March 31, 2014

Natural Instincts Vibrant: A Permanent Alternative to Clairol's Ammonia-Free Color

I have been overdue for a color touch up, having postponed the inevitable a bit so my color timing will align well with an early summer event. I counted back about 8 weeks so I will color again shortly before my sister's college graduation, and that left me with an early April color timeframe. It's early April finally, so I once again colored my hair.

After looking back at the coloring experiments I've done the past year, I was most successful with Clairol Natural Instincts brand hair color in terms of overall evenness, damage prevention, shine, and tone. The ammonia-free hair color shade I tried in 2013 was #28 Dark Brown and since I'd also tried Clairol Nice n' Easy, and another dark brown shade of Natural Instincts (not posted on the blog). I wanted a color result like the #28, but with the staying power of John Freida, so I bought Natural Instincts Vibrant Permanent Hair Color in #4 Dark Dazzel (aka Dark Brown).

While the ammonia-free Natural Instincts is not permanent, it does come in a greater variety of shades and in both liquid and creme formula. As of today, Clairol offers 23 liquid and 8 creme shades, while the Vibrant permanent product features just 13 shades in one formula.

What you get in the box looks the same for both: gloves, developer, color, post-color conditioner, and a color refresh packet. I did not like how my hair felt and looked after using the color refresh last time - which I never got a chance to blog about - so I tossed it in the trash without even considering it.

Like with most home color products, I just mixed the color and developer in the bottle, shook a bit with a gloved finger over the cap, and applied it to my hair from the greyest areas, on the root growth, and working downward toward the ends.

I have very thick hair, but I just had it cut not long ago, so it's about the same length that it was the last time I colored with Natural Instincts. Strangely, I didn't get the same level of coverage as I did with the ammonia-free product. A good bit of the underneath and ends were not covered.

I only had to wait 10 minutes for the color to process, which is absolutely awesome since it stinks terribly (typical for a permanent color), and the result is actually quite good. The areas less covered blend well with the dyed strands, giving the overall look a very natural feel. It doesn't look patchy. It looks multi-dimensional.

The resulting shade is just lovely. It's a Hershey chocolate bar, rich, deep, very warm without being red or brassy. The color is dark without coming close to black, so it looks natural and like my hair could realistically be growing in this color without help from Clairol.

My grey is mostly around my temples and while it's hard to see in the photo below, I have a small cluster of grey on each side, plus sporadic grey strands throughout. From a distance, you'd never know I was going grey, but I notice it when I look in the mirror, so I prefer to color it rather than age "gracefully." I'm only 37, so grey is not my friend.

going grey around the temples

grey is gone after coloring
The post-color picture above is warmer than in real life thanks to my very warm indoor lights, but you can see the grey is covered very well. I looked closely and found just a couple of undyed strands, but am not sure if that is from being unable to cover my hair fully or if the color didn't take. It's so not noticeable though, not even to me unless I'm very close to the mirror.

My hair texture after coloring is soft and smooth, and the look is shiny. The shade is exactly what I wanted, so Natural Instincts is once again a winner.

I've still got to see how long the color lasts, but if I make it 6 weeks before noticeable fading, I may never use another color as long as Clairol makes a permanent version of Natural Instincts. I know I'm saying this now and then later I may be tempted by a new brand at the store, but I'm going to try and stick to this.

If you aren't familiar with the other products I've tried, a few that I've posted about include John Frieda, Olia, Nice n' Easy, and eSalon.

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