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Does Garnier Nutrisse cream lighten hair?

Garnier Nutrisse is a popular hair color brand that offers a range of permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes. One of the claims made by Garnier about its Nutrisse cream hair color is that it can lighten hair naturally with each application. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at whether Garnier Nutrisse cream does lighten hair when used repeatedly over time.

How Garnier Nutrisse Hair Color Works

Garnier Nutrisse hair dye contains two key active ingredients that allow it to lighten and color hair:

  • Ammonia – This helps open up the hair cuticle so that the color pigments can penetrate into the hair shaft.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – This lifts or lightens the natural hair pigment so the hair can be dyed a lighter shade.

The lifting or lightening effect comes from the hydrogen peroxide, which bleaches the natural melanin in your hair. When you use an ammonia-free Garnier Nutrisse formula, a similar chemical called MEA is used instead of ammonia.

The instructions advise you to apply the color cream on unwashed, towel-dried hair. The cream interacts with the peroxide developer and starts lightening and coloring the hair within 30 minutes. Rinsing with warm water stops the lightening action.

Does Garnier Nutrisse Permanently Lighten Hair?

Garnier Nutrisse can lighten your virgin (uncolored) hair up to 3 shades with a single application. For greater lightening, you may need to bleach your hair first before applying the Garnier color. Repeated use over many months can also gradually lighten dyed hair.

However, Garnier Nutrisse hair dye does not permanently lighten hair the same way that bleach does. Here are some key points to understand:

  • The lightening effect is temporary and washes out over 4-6 weeks as hair grows out.
  • Coloring dark hair with a lighter shade can make it appear lighter overall.
  • Repeated use eventually causes subtle lightening over time by stripping the cuticle.
  • Peroxide levels are lower than bleach so lightening happens gradually.

Factors That Affect Lightening

Several factors come into play when determining the lightening effect of Garnier Nutrisse hair color on your hair:

Your Natural Hair Color

Garnier Nutrisse can lighten dark shades more easily than light shades:

Natural Hair Color Lightening Effect with Garnier Nutrisse
Black Can lighten up to 3 shades
Dark brown Can lighten up to 2-3 shades
Medium brown Can lighten up to 2 shades
Light brown May lighten up to 1 shade
Blonde Very subtle lightening if any

Color Shade You Choose

The lighter the target color, the more lightening effect it will have on your hair:

  • Lightest blonde shades have the most lifting effect.
  • Medium blonde shades will visibly lighten brown hair.
  • Light brown shades make subtle lightening on dark hair.
  • Deeper color shades like medium brown have very little lightening effect.

Your Current Hair Color

Hair that has already been colored responds differently than virgin hair:

  • Pre-lightened or bleached hair won’t lighten further with Garnier Nutrisse.
  • Color-treated hair lightens minimally compared to virgin hair.
  • Recently dyed hair is harder to lighten than grown-out hair.
  • Hair lightened with bleach lightens more with Garnier Nutrisse than hair lightened with color.

Porosity of Your Hair

Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Hair type impacts porosity:

  • Porous hair absorbs color faster and lightens more easily.
  • Coarse, thicker hair is typically more porous than fine, thinner hair.
  • Chemically treated and damaged hair is more porous than virgin hair.
  • Color lifts less on non-porous, healthy hair.

Developer Volume

Garnier Nutrisse comes with a pre-packaged developer cream. Higher developer volumes contain more peroxide to lighten hair more:

  • 10 volume developer – lowest level of lightener
  • 20 volume developer – mild lightening effect
  • 30 volume developer – moderate lightening of hair
  • 40 volume developer – high amount of lightener

Garnier Nutrisse uses a maximum of 20 volume developer in its kits for predictable, gradual lightening.

Processing Time

Leaving the color on longer increases the lightening effect:

  • Minimum time is 25 minutes for visible lightening.
  • Leaving on for 30-45 minutes maximizes lightening.
  • Processing longer than 45 minutes risks hair damage.

Does Garnier Nutrisse Damage Hair?

Garnier Nutrisse contains nourishing fruit oils and ceramide to hydrate and condition hair during the coloring process. When used correctly, it does not cause any significant damage to hair.

Here are some tips to minimize hair damage when lightening with Garnier Nutrisse:

  • Don’t exceed recommended processing times.
  • Avoid overlapping with bleach services.
  • Use the weekly deep conditioning hair masks.
  • Get regular trims to remove dry ends.
  • Do occasional Olaplex or protein treatments.
  • Use their ammonia-free cream colors if you have sensitive scalp.

How to Boost Lightening with Garnier Nutrisse

While Garnier Nutrisse can lightly lift your natural hair pigment, you may need extra lightening or bleaching for a dramatic color makeover. Here are some tips:

  • Lighten hair with bleach to within 2 shades of target color.
  • Use a higher volume developer like 30 or 40 volume.
  • Mix powder lightener into the color and apply together.
  • Leave on the maximum processing time.
  • Apply heat when coloring for increased lightening.
  • Get a double process by lightening first then applying color.

How to Maintain Lightened Hair

Once your hair has been lightened with Garnier Nutrisse, you’ll need to take extra care to keep it looking vibrant between color touch-ups:

  • Use a purple shampoo 2-3 times a week to reduce brassiness.
  • Wash hair in cool water and rinse with cold shot.
  • Apply weekly conditioning hair masks.
  • Protect hair from sun exposure with hats or products.
  • Use a heat protectant before hot tools.
  • Get a clear gloss or glazing service between color.
  • Use an at-home toner mask to correct unwanted tones.


Garnier Nutrisse can definitely lighten your natural hair, especially virgin hair that has never been colored before. However, the lightening effect is gradual and works best on darker hair shades.

For significant lifting by several shades, you’ll get better results combining Nutrisse with bleach rather than relying on the hair color alone. With the right technique and aftercare, you can safely lighten hair with Garnier Nutrisse for a beautiful, natural-looking hair color.