Great, long lasting drugstore hair dye... does it exist?
September 15, 2013 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a drugstore hair color that suits my needs?

I'm looking for a drugstore brand permanent hair color that will resist fading (with proper care) for at least 4-6 weeks and will not make my hair feel worse (??). I've used boxed color before; I've used a natural instincts semi-perm color twice since January-ish, but that's it for a while. I just don't have a lot of experience with today's brands and colors. I'd like this to be "my color", i.e. natural looking enough on me and gentle enough on my hair that I can reliably do it monthly without killing it!

Currently my hair is a dark goldenish blonde/light brown and very brassy. I'd like to go a shade, maybe two, darker and tone down the golden/red/brass tones a bunch. This is me. Pale with slightly goldenish to neutral skin. Hair is a bit shorter than it is in that picture. My hair gets very brassy and red very easily, so take that into consideration!

Can you suggest a shade/brand that would suit my needs? Thanks!
posted by ancient star to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Drug stores vary in the selection, even within a brand. I have had much better luck with beauty supply stores.

I have never used semi-permanent dyes-- I have always used the permanent colorations and I go up to six months between touch ups.

I have been happy with the colors labeled "Brass Busters" by Clairol. I choose browns in the neutral or ash color families. L'Oreal Excellence is also very good.

If your hair is brassy, too much red-orange is coming through. You need to choose from the "cool" or "neutral" tones. These will have pigments that counteract the red-orange.

Do not shampoo before or after coloring. your hair should have a decent amount of natural oils before you color.

Counter-intuitively, don't start at the roots. start 2 inches from the roots, work down to the ends, and then color the roots last.

Do not over process. You aren't "getting your money's worth" by going over the time limit. If you don't have 20% or more gray, go with the lower to middle of the time range. 20-30 minutes.

Seal the hair cuticle with provided conditioner, or your own conditioner. Wait a couple days before you shampoo for the first time. Try to shampoo less frequently, every 2-3 days if you can find an appropriate hairstyle.

Red hair is especially vulnerable to the sun. wear a hat when you are out in direct sunlight.
posted by ohshenandoah at 10:17 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Garnier Nutrisse (which is permanent) is actually really nice-- it's the only dye that makes my hair feel better afterwards. That's because it's made with a lot of natural fruit oils and is designed to nourish the hair. I actually won't get my hair professionally done because it always feels like straw after going to a salon.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:21 PM on September 15, 2013

Seconding Garnier Nutrisse. I've been all around the haircolor block through the decades, and Garnier has consistently made my hair feel softer and stronger than any other brand -- including salon.

I currently dye my hair to be the color you have in the picture so I use Garnier Nutrisse Color Creme #63 Light Golden Brown. For you, I'd choose #51 Medium Ash Brown.

(I am not a hair color professional, I am not your hair color professional.)
posted by kimberussell at 6:29 AM on September 16, 2013

I felt pretty happy with L'Oreal Excellence for more than a decade.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:58 AM on September 16, 2013

I've been colouring my hair for almost 20 years and I've been recently surprised by the staying power of Garnier Olia hair colour. I used the light auburn shade. And I shampoo daily with sulfate free shampoo. I'd recommend it.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2013

Just as a warning - I recently box-dyed medium ash brown over dark blonde (I chose ash for the same reason as you, because my hair will go brassy otherwise) and the result had greenish undertones. Some Googling tells me that that is common thing, because dyed-blonde hair has had pigment taken out that the brown dye doesn't account for. Apparently all you have to do to avoid this problem is choose a golden-brown or slightly reddish brown shade. The result will even out to a cool brown anyway.

(I'm using a red color-depositing conditioner once a week to avoid redyeing and I love the results - perfect rich brown color and zero brassines - so that's always an option too.)
posted by ella wren at 5:47 PM on September 16, 2013

Another vote for L'Oreal Excellence.
posted by she's not there at 6:37 PM on September 16, 2013

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