Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics. The album earned Lauper several awards and accolades, including two nominations at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards. True Colors peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 chart. The album is Lauper's second best-selling release with around seven million copies worldwide.
By the end of 1985, Lauper was established as one of the best-selling artists in the world. Her first studio album was certified 4 times platinum by RIAA and received a diamond certification in Canada for sales in excess of 1 million copies, making her the first singer to achieve such a feat at that time. According to Billboard magazine the music industry was eyeing the singer's next steps anxious to know if she could maintain the success of her debut.
In her autobiography, the singer says that she initially planned that Rick Chertoff, who produced She's So Unusual, would produce what would become her second album, however, the experience with him was problematic and she changed her mind, likewise she refused to produce the album with Rob Hyman since he was affiliated with Chertoff. The album was then produced by her and Lennie Petze. Lauper said that the songs of the album are a way to say: "Have the courage of your convictions and love yourself a little", and "not to be so hard on yourself". In addition to composing most of the songs on the album, the singer also produced it.
The album received favorable reviews from music critics. Eugene Chadbourne from AllMusic website gave the album three and a half stars out of five and wrote that while the album is "ambitious" and "some of the stretches really pay off" some of its aspects "date badly" like the "highly reverberated and artificial sounding drums and keyboards" which "were really popular at the time". He concluded that despite those problems "there really wasn't that much music recorded by this artist during her most popular period, so fans will no doubt want to own it all."Robert Christgau from The Village Voice gave the album a B MINUS and wrote that the first side of the LP consists of "cheap sentiment" and is "disheartening" and that "the second isn't much more than a relief". He finalized the review writing that "girls just want to have money--and no fun changes everything". Jimmy Guterman from Rolling Stone magazine gave the album a favorable review and wrote that Lauper's voice "sounds more comfortable at any given moment on True Colors than she did on all of She's So Unusual" and that the album "seems to indicate her extreme ease in her new surroundings" and that "she's found a new sense of peace — or at least she's heading in that direction" but he concludes that "her uneasiness gave her early work much of its spark; what places True Colors a notch below her debut is that Cyndi Lauper just isn't that unusual anymore."
In the United States, True Colors has been certified double platinum by the RIAA and peaked at number four on the Billboard 200. It topped the Australian chart for four weeks and, in Japan, outsold She's So Unusual, although that was not the case in most countries. The album produced the singles "True Colors" (No. 1 Billboard Hot 100), "Change of Heart" (No. 3), "What's Going On" (No. 12), and "Boy Blue" (No. 71). Each single had a music video although the video for "Boy Blue" was just a live performance from her Zenith concert in Paris. According to Lauper's official website, the album was certified 4× Platinum in Australia and Platinum in Italy. The album sold around 7 million copies worldwide.
^"Change of heart: Novo sucesso para Cyndi Lauper". Luta Democrática (in Portuguese). February 18, 1987. Retrieved April 3, 2020. After the super sales of 2 million copies of her new album - True Colors - in the American market (in Brazil it is already reaching 300,000 sold) (...)