Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews: Everything You Need to Know

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews: Everything You Need to Know

This post was most recently updated on June 11th, 2023

It is no secret that the market for natural personal care products is rapidly expanding. ‘Organic’ shampoo to soap or ‘natural’ hair dye like Clairol have all been trending with more people switching to those products. For this reason, our Clairol Natural Instincts reviews discuss everything there is to know about their hair colors you can try backed up by real-life user reviews.

That being said, the term “natural” is not regulated by any agency in the U.S., which then gives many brands the license to define “natural” as they want. We find out how natural Clairol Natural Instinct is by breaking down the ingredients they used, possible side effects, and more.

clairol natural instincts reviews

Empowering Women Through Hair Color Since 1931

As a pioneer of at-home hair dyes, Clairol brought hair dyes to the U.S. 92 years ago and sold their first at-home hair dyes in retail stores in 1956. Since then, the company has gone through generations offering its best innovations, from the launch of Nice N’ Easy Shampoo-In Hair Color in 1971, to Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Colors back in 1994.

Today, Clairol continues to innovate by providing color solutions for every need through their 5 flagship brands: Nice N’ Easy, Root Touch-Up, Natural Instincts, Blonde It Up, and Color Gloss Up.

Generally speaking, Natural Instincts is the one that offers gentle hair dyes with 80% naturally-sourced ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil (just a few names). Not to mention, it’s free of ammonia, PPD/PTD, and animal-derived ingredients. If you’re a vegan, pregnant, or trying to be a conscious consumer, Natural Instincts can be a great option.

Most importantly, while the market is filled with hair dyes that fall short of the average environmentalist standards, the packaging of Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color is FSC certified, meaning it is crafted from responsible sources in a way that ensures sustainability, and even the plastic bottle is free of PVC.

To learn more about their hair color, let’s jump to the next section.

Who is it for?

In general, Natural Instincts is suitable for all hair types (1-4c hair types) and all hair textures (fine, medium, and thick). If you want to avoid damage or a dramatic color change, Clairol Natural Instincts is all that you need. Here’s what you can do with Natural Instincts:

  • All-over colors: Opt for a color that is either the same level of color and undertones or slightly darker than your current hair color.
  • Blending away grays: Natural Instincts demi-permanent doesn’t cover grays instead it blends and turns them into something resembling highlights. It may only cover grays on fine and porous hair. Those who have medium, thick, coarse, and low-to-medium porosity hair won’t get that advantage. Permanent hair color is the best way to go.
  • Covering tell-tale roots: If your hair roots start peeking through, Natural Instincts can hide those grown roots and keep them looking fresh.
  • Enhancing your natural color: Natural Instincts can add more dimension to your hair, making it looks richer and extra pigmented.
  • Invigorating fading color: If you want to keep your colored hair looking fresh and bold, Natural Instincts can be a great option to go without damaging your hair.
  • Toning highlights: Clairol Natural Instincts only deposit color, NOT LIFT, because it doesn’t contain ammonia. That’s why it can be an alternative to hair toner to remove brassy tones on your natural or bottled blonde.

All of the above, the Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Hair Color can do effortlessly to your hair. However, if you’re trying to lighten your hair, then aim to lower your expectations. Demi-permanent hair dye only does a better job to darken your hair instead of lightening it up.

If you are looking for a demi-permanent hair dye that may help to lighten your hair, check out Ion Demi Permanent Hair Color.

In the next section, we take a look at the shades of Clairol Natural Instincts.

Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color Reviews

Clairol Natural Instincts provides up to 38 natural shades in blonde, brown, dark, and red that may last up to 28 washes. Most Natural Instincts hair dyes are demi-permanent, meaning you should set expectations that the color may not last long as permanent hair color does.

However, Clairol Natural Instincts also provides permanent hair dyes. It’s called Natural Instincts Bold that is available in 6 shades of Red, Black, and Violet. If you prefer to go bold and get long-lasting results, then Natural Instincts can be the right option.

In this review, we give priority to discussing Natural Instincts Demi-Permanent Color. Now let’s take a look at the blonde shade.

Going Blonde with Clairol Natural Instincts

clairol natural instincts 8A

Salons may charge a bucketload of money for blonde color, but Natural Instincts created an easy at-home hair dye for only $7 per box. With 7 blonde shades to choose from, Natural Instincts is mostly available in medium to light blonde shades. So, you won’t find platinum blonde here. But, you can opt for Wella ColorCharm to get the lightest blonde shade.

If you’re unsure to pick which blonde you should go for, you can match the shade to your skin tone. Warm skin tones are usually best suited to warm blonde shades, such as 7G Golden Honey or 8G Sunflower. Cool blonde shades like 7A Sandalwood and 8A Linen may go better with cool skin tones. Cool shades also can help to tone unwanted warm tones on your hair.

What Customers LovedWhat Customers Did Not Like 
“Natural Instincts is still easy to use, and still gentle enough for thinning hair. The best news is that the colors are brighter and more lasting than ever.”“I’ve always used the color 8A and always been happy with the results. Today I tried the new formula for color 8A. It claims to be the same but it is NOT. It turned my blonde hair to brunette.”
“She has dirty blonde hair with lots of grays. This product made her hair look more blonde but it still looks completely natural.”“Very runny/drippy. Need to thicken before using, otherwise, it’ll ruin highlights.”

TIPS: Since the new-and-improved formula appears darker than it should be, pick a shade or two lighter than you think your hair would match if you don’t want your hair to end up darker.

Rich and Shiny Brunette Colors

clairol natural instincts 6A

Brown hair is a timeless classic shade that comes in 18 shades for all-over color or root touch-ups. Natural Instincts also offers the Root Touch-Up line that delivers up to 100% gray coverage. If your focus is to cover grays, opt for Root Touch-Up by Natural Instincts to get a great transformation.

If you decide to go for all-over color and change your look, here we give you recommendations. Those with fair skin can opt for medium brown to darker brown shades, be it 5 Hazelnut or any “5” shades of Natural Instincts. For medium and deep skin, dark brown shades can be the best option like 3 Ebony Mocha or 4W Roasted Chestnut.

What Customers LovedWhat Customers Did Not Like
“I have very fine, porous type 4 hair. This makes my hair soft, and shiny, and doesn’t wreck it with ammonia or high-volume peroxide.”I used dark brown and it turned my gray roots greenish!”
I have thick long hair so I had to use 2 bottles on my hair. I am 50% grey and it covered my grey really well.”Color doesn’t last through 28 washes as it says; more like 12-15, but at least it doesn’t have a smell when applied.”

TIPS: Blonde hair easily turns green after dyeing brown since blonde can have yellow undertones. When you decide to go brunette, blue undertones will be added to your hair, which then may turn your hair green over time. It is advised to use hair toner first to eliminate yellow or orange undertones.

Try Natural Instincts Red For A Stunning Look

clairol natural instincts 5R

Dig the idea of a demi-permanent dye to get reddish hair color? Natural Instincts Red is available in 3 shades, plus two Natural Instincts Bold shades in Cooper Sunset and Achiote Auburn. However, red usually fades a bit fast, so you’ll need to reapply the color pretty often.

If you have fair skin, cooper may be best suited for you. Auburn shades like 5R Cinnaberry or 6R Spiced Tea can be the right option for medium or olive hair. And, for darker skin, opt for R56 Achiote Auburn to go a little fiery redhead.

What Customers LovedWhat Customers Did Not Like
I have dark brown hair and the auburn added a nice red tone to it. It lasts about 2 months, but slowly fades so it isn’t noticeable as your hair grows.”I like the vibrancy of this hair color. However, I wish the tone would stay at the same level for more than a week.”
It is a more gentle formula than before but it is exactly the same shade of auburn. No pink, purple, or anything just natural auburn color! I shampoo my hair every day it lasted 3 weeks as opposed to 4 weeks with the older version.”I put Malaysian Cherry Dark Red over light brown/auburn hair and now my hair looks black with a hint of red. It’s not bad, but doesn’t look at all like the color on the box.”

Clairol Natural Instincts Instructions

When you purchase a box of Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color, you’ll receive:

  • a crème color,
  • a color activator, and
  • a conditioner.
Picture of a kit of Natural Instincts - Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews

The process is very simple, which makes Natural Instincts also great for beginners. Since it’s ammonia-free, the dye is odorless and has a pleasant smell as many users reported. Although the dye doesn’t stain easily on your skin or clothes, you still have to wear disposable gloves while coloring and rinsing.

Below are the guidelines on how to use Clairol Natural Instincts:

  1. Always perform a patch test 48 hours before applying.
  2. Empty the colorant tube into the activating creme bottle. Blend the mixture by shaking the bottle.
  3. If this is the first time you are coloring your hair or haven’t colored for the last 3 months, apply color from root to tip on dry hair. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
  4. If you’ve colored your hair in the last 3 months, apply the mixture to your dry, unwashed hair roots. Then, apply the color to your hair strands to ensure full saturation. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Rinse your hair until the water runs clear. Apply the conditioner from root to tip liberally and let it sit for 2 minutes. If you still have the remaining conditioner, use it once a week to continually nourish your hair.

After you have mastered all the steps above, use the right post-color treatment to prevent premature fading like color-safe shampoo or a glossy hair serum.

Remember: Natural Instincts only have low-volume hydrogen peroxide to allow the color to penetrate the outer cuticle of your hair. That’s why the color will gradually fade as you wash your hair. Now let’s take a look at the instructions.

What’s Inside Clairol Natural Instincts?

Here we break down the prominent ingredients of Clairol Natural Instincts and how exactly they work individually.

Color Enhancing Crème

Propylene Glycol

At first glance, it may seem like a chemical that you should avoid. In fact, PG is a man-made ingredient that works as both a humectant and viscosity control. It is beneficial to keep the concentration of the formula low and help attract moisture from the air to hydrate your hair.

In Clairol Natural Instincts, PG solubilizes dyes and pigments in the formula to ensure its performance without drying out your hair. It also works as a stabilizer to ensure the product doesn’t freeze or melt in low or high temperatures, providing a smooth crème that is easy to spread on hair.


Also called Monoethanolamine (MEA), Ethanolamine is a buffering agent that is primarily made up of amine and alcohol. Similar to ammonia, MEA opens and swells the cuticle so the hair dye can penetrate your hair cuticle layer instead of depositing it on the hair surface.

Click here to learn more about ethanolamine.

Cetearyl Alcohol

It is a so-called fatty alcohol, which is totally different from drying alcohol like denat alcohol. Cetearyl has a long oil-soluble tail part that makes them non-drying and non-irritating to the skin or scalp.

In Clairol Natural Instincts, Cetearyl acts as an emulsifier to stabilize oil-water mixes. It also acts as a conditioning agent that helps soften your hair and reduce tangles.


Also called ME+, this ingredient is a less allergic alternative to PPD and acts as a color base for Clairol Natural Instincts’ shades. ME+ provides natural tones in the brown spectrum from warm to cool.

Ascorbic Acid & Tocopheryl Acetate

Both are used in the formulation primarily as antioxidants. In Natural Instincts, antioxidants help to preserve products and prevent spoilage through deterioration caused by reaction with oxygen. The ingredients also help to protect your hair from free radical damage.

Color Activator

Paraffinum Liquidum/ Mineral Oil/ Huile Minerale

Mineral oil is a very controversial ingredient with plenty of pros & cons. In fact, mineral oil is highly purified and refined, thus it has no metal contamination in contrast to unrefined petroleum.

In Clairol Natural Instincts, this ingredient helps to improve product consistency, both in the color activator itself and the mixture of colorant and the activator. It is also known to seal in moisture and create protective barriers over the skin or scalp to protect it from external damage.

Since mineral oil mostly just sits on top of the skin or scalp, it doesn’t really “nourish” it in the way plant oils do. It also could prevent other nourishing ingredients from penetrating the skin or scalp.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is used as an oxidizer in Clairol Natural Instincts. When the crème color and color activator are mixed, the hydrogen peroxide counteracts with the dyes to lift the melanin from the hair so the dye delivers lighter color.

Brilliant Shine Conditioner

Glutamic Acid

The main role of glutamic acid is being a humectant or moisturizer and conditioning agent. Clairol Natural Instincts uses glutamic acid to help increase the softness of your hair and surface roughness after coloring. Eventually, this leaves your hair more manageable and easy to comb.

Coconut Oil

This moisturizing ingredient is beneficial to produce soft-feeling hair. Coconut oil typically absorbs deeply into your hair shaft rather than just sitting on top of it. Eventually, this leads to making your hair less likely to break and helps nourish your hair after coloring.

Aloe Vera

In Clairol Natural Instincts, aloe vera is mainly used for its excellent moisturizing agent. Aloe vera helps to enhance the softness and smoothness of your and reduce tangles. It is also beneficial to gently strip sebum while still preserving your hair’s integrity.

Now we know the benefits of prominent ingredients of Clairol Natural Instincts. Plus, Natural Instincts Hair Color also contains chemical ingredients, but not the ones that are in the very harsh category.

In the next section, let’s take a look at the results after using Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color.

Results After Using Clairol Natural Instincts (Hair Types, Ages, Hair Color Bases, Results Time, etc)

Below are the results of users with various hair natural colors after using Clairol Natural Instincts.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 1

Results of a woman with black hair after using 8A Medium Cool Blonde. Her hair turns slightly brown and her grays blend well with her overall hair.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 2

Results of a woman with highlighted hair after using 5C Brass Free Medium Brown. The color nicely covers the highlights and turns her hair into a slightly medium ash-brown.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 3

Results of a woman with medium brown virgin hair after using 3 hair dyes. Garnier turns her hair slightly purple and After Color Oops turns it into a golden-brown color. Only Natural Instincts 6A Light Cool Brown gives her the closest color to her natural hair.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 4

Results of an adult woman with bottled-blonde hair and grays after using 6G Light Golden Brown. After letting it sit for 20 minutes, her hair transforms into fresh medium brown with perfect coverage.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 5

Results of an adult woman with dark brown thick hair and lots of grays after using 7A Dark Cool Blonde. The color mutes the grays nicely and transforms her hair into dark blonde.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 6

Results of a 66-year-old woman with blonde hair and gray roots after using 7RG Dark Rose Gold Blonde. She left the color on for an hour and her hair turned into rose gold blonde fairly well and covered the grays smoothly.

Clairol Natural Instincts Reviews - 7

Results of a woman with bleached yellow hair after using 7RG Dark Rose Gold Blonde. After 20 minutes of process, the color turns very similar to what it shows on the box but slightly lighter.

These are the results after using Clairol Natural Instincts on different hair color bases, hair types, and hair textures. Now let’s take a look at the side effects.

Disadvantages and Possible Side Effects

Ammonia-free hair dyes have been a major innovation in the world of hair coloring. However, when it comes to hair dyes, it is unlikely that we will find completely chemical-free and 100% natural ones.

Therefore, local allergies could occur due to reactions of your skin or scalp to certain chemicals. Here we discuss the disadvantages and possible side effects of Clairol Natural Instincts.

Disadvantages of ethanolamine

Similar to ammonia, ethanolamine works by raising the pH levels of your hair and causing your cuticles to swell so the dye can penetrate them. If the pH levels suddenly lift, this can lead to amino acids and moisture loss, which then causes dry, dull, and brittle hair.

Using ammonia-free hair dye doesn’t mean it’s just your hair that you worry about. Ethanolamine has been shown to irritate the skin (especially sensitive ones) and eyes (if the colorant gets on it by chance). Make sure to do a patch test and keep away from eye contact.

Aside from causing damaged hair, an investigation test shows that long-term or repetitive use of ethanolamine and hydrogen peroxide may lead to hair loss. However, further studies are needed to make conclusive claims.

Contains perfuming ingredients (Fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, and Linalool)

Basically, fragrance is a personal preference and can be the determining factor of why consumers do or don’t like it. Some people feel fragrance can cause allergic reactions, dryness, or even headache. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, better to steer clear of such products.

Contains icky preservatives (Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone)

We know they’re hard to pronounce, but let’s make it much easier: MCI and MI. Both are super effective preservatives in fighting bacteria at low concentrations. The problem is that MCI and MI may also irritate your skin or scalp, especially if you have a sensitive scalp.

These are the side effects of Clairol Natural Instincts that may happen to some people. Always perform a patch test 48 hours before taking a full application to avoid any allergic reaction. Plus, although Natural Instincts Hair Color is safe for pregnant and nursing mothers, better to consult your doctor for further details.

In the next section, we take a look at the alternatives to Clairol Natural Instincts.

Alternatives to Clairol Natural Instincts

Given below are the similar hair colors to Clairol Natural Instincts you may want to try. These hair dyes are offered by Herbatint, Ion Color Brilliance, and Schwarzkopf.

Herbatint Permanent Hair Color Gel

Herbatint Permanent Hair Color Gel

Finding a permanent hair dye for sensitive skin can be a tricky task. The good news is Herbatint offers ammonia-free hair color that is dermatologist tested on sensitive skin. The formula is also enriched with 8 natural herbs to protect and nourish your hair.

Plus, the developer only contains less than 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is below the 6% limit permitted by EU legislation.

Ion Color Brilliance Intensive Shine Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color

Ion Color Brilliance Intensive Shine Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color

If you’re looking for a demi-permanent hair dye that delivers up to 100% gray coverage, Ion Color Brilliance can be the right choice for you. Formulated in Italy by following strict EU standards, Ion Color Brilliance helps revive your hair color but without lifting your hair’s natural pigments.

This cutting-edge, salon-quality hair color is also enriched with Hyaluronic Acid, Pequi Oil, and Argan Oil to nourish your hair while coloring.

Read our Ion Color Brilliance review here.

Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Dye

Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Dye

Free of ammonia, silicone, and alcohol, plus dermatologist tested, Schwarzkopf is truly a gem for those with sensitive skin and scalp. Schwarzkopf Simply Color is geared to give 100% gray coverage, especially for dark-haired gals.

This hair dye is also formulated with hair-enhancing ingredients, such as Botanical Oat Milk, Soy Protein, and Argan Oil to deliver a healthy hair look after coloring.

Gentle Formula for No-Commitment Hair Color

Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color can be a great ultra-gentle demi-permanent hair color, especially for those with sensitive scalps. The color is best to help blend grays or enhance your natural color. However, Clairol Natural Instincts may not be ideal for an entire color change, so if that’s your goal, you can opt for permanent or semi-permanent hair color.

The most common con people reported is that the new-and-improved formula didn’t match their natural hair color and was a bit darker. But overall, Natural Instincts Hair Color is worth trying if you’re looking for a hair color with minimal to no damage.

Hope this article was useful in helping you gain details about Clairol Natural Instincts. If you’re ready to color your hair with Natural Instincts, check out their demi-permanent hair color here. Leave us with comments or thoughts you may have about their demi-permanent hair color here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Clairol Natural Instincts any good?

Yes. If you’re looking to blend grays, root touch-ups, and enhance your natural hair color, Clairol Natural Instincts is a great option for you. With 80% naturally-sourced ingredients, this demi-permanent is gentle enough on your scalp and won’t alter your hair moisture and strength.

Is Clairol Natural Instincts good for gray hair?

As a demi-permanent hair color, Clairol Natural Instincts will blend away grays, making them appear highlighted. It may only cover grays if you have fine or porous hair.

How Long Does Clairol Natural Instincts Last?

According to the manufacturer, Clairol Natural Instincts will last up to 28 washes and the color usually fades gradually. However, we saw lots of user reviews reporting the color only lasts for about 2-3 weeks or only a few washes depending on your hair type and texture.

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