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Best Red Hair Color at Home - Review of Clairol FLARE Long Lasting Red Hair Dye

Punkmarkgirl is a freelance writer with a passion for DIY projects, natural health, and makeup featuring the best products for oily skin.

Driving home from work, I made the impromptu decision to color my hair. It was starting to look straw-like & dry, as my honey-blond highlights from summer had outworn their welcome. I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply in search of a rich auburn red hair color that would compliment my brunette undertones.

Hayden Panettiere recently traded in her blond locks for dark mahogany red hair

Hayden Panettiere recently traded in her blond locks for dark mahogany red hair

Red Hair Color Selection:

Looking at color swatches, I was immediately drawn to a hair dye called Clairol FLARE. It promises vivid color & “Omega Gloss” technology for light reflective shine. Their red hair color selections have “Alpha Red” technology for ultra vivid tones and long lasting red color. I selected 4CR: Medium Copper Red Mahogany & their Clairol Volume 20 Cream Developer.

At the checkout counter (where Sally’s always places tempting goodies) there was a box of Ion’s Red Hot Hair Color Intensifier Additive in the small ½ oz size. Deciding I wanted to amp up the red factor even more, I purchased that as well.

Clairol FLARE Red Hair Dye: Mahogany 4CR

Red Hair Color Application & Processing:

Once home, I threw on an old t-shirt and got to work. Using a hair color applicator brush, I mixed 1 full tube of FLARE 4CR + an equal part of the 20 Volume Developer + ½ the *small tube of the Red Color Intensifier. You can adjust the amount of Ion’s Red Intensifier, depending on how much red you want. *Keep in mind that I purchased the small ½ oz tube, not the large 2.05 oz size.

Clairol FLARE 4CR & Ion Red Intensifier

Clairol FLARE 4CR & Ion Red Intensifier

I began application at the top roots of my hair, since there was a bit of grey I wanted to cover. I then flipped my hair upside down and applied to the under side. To finish, I spread the rest of the color on all remaining areas. My hair is medium length, and very thick – this was just barely enough to coat my whole head. If you have longer hair, I would suggest buying 2 tubes of the Clairol FLARE color and mixing with 2 equal parts Volume 20 Developer.

Before Coloring: Many Washed Out Highlights & Greys to Cover

Before Coloring: Many Washed Out Highlights & Greys to Cover


The directions say to leave the dye on hair for 30-45 minutes. Since I had a few grays to cover, I went with the full processing time of 45 minutes. After time was up, I rinsed out the color, did a fast wash using sulfate-free shampoo, used a color sealant & then conditioned.

Side Note: Shampooing is not necessary, that step is strictly up to you. Some people would object to using shampoo after color – even the less damaging sulfate free variety – because they say it strips the color. Many stylists prefer to just rinse & condition the hair, then allow the color to rest for 48 hours before shampooing.

However, I’ve discovered that when I don’t shampoo, my hair feels rough and has a strong chemical odor the next day. I’ve never found immediate shampooing to affect the color, but it is very important to use a sulfate-free variety of shampoo. (See below for more information on why sulfates are bad for color treated hair).

Use a Color Sealant after Coloring

The best hair color sealant I’ve found to date is the Chi Ionic Color Lock Treatment. After rinsing and/or shampooing, then rising again, apply the Chi Treatment and comb through hair. Allow it to penetrate for about 5 minutes, before rinsing.

This amazing product closes the hair cuticle, allowing color molecules to bond to the hair shaft, for longer lasting overall results. Color sealer is a commonly overlooked step, both with home hair colorists & in salons. I’ve colored my hair numerous times, and the results are always longer lasting when I use the sealant. Red color is a larger molecule type, which has trouble adhering to the hair shaft – so using sealant is an especially important step if you want your red toned color to last longer. You definitely want to use it on the day you color, and I usually continue using it 1x per week for the next month after.


Condition Hair After Coloring

Even if you choose to skip the shampoo & sealant steps, it is of the utmost importance that you condition your hair after coloring! If you skip conditioner, your hair will have a dry, puffy appearance, and will lack shine.

My favorite conditioner to use immediately after coloring is Hair Chemist’s Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask. I wouldn’t recommend this for daily use, as it contains silicone (which can dehydrate hair if used too often) - but it’s an excellent conditioner to use immediately after & a couple of times per month going forward. It thoroughly hydrates, leaves hair feeling super soft & bring out the gorgeous shine of your new color. It’s perfect to use as a revitalizing conditioner once every 2-3 weeks.

Macadamia Oil Repairing Hair Mask

Why is Consistent Use of Silicone Bad for Your Hair?

The reason I stated above not use the Macadamia Oil Hair Mask daily is due to its high dimethicone (silicone) content. When applied to hair, silicone smooths & coats each strand – which is why the ingredient is present in so many anti-frizz products. It makes hair look glossy and smooth, and will additionally help seal in your color as it settles into the hair shaft during the next 48 hours.

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However, over time, consistent use of silicone will coat & smother the hair shaft - thereby banning moisture from entering. This means that each time you condition, the moisture won't be absorbed into your hair strands.

For example, say you use silicone based conditioner & styling products daily for 1 month & then stop. Your hair has probably become limp and lifeless, so you use a deep-cleansing shampoo for a few days, to remove product buildup. When the silicone is finally removed, you’re left with hair that’s even more dry, damaged & frizzy than it was before. This irreversible damage occurs because your hair has absorbed very little moisture, for an entire month!

Silicone is also found in many makeup products, especially primer. Just as it smothers the hair shaft, it also smothers your pores. Makeup products containing silicone should be avoided for daily use, unless you already have very dry skin (which typically has smaller pores that are less prone to clogging). Click here to check out my other article on why silicone is bad for your skin and hair.

After Care for Your Colored Hair

It’s important to purchase a sulfate-free shampoo for daily use. Any shampoo with Sodium Laureth Sulfate will greatly reduce the amount of time the color stays in your hair. Sulfates are deep cleansing, but very drying; they strip both moisture and color from your strands.

Selection of a sulfate-free shampoo will keep your hair color looking fresh & vibrant for months. Try Hairtrition Sulfate Free Color Protect Shampoo from Sally’s. It’s reasonably priced, and even though it’s sulfate free, it still produces a good lather.

Jennifer Aniston for Living Proof Sulfate Free Shampoo & Silicone Free Hair Care

Jennifer Aniston for Living Proof Sulfate Free Shampoo & Silicone Free Hair Care

One of my all time favorite brands of sulfate free shampoo (by Living Proof) is also a fantastic option. Their product line called No Frizz does an excellent job at controlling my thick, static-ridden hair - without the use of silicones or sulfates. I was inadvertently introduced to this brand several years ago when the company started out. They asked if I would like to be one of the first product testers for their breakthrough sulfate-free & silicone free products. Um..yes please! It’s one of the only hair care lines I’ve ever found that's BOTH silicone and sulfate free. I greatly appreciate them for being the first hair care company to recognize how damaging these ingredients can be to one's hair.

Now, Living Proof is world renowned, with Jennifer Aniston as co-owner. You can find the products at beauty meccas like Sephora & Ulta. Since the shampoo is rather pricy at $24 for an 8oz bottle, I only use it a couple of times per week & alternate with the Sally’s brand. During the testing phase where I used their No Frizz shampoo, conditioner & hair spray, my hair always looked fantastic. If I could afford to use the whole No Frizz line daily, am pretty sure I could kiss bad hair days goodbye!

Sulfate-Free Shampoo Isn't Getting Your Hair Clean Enough?

If you have an oily scalp & feel that sulfate-free shampoo won't properly clean your hair, use a deep-cleansing shampoo only once every 2 weeks. When you apply it, concentrate on your scalp (where the oil is produced) and avoid applying much to the middle & ends of hair, where strands are the most dry. This will prevent color from fading too badly.

For an all natural sulfate-free solution to deep cleansing, you can add this Treatment for Oily Hair & Scalp to your shampoo bottle. Mattify Cosmetics (the company who makes it) specializes in a whole line of products for oily skin types. The treatment contains deep cleansing essential oils that help remove sebum from the scalp & will leave your hair feeling squeaky clean – without the use of sulfates.

Should I Color My Hair Before or After a Keratin Treatment?

If you're planning on both coloring and straightening, always color your hair BEFORE doing the straightening treatment! Coloring can be done the day before, or several weeks before. But color will not take if you try to use it after using a keratin straightener.

Three months ago I did a straightening treatment, and my hair is just now starting to get wavy again. Click here for my tutorial & instructions on how to do the Brazilian Keratin Straightening Treatment at home. I usually do it 2x per year - once before summer starts & once before winter. It makes my hair SO much lower maintenance during styling & also keeps it frizz-free.

If you are planning on doing a similar straightening treatment, make sure to color or highlight hair before doing the treatment. The keratin seals each hair shaft, so if you try to color afterwards, the color will not take & it will diminish the effect of your straightening treatment. Hair needs to be porous to accept hair color, and the keratin basically fills in porous areas - thus giving it a shiny, glossy appearance.

After coloring with Clairol Flare 4CR Red Hair dye: Indoor Lighting

After coloring with Clairol Flare 4CR Red Hair dye: Indoor Lighting

Outdoor Natural Lighting

Outdoor Natural Lighting

Final Results after Using Clairol Flare 4CR

Here is the final look ~ I just love this color! It's so rich and dark, with the red tones adding an overall brightness.

The first picture above was taken right after blow-drying. No straightening iron was used, so you can see the natural waviness of my hair starting to come back, as the Keratin Straightening Treatment is starting to wear off after 3 months. It shows how the color looks under fluorescent lighting (which has a tendency to dull colors) - and yet the red shade still looks amazing!

The second picture was taken outside, after I used a straightening iron. For this pic, I was in direct sunlight - isn't that some amazing shine! Some of my blond highlights still show through, but now they are a beautiful light red. I'm thrilled with the results after using the Clairol FLARE, and intend to stick with this brand for my future coloring needs. Unlike many other brands I've tried, this color system hid all traces of grey and brought life back to my hair!

If You Color Your Hair at Home...

© 2015 Ashley Bergin


Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on July 14, 2016:

Hello miss punkmarkgirl. I was reading your hub. The Ion intensifier is an excellent advice to keep the deep monogamy color. Some hair fade and turned into a cooper color. And customers do not like the results. Thank you for the great advice. I used Matrix red;I add extra red which is similar to the Ion intensifier in their own brand. I was looking the correct ingredients to the monogamy. Thank you again. You are the best.

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