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Aging Naturally Hair Care

My Favorite Over the Counter Hair Color

(Last Updated On: November 3, 2019)

What is my favorite over the counter hair color? There are so many choices and options out there, and we all have our preferences. As women in midlife, many of us feel that our hair color can help us look younger. I know I do. I’d much rather have my medium auburn hair – out of a box –  than my natural color. It is not the classy natural silver that some mature women have. It’s a mousy brown with a lot of flat gray. Enough said.

I think that our hair color and hairstyle are all a part of who we are in terms of style. To some extent, we all march to our own drummer when it comes to personal style, and that’s a good thing!

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First some hair coloring history.

My Favorite Over the Counter Hair Color

My Hair Coloring History

my favorite over the counter hair color

I’ve been tweaking and changing the color of my hair since the late 1960’s when I was a young teenager. There was a hair lightening product called Sun In that was sprayed onto the hair, then would lighten the sprayed areas when in the sun. Remember that? (I find it interesting that you can still buy it today. Must be some pretty good stuff.)

Of course, we were all out working on our summer tans in the midwest, so what better time to lighten our tresses, right?

My mom also colored her hair, so I saw learned through example that it was okay to do some things to make ourselves look and feel better. I’ve learned so much from my mom over the years, how about you?

Over the years I’ve continued to color my hair, and of course coloring over the gray has been in the mix for awhile now. Well actually, for quite awhile…probably for the past 15 years or so.

Except for a short time in my 40’s, I’ve always handled my own hair coloring as well as hair relaxing. I have very naturally curly hair. But that’s a story for another post.

I have tried numerous over the counter hair color brands, and recently took a short run with an online custom hair coloring site. Ultimately it was not for me. While I liked the idea of custom color…they really did want to get it ‘just right’ for me…I was not thrilled with the feel of the color on my hair. It felt like there was a residue on my hair and I didn’t like that. And as an at home colorist, the price was a bit high for me.

I used it for three applications, then decided to go back to an at home color. It works the best for me.

My favorite over the counter hair color

So, back to my favorite over the counter hair color. It is L’Oreal Preference, hands down. And, it has to be the Preference hair color, not the Excellence hair color. I don’t know what the specific difference is between the two products, but L’Oreal Preference color lasts longer than Excellence for me.

It’s about half the price of what I was paying for the custom mixed color I purchased online. I like that.

How I Color My Hair at Home

Candi before coloring her hair

Please bear with me on the photos. I’m not a ‘selfie ‘type person so this was the best way to show you my hair coloring process. I’ll probably have to get a selfie stick. Oh boy.

So, here I am before I start to color my hair. The color isn’t bad, but it’s a bit faded after 5 weeks, and there is definitely about a quarter to half inch of new growth…dark mousy brown and white/gray…ugh.

Because I have used this shade of hair color in the past, I’m going to put the color on my roots only first, then add it to the rest of my hair. If you have not colored your hair before, or are going to use a different shade of color, you’d want to put the color on all of your hair for the entire time. Read the hair color instructions thoroughly before you do anything!

Candi with hair color on roots

I put the mixed color on the roots first, and leave that in for about 15 minutes. Don’t I look pretty??

Then I put on more color and massage it throughout my hair, very thoroughly. That stays on for another 15 minutes.

Candi with hair color on hair

These are times that work well for me, but it might be different for you. It’s a matter of experimenting to see what works the best. The hair color instructions will also give you guidelines to follow, based on your natural color and the shade of hair color you are using.

My roots need more time to absorb the color so they get a total of thirty minutes. Be sure to follow the instructions regarding how the color mixture should be handled and kept off of your skin. For me, wiping around my hairline and behind my ears with a tissue usually does the trick. I have never had an allergic reaction to hair color, either.

After the thirty minutes is up I rinse out the color really, really well, then use the conditioner that is included with the L’Oreal Preference hair color. It makes a world of difference so be sure to use it!

Candi after hair color

Helpful Hair Coloring Tips:

  • Make sure to read all of the instructions provided with the hair color
  • Allow enough time for the hair  coloring project, you don’t want to be rushed
  • Wear clothes that you don’t care about or cover up with a towel to protect your clothing
  • Put a towel or rug on the floor to protect it from spills or drips
  • Have everything that you will need handy, so you’re not searching for things while wearing the rubber gloves (that are probably full of hair color)
  • It helps to use a comb or hair pick to part your hair and get right at the roots
  • Hair clips are helpful for holding back sections of hair, particularly in the back of your head
  • If a friend, partner, relative or spouse is willing to help, that’s always a plus!
  • When it’s time to rinse out the color, put a bit of water on your hair and massage it again before rinsing.
  • Rinse the color out very thoroughly!
  • Be sure to use any conditioner that is provided, as it will give your hair an immediate conditioning treatment. It feels great.
Candi Randolph Inspire My Style

The shade of L’Oreal Preference I use is 6R Light Auburn. It works well with my skin tone. I’ve had women stop me and compliment the color. Recently a woman walked up behind me in a store and took a picture of the back of my head…she wanted to show her hair stylist my color…said she’s been trying to find it for a long time. Hope it helped 🙂

Ultimately, your choice in hair color product is a personal one, as is the shade of hair color that will work best for you. What works for me may not be the perfect solution for you. But, I’d certainly give L’Oreal Preference a try. You might find that it’s the perfect hair color for you!

How about you? Do you have a favorite hair color product? Let us know what you think!

Candi Randolph Midlife Blogger


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