Whether you're in the mood to try out the latest hair color trend or dyeing your hair is already a permanent fixture in your beauty routine, it's important to know about the different types of hair color and how they each interact with your locks. Not all hair color is created equal, and each type serves a different purpose. Understanding the different types of hair color will allow you to make the right choice—whether you plan on keeping it permanently or not. Below, we’re sharing what you need to know to determine which type of hair dye you should use so you can feel confident in your look.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #1: TEMPORARY HAIR COLOR
Strands in shades of gray and purple have been lighting up social media feeds recently. While these on-trend hair colors certainly make for pretty pictures, not everyone is ready to keep such a bold look for the long term. This is where temporary hair color comes into play. Temporary hair dye, otherwise known as wash out hair color, coats only the outside of the hair shaft, so the results don’t last. This means that when you shampoo your hair, the new color will wash out and your hair will return to its natural shade, leaving you room to experience a new hair color without a major commitment. Want to take a fun color for a spin? The L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray is a temporary hair color spray that you can wash out at the end of the day.
Editor’s Note: You should know that damaged hair that's dyed with temporary hair color can appear stained after continued use over time. To help mend damage and deeply condition your hair, use the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm once a week as a rinse-out hair mask.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #2: SEMI-PERMANENT HAIR DYE
If you want to stretch that temporary look a little longer, semi-permanent hair color will do just the trick. These dyes are generally not formulated with ammonia and don’t require developing. What’s better, semi-permanent color generally lasts for around eight washes. For these reasons, an at-home semi-permanent dye can be a great option for gray hair coverage when you know you can't get to the salon right away. There are countless benefits to using semi-permanent hair color: it can help add gloss and shine to dull-looking hair, it’s great to use when growing out permanent color, and it can be used to help provide temporary root touch-ups. To reap those benefits, try the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color.
Editor's note: Like temporary color, if your hair is porous it could retain semi-permanent color more, meaning you may get more wear between applications. Keep that in mind if you're only looking to make a short-term change!
HAIR COLOR TYPE #3: DEMI-PERMANENT HAIR DYE
Want something in-between semi-permanent and permanent? Look no further than demi-permanent hair dye. This type of hair dye, like semi-permanent hair dye, isn't permanent and it’s ammonia-free, though there are some key differences between the two. Unlike semi-permanent color, demi-permanent hair dye is mixed with a developer, which allows it to penetrate the hair shaft rather than simply coat it. This means demi-permanent color generally lasts longer, even up to 24 shampoos.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #4: PERMANENT HAIR COLOR
If you're looking to stick to one hair color for a while, permanent hair dye is the right option for you. This dye requires more complex chemical processing and will penetrate your hair more deeply. This means that your color can last for weeks or months without visible signs of fading. Permanent hair color can be used to help lighten, darken, or tone your hair and can help provide high gray hair coverage.
Despite its long-lasting benefits, permanent hair color will eventually have to be reapplied due to new hair growth. Also, depending on your base color and what you'd like to achieve, you may have to gradually color your hair to achieve your desired look. While it would be great to go from dark to platinum blonde in one sitting, slow and steady usually wins the permanent hair color race. Want a few permanent hair color recs? Take your pick from our best options below.
L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference: This permanent hair dye will give you fade-defying color for up to eight weeks. It comes in more than 50 shades, giving you endless opportunities to change up your look.
L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme: Need a formula that will cover even the most stubborn grays? This hair dye is for you. With more than 30 shades to choose from, it will leave you with rich, radiant color and resistant gray coverage.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #5: HIGHLIGHTS
Not every look requires all-over color, which is where hair highlights come into play. These are achieved by placing the color on different segments of the hair to help promote depth, tone, and shade. Highlights are a great way to play up your look without opting for anything too drastic. There are several different techniques when it comes to highlights, so which one you choose will come down to the look that you desire.
Ombré hair color leaves your natural color at the roots and gradually fades into a lighter highlighted tone at the bottom of the hair. The balayage highlighting technique involves painting on highlights where your hair naturally hits the light, helping to give your hair a more playful, natural sun-kissed glow. Since balayage involves strategic placement, this highlighting technique is best left to the pros. Instead of picking strands to lighten, the lowlights technique involves introducing darker tones to the hair for added dimension that’s perfect for a seasonal hair update.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #6: ROOT COLOR
If simply covering your gray roots is what you’re after, you may not need or want a full color dye job, so a root touch up could be the best way to help maintain your natural color. The great news is that root concealer products can range from temporary to permanent, and there are plenty of options to cover gray hair quickly and easily. Temporary root cover up spray is a great way to help conceal the appearance of gray roots if you need a quick solution. These sprays distribute a fine-mist of color that washes out with your next shampoo. Temporary root concealers are not a great permanent solution—hence the name—but they are amazing for last-minute events and touch-ups. Sound like what you need? Try the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up, which works its magic in just seconds.
For those times when you may be in a pinch and need an on-the-go option, we’ve got you covered there, too! The L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen allows for easy, smooth, and precise application to hide even the most pesky grays on any hair type or texture. Even better—the pen is small enough to stash in just about any purse or suitcase.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #7: HAIR BLEACH
If you have naturally dark brunette hair, there is a good chance you’ll need a hair color bleach to lighten your hair before dyeing it to a lighter shade or going blonde altogether. Here are a few at-home bleaching kits to consider.
L’Oréal Paris Féria Extra Bleach Blonding: This bleaching kit is a one-step lightening system that gently and deeply conditions hair.
L’Oréal Paris Feria Hyper Platinum Advanced Lightening System Bleach: This advanced system is ideal for brown hair (even dark brown hair) as it’s strong enough to lighten hair up to eight levels for a clear, vibrant platinum color.
Editor’s Note: Bleaching your hair can lead to damage. If you’re going to bleach your hair, we recommend using a hydrating leave-in conditioner like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Protein Recharge Treatment which nourishes the hair and protects against damage.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #8: HENNA
You're likely familiar with henna tattoos—you know, the ones you used to beg your parents for on the boardwalk during summer vacation. But henna isn't only used to adorn the skin with swirling designs, it's also used to color hair. Derived from the henna plant, henna hair dye typically gives hair a reddish hue, providing shine and vibrancy in the process. Henna may be a fitting option if you've previously experienced an allergic reaction when dyeing your hair (don't forget to spot test!), as natural henna is usually hypoallergenic. Henna also may be beneficial for those with dandruff, so it could be worth a try if you're fed up with your itchy, flaky scalp.
HAIR COLOR TYPE #9: GLOSS
If maintaining your hair color or adding just a tint of color to your hair is what you’re looking for, hair gloss is for you. What used to be reserved for the salon is now something you can do right at home with the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss. To enhance your hair color, choose a shade that’s close to your current color, distribute through clean, damp hair, leave on for 15 minutes and then rinse out. You’ll be left with smooth, shiny, hair and vibrant looking color.