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Learn About Hair Color

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.

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.

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.

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.

We use only 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.

  • 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 >>

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.

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.

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 stylist with any questions about your treatment before consulting an eSalon colorist.

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.

Lightening the hair can result in unwanted warmth (orange, red tones). To counteract this exposed undertone, a toner will typically be used to add pigment back to your hair after it's been lightened.

Our Custom Ends Refresher is hair color specifically formulated for the ends of your hair. Ends Refresher revives tones and adds vibrancy to hair that may have faded over time.

If your ends need a refresh, your order will ship with a double-bottle application containing both your color and Ends Refresher. Pay close attention to your personalized instructions, as they guide you through your specific application technique to achieve your best results.

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.

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: 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: 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.


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.

Every eSalon hair color order is completely customized to your unique needs. Depending on your hair goals, your order may contain a single bottle application for a root touch up only, or a double bottle application for roots and ends refresh. Your colorist will ensure you have enough color to produce your desired results.

Pay close attention to your Personalized Instructions in each order, as they guide you through your specific application technique to achieve the best outcome for your needs.

Start your color application with the most resistant gray areas first, even if you're doing a full color. This will allow those areas to process longer, providing more time for the color to penetrate the hair.

When applying stain guard, be careful to avoid any grays at the hairline, which will cause them to resist the color.

If you are experiencing too-resistant grays, your colorist can increase your developer or processing time, or 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

If you are concerned about not having enough color to cover your hair, rest assured that our colorists will review your profile to ensure you have enough color in your first hair color order to ensure your desired results.

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.

To make color last longer, we recommend you use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for color-treated hair. All of the shampoo and conditioners eSalon offers are designed to care for and protect color-treated hair. Make sure to limit direct sun exposure to your hair, and rinse hair immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool.

You are able to store unopened eSalon hair color and highlights in a cool, dry place for up to one year after purchase. Keep out of direct sunlight and/or extreme temperatures, and discard any color whose liquid has deepened to a dark brown shade.

We do not recommend saving or splitting any leftover product for later applications, and cannot guarantee results outside of the initial, intended application. This is because opened color will begin to oxidize, and can produce unwanted results if used.

Please discard hair color that is or has ever been frozen, as the color is now inactive and will produce unwanted results.

We're here for you.

Give us a call at (866) 550-2424 Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm PT or Saturday, 9am-5pm PT to speak with our Support team.

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