Skip to Content

Difference Between Permanent & Semi-Permanent Hair Dye: Explained (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

difference between permanent and semi permanent hair dye explainedReady to revamp your look? Refresh with a rich, lasting hue or add a subtle tint. Permanent and semi-permanent hair dye can help you achieve the perfect color for any season.

From how they work to key differences between them, we’ll explain everything – from root to tip – on the difference between permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes explained here.

Key Takeaways

  • Permanent hair dye changes color inside the cuticle, while semi-permanent hair dye enhances the natural color.
  • Permanent dye requires a developer to open the cuticle, while semi-permanent dye only needs one part to coat the strands.
  • Permanent dye can lighten, darken, and cover gray hair, while semi-permanent dye can only enhance tone and blend grays.
  • Permanent dye lasts indefinitely, while semi-permanent dye fades gradually over 4-12 washes.

Permanent Hair Dye

Permanent Hair Dye
Transform your look and cover gray with permanent hair dye, offering a long-lasting solution that will keep you looking stylish for longer.

Permanent hair dye works by delivering the color inside the cuticle of each individual strand, ensuring it does not escape or fade. It is used to darken, lighten, change color, or blend gray hairs into natural colors and lasts indefinitely.

It requires careful consideration as it involves two parts – the developer, which opens up the cuticle allowing for color change. This means that colored hair can’t be lightened without removing it first! Natural colors are also achievable, while customizing shades by mixing hues is possible too.

So if you’re seeking an enduring transformation, then opt for permanent hair dye to achieve vibrant looks rich in depth and longevity!

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye
Demi-permanent hair dye offers a variety of benefits compared to permanent and semi-permanent dyes, so understanding how it works is key. This low-ammonia color opens the cuticle slightly, which allows some dye penetration but doesn’t lighten or cover gray.

Instead, it enhances natural color and can deposit color on light hair, blends grays, refreshes faded color, and corrects tone – all with gradual fading lasting 12 to 24 washes.

How It Works

You can use demi-permanent hair dye to add a touch of softness and subtlety to your locks, creating an elegant yet natural look. Unlike permanent hair dyes, it uses a low-volume developer that only slightly lifts the cuticle for some color penetration.

It can:

  1. Enhance your natural color
  2. Tone pre-lightened or highlighted strands
  3. Correct any discoloration due to sun exposure or age without lightening the existing hue in the process!

Demi-permanent also helps blend greys and refreshes faded colors while providing long-lasting shine without damaging delicate follicles like temporary hair dye might do.

Benefits and Limitations

Benefiting from the low-ammonia content, demi-permanent hair dye gives you a subtle change that lasts up to 24 washes and adds shine, enhances natural color, and blends grey.

In contrast with semi-permanent color, which only coats strands for temporary results, demi hair color also corrects tones and refreshes faded colors. It can blend highlights and is an attractive alternative when considering permanent vs semi-permanent color options.

Permanent dyes can darken, lighten, or cover grays but cannot be used if colored previously due to chemical reaction risks.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
Moving onto semi-permanent hair dye, this type of coloring is different than permanent dyes. Semi-permanent doesn’t open the cuticle layer to deposit color inside like demi- and permanent do. Instead, it just coats the hair shaft with color which fades gradually over time and washes out in 4 to 8 weeks.

Here are some key facts:

  1. It sits on top of your hair but can also refresh faded colors as well as correct tones and blend highlights.
  2. It won’t lighten your natural shade or cover gray hairs.
  3. If you have lighter colored locks, it will make them brighter while adding a glossy shine!

And unlike demi vs permanent where rules apply when lightening dyed strands, semi can be used at any time without worrying about these restrictions – ideal for those wanting an instant change without making such a drastic commitment!

The cons? Well, unfortunately, because this dye only deposits onto the surface, you may need multiple applications depending on how dark/light you want your new hue to be if opting for something completely different from what nature gave ya!

Temporary Hair Dye

Temporary Hair Dye
Temporary hair dye is a great way to instantly change your look with no long-term commitment. It’s kind of like lip gloss for your hair! Temporary dyes coat the surface of the strand, rather than penetrating it, and can be used to add streaks or sections in any color you’d like.

They provide excellent grey coverage without altering the underlying natural shade of your locks. This type of dye will wash out after one shampoo, so there are no long-term commitments if you don’t end up loving how it looks on you – but that’s unlikely since temporary dyes come in all varieties from vibrant shades to more subtle hues designed for the best grey coverage and correct hair color changes.

What’s even better? You can mix different colors together and apply them creatively wherever desired! So go ahead – wear those streaks or highlights without fear; they’ll rinse right away when washed with regular shampoo, allowing limitless experimentation until finding exactly what suits you best!

Key Differences Between Permanent and Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Key Differences Between Permanent and Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
Confused about the differences between permanent and semi-permanent hair dye? Understanding their varied capabilities, application process, and duration of color can help you make an informed decision.

Permanent hair dye changes the actual color of your hair by using a two-part developer which opens up the cuticle for penetration. On the other hand, semi-permanent dyes only coat your strands with no lightening effects that last 4 to 8 weeks maximum.

Color Change Capability

You’ll find that permanent and semi-permanent hair dye offer different color change capabilities, such as a friend of yours who recently changed her light brown hair to a dark blonde with permanent dye.

Permanent dyes can be used to lighten or darken existing colors, cover gray hairs, and create vibrant hues. On the other hand, demi-permanent dyes are ammonia-free, so they cannot lighten colored hair but can enhance natural tones and blend grays.

Semi-permanents coat the shafts for temporary color that washes out after 4–8 weeks, while temporary colors mask regrowth or add designs without altering the actual hue.

Application Process

Applying permanent hair dye requires two parts and opens up the cuticle for a color change, while semi-permanent only needs one part to coat your locks with a glossy shine that gradually fades away. This makes it ideal for damaged hair or if you don’t want to commit to ongoing salon visits as demi-permanent hair color lasts 12–24 washes.

Combining different types of dyes can also be done. For example, you can use permanent dye at the roots and demi-permanent dye on the mid-lengths and ends. When considering the difference between demi vs semi-permanent colors, think about what effect you’re looking for.

Whether you want to lighten or darken your current shade or just add some gloss.

Duration of Color

Discover how long your hair color will last and be in control of the results you desire. Permanent hair dye delivers dye inside the cuticle, preventing color from escaping, while semi-permanent only deposits a sheer coating on top of colored hair.

Demi vs semi-permanent color also differ in their lasting power—Permanent lasts indefinitely, demi 12 – 24 washes, and semi 4 – 12 washes.

Choosing the Right Hair Dye for You

Choosing the Right Hair Dye for You
When it comes to dyeing your hair, choosing the right kind of product is essential. Permanent dyes will permanently alter the color of your hair and are best used if you want to lighten, darken, or cover gray hairs, while semi-permanent dyes offer a more subtle change and can be used for toning down highlights, blending grays, or refreshing faded colors.

It’s always best to consult with a hairdresser before deciding which option is right for you.

Considerations for Permanent Hair Dye

When deciding between permanent and semi-permanent hair dye, it’s important to consider the long-term effects of a permanent change. A dark shade on light-colored hair without first removing the color with bleach could yield unpredictable results.

Consider your base hair color when selecting a service. For example, if you already have highlights or balayage in place, blending them may be difficult depending on the desired outcome.

Permanent dyes provide vibrant shades that can last indefinitely but should only be used by experienced stylists. This is to ensure that your actual hair color or texture is not damaged. For those looking for subtle changes while still maintaining their natural look, demi-permanent colors are best.

Considerations for Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

If you’re looking to switch up your hair color, semi-permanent dye might be the right option for you. Semi-permanent dye doesn’t contain any ammonia and deposits color onto the surface of the hair instead of inside its cuticle.

It can alter tones without lightening or changing colors completely, so it’s a great temporary solution if that’s what you’re after.

There are different types of hair dyes out there, with demi-permanent being one such type. However, they all have their own pros and cons when compared with semi-permanent ones.

Semi-permanent may not cover grey hairs or last as long as demi or permanent options, but it does offer an easy way to experiment with new shades without committing fully – perfect for trying something new!

Get Inspired: Hair Color Ideas and Trends
Explore the latest hair color ideas and trends to help you find the perfect shade for your look! From ombre to balayage, summer is a great time to experiment with new growth.

Permanent hair dye can last indefinitely and change your color completely, while demi-permanent dyes are low-ammonia options that don’t lighten or cover grey but enhance natural tones.

Demi vs semi-permanent hair color is also an option; semi lasts 4–12 washes and adds gloss without altering the actual hue—perfect for creative designs like ombre.

Temporary colors provide an instantly changed coating of any hue that rinses away in one wash–ideal for masking regrowth or creating sections of different hues!

Summer brings inspiration from all types of different types of hair color, so explore what works best on your locks this season!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I touch up my hair dye?

It depends on your desired look. Permanent dye can last indefinitely, but semi-permanent will gradually fade over 4-12 washes.

Are there any health risks associated with using hair dye?

Yes, there are some health risks associated with using hair dye. Long-term use may increase the risk of skin irritation or allergies and can also cause eye damage if not used correctly.

Is it possible to lighten hair with semi-permanent dye?

No, semi-permanent dye won’t lighten your hair. However, it can enhance natural tones and add shine, so you’ll still look fabulous!

Can I use semi-permanent and permanent dye together?

Yes! To create a unique look, try combining semi-permanent and permanent dyes. It’s an excellent way to stand out with vibrant colors or subtle shades – whatever you choose will be amplified by the exaggeration of both products.

How long does temporary hair dye last?

Temporary hair dye lasts for one wash, providing you with instant color without permanently altering your hair. Utilize it to conceal regrowth or incorporate creative designs and sections for a daring look with no commitment.


Making the right choice between permanent and semi-permanent hair dye can be a daunting prospect. After all, with so many products and techniques on the market, it’s not always easy to know what to do for the best.

But with a bit of knowledge and inspiration, you can easily find the perfect hair color for you.

Permanent hair dye is the best choice if you want to lighten, darken, or cover your gray hair. Demi-permanent hair dye is ideal for adding shine and tone to your hair, while semi-permanent hair dye is perfect for refreshing faded color or blending highlights.

And if you’re looking for something truly unique, temporary hair dye can provide the perfect solution.

Whatever you choose, know that with the right product, technique, and maintenance, you can get the hair color of your dreams.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.