I used to use Garnier or Clairol, but a friend with beautiful hair color suggested I try her brand, Naturcolor. It is a "natural" hair color product, sold at health food stores such as Vitamin Cottage or Whole Foods. It is annoying that you can't buy it online.
It is designed so that you can mix colors together very easily to achieve the result that you want. The company has excellent telephone advice, as well.
I use Yarrow Blonde 8N plus Woodruff Blonde 8C to cover gray. It is extremely cheap for me since I have short hair and use two tablespoons of color and developer every 3-5 weeks. I can vary my formula for different effects each time. More Yarrow covers the gray but looks more red; more Woodruff looks more like my natural color and is more subdued.
I like the fact the product does not stink or stain and fades beautifully into a natural looking color as it wears off. The color sinks into different colors of hair differently, giving a natural looking array of colors, at least in the lighter colors I use. Clairol and Garnier looked totally uniform on my head, which I didn't like, since my natural color is quite variegated, blonde, brown and red. I never get a defined line with my roots or gray showing with this product.
The packaging is very nice and easy to use, all except the tiny bottle of shampoo, which is so runny that I wasted most of it the first time I used it. Be careful pouring it out!
Background: I was born with platinum blonde hair which faded to dark blonde around age 12-13. At that time I started use hydrogen peroxide to lift the color from my hair. High school was a vicious cycle of using hair color to try to correct my color, and yet always being disappointed. In college, I grew out my hair using semi-permanent dye (about a level 8 at this point). And for the past few years, I've used only cassia and a touch of peroxide occasionally, but it's really hard to maintain a good, consistent color. Using Naturcolor's color chart, I would say at the lightest parts of my hair (at the ends and the outer layer, which sees the most sun) was about 9N, but the darkest parts were about 7N [maybe the difference wasn't that dramatic, but you get the point]. I was terrified of using permanent dye after taking so long to grow it out previously. I have been staring at the color chart online and reading every review multiple times for the past 6 months before taking the plunge.
The Product: Cost $15 at Whole Foods. My city has 2 WF locations; the first didn't carry Naturcolor at all, the second had maybe 12 colors. I looked at the swatches and really liked the 8N and 8D ones. I chose the N series because my hair anyway tends to be golden. They didn't have 8N, so I had to buy 9N and 7N. The dye doesn't smell too strongly of chemicals, but it still is a permanent hair dye so there is slight odor. It comes with a rinse (which I believe is actually shampoo) and a conditioner. I mixed 40 mL 9N with 20 mL 7N and 60 mL developer. I have long (bra-strap length?) and very thick hair. 120 mL was too much. I could have used 90-100 mL. One misconception I see in these reviews is that some people think it doesn't contain hydrogen peroxide -- It does. By the way, the N series is designed to be mixed with R, D, M, C. Check the color chart online. The N series is also "stronger" and designed to cover greys.
The Result: Nice. I wanted to lighten the dark parts of my hair slightly, while darkening the too light parts. The overall result is very close to 8N and exactly as I expected. I can't tell how much it lightened the dark parts; I think just a little. My hair color looks richer and more blended now. It also looks even thicker. Some reviews say that their hair looks in better condition after coloring; I disagree somewhat with this. My hair was a little fragile although there was no significant damage. I didn't have any grey hair to start with, so I can't comment on how well it covers grey. I can see that my outer layer of hair is still lighter and I expect the dye to fade over time. I will update if I see any major changes. EDIT: I was getting some serious, sticky build-up in my hair, so I washed it with a 'normal' (as opposed to gentle) shampoo and a vinegar rinse without thinking about the color. After that, I noticed the color faded quite a bit. As it fades, I can see that my underlayers, which were previously dark, had lightened quite a bit. I never doubted that Naturcolor would lighten my hair, but now it is very apparent that it did. The overall result is still 'blended', with no obvious dark and light areas. One more thing, the color is a bit on the warm side. I don't think it's quite brassy or red, but it is warm.
So overall, this product is exactly what I expected. It is a more natural hair dye, which gives an accurate color to your hair. It leaves an almost translucent color so that you can have natural variation. My hair was left with rich color, thick, and shiny. They only thing I don't like is the price because I did pay $30 for this and I am not sure if I can get a second use out of it. I also don't want to get stuck in the cycle of dying my hair every month. But definitely, I would use this product again.
UPDATE: 24 hours after I finished dyeing my hair without incident, my head began itching and the crown of my head that had exposure the full 45 minutes broke out in bumps. At least my lymph nodes didn't swell up and my eyes didn't swell shut like they did after my commercial dyeing experience.
First the negatives, then the positives:
I wish the naturcolor.com website, one of the most unhelpful product site I've ever seen, had contained all of the information in the package insert.
The important thing revealed in the package instructions: you cannot go from dark to light.
Some comments here said the colors come out 2 tones darker than the color wheel show. I had gray roots emerging from under Surya Brasil mahogany, a darker red than I liked. I picked the Naturcolor Tumeric Blonde and because it does not lighten, it came out closer to the Sienna Chestnut. Because some of my hair at the "underside" at my neck and ends is still natural brunette, close to their Clove Chestnut, that part is much darker than the crown and sides.
Although many reviews on this site say they called the customer service number for help with choosing the colors they used, the naturcolor.com website only has part of the telephone showing. I didn't see the full number until I bought the dye: 800-784-8212.
The instructions say that the "N" (natural) series of colors has the strongest color and is designed to cover gray. The other colors are lighter colors and are designed to mix with the N colors. The C, M, R, D colors act with gray hairs to be low-light highlights. The FAQs say that the blond colors "deposit" colors but do not take a darker hair color to a lighter shade. The N colors are sort of the base color with which other colors can be blended. They do not recommend mixing the Ash/C colors with the Gold/D colors together.
The applicator bottle cap come with a hole in it (in other words, there's no cap), so if you mix the developer with the color, you have to use it within 55 minutes or it stops working. This is a protection according to the package, so no point in leaving it on longer than instructed. You put some of the color and developer mix on the roots, crown, and around the face for 25 minutes, than comb the rest through the balance of your hair and leave it in for a further 20 minutes.
You have to mix equal parts developer and color, but because the bottles they comes in are opaque, it's hard to tell how much you've poured out. I've got a lot of long, thick hair and ended up using 2 packages to get complete coverage. I would've like to have saved half of the second package for when my roots need touch-up.
My gray hairs were covered, with some more saturated color than others, which looks quite natural. The dye did not smell horrible. I did not have any reactions-I am allergic to ammonia in commercial hair products. My hair feels soft and shiny. I found the product at Whole Foods and at ~$15 a box, it's much cheaper than going to a salon.
I'll be interested to see how the color works when I have to touch up the roots.
This is a really wonderful haircolor line, leaves shine also.
By the way the 6C Dark Caraway Blonde is the best ash ever to get from too-light too-red brown hair to a dark cool brown without red (but still a pretty dark cool brown), for me. Don't go into it thinking it will just tone down the highlights and give you light brown hair. If that's what you're aiming for, strand-test with 7C or 8C instead. (On virgin hair or roots I could see this giving an actual dark blonde for someone, or at least a light brown. Very good for countering red.)
As my hair is fine and takes color quickly anyway (always has), I decided to tone my colored medium brown hair with honey/warm highlights back down to my natural ashy dark brown by using only half the developer and adding water. (You get 2 oz. color and 2 oz. developer, so I used the 2 oz. color, 1 oz. developer and 1 oz. water.) I left it on the first third of my hair closest to my scalp for 10 minutes, then added more and pulled through for the next 10 minutes. Perfect color for me from this.
My sister wanted to cover her red highlites that were mainly turning blonde, and she used Burdock 4N. It turned out amazing! Its not too dark or too light. It covered her blondes with no problem at all and i love the shine it has to it. Also, my mother tried Light Sienna Chestnut 5R and its a red with a hint of brown. Its perfect and it covered her grays so amazingly. I will definitely re-purchase.
I decided to try Naturcolor after reading all of the positive reviews on this site. After 1.5 years of monthly use, I can honestly say this product is wonderful! It's gentle, and has very little odor. The color leaves my hair soft and shiny. I get more compliments than I ever did with pricier salon services.
I have, naturally, dark brown hair with about 25% gray. I mix equal parts of 6N (Sagebrush Brown) with 7R (Tumeric Blonde). This gives me a warm, auburn-caramel color, which is about 2-3 shades lighter than my natural hair (this product does lift pigment when used a certain way). I leave the mixture on for 35 minutes. I rotate touching up just the roots one month, then reapplying all over the next.
The color does fade from my very gray temple area more quickly and, sometimes, I mix a small amount and touch up this area mid-month.
I strongly encourage people to try mixing 2 shades together for richer, more interesting results. Customer service was very helpful in suggesting what shades would work best for the color I wanted.
Also, because Naturcolor is so mild, it will definitely fade quickly and turn brassy, if you don't use a sulfate-free shampoo made for colored hair.
I have bought Naturcolor in various shades for the past two years. I only use natural haircolor since I've read about people having crazy allergic reactions to various drugstore brands. I used to use whatever was on sale at Target and now I only get my haircolor at natural food stores.
I've used a few different shades with Naturcolor. The first I used was a medium golden ash which made my medium golden red brown hair look multidimensional golden brown. It was a really beautiful color. A few months ago I tried a dark ash and it came out almost black on me which I really didn't like since I have very fair skin. Today, I picked up 5R, Light Sienna Chestnut. My roots look great but unfortunately, the rest of my hair is really really dark from the dark ash color :(
For me, this was a lesson learned in that I can't pull of really dark colors and it may just have to grow off over the course of the next year. I will still continue to purchase Naturcolor because it has never irritated my very sensitive scalp, leaves my hair very healthy and shiny, and there is literally NO CHEMICAL SMELL! It smells like lavender or rosemary or just unscented depending on the color that you choose.
It's easy to clean up if you drip and doesn't stain my towels! I love this brand even if it is a little pricey. I pick mine up at Whole Foods and it's usually around $14 a box. That's pretty steep compared to super cheapies like Revlon Color Silk for $4 a box. BUT, I am willing to pay more than double knowing that I won't be using insanely harsh chemicals on my scalp.
I do know that Naturcolor is hard to track down. Herbatint is another brand that I've used and it works in a pinch if I can't find Naturcolor.
I have naturally dark ash blonde hair. I used the YARROW color and my hair is now a gorgeous dark golden blonde with the tiniest hint of strawberry! I've been getting lots of compliments. If your hair isn't gray, don't expect it to DYE your current color...but it can enhance it.
Love this hair color product! My only regret is that it is only available at limited whole foods locations in the shade I use which is sesame blonde. My hair feels nourished after using unlike any other brand I have tried, even other non-ammonia brands. The color blends well when I do touchups. It also seems to bring out the natural highlights in my hair. I have very long hair that is full of gray and I get good coverage.
I LOVE Naturcolor! I have been using it since May, 2011. I called the 800 number on the box and the very knowledgeable people told me what to buy to get the exact color I wanted. It covered the grey and made my hair silky and shiny, but the best part is the color! It is so natural! After a few times it started to look kind of orange, copper color, so I called the 800 number again and they told me what to add. It's exactly what I needed.
I love this product so much I even wrote an article about it. If you want to read my article click here: http://bit.ly/Oz8iur