Semi-Permanent Hair Color: Benefits And How Long It Lasts

Reviewed by Madison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Try dying your hair if you want to give your look a complete makeover. Semi-permanent hair color is the ideal solution if you are unsure which color to choose or don’t want to commit to it for a long time.

Semi-permanent dye eventually fades with repeated washings. So, you can wash the color out of your hair if you have an odd case of hair color gone wrong. But it still lasts several weeks. Those just diving into the world of hair dyes will find this a dream come true. It is a safe and fun way to browse the different shades until you find your favorite one.

Additionally, applying semi-permanent hair dye takes less time, effort, and money than permanent hair dye. Take a look at the basics of this popular hair coloring technique. Scroll down.

What Is Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Semi-permanent hair color is perfect for anyone who wants a short-term makeover for their hair. Let us see how this type of hair color differs from its traditional counterpart:

  • It coats the hair shafts instead of penetrating into the hair cortex.
  • It is gentler and less damaging for the hair as it does not contain ammonia or hydrogen peroxide.
  • It lasts for a shorter time (usually about 8 washes).
  • It can be applied directly to the hair without any developer.

We have looked at what semi-permanent hair color entails. Now, let us move on to understand how safe it is in terms of application.

Is Semi-Permanent Hair Color Safe?

When it comes to semi-permanent hair dye, it is safer and less damaging than permanent hair color. This hair color’s formula does not contain any bleach or ammonia. So even if your hair has been chemically treated previously, going for a semi-permanent hair dye is a safer bet than opting for permanent hair dyes.

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

Typically, it has been seen that semi-permanent hair color lasts for about 8 washes. In fact, it has been seen that users end up enjoying the best version of the temporary dye within the first 2 weeks of application.

Note that the duration of the color also depends on your hair porosity. The higher the porosity of your hair, the quicker the color will fade away. It is also worth mentioning that the shampoo and conditioner you use should be safe for color-treated hair to prevent the color from washing off too quickly.

In the next section, we will learn more about the different types of hair dyes available at your disposal and how they differ from each other.

Semi-Permanent Hair Color And Other Types Of Dyes: A Comparison

Temporary Hair DyeSemi-Permanent Hair DyePermanent Hair Dye
Does not alter the natural hair color; only coats the hair shafts.Coats the hair’s outer shaft instead of penetrating into the cortex of the hair.Penetrates the hair shaft. The color grows out with the hair and requires regular root touch-ups.
Does not contain ammonia/hydrogen peroxide.Does not contain ammonia/hydrogen peroxide.Contains ammonia/hydrogen peroxide.
Color lasts only for a few shampoos.Color lasts for about 8 washes.Lasts until all your hair grows out.
Ideal for when you want to try a new look or experiment with bold colors.Ideal for people who have grays and wish to apply hair dye at home instead of going for a permanent hair color change.Ideal for people who want to permanently alter their hair color or wish to lighten, darken, or tone their hair color partially or completely.

Now that you have looked at how semi-permanent hair dye stacks up against other types of dyes, let us understand who should use it and when.

Why And When Should You Choose A Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

You should choose a semi-permanent hair dye when you wish to:

  • Experiment with a new color.
  • Enhance your DIY hair coloring skills instead of directly using permanent hair dye.
  • Add gloss and shine to your dull, lifeless hair.
  • Opt for a less permanent, healthier, and safer hair color option.

The good news with semi-permanent hair color is that it does not require any kind of dye mixing. Moreover, since it is ammonia-free, it is less damaging to your hair.

Please consult a hair professional to figure out your hair type and see if your hair is healthy enough to take on semi-permanent hair color. Upon your stylist’s recommendation, you can choose to apply semi-permanent hair dye at home, given how easy it is to use.

Now, let us see how you can safely apply and remove semi-permanent hair dye at home.

The ABC Of Using Semi-Permanent Hair Color

A. How To Apply Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Applying semi-permanent hair color at home involves a four-step process:

Step 1: Run Through The Equipment Checklist

Before you buy hair color, check if the kit has everything you need, such as:

  • A tube of color
  • Gloves
  • An instruction manual
  • A brush

As a precautionary move, make sure to do a patch test 48 hours prior to each use. This will help you figure out if you are allergic to that dye.

Step 2: Get Your Hair Ready For The Color Application

Next, you need to prep your hair by shampooing and conditioning it. Make sure to dry your hair completely before you apply the hair dye. You can either wait for your hair to air-dry your hair or use a blow dryer.

Step 3: Apply The Hair Dye

  • Once your hair is ready to color, go through the instruction manual to understand how you should apply it.
  • Put on your gloves.
  • Divide your hair into 3-4-inch sections, using sectioning clips to hold them in place.
  • Start applying the semi-permanent hair color section-wise, from root to tip.
  • Leave the color on for the duration mentioned in the instructions. Typically, you need to leave the dye on your hair strands for about 15-30 minutes.
  • Wash off the dye with a color-safe shampoo.

Step 4: Post-Color Hair Maintenance

Granted that the color will gradually fade away by the eighth wash, but you can still prolong the hair color by taking good care of your hair. So make sure to follow a dedicated hair care routine as outlined below:

  • Go For A Color-Safe Shampoo And Conditioner

It is important to opt for a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to keep your locks looking healthy and shiny. You can also use a deep conditioner or a hair mask 1-2 times a week to deeply nourish and moisturize your hair.

Finally, use a color-protecting primer after washing your hair. It will ensure that your hair color does not fade away due to any kind of heat styling or excessive sun exposure.

  • Use Lukewarm Water Instead Of Hot Water

Hot water is not good for your hair and skin. For starters, it can dry out the scalp and rid your hair of its natural oils. Heat makes the cuticle lift, and that is bad for the color. Eventually, you will notice your strands drying out and the color fading wash by wash. Therefore, it is recommended to wash your hair with lukewarm or cold water for the best results.

  • Let Your Hair Air-Dry

It is common knowledge that blow-drying your hair too often can make it dry and brittle. Hence, it is always better to let your hair air-dry naturally. It will help retain your hair’s natural texture while ensuring that your hair color lasts longer.

  • Limit Sun And Chlorine Exposure

In addition to following the above-mentioned tips, remember to limit your hair’s exposure to the sun. To do so, you can wear a hat or a headscarf when you step out. It is also recommended that you avoid swimming pools as chlorine can cause discoloration and add a green tinge to your hair.

B. How To Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Removing semi-permanent hair color is a simple process. All you need to do is wash your hair frequently as the color fades away naturally. Alternatively, you can try using a semi-permanent hair color remover. However, remember that the dye may not fade completely, and your hair may not return to its original color.

Now, let’s talk about how semi-permanent hair color affects your hair.

Effects Of Semi-Permanent Hair Colors

Semi-permanent hair color can affect your hair in the following ways:

  • Semi-permanent hair dye can cause moisture loss from your hair and make it dry. However, it is less damaging than permanent hair dye.
  • This color will not open your cuticles, thereby causing little to no damage to your hair.
  • It is easier to use and can provide more natural color to your hair.

Semi-permanent hair colors are healthier and safer alternatives to permanent hair dyes that contain chemicals and other harsh ingredients which leave your hair damaged. Semi-permanent colors don’t contain ammonia, peroxide, or alcohol, which are known to be harsh on your hair. If you have chemically processed or heavily color-treated hair, you should switch to these hair colors as they are much gentler.

This healthy alternative also increases your hair shine and color vibrance and makes your hair look healthy and beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will semi-permanent hair wash out entirely?

Yes, this type of dye washes out completely as it does not penetrate into the hair strands.

Can semi-permanent hair color damage the hair?

Semi-permanent hair color causes little to no damage to your hair as it does not penetrate into your hair cortex and does not contain harsh chemicals, alcohol, or ammonia.

Are all semi-permanent hair dyes bright in color?

Typically, semi-permanent hair dyes are vibrant in color. However, the intensity of brightness depends on how you mix the colors.

Key Takeaways

  • You can opt for semi-permanent hair color if you want a short-term makeover.
  • This hair color only coats the hair shafts and does not penetrate your hair cortex.
  • Semi-permanent hair color is safer than permanent one as it is ammonia-free.
  • Always consult a hair professional to know which color type and hue are best for you.

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Madison Dufour

(Barber & Cosmetologist)
Madison Dufour is a licensed and practicing barber and cosmetologist as well as an entrepreneur running several hair businesses, including... more

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