Natural Instincts is a DEMI permanent hair color, not a SEMI. It penetrates the hair shaft slightly, not just coating it as a semi would. To those who think demis can't lighten hair....thats wrong. It can. It won't lighten it much, but it can and does in many cases. It does have peroxide in it, and a small amount of peroxide can lighten hair slightly.
That said, I wanted a neutral light brown that covered my stubborn grey hair and mostly washed out eventually and didn't fry my hair. I went with the MENS line of Natural Instincts color in medium brown and light brown mixed together. After calling the company I found out the mens line is all neutral colors as men generally do not want red or gold tones in their hair. Its also gentler than the womens line (which they make this way so men can dye facial hair with this too.) I have sensitive skin and scalp and this formula didn't burn or sting me at all. The woman on the help line said women CAN use this line, its just neutral colors with a gentler formula.
I ended up with hair that was much darker than I expected it to be, but very neutral...no red or gold jumping out at me. I admit I was nervous at first...it was dark, but after about a week of it fading a little (see profile pic.) I found I was liking it very much and got several compliments on the color and how it looked on me. My original color shined through here and there, leaving me with a multi tonal effect which was very realistic and not "dyed looking." My greys that even pro colors wouldn't cover were totally colored, and my hair looked very healthy. My length came out slightly darker than the top due to previous colorings, but that was my own fault for not spraying on a neutral protein filler on the length first- something I will change next time.
A month later my greys are now all showing again, my hair still looks healthy and shiney and the color has faded naturally, leaving me with close to the color I started with. Given more time I think it will be completely washed out. I was afraid it was dark enough that it might turn permanent color on me, but it hasn't. No lines of demarcation, no brass, and no permanent committment, exactly what I wanted.
Next time I will go lighter when mixing the medium brown with the light- as others have stated, these run DARK. But overall Im very happy with the color I got and the look I ended up with, even though it was darker than I hoped for, it turned out lovely. No noticeable damage to my ends either.
For $6 a box ($12 total as I mixed colors) I got covered greys with zero damage, versus the last Redken permanent coloring I had and added lowlights from the salon, where my hair came out brassy, still showed all my white hairs and was very damaged...for $90...I am VERY pleased with the Natural Instincts!
I mixed #12 Toasted Almond, Light Golden Brown and #14 Tweed, Light Cool Brown half and half and successfully neutralized brassy golden toned highlights in my hair, while achieving a rich Dark Brown allover color that is luminous and quite soft and silky.
I started with Medium Warm Brown hair (not exactly my natural color, but not dyed - I had used Color Oops back in the winter to remove a bad dark dye job with great success, but the ammonia in the dye had lifted my color to the warm brown). I also had brassy gold highlights that had been professionally done in an Aveda salon in late May. The highlights were nicely done, and evenly placed all throughout my hair, but the tone was not good for my cool coloring. Not really the salon's fault, I got what I asked for.
Money is tight, so I decided I wanted to improve my hair color on my own. I did NOT want to use permanent dye again. I had never considered demi-permanent dye before, but it seemed like just what I needed to correct my brassy color.
I read a very thoughtfully written review on MUA from a girl with dark Asian hair that had blonde highlights - she had used a two step process to dye over her hair and cover brass. What she did was first process with Golden toned brown to turn her highlights reddish. She waited a month and then followed with an Ash toned dye to cancel the red and achieve a rich brown allover color with subtle highlights. What stuck out to me was that she mentioned that had she not used the Golden toned brown first, her highlights would have turned green when the Ash was applied. She really seemed to know what she was talking about.
It seemed counter-intuitive to put MORE Golden dye into my hair when that was what I wanted to cover, but since she had achieved results like what I wanted, I decided to give it a shot (the fact I was using demi-permanent dye made the decision easier). But I did not want to wait two months to get the final result! I figured the key factor was getting both tones in the hair shaft to eliminate the unwanted gold/brass, so I thought "Why not just put both in at the same time?"
I checked Clairol's website and in their FAQs, they state it is perfectly fine to mix colors so long as you keep it in the same brand/formulation and don't mix very drastically different levels (like white blonde with black).
After reading reviews how girls with color-treated hair all seemed to get unexpectedly dark results when using demi-permanent dye, I decided to use Light browns for my mix, with the assumption I would get Dark brown results. I just eyeballed it when I poured half of each bottle of dye into the developer (saving the rest), and shook the developer up to mix. The initial mix looked orange-y, but the developed liquid was brown.
Mixture was runny, but didn't hinder application too much. Smell was fine, nice even. Halfway through, I was worried there wouldn't be enough for my shoulder-length fine hair, and getting the last few squirts out was tricky. But I knew I had a whole another kit to mix if needed, so I didn't hold back, and still the one application was in fact enough.
I started my stopwatch and opened a beer.
I turned my shower on at the 8 minute mark and got in at exactly 9 minutes (instructions say leave in for 10 minutes after applying). I thought it rinsed out reasonably quickly; it wasn't the forever-and-ever rinsing process that some other reviewers had (maybe only the darker dyes take forever and ever.) It *did* splash all over the shower walls, but rinsed clean.
Conditioner smelled good and slipped right into the hair, de-tangling quickly. I left it in while I shaved my legs.
After rinsing the conditioner out, my hair felt very nice. I squeezed out the extra water, ran a wide tooth comb through and allowed my hair to air dry.
Next day: My hair is soft and bouncy and has luminous shine that just looks healthy. The resulting color is a rich dark chocolate brown on my base, and my formerly golden, brassy highlights look like milk chocolate ripples. I won't mind if it lightens over the next few days/weeks, and I'm sure it will. The color is dark, and is not what one would typically expect from hair dye labeled "Light Brown" and left in for only 10 minutes, so be warned and pick your color wisely. I like myself with dark brown hair though, it's a natural with my cool fair complexion. My hair color is rich and has nice dimension, possibly from using the mix of two tones, but perhaps just because it's good hair color.
I will update this review if there are any drastic or unexpected changes over the next few weeks (too-rapid fadeout or return of brass) but I have to say, I'm really satisfied with the results I've gotten and will likely use Natural Instincts again.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is a saying that Clairol should have taken to heart. Natural Instincts was working just fine before they decided to "improve" the formula. Now it's not quite as good as it used to be. This new formula doesn't seem to color as well as the original, and I have more grays that didn't take color. The color wasn't too far off from the box: I have dark brown hair and selected a medium brown to warm it up--which it did. My hair did emerge feeling better than it did pre-coloring, and the conditioner is awesome. The color lasts a month, which is about what I'd expect from a demipermanent dye. Usually by 28 days, I'm itching to redye it anyway.
The Color Refresher is a joke: it reminds me of those color-depositing shampoos that were in vogue several years ago. Too red (even though my color was a golden brown), too garish, and stains far too much...I'd rather have an extra bottle of the conditioner.
So overall, a mixed bag. I'd probably keep buying it again because it's a brand that I know, plus there aren't many other demipermanent options out there.
Two things to remember: colors in demipermanent dye tend to come out darker than pictured, so if you are at all uncertain about which shade to get, chose something slightly lighter than you'd usually get. Also, demipermanent dye can't lighten hair--it can only cover gray and change hair tone (yes, it could darken it, if you prefer flat haircolor that is nearly impossible to get to fade out). You have to stay within two shades of your hair color for the best results; otherwise, get a box of permanent dye.
Thought I'd write a review, since I recently had a wakeup call about just how much I loved NI Medium Brown (#21, here in Canada anyway). I used it for 5 years and it always left my hair shiny and gorgeous. It did leave my hair darker than I had expected it would, but I kind of liked that. And I never had 'roots' as the colour faded. I don't have tons of grey - just a few strands here and there, but I know where they are, so it's easy to tell how efficiently they've been covered and how long it's lasting. Usually I'd start seeing grey peek through just after the 3 week mark - sometimes longer if I'd consistently been using a shampoo/conditioner for colour treated hair...but that stuff can build up so I'd often use a regular or just moisturizing shampoo, etc., because that's when I would get deep shine. Loved it!
THEN, I started wondering if I 'should' be going lighter again - ya know, considering I'm late 50's. And a hairstylist family member kept dropping hints that I should go MUCH lighter, that I would look soooo much 'better' that way, considering my skin tone. Paranoia developed...'gee, maybe I've been thinking I look good, but don't.' :/ So I took the plunge, letting her lighten it up with highlights, etc. I have (and always have had) thick porous hair that's quick to process (I warned her). She kept a good eye on things, but it wasn't enough - highlights (even with Joico products & a respected hair stylist), I discovered, ruined the texture, ruined the shine, and gave me hair from hell. Note to self: That soft little inner voice that builds before a hair appointment that says "Gee, but I'm really loving my hair the way it is! I'm enjoying it!" - that voice is smart. Listen carefully for that voice - the one that always tells you what 'i' really want. It never screams messages of 'horror', but it will tell me what I 'really' want. For some gals, that voice might have said 'highlight' - DO IT!!! In which case, do it. But reiterate note to self: "No one knows what's best for me. I am the boss of me. If I'm loving it, it's all good!!!!" lol
I'll be doing another NI colour in a month or two - though, probably a lighter one next time. I'll do an update then. ;) Thank you to all reviewers who validated my instinct to stay away from that 2-week colour refresher package that comes in the box. I'd always avoided using it, because my gut told me to leave it alone. I'm glad I listened.
BRING OLD NATURAL INSTINCTS BACK!!! I USED THIS FOR YEARS AND LOVED IT!!!! IDK WHAT IM GOING TO USE NOW SINCE THEY CHANGED THE FORMULA. I BOUGHT ALL THE OLDER BOXES OF MY BELOVED NUTMEG AT MY LOCAL SEARS AND IM OUT NOW..WHY WOULD THEY MESS A GOOD PRODUCT UP??? WHAT AM I GONNA DO? IF ANYONE FINDS SOMETHING LIKE THE OLD NATURAL INSTICTS PLEASE LET ME KNOW
I have been using this for years and it does a good enough job that no one really believes I color my hair or I am completely-100%- gray!!
It does cover gray but you must leave it in for much longer than the stated ten minutes. One day while getting my hair cut, my hairdresser told me to leave it in for 40 minutes and I trusted her. It worked to cover gray hair, and it has not damaged my hair. Semi permanent color needs time to really penetrate the hair shaft... so if you are trying to cover gray, leave it in for 40 minutes and see for yourself.
I use light suede at the roots, like clockwork every month. My daughter helps me to get all the roots by sectioning the hair. Then I use either pecan or another choice close to that shade on the rest of my hair every other month so my hair doesn't look so dark. The reason I do this is if you use a color with warm reds or gold's on gray, it will turn the hair pink or orange. This strategy really looks very natural and gives some variety in the hair color. Dark hair is aging.
Light neutral brown or Suede is a light brown that comes out medium to dark brown. As other reviewers stated, go lighter.
I throw away the refresher packet based on other reviews on MUA.
I use #16 Spiced Tea/Light Auburn and the color comes out exactly as I want it to. I find the condition of my hair is so much better than some other makes.
At the moment there is a recall on a bunch of colors because they put the new "Refresher" package in the wrong boxes, so I haven't been able to use it and used another make which didn't come out good at all.
BUT, everybody, I found that using the "Refresher" after two weeks (which would be a great idea for reds as they fade much faster) does not work and leaves a sticky residue. So when it's on the shelves again in Canada I'll use it but nix the Refresher.
I just dyed my dark blonde hair with Natural Instincts in medium brown (hazelnut). I know it's not recommended to use such a dark shade on blonde, but what can I say...I do what I want:) I left the color on for 8 minutes, which is 2 minutes less than the recommended time but according to past reviews it tends to dye too dark anyway. I was actually really impressed by the fact that I only needed ONE box to cover all of my somewhat long and very thick hair. I don't think that's ever happened before! After rinsing the color out, my hair is the exact color on the box and evenly colored throughout. It'll be interesting to see how fast it fades and what it looks like in a few weeks, but for now I'm loving the results. Plus, my hair is silky smooth and doesn't feel damaged at all. Good stuff! UPDATE: I took off one lippie because it faded to a light reddish brown within 3 weeks. I know this color fades but it didn't stay true to color at all.
2nd Update (years from last):
Had to drop two lippes.
I just dyed my hair with dark brown, i needed to cover my lighter/redish roots to match the rest and for some strange reason it didn't really do anything! it made the rest of my hair a tad darker but there is still a noticeable difference between my roots and the rest! I left it on for 10 minutes (in my experience this has always been a suffice amount of time). It looked pretty dark when i went to wash it out... also my hair feels dry, even after using the conditioner! I have never experienced this before. The box has been sitting my closet for about 6months .... maybe this has something to do with it *shrug*... disappointed.. I'll be trying another semi-permenant on my next go.
This product has now saved my life 4 times. I am a hardcore hair dyer. By that I mean my hair has been every color of the rainbow from blue to blonde. Often changing it more than once a month.
I just used the 'new formula' (which after all the bad reviews, I was terrified to do) but so glad I did. I used Suede (light brown #13) after a botched ombre dye job, and it managed to cover almost everything. Turned a nice brown with very subtle red highlights. THE ONLY reason there is red is probably because I had bright red hair prior to the failed ombre.
I had to take one lippy off because one bottle would not cover my medium to short hair and I only used half of the other.
I was terrified it was going to turn out really dark so I washed it off after only 8 mins so there are still some parts in the back that could use some more dye. But that is purely my fault.
I will not be using the refresher based on the reviews but other than that, seems to me this is the same ol' natural instincts.
Read my previous reviews (old formula):
The champagne on ice color toned my yellow brassy bleached blonde hair to a wicked ashy blonde. NOTE: before the first wash it was greenish but that was to be expected using ash on super porus hair- after the first wash total awesomeness
Clove? I think was the color- again toned the brassy brown to a nice natural brown. Even covered purple- red parts- starting to fade now after 10 washes.
Conditioner tunred my damanged hair soft and shiny.
FYI: i've read that if you have a bad experience with one brand another will probably work better for you. Not sure how much science is behind that idea but every time i've tried to use L'oreal preference its been horrible where Garnier and Clariol have always worked well
I have used Natural instincts for years, I color my hair once per month and it always covered my greys nicely, i would follow the directions and leave it on for 5 extra minutes and always had lovely results.....until they changed the package and obviously the formula. My greys are shining through after 2.5 wks and that 2 wk orange crap refresher is a waste of time and DOES stain your scalp like others have mentioned. Great job Clairol now i am on the hunt for another hair dye that actually does what it claim,s come on most women color their hair to cover greys, get a clue and provide what your consumers want!