Semi-permanent hair dye is severely underappreciated. It provides vibrant color without (over)committing. The four- to six-week duration is comparable to most color fads, allowing you to transition from rose gold to blorange to champagne pink and back again. Starting from scratch with natural color is a trend spotter’s/lazy person’s fantasy; no waiting necessary.
The majority of people, however, are unfamiliar with the notion of semi-permanent hair color, which is why some of us are afraid to attempt it. And for good reason: certain critical questions must be addressed.
Chris Appleton, celebrity stylist behind Kim Kardashian West’s and Jennifer Lopez’s iconic manes; Aleksey Bishop, celebrity colorist at Nine Zero One Salon; AJ Lordet, colorist at Fekkai Soho NYC; Ali Ozel, master stylist and colorist at Pierre Michel Salon; colorist Tiffanie Richards at Nunzio Saviano salon; and Michael Canalé, celebrity colorist and owner of Canalé Salon—we turned to the pros to flesh out all things semi-
Everything you need to know about semi-permanent hair, including how long it lasts and the finest at-home products, is right here.
What is semi-permanent hair coloring?
Semi-permanent color is a temporary method for changing the color of your hair. Consider it a method to experiment with various colors for a few weeks (usually four to six) without committing to permanently dyeing your hair. “It differs from other colors in that most include ammonia or peroxide, whereas semi-permanent hair dye does not,” Appleton says.
“That implies no development or pre-mixing is required.” Semi-permanent color pigments coat just the outside shaft of the hair, but permanent pigments pierce the cuticle and permeate the centre of the hair to fundamentally transform it.
Semi-permanent vs. temporary
Although semi and demi hues are sometimes misunderstood as the same thing (which is understandable), they are not interchangeable. “Demi-permanent, like semi-colors, does not include ammonia, but it is blended with a low-volume developer to assist open the cuticle and lasts up to 24 shampoos,” Appleton adds.
Because neither contains ammonia, “it cannot permanently affect the color of the hair and just deposits color,” according to Bishop. The main distinction between the two is that demi colors remain significantly longer. According to Bishop, demi-permanent colors are regularly used in salons alongside permanent dyes, whereas semi-permanent dyes are most commonly employed in DIY coloring kits. That is not to imply that salons never utilize semi-dyes—more on that later.
What is the lifespan of semi-permanent hair color?
Don’t be concerned if you’ve avoided semi-permanent color because you’re afraid of a patchy, uneven fade-out. “Many semi-colors will start to fade away after 15 or so washes,” Lordet says, “whereas permanent color will not fade away, it will only fade.” With good care, the color should fade nicely and evenly, with no discernible difference to the human sight.
“The beautiful thing about semi-permanent color is it will never grow out with a line of demarcation,” adds Richards. She claims that semi-permanent hair color is popular with her clients.
Semi-permanent coloring kits for home usage may offer a wider range of permanence. Bishop warns that the dye may last longer than stated on the box because everyone’s hair does not fade the same way, and it is mostly dependent on how frequently you shampoo.
“I would say the box normally says whatever it says,” he recommends, “but I would always double the amount of time on the back of the box of how many washes it says it’ll take.” “At the end of the day, even if semi and demi aren’t permanent, they don’t completely wash out. Expect to be blonde again in 12 washes if you’re blonde and did a dark brown semi-permanent.”
If your color lasts longer than expected, Bishop suggests washing with Dawn dish soap to remove the remaining dye. “However, keep in mind that your hair will be rather dry afterward. So, after using your favorite deep conditioner or mask and sleeping in, “He recommends the Virtue Restorative Treatment Mask ($32).
Is It Safe To Use Semi-Permanent Hair Color On All Hair Types?
Permanent colors might be daunting for anybody concerned about harm caused by the ammonia required to penetrate the cuticle. However, because semi-colors are free of these chemicals, they are usually much friendlier on the hair and can even make it feel smoother.
Semi-permanent colors include no bleach, making them suitable for individuals with relaxed or permed hair (on the other hand, if you’re not using bleach, it may not be the greatest dye for blonde hair colors, but it’s a very simple method for dark hair dyes).
Bishop also mentions that many pregnant women are concerned about dye safety. “It has been shown that [semi-permanent coloring] is safe for all hair types, even pregnant ladies,” he explains, adding, “It will not harm anything.”
How to Look After Your Semi-Permanent Hair Color
According to Ozel, the upkeep of permanent and semi-permanent color is “exactly the same.” Make sure you have the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair, and undertake deep treatments as needed.”
Canalé emphasizes the need of color-safe formulations. “I recommend using a gentle shampoo that cleans thoroughly.” Regular shampoos are harsh and drab, and they harm color-treated hair, whilst gentle shampoos sometimes do not clean enough, leaving your hair looking lifeless.”
Nothing is more irritating than a shampoo that leaves behind product buildup. Choose his Canalé Cleanse Restoring Shampoo ($39) to achieve squeaky clean strands without color fading.
It comes in a variety of strengths.
According to Lordet, the peroxide in the recipe determines the strength and duration of semi-permanent color: “The degree of peroxide you need to mix the dye with might vary from product to product.” Stronger peroxide means better coverage and brighter colours, albeit a little root line may appear before the color fades. Weaker peroxide offers less coverage and brilliancy (especially in fashion tones, like reds, golds, and ashes).
This is why she works with L’Oréal Professional Dia Lite, a salon-exclusive solution that provides “three distinct levels of coverage by giving three different peroxide intensities.”
You Can Still Get a Semi-Permanent Dye at a Salon
Ozel believes in expert care. “Don’t do it on your own,” he advises. “Seek the advice of a specialist to select the best semi-color for you!” You want to ensure that you obtain the desired results.” If you’re not happy with the way your hair appears, four to six weeks might seem like an eternity.
When Should You Use Semi-Permanent Hair Color?
“For customers who have 50 percent gray or less and want to diminish or eliminate the gray while still retaining their natural color, this is the way to go,” Richards says of semi-permanent hues for concealing grays. This is due to the fact that it fades and covers gray without leaving a strong root line. “It requires the least amount of upkeep for gray covering,” she explains.
Another situation in which semi-permanent color is superior is when trying out different hues. That way, you may live with it for a while before committing to a permanent color, and you can even experiment with a few possibilities first. Semi-dyes are also recommended by top stylists for revitalizing fading or dulling hues.
“Semi-permanent dye is for you if you want a heightened hue or temporary color and it leaves your hair less damaged,” adds Appleton. Because the colors cover the strands, they become more vivid and shiny.