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Does clairol natural instincts cover gray hair?

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Covering gray hair is a common concern for many people as they get older. Gray hair occurs naturally as melanin levels decrease with age, causing hair follicles to lose their pigment. While some embrace their grays, others prefer to cover them up with hair dye. Clairol Natural Instincts is a popular semi-permanent hair color designed to cover grays while keeping hair looking natural. In this article, we’ll explore whether Natural Instincts can effectively cover gray hair.

About Clairol Natural Instincts

Clairol Natural Instincts is an ammonia-free demi-permanent hair color made by Clairol, a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble. It was first introduced to the market in 2010. Natural Instincts is designed to cover gray hair while blending seamlessly with your natural hair color for subtle, natural-looking results.

Here are some key features of Clairol Natural Instincts:

  • Uses a demi-permanent formula that partially penetrates the hair shaft so the color lasts about 28 shampoos.
  • Made with aloe, antioxidant vitamins, and keratin to condition hair while coloring.
  • Ammonia-free formula aims to minimize hair damage.
  • Uses a translucent gel coloring system to saturate grays and blend with natural hair tones.
  • Available in over 20 natural-looking shades.

The Natural Instincts line includes products for covering various percentages of gray hair, from the early signs of grays to 50% gray coverage and more.

Can Natural Instincts Cover Gray Hair?

The key question is, how effectively can Natural Instincts cover gray hair? Overall, user reviews and expert feedback indicate that Natural Instincts provides excellent gray coverage when used correctly. Here are some key points:

  • Provides up to 100% gray coverage – The higher numbered shades (e.g. Natural Instincts in shade 10) are formulated to fully cover grays.
  • May require touch-ups every 4-6 weeks for roots – Like any semi-permanent dye, new growth will start showing eventually.
  • Works better on lighter shades – The lighter blonde and brown Natural Instincts shades cover grays a bit better than darker shades.
  • Best results when applied thoroughly – Applying to every section of hair is key for maximum gray coverage.
  • Sometimes requires a second application – Using Natural Instincts twice in one session improves gray coverage.

Experts and buyers agree that Natural Instincts excels at covering grays while looking natural. The results last about a month before roots need re-coloring. Proper application is key, as is selecting the right shade for your natural hair color.

Expert Reviews

Beauty experts who have tested Clairol Natural Instincts agree it effectively covers gray hair while maintaining a natural look. Here are reviews from professional product testers:

The Beauty Look Book

Beauty blogger Sabrina gave Natural Instincts an excellent rating, saying it covered all her grays for a month. She appreciated the conditioning formula and subtle, multi-tonal color results. However, she warns the lighter shades have a beige undertone that may not work for everyone.

InStyle Magazine

Editors at InStyle tested Natural Instincts in the shade Mocha Mochaccino for their beauty lab product awards. They gave it top marks for its excellent gray coverage even after multiple washes. Testers said their hair felt softer after use thanks to the nourishing formula.

Good Housekeeping

The Good Housekeeping Institute found Natural Instincts to cover gray hair effectively while adding shine and smoothness. However, their testers noticed some formulas had a strong ammonia scent even though the product is ammonia-free. Coverage lasted about four weeks before fading.

Overall, beauty experts confirm Natural Instincts’ excellent gray coverage, natural-looking colors, and hair-conditioning effects. Some felt the scent could be improved.

Amazon Reviews

Natural Instincts is extremely popular on Amazon, with over 3,000 customer reviews and an average 4.3 out of 5 star rating. Here are some examples of positive Amazon reviews from real buyers:

Excellent Gray Coverage

“This product is wonderful if you want to cover gray hair! I am about 50% gray and this covered ALL of it with just one application. The color matched my natural color perfectly. I can’t believe the results. It didn’t damage my hair at all. Love it.”

Lasts a Month Before Roots Show

“I have short, dark blonde hair that is about 25% gray. The Medium Ash Blonde shade matched perfectly and covered all my grays. It didn’t look fake at all. The color lasted about 5 weeks before I needed a root touch-up, but I was very impressed with the longevity for a semi-permanent dye. My hair felt soft and healthy too.”

Requires Two Applications Sometimes

“The first time I tried this, I still saw quite a few gray hairs so I applied it again the same day. The second application covered my grays completely. I think my mistake was not fully saturating all my hair on the first try. When I applied it thoroughly the second time, the coverage was perfect. Love the natural color.”

Positive reviewers say Natural Instincts covers grays excellently, while praising its conditioning formula and natural-looking colors. Many noted thorough application is important for full gray coverage.

Negative Reviews

While most reviews for Natural Instincts are positive, there are some common complaints in lower-rated reviews:

  • Doesn’t cover resistant gray hairs – Some note a few stubborn grays remained.
  • Dries out hair – A few felt their hair was drier after frequent use.
  • Color fades too quickly – Some saw fading in less than 4 weeks.
  • Unnatural reddish tones – Occasional complaints the color pulled too brassy or red.
  • Didn’t match natural color well – Rare instances of the shade not blending nicely with natural tones.

Negative reviewers tended to have hair that is more than 50% gray. Very resistant gray hair is hard for any semi-permanent product to fully cover. Leaving the dye on for the full recommended processing time is key for maximum coverage and color longevity.

Tips for Using Natural Instincts to Cover Gray

Here are some expert tips to get the best gray coverage when using Clairol Natural Instincts:

  • Choose the right shade – Pick a shade that closely matches your natural or original hair color. The shade number indicates the amount of gray coverage (higher number = more grays covered).
  • Thoroughly apply to all sections – Separate hair into sections and fully saturate each section roots to ends to cover all grays.
  • Leave on for the full time – Don’t rinse out early! Leaving on for the full processing time allows deeper gray coverage.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo first – Remove any product buildup so the hair dye can adhere best.
  • Consider a second application – If you have resistant grays, applying the color back-to-back in one session boosts coverage.
  • Stick to roots for touch-ups – Only re-apply to new growth to avoid overlapping color on already dyed hair.

Following the instructions carefully and thoroughly applying Natural Instincts from roots to ends gives the best gray coverage. Using hair dyeing best practices leads to optimal results.

How Long Does it Last?

Natural Instincts can cover grays effectively for 4-6 weeks, or about 28 shampoos. Here are some factors that affect how long the color lasts:

  • Your natural hair color – Darker shades tend to fade faster than lighter shades.
  • Percentage of gray hair – The more grays you have, the quicker roots will become visible.
  • Shampooing frequency – Frequent shampooing will fade color faster.
  • Use of hot styling tools – Heat styling can cause the color to oxidize and fade faster.
  • Exposure to sun – UV rays speed up fading of hair dye.

To make the color last longer, use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and limit use of hot styling tools. Also, cover hair when in direct sunlight. Plan to re-apply just to the roots every 4-6 weeks to maintain your color.

Does it Damage Hair?

Natural Instincts is formulated to color hair while keeping it healthy. Here’s how it aims to prevent hair damage:

  • No ammonia – Ammonia can be harsh, so Natural Instincts uses a milder dye delivery system.
  • pH balanced – It has an acidic pH between 4 and 5 to minimize cuticle damage.
  • Keratin – Keratin protein helps strengthen and repair hair strands.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe conditions hair and seals in moisture.
  • Antioxidant vitamins – Vitamin E and provitamin B5 protect hair.

However, any hair dye can be damaging when overused. To limit damage, avoid re-coloring the lengths too frequently and use only on roots for touch-ups. Also, give hair occasional deep conditioning treatments.

How to Do a Strand Test

It’s smart to do a strand test before using any hair color to check your hair’s reaction. Here’s how:

  1. Choose a section of hair near your face to test.
  2. Separate out a small strand of hair and clip away the remaining hair.
  3. Apply Natural Instincts to just the strand according to the package directions.
  4. After processing, rinse the strand and dry it.
  5. Check for any irritation or undesired coloring of the strand.
  6. If the strand test looks good, you can safely apply to your whole head.

Doing a patch test minimizes any risk of unexpected results or a negative reaction. It’s an important precaution before coloring your hair with any permanent or semi-permanent dye.

How to Achieve Natural-Looking Color

Here are some tips for getting the most natural-looking results when using Natural Instincts to cover gray hair:

  • Pick a shade close to your natural color – Don’t go more than 2 shades lighter/darker.
  • Only re-color your roots – Avoid overlapping dye on already colored lengths.
  • Use the color-blend applicators – They deposit just the right amount of dye for gradual looking color.
  • Rinse with cool water – Hot water can make color look brassy.
  • Use a toner or glaze – These can cancel out any unwanted brassy tones.
  • Add highlights – Strategically placed highlights around your face can brighten your look.
  • Blend with temporary root touch-up – Use spray or powder to blend grays between full colorings.

Carefully choosing the right shade for your skin tone and hair color is key. Focusing the permanent color just on regrowth helps the color look subtle and natural.

How to Do a Root Touch Up

You’ll need to re-color the new growth around your roots every 4-6 weeks. Here are tips for root touch-ups:

  1. Only apply color to the 1-2 inches of new growth near roots.
  2. Use the tint brush to thoroughly work color into the roots.
  3. Clip up the previously colored lengths to keep dye off them.
  4. Process for the full development time.
  5. Rinse and style as usual.
  6. Avoid overlapping dye onto already colored hair.

Carefully applying dye just to the roots avoids a demarcation line between the colored regrowth and faded lengths. Focusing just on the roots helps maintain the most natural-looking color.


Overall, Clairol Natural Instincts earns top marks for its ability to cover gray hairs effectively while leaving hair soft and natural-looking. It lasts about a month before roots need touching up. To achieve the best results, it’s important to select the right shade, apply thoroughly from roots to ends, and focus re-coloring just on the regrowth. With proper application, Natural Instincts can be an excellent option for anyone seeking natural-looking gray coverage.