Looking to make a subtle change to your hair color without making a major commitment or shelling out a ton of money? Consider a semi-permanent hair color instead of traditional permanent hair color. Since it gradually fades over time instead of creating a clear, visible line of demarcation, semi-permanent hair dye is a great way to experiment with a new shade. Don’t like the change? Take comfort in the fact that you should be back to your natural hair color in just a few shampoos. In love with your new tint? You can continue using semi-permanent hair color to maintain the effect, or you can switch over to a permanent dye to make a more lasting change. Read on to find the answers to popular questions about this type of hair dye, and learn all about our best semi-permanent hair color.
WHAT IS SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR?
Semi-permanent hair color is a gentle alternative to permanent dye, and it also has a shorter lifespan. Unlike most permanent formulas, semi-permanent hair color doesn’t contain ammonia or peroxide. That means that it doesn’t require any development or pre-mixing, so you can apply it straight onto your hair from the applicator. The bottom line is: Semi-permanent hair dye is a non-damaging, short-term way to color your locks.
HOW LONG DOES SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR LAST?
Semi-permanent hair color generally lasts through about eight shampoos—just be sure you’re using shampoo and conditioner systems that are formulated for color-treated hair, which we’ll talk about later.
HOW SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR COMPARES TO OTHER TYPES OF DYES
There are quite a few different types of dye out there—semi-permanent hair color is just one of many. Here’s how they all stack up:
Temporary hair color: This type of dye, also known as wash out hair color, doesn’t actually change the color of your strands. Instead, it coats the outside of the hair shaft without making it into your hair’s cortex. The results should fade in just a few shampoos, and there aren’t chemicals like ammonia or peroxide in the formula. Temporary hair color is a great choice when you’re trying out a totally new look or color, and it’s also a fun (and commitment-less) way to play around with bold colors since it will wash out with your next shampoo.
Semi-permanent hair color: This is the next step up from temporary hair color. As we said before, semi-permanent dye generally lasts for up to eight shampoos. Whereas permanent hair color penetrates the core of your hair, semi-permanent dye just coats the hair’s outer shaft. It’s also a much easier application process to do at home. If you have grays but are strapped for time and can’t make it to the salon for a permanent touch-up, semi-permanent hair color might be a good option to hold you over.
Permanent hair color: Now, this is the stuff that lasts the longest. Permanent hair dye requires chemical processing—it penetrates your hair, so the results last longest. This type of dye can be used to help lighten, darken, or tone your color, cover grays, and provide full coverage. Unlike temporary hair dye, permanent hair color grows out with your hair, creating an obvious line of demarcation and visible roots, making root touch-up a necessary part of your hair color maintenance routine.
WHEN TO CHOOSE SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR
If you think semi-permanent hair color sounds like it’s the right match for you, you’ll be happy to know that it really does have a lot going for it. In fact, in addition to being a temporary way to try a new color, it can also add gloss and shine to dull-looking hair. Since it’s not permanent (meaning there’s no bleach or ammonia in the formulas), it’s also safe to use semi-permanent hair color on hair that’s been permed or professionally relaxed.
HOW TO REMOVE SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR DYE
Want to get rid of your semi-permanent hair dye? Your best bet is to wash your hair frequently, as the color will fade on its own each time you wash your strands. There are also semi-permanent hair color removers available, though these can still leave behind some color, so you may not get totally back to your natural hair color.
OUR BEST SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR
The L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color allows you to try a trendy new look without committing to it forever. This semi-permanent dye comes in four different shades for brunette hair, including Burgundy, Teal, and Maroon, and eight different shades for blondes, including Purple, SoftPink, and Hot Pink. With this semi-permanent hair color, there is no mixing of dye required and also no ammonia (which means no strong smell!), so it’s a great way to practice your DIY coloring skills without jumping straight to using permanent hair dye.
HOW TO USE SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR
Ready to try out semi-permanent hair color at home? Our semi-permanent hair color kit comes with everything you need—a tube of color, gloves, an instruction sheet, and a brush. (Just remember: Before you get started, do a patch test 48 hours prior to each use, because hair color can cause an allergic reaction.) To use the kit correctly, follow our simple three-step tutorial.
STEP 1: WASH YOUR STRANDS
STEP 2: APPLY THE DYE
Next, wearing the enclosed gloves, apply the semi-permanent hair color onto desired areas as directed in the instruction sheet. When using the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color, you should leave the dye on your strands for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse out and style as usual. No matter which type of semi-permanent hair dye you use, make sure to carefully follow all directions.
STEP 3: TAKE CARE OF YOUR NEWLY COLORED STRANDS
Your brand spanking new color can last between four to ten shampoos, depending on the porosity of your hair. The color will fade gradually and may shift in tone each time you shampoo, so start considering which shade you’ll try next. Of course, even though the color is semi-permanent, you’ll want to develop a proper hair care routine to extend the lifespan of your color for as long as possible. Read on to learn how to take care of your newly-colored strands.
3 TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF COLORED HAIR
Like we said, it’s time to make a few changes to your hair care routine.
TIP #1: SWITCH TO A COLOR-PROTECTING SHAMPOO SYSTEM
In order to make your new semi-permanent color last for as long as possible, you’ll want to switch to a shampoo and conditioner system that’s color-safe, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Conditioner. Also, once or twice a week, switch out your regular conditioner for a deep conditioner or a hair mask, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Remedy Balm. To use, apply your hair mask onto damp hair post-shampooing, then leave it on for up to five minutes and rinse out as usual. It’s that easy! And trust us, your hair will thank you for it.
TIP #2: WASH WITH LUKEWARM WATER
As good as a steaming hot shower might feel, it’s not the best for your hair or your skin. In addition to drying out your skin, showering in hot water can also strip your hair of essential oils and moisture, which leads to dry strands and fading color. It’s an easy fix, though: Just adjust the dial and rinse off with lukewarm water instead.
TIP #3: AIR DRY YOUR STRANDS
Give your blow-dryer a break and embrace your hair’s natural texture with an air-dried hairstyle. Not only is your natural texture beautiful, but opting for heat-free hairstyles can help your hair color last longer. Apply a wave spray onto damp strands, then just scrunch your hair, and let it dry for a gorgeous, naturally wavy look. And don't worry, this is one look that's one-size-fits-all—it looks equally as amazing on short hair, medium hair, and long hair.
4 OTHER OPTIONS FOR NON-PERMANENT HAIR COLOR
It’s possible that semi-permanent hair color is still more of a commitment than you’re willing to make. If that’s the case, why not try temporary hair color first? Below, find four options we love.
Temporary hair color spray: If you’re looking for bold, bright hair color that’s even more short-term than semi-permanent hair color, try the L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray. This hair color spray comes in 10 different colors and washes out after just one shampoo. To use, shake the can well and spray onto clean, dry hair, holding the can about four to six inches away from your strands. After spraying, wait a few minutes for the color to dry. One more tip: The color will become more visible as it dries, so don’t spray too much at once.
Temporary hair makeup: Another hair color option for those who really aren’t looking to commit is the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup 1-Day Color. It really isn’t hair dye at all; it’s makeup for your hair! It comes in 13 different bold colors and is perfect for trying out different hair color trends, such as rainbow-colored hair, at home. To use, apply a dime-sized amount of the hair makeup onto a thin piece of dry hair—no gloves needed! Next, comb or brush through to distribute the makeup evenly, then dry and style as usual.
Temporary root cover spray: If you’re looking to extend your permanent color in between salon visits (aka you want to cover up roots that are starting to turn gray), reach for a semi-permanent root touch-up spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up. It’s super easy and quick to use: when you notice your roots beginning to gray, just spray a bit onto your roots and partly through the lengths of your hair, holding the can about four to six inches away from your head. That’s all!
Temporary root cover pen: Traveling or always on-the-go? Not to worry, just toss the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen into your purse. To use, turn the pen counterclockwise three to five times to dispense a bit of color, then brush onto dry hair in gentle, swift strokes.
Next up: Now that you know how to use semi-permanent hair color, you may be trying to determine which shade to dye your strands. For a little inspo, check out our article, How to Achieve a Sunset Hair Color.