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Is there a better way to get my gray hair dyed?

Gauhar goes gray…I am 34. My hair is about 80% gray. I am in a very conservative profession. I know that going all gray will negatively affect my career. I am having troubles with hair dye sticking to my hair. Is there any affordable, easy, simple do-it-yourself hair color, which is much better for gray hair coverage?

The Right Brain replies:

Hair color technology has been around a long time and there have been very few earth-shaking breakthroughs in the category. But now Clairol says they have a new Advanced Gray Solution technology that is gentler and provides better gray coverage. They claim that it covers gray by combining the best of demi and semi permanent hair coloring technology. While this technology is being marketed primarily to African Americans, you might find that it applies to your hair type as well.

Does Clairol Advanced Gray Solution really work?

The information on Clairol’s website was intriguing but it didn’t provide enough information for us to make a balanced assessment. So we asked for Clairol for more information. We submitted the following five key questions which they were nice enough to answer. Here are our questions along with their answers.

Q1. How does it combine the benefits from both semi and demi-permanent color?

A1. Beautiful Collection Advanced Gray Solution combines the gentleness of a semi-permanent color with the coverage capabilities of a near demi-permanent color. Typical semi-permanent colors often wash out quickly and provide only limited gray coverage. This is because semi-permanent color is a one-step process that delivers dye molecules that sit just under the hair cuticle, causing the color to wash out quickly. Alternatively, demi-permanent hair colors are used with a developer that contains peroxide. The developer, in conjunction with an oxidative dye, forms a molecule that is able to penetrate the hair shaft to provide longer-lasting results. Unfortunately, peroxide is not beneficial to African-American hair because it weakens it, making it even more susceptible to chemical damage. Advanced Gray Solution’s SynAIRgy technology creates a whole new kind of dye system – one with direct acting dyes that wrap the outside of the hair, and oxidative dyes that react with oxygen in the AIR (instead of a developer) to form a larger molecule able to penetrate more deeply into the hair shaft. With no ammonia and no peroxide, it’s gentle enough to use immediately after a relaxer service.

Q2. What are the ingredients in the product?

A2. Advanced Gray Solution’s enriched formula contains oleic acid and fatty alcohols to leave hair feeling moisturized and full of shine. The entire ingredient list includes:

* Water * Oleic Acid * Toluene-2 * Ascorbic Acid * Undeceth-3 * Cetearyl Alcohol * 5-Diamine Sulfate * 2-Methylresorcinol * Alcohol Denat. * Glycol Distearate * Fragrance * 2-Amino-6-Chloro-4-Nitrophenol * Ethanolamine * Cocamidopropyl Betaine * Resorcinol * Disodium Edta * Hydroxyethyl-2-Nitro-P-Touidine * Basic Blue 99 * HC Red No. 3 * M-Aminophenol

Q3. How does Advanced Gray Solutions react with oxygen in the air instead of a developer?

A3. Advanced Gray Solution’s breakthrough SynAIRgy technology contains an oxidative dye that uses oxygen in the air as a color developer to form a large dye molecule, eliminating the need to use a product with hydrogen peroxide for longer-lasting coverage.

Q4. How does it form a “larger molecule able to penetrate more deeply into the hair shaft” when generally speaking, smaller molecules penetrate better?

A4. The word ‘larger’ is a relative term. A molecule that is larger than the direct dye molecules will stay under the hair cuticle and begin to wedge itself into the cortex. Smaller dye molecules like the ones in direct dyes will simply sit under cuticle and rinse out within 4-6 weeks.

Q5. Are there any details on the testing that was done to establish that Advanced Gray Solution provides up to 50% gray coverage vs. up to 25% for most other semi-permanent colors?

A5. The secret to Advanced Gray Solution’s greater gray coverage is the formula’s new-to-the-world SynAIRgy technology. With this breakthrough technology we are able to have two dye systems: direct acting dyes that sit just under the hair cuticle, and oxidative dyes that penetrate more deeply into the hair shaft. Since gray hair lacks melanin, we found that this two dye systems works significantly better than other semi-permanent colors to provide longer-lasting gray coverage.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Without first hand information of their formulations or access to their test results, it’s difficult for us to determine if this technology provide differentiated benefits that are consumer perceptible or not. But Clairol was kind enough to provide relatively specific answers to our questions, even if they may be lacking in some detail. Nonetheless, we thank them for that information. In our experience, very few brands are willing to submit their products to this kind of scrutiny; so we give them high marks for their openness. Having said that, its up to you to decide if you think the information they provided was helpful in making your decision to try their product. I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing your feedback.

What do YOU think? Did Clairol’s answers to our questions convince you that their product lives up to their claims? Here’s your chance to have your voice heard by a major beauty products manufacturer. Leave a comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ginny May 2, 2016, 3:58 pm

    I know a little bit about chemistry, and a little bit about how oxidative (permanent/demi-permanent) dyes work, and here’s what is going on with the Clairol Advanced Gray solutions system:
    First you need to understand that in permanent and demi-permanent hair color, the peroxide provides reactive oxygen molecules to the hair color mixture. (The ammonia simple helps open the cuticle so the molecules can penetrate better.) Small, colorless “precursor” molecules, along with the small peroxide oxygen molecules, are able to penetrate deep into the hair. Inside the hair (and outside as well, as you see when your hair color mixture gradually turns from white to some darker color depending on the shade chosen), the oxygen from the peroxide starts to react chemically with the precursor molecules, binding two or more of these precursor molecules together, which then form a colored, larger molecule. Because the new colored molecule, formed inside the hair, is now much larger, it stays trapped inside the hair, it can’t get washed out easily, and this is why it’s PERMANENT. The reason red shades fade faster even in permanent hair colors is because the red-colored molecules are just a little smaller than others, so they can get washed out a bit with each wash.
    Now, in the regular semi-permanent, non-oxidative hair color such as the regular Beautiful collection (not the Advanced Grey solution ones), the color molecules are already there, in the color they will be. They are already somewhat larger molecules which can only penetrate the top layer (cuticle) of the hairs to a small degree. They are too big to penetrate deep like the small, colorless precursor and oxygen molecules can in the permanent dyes. So, it takes longer/heat/etc. to get them to “stick” and they also wash out faster and easier than permanent color.
    In the Advanced Grey Solution, they are basically mixing together the non-oxidative color molecules of the semi-permanent hair colors, with the precursor, colorless molecules of the permanent hair color. And then they are letting the oxygen that is naturally in the air, inside your hair, dissolved in the water used on your hair, etc., do the work of reacting with the precursor molecules to form the color molecules! If you’ve ever saved part of a bottle/tube of permanent hair color, not yet mixed with developer (peroxide) to use next time, you would see that the part exposed to air will turn dark from reacting with the oxygen in air. This method is not as fast or efficient as using peroxide, but it still works and is gentler than using peroxide/ammonia. It won’t form as much color as with peroxide, and it won’t penetrate as deep without the ammonia, so it’s kind of there to”boost” the non-oxidative molecules and increase the longevity of the resulting color.
    That said, if you are allergic to the ingredients other than ammonia or peroxide in permanent or demi-perm color, you will also likely be allergic to the Advanced Grey Solutions as well.

  • Thetruthisoutthere May 8, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Thank you Ginny!

  • darlene May 25, 2016, 3:35 pm

    Does Advanced Gray Solutions contain PPD or other similar chemicals. I’m allergic to PPD. currently I use Cosamo semi permanent dye which has no PPD, No Ammonia, No Peroxide. While I love that I have no allergic reaction whatsoever, it doesn’t last longer than a few days and my greys turn a purplish!!

    • Randy Schueller May 25, 2016, 5:37 pm

      Hmmm. It’s been a while since we wrote this piece. If you can post the ingredient list I’d be happy to take a look at it for you.

  • Mrs Nuckton October 16, 2016, 9:05 pm

    which is less damanging to the hair:

    1)clairol professional beautiful collection
    2) advanced gray solution
    3) the new enhanced advanced gray solution. (that lasts longer

  • Darlene Pina April 3, 2018, 12:14 pm

    I have tried many hair dyes, even those that advertise as organic. Has anyone reported any allergies to this product?

  • Katy May 7, 2018, 7:03 am

    I’ve been using the Clairol Beautiful Reds collection for years (I started getting silver – not gray – hair when I was still in college!) I wanted a dye that would fade gradually, that wouldn’t leave that ‘line of demarcation’ where the dye was left and where the new growth was in. And I wanted the dye to stick to the gray. The latter was the hardest to find.

    After a lot of research and quizzing hair professionals, the best solution I came up with for my particular wants was a combo of several of the Beautiful collection (mixed in a dye bottle), with the addition of at least half a bottle of Gray Magic. It’s a small bottle of additive that makes semi-permanent color ‘take’ to gray hair.

    I wouldn’t say it completely covers it the way a demi-permanent does, but it covers it MUCH more than regular dye. Since a lot of gray hair starts showing up the temples and around the hairline, the slightly lighter dyed hair comes across as slightly lighter highlights. It gives the entire hair color dimension, so in fact, it actually looks BETTER than a flat dye job.

    I can go two months without a touchup, and I don’t need to redye it because the color faded from my gray strands. I usually have to touch it up because of new growth.

    The product is cheap, about $5 for a small bottle. Also, if you use the Clairol Beautifuls dye, be aware you have to put it on freshly washed damp hair, not dry hair!

    (According to an ingredients list at Walmart, the contents of Gray Magic include: Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Ammonium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTa, 2-Nitro-p-Phenylenediamine, Yellow 6, Blue 1.)

    • Carla April 13, 2019, 1:49 pm

      What are the proper proportions of Grey Magic you use with the Clairol Beautiful Advanced Gray color, please?

  • Cherir November 10, 2018, 2:00 pm

    I used the regular for year but my gray got so bad I switched to the advanced gray version. If you’re natural beware it will destroy your curl pattern. I didn’t know it penetrated the hair like this and now my hair is straight and has lost a lot of volume. I’m so sad bc I will have to start over with growing my hair out to get my lovely curls back.

  • Sherry July 28, 2019, 2:48 am

    Hello. I usually use the brown bottle, semi permanent as I am allergic to ammonia and peroxide. Whatever the “other ingredients ” are, I am allergic to also!