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Learn About Hair Color

Getting Started: For optimal results, we always recommend applying your color to dry, unwashed hair that is free from styling product. This is because product buildup can interfere with your color processing and unwashed hair contains a layer of natural oils that protect the scalp from potential irritation.

Darkening Hair: If your goal is to significantly darken your hair color, we recommend working with your eSalon colorist to deepen it in stages, no more than 2 shades at a time. This will ensure your hair remains in healthy condition and you can get used to the darker color gradually.

Lightening Hair: Hair dye does not have the ability to lighten previously colored hair. While permanent hair dye can lighten your hair up to 2 shades, demi-permanent hair dye is unable to lighten hair at all. The only way to lighten previously colored hair by more than 2 shades is by using lightener.

Touching Up Color: Typically, we recommend applying hair color every 4-6 weeks. However, this frequency may vary based on multiple factors, such as how long your color results last, how vibrant your color is, your specific hair type and length, and whether you have a permanent or demi-permanent treatment. In general, demi-permanent hair color will fade naturally, lasting up to 24 washes, and permanent hair color will begin to fade after about 4-6 weeks. Sun exposure, chlorine, too-frequent washing, or using a shampoo that isn't safe for color can all cause hair color to fade prematurely.

Fashion Colors: Fashion colors cover a range of shades in the rainbow, from pink to purple and green. Though fashion colors are super fun, we excel at creating natural shades with total coverage and do not offer fashion colors in our portfolio.

We use the highest-quality ingredients and pigments in our advanced salon-grade formulas. This allows us to deliver superior gray coverage along with rich, long-lasting, healthy hair color.

The recipe.

Vitamin E helps condition dry hair & scalp

Provitamin B5 moisturizes hair

Keratin gives hair strength & flexibility

Silk Amino Acid strengthens & conditions the hair

Soybean Protein improves hair body & texture

Aloe Vera moisturizes, adds shine & helps manageability

Chamomile moisturizes

Wheat Protein replenishes & strengthens the hair

**eSalon does not test our hair color or other products on animals.

View all ingredients & safety precautions >>

Our custom hair color is a no foils process which makes root touch-ups much easier to do at home. While your colorist crafts your custom "roots only" formula, they'll also personalize your step-by-step instructions to guide you for evenly blended roots.

Yes! Simply leave a note for your colorist when completing our color quiz on our site, letting them know the current formula and color id you use or the brand and shade of boxed color—we’ll take it from there. eSalon has its own color line, so our Colorists will translate your current formula into our own, and craft your perfect match. Trust us, we're experts! 

See the range of colors eSalon uses to customize your unique blend with Our Color Chart >>

NOTE: We currently offer up to 20 Volume developer which can lighten a maximum of 2 shades.

About our Highlights: Our highlighting kit “Light Set” is inspired by balayage, a technique where the highlights are painted on to create a multidimensional, sunswept look without harsh lines or high contrast roots. It's also progressive, so your highlights will lighten with each Light Set application.

About our Toner: Lightening the hair can result in unwanted warmth (orange, red tones). To counteract this exposed undertone, a toner is provided inside your Light Set to add pigment back to your hair after it's been lightened.

What to Avoid: If you have had keratin, relaxer/straightener, hair color remover, or a perm in the last six months, we do not recommend applying highlights. So that we may best assist you, please speak with your current stylist with any questions about your treatment before consulting an eSalon colorist.

Touching Up Highlights: We recommend applying highlights less often than your base color. This will help ensure optimum hair health, while also letting you get lighter in gradual stages.

What is it? Our Custom Ends Refresher is hair color specifically formulated for the ends of your hair. Think of it as a second bottle, or second part, to your custom hair color that revives your tone and adds back vibrancy that may have faded over time.

How do you use it? It's simple—just pay close attention to your Personalized Instructions, which will spell out how you should use it according to your technique. Depending on your hair color, your Ends Refresher might be the same exact formula as your color, or it might be a little different—so read your instructions to make sure you are applying it correctly.

How often should you use it? For vibrant formulations (such as reds), we recommend adding the Ends Refresher to every or every other color order to help maintain a bright, freshly-colored shine. For everyone else, every 3 or 4 orders should do the trick.

Think you need to refresh your ends? Simply place an order for an Ends Refresher and your next shipment will include a double-bottle application containing both your color and your Ends Refresher.

To add your Ends Refresher to your next hair color order:

  1. Select "Hair Care" in the top-left corner of the screen.
  2. Click on "Custom Ends Refresher" and under "Purchase Options" opt to send with every shipment or one time. Then, click "Add to Color Order".

Note: Custom Ends Refresher can only be sent with a color application and is not available to ship on its own.

Every Light Set contains:

  • Lightener and Activator
  • Step-by-step Instructions
  • Toning Mask
  • Shampoo
  • Highlighting Accessories: hair elastics, two pairs of non-latex gloves, mixing tray, and tint brush.

Permanent hair color permanently changes the natural pigment of your hair. It contains ingredients that help the color molecules penetrate the hair cuticle and deposit permanent color. Because it is a stronger formula, permanent color provides the best gray coverage and also has the ability to lighten natural hair color.

Demi-Permanent hair color deposits color pigment onto the hair cuticle without penetrating it. This means that demi-permanent color can darken your hair color, but the absence of ammonia makes it unable to lighten the hair. Since it does not make a permanent color change, the color fades gradually, lasting up to 24 washes. In addition, it is unable to completely cover gray hair, although it will blend grays with your natural color.

You can easily apply a permanent formulation over demi-permanent color. You can also apply a demi-permanent over a permanent application. However, your hair should be less than 50% gray since demi-permanent does not cover grays as effectively as permanent formulations do.

Learn more here to find out which one is best for you.

Your formulation's level reflects how light or dark it is, from soft black (level 2) to lightest blonde (level 10). Each color family includes multiple levels that indicate varying degrees of depth, for example, Light, Medium, Dark, or Darkest Brown.


Also called hue, tone refers to how warm (with orange or red undertones) or cool (with blue or green undertones) a color is. Examples of tone in our color line include Golden, Copper, and Ash. The absence of tone indicates a neutral shade.


Many color formulations contain a neutralizer. This is added to counteract warm, brassy tones (like orange, red, or golden shades) for more of a neutral or cool-toned hue.


Toner adds pigment back to your hair after it's been lightened, to balance or neutralize the exposed undertone. We have three different Toning Masks you can use after shampooing with our color-loving shampoos. The three Toning Masks we have are Blonde Neutralizer, Red Neutralizer, and Warm Beige.

Every eSalon hair color order is completely customized to your unique needs. On your first order, your personal colorist will determine if you need one or two bottles of hair color to get the look you want. How do they do it? It all depends on your specific hair goals. Say for example, you have long thick hair, or want a really vibrant red, you might get two bottles of hair color on your first order (or when you change your color) instead of one. Didn't get two bottles? That's because your colorist determined that one was enough to achieve your look.

Did you get two bottles of hair color in your first order, but not your second? Worry not. In most cases, you only need two bottles of color on your first application or when you change your overall hair color. (That is, unless you need to refresh your ends with a Custom Ends Refresher.) Plus, you'll only need one bottle of color on your subsequent order because you'll only be refreshing your roots and regrowth.

As always, pay super-close attention to your Personalized Instructions, which might change with each order. They'll show you how to apply both bottles of color, the right way.

Easy baby. Follow these two simple gray-be-gone rules:

  1. When applying Stain Guard, be careful to avoid getting it on any grays at your hairline. If those grays have any bit of Stain Guard on them, the color won't be able penetrate your hair.
  2. Start your color application with the most resistant gray areas first, even if you're doing a full color. This is normally the very front of your hair, or along your partline. Applying hair color to these areas first will allow those areas to process longer, providing more time for the color to really penetrate the hair and cover up those grays.

Did you do both of these things and still didn't get the coverage you were looking for? Let your colorist know, and they can increase your developer strength or processing time, or even make adjustments to your blend to achieve better coverage.

Click here to leave a note for your colorist.

Every Custom Color Set contains:

  • Your Custom Hair Color
  • Developer
  • Personalized Instructions
  • The Kit: 2 pairs of non-latex gloves, shampoo + conditioner, stain guard, stain remover

What’s Color Fade? Color fade is when the vibrancy of your color diminishes over time. In general, demi-permanent hair color will fade after approximately 24 washes, and permanent hair color will begin to fade after about 4-6 weeks. Sun exposure, chlorine, too-frequent washing, or using a shampoo that isn't safe for color can all cause hair color to fade prematurely.

How do you prevent it? To make color last longer, we recommend you use gentle sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)-free shampoos and conditioners specifically formulated for color-treated hair. All of the shampoo and conditioners eSalon offers are designed to care for and protect color-treated hair. You should also make sure to limit direct sun exposure to your hair, and rinse hair immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool.

What is “shelf life?” Shelf life is how long a product can sit on a shelf before it goes bad. You are able to store an unopened hair color or highlights bottle for up to six months after it's made. Has the liquid color deepend to a dark brown shade? Toss it. That's a sign it's no good.

How do I maintain my color‘s shelf life? Simply keep your bottle in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. We do not recommend saving or splitting any leftover hair color for later applications. That‘s because the moment you open your hair color, it will begin to oxidize. If not used immediately, you likely won't get the color result you'd hoped for.

If your hair color bottle has ever been frozen, toss it. After it freezes, the color agents become inactive, so you won‘t get the look you're going for.

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