this shade is technically much closer to the one with which I was born, and if Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, and eleventy bajillion people in China can look good in it, so can I.

Generally speaking, Clairol Natural Instincts did its job. The colour was darker than expected, but it did do a beautiful job of covering highlights -- they are toned down, but still kind of visible, which helps break up the solid colour. And, the best thing is that my hair is now shinier than I have ever seen it. It feels really silky and healthy too. The darker shade (great for hiding split ends!), minus the brassy highlights, plus the kick-ass conditioner they include in the box, make me want to toss my locks around and say things like "daaaahling". So that's really cool. Also, my hair looks longer for some reason. That could be the fumes from the dye talking though.

Obviously, I can't tell yet how this will wash out, but I think I'll use a clarifying shampoo tonight to see if I can lighten the colour just a tad. I think it's safe to go outside without scaring the children; the dogs didn't seem to think I was Satan Incarnate when they saw me this morning.

So, if you're looking to grow out your highlights gracefully, using a semi-permanent colour like Natural Instincts is definitely an option. I would pick a shade or 2 lighter than you think you'd like to end up. This way, the change is more gradual and you won't be tempted into melodramatic 2AM hystrics. If it doesn't end up as dark as you'd like, you can always wait a bit and re-do it with the darker shade.

Besides, new hair colour means I simply must go makeup shopping to tweak my colour palette, right?

Oh, PS: I am wearing a luscious Tarte mascara and bronzer today, which I am testing out so that I can review them for Meg's Makeup! Stay tuned for more details!


* Read: perpetually confused



[EDIT: Oh, for those of you who hate your new semi-permanent colour and want to get it out, please go see the Left Brain's enormously helpful tip in the comments here Who knew a good ol' head soak was the answer?]

Labels: ,

44 Comments:

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Kat said...

Don't worry, the colour will wash out over the next few days and it won't be as dark as it is now. I dye my hair dark all the time and it usually takes a few days for the colour to lighten up, but it will I promise you! And I'm sure you look fabulous anyway!

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Thanks Kat! I'm sure it'll lighten up a bit, and then maybe I can wear a black top again without scaring myself! :)

 
At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I could have written this myself. Take the whole story and darken it and it's me. I started with off black natural color, had years of highlights that started to bug me, and then finally took the plunge and had a professional all over color of a chocolate brown. I liked not having the highlights, but the brown was too light. I first used Natural Instincts in nutmeg brown. It didn't seem to change the color almost at all. So after about two months I decided to use the Neutral Black Natural Instincts. Today I am freaking out as my hair is WAY too black for me. I have washed my hair 9 times today with clarifying shampoo and it still looks the same. Did your hair eventually lighten? I am so bummed right now!

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hey Anon,

Yikes, sorry to hear about your hair woes! My colour did eventually lighten up, I can't remember how long it took, but I think after 3 or 4 weeks, it lightened to just a titch darker than it was originally. Apparently, if you just soak your hair in water for like an hour, the hair shaft will swell, and a lot of it will leach out. This works for red & brown semi-permanent shades, not sure how it'll work for black colour. But it's worth a try!

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not a permanet, so it will fade. No worries.

 
At 2:05 PM, Anonymous ns said...

Thanks dear for the review...I got midnight black for my very dark brown hair & looks like it would have given me jet black kind of shade...now I'm gonna change it to dark brown...hope it will cover my grays.

 
At 7:26 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi NS, no problem! Let us know how the dark brown shade works for greys! My mom went grey early, so I'm just counting down the days now... sigh. :)

 
At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did the same thing to my darkish blonde hair with natural instincts "dark golden blonde." I only left it on for 10 minutes, then stepped out of the shower with nearly jet black hair. (from a dye with the word blonde in it!!!!!). 2 days and 22 Prell shampooings later, my hair is a dark mahogany brown with a slight green tinge. horrible. i will never dye my hair again. i've learned my lesson.

 
At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh my, I was just getting ready to order the Natural Instincts Dark Golden Blonde (the new golden shades). I have light brown/to medium brown hair and I foil in highlights. They have gotten really light from the sun and the color looks so pretty!!!! Man, I don't know what to do. I hate highlight, I had enough of the 2 hours, $200 dollars later deal.

 
At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anytime your hair comes out darker than you like, rinse in lemon juice diluted with water...say 1/3 cup juice to 1 cup water. It should lighten without hurting anything. I've done it for years (a young 68).

 
At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Karina said...

Well, I had the same exact problem this morning. I had read your review prior to using it today, and I figured that I'd be lucky and my hair wouldn't turn out so dark as everyone had mentioned. Well boy, was I wrong. I've been highlighting my hair probably since I was 10, because my mom always liked experimenting with my bland light-medium brown color. I'm now nearly sixteen so recently I had it very blond with a loreal frost and tip, and it started growing out and had that obscene break of color. So, I had decided to go with the medium brown, give my hair a break from the constant damage of highlighting kits, and return to my natural color. Well, now i'm left with almost black hair, and tomorrow, I'll try to wash it with dandruff shampoo. If that doesn't work, I'll do the lemon as someone had said. Hopefully it will turn out fine.

 
At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The next time you want to use something to cover you highlights, I recommend LOVING CARE by Clairol- It may also say Natural Instincts on the box, but make sure it says LOVING CARE. This is the ONLY TRULY NON PERMANENT (as opposed to semi-permanent) haircolor you can buy in a drug store (to my knowledge). It should wash out in 6-8 washings, so if you choose a color that looks awful, you will not be stuck. Here's what I know: Any hair color (except this one) will somewhat penetrate the hair shaft- any haircolor w/ ammonia or peroxide of any sort. So although they may not be super permanent, they will still penetrate the hair shaft. If you use a medium or ashy based brown over highlights, you could end up with something greenish- use something w/ more red in it and you'll get brassy- IF you use semi permanent over already processed hair where the hair shaft is already porous from being processed (Think stripped- that's what highlights are- strips the color right off). If you use loving care (ONLY THE SEMI-PERMANENT ONE THAT LAST 6-8 SHAMPOOS!) you will have a nice gloss over your hair where the highlights are visible from underneath. It will coat the hair shaft but not penetrate it. It will also blend together the roots and the highlights. Because this product does not last long, you will get build-up if you use it a lot. Best case scenario- Go to a very reputable colorist (not something to screw around with- some are better than others!) and have them paint in some reverses- your own color that will counter balance the highlights, and then paint out the grey if you have it, with a true semi-permanent color (this will help you avoid obvious root regrowth). She or he may want to comb it through your entire head for a few minutes before they rinse out the color. I would talk w several colorists and get a few consultations. It is ALWAYS worth the money to pay a professional who knows what they are doing vs. trying to figure it out yourself. Trust me- Been there, done that! Good luck ;-)

 
At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought the cinnaberry and it is COMPLETELY purple! BEWARE! The reds are all purples - they look really cheap!!!

 
At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

I've heard that UltraSwim shampoo will take a lot of your color out since it is designed to remove pool chemicals from your hair. Definitely worth a try if you really need it.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your comments and tips! Can't believe everyone's been having similar issues... for a company that only makes hair products, you'd think they'd get at least some shades right!

Hopefully these tips here help, let us all know how it turned out if you try them!

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Clairol Natural Instincts should be called "Clairol Goth Instincts" because EVERY shade produces a crazy-dark shade. I just got burned on the Hazelnut. It is BLACK. As in Asian Black. I just called my sister to ask for any tips to get this mess off my hair, and she said the same thing happened to her.

This stuff is terrible, unless you are a high school student trying for shock value.

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous harp said...

Wow, I thought it was just me. I had the EXACT same experience a year ago. I did NOT mean to go for the "undead" look but it sure turned out that way.

Eventually, it faded to match my naturally medium-brown colour, and it never washed out of the highlights. They were gone completely :(

 
At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just used natural instincts today, golden cappuccino, to lighten my dark brown hair. It didn't lighten, seemed to make my hair a bit darker and left a red tint in it. So dissappointed. First time coloring hair. I should have went black like my friend. hers turned out perfect plus it was a different brand.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently bought the color nutmeg 3 days ago. and the color looked about the same shade as my new hair growth. Prior to coloring I had Auburn hair with a heavy blonde weave, not chunks. So, I thought it was time to go all one color. What a mistake that was. I look like a witch, my hair is black. My son said my hair looks creepy. Stay away from that haircolor line.

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

I am amazed. Like Suzanne says, we're all trying different colours and they're ALL coming out super dark. For a company that pretty much only makes hair colour, you'd think they could get SOME shades right!

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have ashy medium -dark brown hair with lots of natural hilites but some pure white strands I wanted to get rid of. I wanted a rich chocolate shade so I used #20.I hadn't colored my hair in years and didnt do a strand test. My hair is very dark brown now, almost black. There is no hint of red or brassiness like I had with other products, and it did cover the gray. However it also covered my natural hilights and my hair is just all too dark.

 
At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to let you know if you use their midnight black or blackish borwn color, that won't come out like it says it will on the box. since this brand is ment for covering grays they assume your going to dye your hair close to your natural color and not a huge change, like from going from medium brown to black like i did with this stuff, bad idea well i liked the color but after 2 years of it and not being able to do anything to it because the black wouldnt come out i got bored with it and eventually went to the salon where they had to bleach my hair 3 times and theres still a little black in parts of it. so i would recomend not going black

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger pumibel said...

People with black hair are not Satan! What the hell- That is so offensive! Black hair and pale skin does not equal emo, goth or Satanist. I have had dark (almost black) hair and pale skin naturally all my life and I have yet to see someone run and scream when they see me. In fact, people think I am pretty- at least that is what they tell me. You are not the first person to make such comments, but please understand that it is OFFENSIVE!

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Sorry that you took offense at my comments -- it was largely tongue-in-cheek.

I meant that having my hair that dark made me FEEL as though I had gone goth, because *I* would only ever purposefully dye my hair that dark if I decided to rock a goth look. For the record, I have had black or mostly-black hair my entire life. Just not THAT black. Lots of wonderful, non-satanic, beautiful ladies out there with jet black hair and fair skin, for sure. But as for me personally, going that dark made me feel too witch-y and stark. (Then again, I bought a long black dress recently *because* it made me feel witch-y. So it's really not a value judgment here.)

 
At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I am thinking of using this stuff to dye my hair for the first time in my life, and now I am a little worried, I must say. Really good article and extremely helpful comments, and I was laughing through most of the review, so great job. I miss pre-crazy Tom Cruise as well. But hopefully, my hair will not become black, but maybe I will not leave the dye in for as long, so it will be lighter.

 
At 12:10 PM, Anonymous 1SmileyGal said...

I have been using Clairol's Natural Instincts Hazelnut color for about 2 years and I LOVE it! I have dark brown hair with a few gray hairs that I have 'earned' and I try to cover up the gray. (I'm a mom of 5 children) I love how it darkens the gray, and kind of polishes and shines up the drab dark brown. I put the Hazelnut color on the roots and gray initially for about 5 minutes and then apply it to the rest of my hair for 5 minutes. The gray hairs and roots get a total of 10 minutes and the general ends of my hair are only getting colored for about 5 minutes. I LOVE this stuff!

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi SmileyGal, thanks so much for your comment. I'm happy this works so well for you! I hear grey hair is notorious for not taking dye well, so maybe the 'too dark' that some of us are experiencing is just perfect for grey hair.

You're smart to leave it in longer at the roots too, since I believe the drier hair near the ends will soak up more colour.

Anon, glad you're finding this useful. If you did end up using Natural Instincts, please let us know how it went!

 
At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had so many hair accidents that I've learned a lot.

One thing that I was told is to always, always go for a very light shade if you are coloring over highlights. Your hair has been processed and it will "grab" color--If you want to get a medium tone, you actually need to buy a color in the very light color selections.

Also, if you want to get dark color out, wash your hair with dish liquid. A hair dresser told me about this. It works because dish liquid is the wrong PH, so it strips the extra color out. You can see the color coming out in the suds. You may have to wash it three for four times and then you need a really good conditioner. I have tried this and can tell you it works.

 
At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you are probably just going too far away from your natural hair colour, because i used "Nutmeg" and i loved it. my hair was multi-coloured for awhile, with red, light brown and blonde streaks here & there and i just love it now. Sure, it is a little dark but i think it looks great! i've even been told that i look like Megan Fox! i think you should just be thankful that your hair isn't bright orange or something.

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Anon1: Thanks for the great tips!

Anon2: I'm so glad this is working for you (and that you're lookin' Foxy! ;) ). I'm not sure how I could have gone too dark (since my hair is close-to-black anyway), but it's definitely a good point to keep in mind. Subtle steps!! :)

 
At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh MY Goodness...I just colored my Hair 4 days ago with Natural Instincts Nutmeg...I am naturally very dark headed (with the exception of some grey that has decided to recently show up...thats why I had to color) But...this is absolutely NO WHERE near my natural color...THIS IS JET BLACK...I feel like Elvira...NEVER again will I use this hair color...Its says its a NON-PERMANENT hair color that washes out in 28 washes...NOT...I have washed my hair about 30 times since coloring my hair and its not lightened up any...This color is so NOT ME...It makes me look sickly and pale since it is so black...How in the world and I going to lighten this color up ...I have washed in prell...bakingsoda...used hot oil treatments...washed it 30 times...NOW what? Any advise on what to do?

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger Intrigued said...

I used the same product a week ago and used Nabajo Bronze. I wanted to keep blonde highlights I had in the front so I pinned them up and was careful not to get any dye on them. I loved the results. My hair is so silky. The color looked so rich. I got so many compliments that day. I took a picture of myself and my eye color popped against the new hair color. I waited two days to wash it. One wash and a LOT of color was gone. Poor me. I bought another box and this time I want to do my entire head. I can't wait to do it. It's only been a week but it's in such good condition I wonder if I can go ahead and do it again. Maybe I can just do the front where the highlights (and gray) are. Should I do it now or wait a few weeks?

BTW Kat, you made me LMAO! I'm following you now. Can't wait to read more of your blog posts!!!

 
At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just dyed my hair cinmaberry today... First time I have EVER dyed my hair! I am a strawberry blond naturally, and I just wanted a little extra red... this was not it!!! I am super pale and this turned out more purple than red... I look like I belong in Twilight or some stupid vampire show. This is way to dark and purple for an "adult look," but thankfully, I am just in college, so having purplist hair at my age is perfectly fine. I love the smell and the color is fun (but not natural looking). So far, everyone I have shown, likes the color (after getting over the shock), and this might be my new thing. I just hope it is all out by the time my clinics start (we are not allowed to have unnatural hair colors during clinics).

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

I found this thread from google. I am FREAKING out! This Clairol Natual Instincts turned my med-dark blond hair DARK, DARK brown with orange and almost-black "highlights" To top it off, the damn greys I was trying to blend in the first place are still grey! Holy Crap, I am pissed! The box said Ash Blond! I chatted with Clairol and they flat out told me it does this to blonds, and that I can forget about the 28 day semi-permanent part. Apparently it will be with me a MINIMUM of 2 months before I can expect some fading, and I shouldn't even try to dye it back to it's normal color. The box and instruction said none of this, mind you. But, oh, they'll be happy to refund my $8 bucks. AHHHH! I laid in the bathtub for 40 minutes (as long as I could stand it) and washed it 4 times with clairifing shampoo today. The result is now it has more orange highlights.

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have medium to dark blonde hair that was highlighted and wanted to get away from the roots so I used a blonde shade-linen and on the box it was even lighter than my base color so I thought I was safe-well it turned my hair a dark brown and it took a good 2-3 months for it to lighten. Very frustrating and when I called Clairol they said that sometimes happens and sent me coupons for more natural instincts-uh no thanks!

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried the "light auburn" Natural Instincts and it was AWFUL... totally too dark and not AT ALL natural looking. Have washed my hair four times and no noticeable change... now it's a little lighter maybe, so I'm getting into Ronald McDonald territory. Will have to put permanent color over it (wish me luck). I've used the "Golden Sienna" color and had good results, but Clairol stupidly discontinued it. I will NEVER buy Natural Instincts again. The reds are awful... too dark and unnatural.

 
At 2:51 PM, Anonymous maryann said...

I loved the cinnaberry. I have dark hair and this turns it a very pretty brown with a lot of red tones. I would not say that it is an unnatuarl color at all. I got more compliments with this color than any other brand/color that I have ever used. It is so awesome looking in the sun. I used this for years but am going to my stylist for a professional color. I want Sharon Osbourne's red hair and with my color hair, that can not be acheived at home. If you are looking for a real nice red, and something that is gentle on your hair, that covers grey well, try it. I would still be using it if I did not change my color.

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you go from like medium brown to bright blonde?

 
At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have medium to dark blonde hair. I bought "champagne on ice"Clairol natural Insticts. a medium to neutral blonde. My hair turned out DARK brown. a shocking color of brown for me. can't believe it. never has happened to me before. someone better make it right LOL

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also had a similar problem, my 11year old daughter, decided to dye her red hair, dark brown, using a semi permanent dye. Unfortunately it stuck and no amount of washing would remove it, even with Head and Shoulders. Even the hairdressers, advised that this type Natural Instincts was known for being virtually impossible to get out.
I then located a product called Colour B4 made by medichem. It contains no amonia or bleach. You put it on the hair, leave 30/60 mins ( depending on darkness of colour ) cover in cling film, then wash out using the buffer shampoo. My daughters hair was 100% back to it's natural colour, yet no colour camme out whilst washing, apparently this product destroys the cells that carry the colour, with out damaging the hair. Wish I knew about this before the night after night washing to no avail.
Hope this helps someone.

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger The Glitterati said...

Thanks for that tip, Anon! Glad it ended up working out ok for your daughter. :)

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem might be that you actually used a Demi and not a semi permanent dye. With a true semi you would not have to mix, there is no developer

 
At 2:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been using Natural Instincts for many year and I love it. I have used Nutmeg, Cinnaberry, Cherry Creme, regularly and they all do what they are suppose to do. I was using these before I had any grey, and still use them with a some grey, and they have never made my hair too dark. Nutmeg is my absolute favorite. I have been using Cherry Creme for the longest time and now I am going back to Nutmeg. I have naturally dark hair, and maybe that is why that the product isn't making my hair too dark. Maybe it gets too intense if it is applied to lighter hair. I am just guessing. Had to put a good word in here htoug, because Natural Instincts has always worked beautifully for me

 
At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My colorist friend said that the difference between a semi and a demi is that Demi-Permanent Hair color lasts 12 - 28 shampoos and Semi-Permanent Hair color lasts 6 - 12 shampoos. Natural Instincts lasts for 28 shampoos, so maybe it really is a demi, hence the developer. Just a thought.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home