Skip to main content

Garnier Olia Hair Color Review

BzzAgent sent me a coupon to try Garnier Olia haircolor and I was super excited to try a new color. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been coloring my hair since I was 13 years old. I've tried many shades from bright blue, purple, and fire engine red to pricey complex process salon dye jobs.

I've stuck to mostly brown shades for the past couple of years and wanted a change. Most of my adult life, I've used either reddish tint or bolder rusty reds, so it seemed like a fun idea to go back to that for a while. Honestly, it was a little challenging to pick a shade I wanted to try because my experience with box color "light" and "medium" seems different from the example photos on Olia boxes. The brown and red shades look darker than what I would call "light," for example.

At Walmart, there were 14 of the 24 Olia shades in stock, which narrowed down my choice. Since I was fearful of trying any light colors in case they were too light for me, a medium was what I picked to try, 5.5 Medium Mahogany.

Just for reference, here's my hair a few hours before coloring with Olia:

Hair Color Before Olia
I've never done an allergy test before but since this is a review, I actually did one. You never know when you'll develop an allergy to a coloring product, especially if it contains ingredients you haven't before been exposed to. With Olia's unique 60% oil blend with natural flower oils, I decided an allergy test was worth it.

After a successful allergy test, I read the instructions. The Olia brand is really trendy and unique. I do like the bold black look. Everything looks modern and hip!

Garnier Olia Box Contents
First thing, like all coloring products - remove the little tip off the mixing bottle, the easiest part of the process.

Next I poured the developer into the applicator bottle. As soon as I removed the cap, it began pouring, probably from built up pressure. If you try Olia, be sure to have the bottle really close so it doesn't drip onto the counter.

Next is the color tube. Like a lot of coloring products, it comes out neutral, not the color on the box. If you've ever used a bleach lightener, that mixes up blue at first - creepy! I prefer these nice neutrals. It seems less "chemical."

I put the cap on the applicator bottle, covered the tip with a finger and shook it up. This is one part of the process that irritated me. The bottle is fairly wide and I had a difficult time gripping and holding the tip. The photos below were taken for this blog post, but I really had to use two hands while mixing. The photo on the right is as far as I could get my fingers around the bottle. While I like the organic shape, I do not like it's girth.

Next was the fun part, applying color to my hair. I sectioned it off using clips, which kept it out of my face and made my part lines easier to access with the applicator. You'll notice if you look closely that the product is barely visible on my hair. It just looks a little damp and shiny in the beginning, so it was harder to know if I'd properly covered all the hair than when I use other brands, which leave a more obvious coating.

I dripped some in the sink, but cleanup was a breeze with a damp paper towel. I didn't need to pull out the Soft Scrub after applying Olia. That's a nice surprise!

Below on the right, you see my hair after coloring with Olia (with the "before" again on the left):

It's notably lighter and more red. My hair is also just like the brand promises - softer and shinier. My before pic is only shiny thanks to some of my favorite straightening products, lol. Normally my non-product, non straightened hair is not so smooth. Typical me would have frizzy, wavy, dull hair, so Olia definitely makes a visible difference in hair quality.

Here's a closeup of the after:

The only downside is I feel like I've outgrown red and want to go back to brown. It's not Olia's fault. The product is great. I just like me better with brown hair, so I'll probably wait a few shampoos to see if it fades and then try a brown shade. To be clear, I'm in no way promoting coloring your hair multiple times in a month. That's not good, especially if you have thin or brittle hair. I just have so much hair, I don't worry about that stuff. If you ever have a color you don't like and haven't much experience with home color, call the expert hotline on the box of hair color, or a local stylist, for help.

In case you aren't yet convinced to try Garnier Olia home color, here's a little more info:

1. There's no ammonia, yet you can go a little lighter and bolder, and it's permanent, lasting color. That should be enough to convince you.

But if not...

2. It doesn't smell bad. Garnier calls it a "delicate floral scent." To me, that's a stretch, but it's not nasty or overpowering. My eyes didn't water and my daughter didn't complain while playing nearby. This should also be enough to convince you.

And if it isn't, then how about...

3. 100% gray coverage! Mostly why I dye my hair now is those stupid gray hairs that keep popping up. I'm only 36, not 86, and I don't think gray is my color. Here I am, testing the product for real and I really had some gray hair, and guess what? I don't now.

Garnier also makes some excellent hair care products. I have a collection in my bathroom for washing, conditioning, and shining my hair. When you pick up a box of Olia to try, look for their color preserving stuff too, especially if you go red.

If you try Olia, be sure to let me know. I want to hear about your experiences and see how the different shades look on other people!

Related Posts:


  1. Hi Samantha,
    Thank you for your post on this shade of Olia, I've just found out about it, and am grateful to see the results on a real person! Would be interested to hear in another week or so if you are still pleased with it (does it fade, greys start to show again, etc). Anyway, just wanted to say thanks, and love the color!

    1. I'm going to be completely honest. While I thought the product was super, I didn't like the color on me. This isn't to say Olia was the problem, since I chose the color and the color pretty much came out like the picture on the box, but I just didn't want to go quite so light and bold. A few days later, I used L'Oreal Coleur Experte in Truffle to add lowlights and highlights. The Olia color is still in my hair but I've added a bit more dimension so it's not so overpoweringly red. After several washes, the color is still just as red and my hair is still feeling healthy and looking shiny. After a couple months, I'll probably go back to brown with a different Olia color. You can't beat the "no ammonia" feature and low odor!

  2. I tried Olia because I loved the idea of no ammonia and it being gentler on the hair. However, I find that it only lasts a week or so if you are coloring your roots and they are mostly grey. It just goes away! I think I am sadly going to have to go back to Preference.

  3. Janie,

    I'm sorry to hear Olia didn't last long for your grey coverage. That really stinks! I just colored my hair for the first time since February and aside from my roots, I had no exposed grey. That said, I wasn't all too happy with the color (way too light) and found the red faded quite a bit after the first several weeks. It was still much more red than my natural neutral brown, but I wouldn't call it "red," instead more like a "medium/light brown with red tint."

    I just tried Vidal Sasson color in a medium ash shade. Once it's dry and styled, I'll post a review on that. So far, the color isn't as cool as I'd have expected, but it's definitely a nice medium brown that toned the red nicely. I have shoulder length hair and found one box didn't quite cover all my hair though. That was disappointing.

  4. Hey there!! I just tried the same color. Im waiting for the color to set. I color corrected my hair last night and used a light caramel brown to cover it but it didnt take so Im hoping this takes. :) The only thing I didn't like was...

    1. You cant really shake the bottle. Its too big to fit into my hands and hold the top hole at the same time.

    2. Bottle is very slippy with the gloves.

    All in All I am pretty happy with it. Just hoping the color takes this time. :( :(

    1. I really hated that bottle. Honestly, I looked at it and said to myself, "what were they thinking!?" Modern design is all well and good, but if the design isn't functional, it's a fail.

      Hope your hair comes out great!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. After a few hiccups with other products, I tried L'Oreal Excellence Creme hair color in Mocha Ash Brown (5AB). One bottle was just enough to color my very thick, just below shoulder length hair. The comb-style applicator worked amazingly well to saturate my hair so there are no missed spots. If you don't use the comb, the hair color is pretty drippy, so I suggest using it even if you don't think you need it for the coverage.

    My hair was very brassy light-medium brown and is now exactly like the box, a perfect medium ash brown. Score!

  7. What is your before color? I really like that color, not quite as red.


  8. My natural color is a weird kind of neutral medium brown, but it tends to turn orangey in the sun and with our hard water so I'm always trying to dye it back to as close to natural as possible but on the cooler side.

    The color in the before photo is a medium cool brown that faded to a burgandy. I think it was a L'Oreal color like performance preference or something.

    My stylist suggested that it's not worth trying all the new products all the time. Once you find a color and brand that works, just stick with it. For every person, it will be a different choice based on natural color, texture, water quality, shampoo/conditioner choice, and use of heat products.

    I find that the old school brands offer better, longer lasting cool toned browns and the youth-oriented brands offer better reds. @nursepeggysue, what brands have you tried in the past?

  9. I just tried it this morning. The gloves are too small, the bottle is way too large to be able to hold on to it while shaking it and at the same time, covering the hole in the top. I have medium length hair, layered, not thick, and I ran out of product before all of my hair was saturated during the 10 minute period at the end of the coloring cycle. Not happy! Will go back to my regular brand. I did like the pleasant aroma, not harsh, but that's not enough to make up for not having enough color for my hair.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Switching from Olay Regenerist to L'Oreal RevitaLift

I've been using Olay Regenerist DNA Superstructure UV Cream for years now. I love the SPF 25 (it's now 30) the thick moisturizing quality, and how fresh my skin feels once it's absorbed. It's really thick, so it tends to need more time before I put on foundation, and it does leave my skin a touch lighter than it is in real life. The sunscreen ingredients mean this moisturizer smells just like traditional sun protection, and even a bit like my daughter's diaper cream (ick), but I know it's doing it's job and I've been really happy with it. I intended to buy some more during a trip to Walmart today, but L'Oreal RevitaLift Triple Power Day Lotion had a $2 off coupon attached, and the base price was less than the Olay product, so I took a chance and bought  the RevitaLift instead. L'Oreal's bottle is prettier with a similar pump mechanism. Like Olay, the product is in an opaque container, which helps keep the contents from being af Hair Color Review

It's now May 2014 and since my original review, I've had a chance to fly out to eSalon and see how orders are processed, learn the right way to apply color, and find out the differences between box color and eSalon color.  I learned a lot and have a totally different perspective now and would definitely recommend giving eSalon a try. When you order from eSalon, be sure to upload a current, well-lit photo of your hair and don't hesitate to ask their color experts for advice. The eSalon team are experts. Let them help you find the right shade and apply color correctly. It's a learning process if you're used to box color products. Last August, I tried  eSalon . At the time, I found the color was fine in that it was even and matched what I had seen online for that shade, but it wasn't really what I was going for. eSalon's customer service was helpful, with a colorist calling to explain how their product differs from what I buy in-store and the risks of g