Everything You Wanted to Know About Semi-Permanent Hair Dye (Including the 11 Best Ones to Buy)
So, you’re curious about dyeing your hair at home? Well, you’re certainly not alone. According to Nielsen, a marketing research firm, at-home hair color sales spiked 23 percent in the first three months of 2020 over the same time last year. Given the quarantine, this comes as no surprise since we’ve all been dipping into more DIY grooming lately.
Luckily, there are tons of great options to choose from, which we’ll walk you through below. But first, let’s talk about the difference between at-home dyes.
Semi-permanent hair color vs. other types of dyes
For starters, there’s temporary hair dye, which often comes in spray or chalk form and you can wash it out in as little as one shampoo (though some can last longer).
The next step up is semi-permanent hair dye, which generally lasts up to eight shampoos, at which point, it fades gradually. It doesn’t change your existing color so much as it helps with the tone of it, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “toner” or a “gloss.” Semi-permanent dye is a good choice for covering up grays quickly or giving your color a boost until you can see your stylist.
After semi-permanent dye comes demi-permanent dye, which is mixed with a developer so the color can penetrate the outer layer of your hair shaft rather than just coat it. Because of this, demi-permanent dye can last up to 24 washes.
Finally, there’s permanent hair dye, which involves more chemical processing. The pros are that it lasts the longest (up to six weeks) and can provide fuller coverage if you have particularly stubborn grays or want to switch up your color entirely. The cons are that they can be a bit more damaging than the others (due to the ammonia and hydrogen peroxide that are typically used to develop the color) and it will grow out with your hair, creating a visible line of demarcation as the roots come in.
Not sure of which one to try? We’d recommend starting with a semi-permanent hair dye—especially if it’s your first time. It’s a subtle way to enhance your color without having to make a huge commitment. And, since it’s not penetrating your hair shaft, it’s the least damaging option.
How to use semi-permanent hair color at home:
Step 1: First things first, always do a test on a small patch of skin (i.e., behind your ears) before coloring all over to make sure your skin doesn't have any reaction to the dye. Once you’re in the clear, clip your hair back into four even sections.
Step 2: Dab a bit of petroleum jelly along your hairline (as well as on the tops of your ears) to prevent staining your skin.
Step 3: Put on some gloves and mix up the color as instructed on the box. Then, give it your best shake.
Step 4: Apply the dye in a straight line down your center part. Massage it in with the opposite hand as you go. Do the same thing along all of your parts, working from front to back. Then, work through the sections, applying the color to your roots.
Step 5: Apply the color to the rest of your strands, pulling it all the way down from roots to tips. (You may need a second box if you have extra long or thick hair.)
Step 6: Rinse well with shampoo, then finish with the enclosed treatment or conditioner.
Look at you, master colorist! Ok, ready to shop? We’ve got the 11 best semi-permanent hair dyes ahead.