Hair Dyes

Blonde young woman in floral spring summer dress

Hair coloring products are differentiated into four types: temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent and permanent dyes.

Permanent hair dyes contain a mixture of ammonia and peroxides. They last for quite a while and are mainly used to remove the original hair pigmentation and replace it with chosen color(s) or to cover up gray hair.

Demi-permanent dyes contain no ammonia but do have a small amount of peroxide. This is a great option if you want to enhance your hair color and make your grays blend-in, but demi-permanent dyes cannot be used to lighten the hair. They generally last up to 6 weeks.

Semi-permanent hair dyes are short-lived. They exclude harmful chemicals and usually lasts 6 to 10 washes.

Temporary hair dyes can be used for a one-day blast of color before events or affairs. They can usually be found in a form of shampoos, gels, sprays, foams, and rinses. The color washes out in a single shower.

Permanent Hair Colors

Permanent hair dye generally contains a combination of the two main chemical ingredients – ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals must be mixed together prior to application to permanently change the hair color.

Ammonia, in permanent hair color formulation, is used to create an alkaline pH which opens the cuticles and allow the hair color and the developer to penetrate the hair.

Hydrogen peroxide, also known as an oxidizing agent or the developer, helps strip your natural color and set pigment deeply into the hair. The developer comes in various concentrations that adjust to the pigment in the hair you need to neutralize and the results you want to achieve.

Permanent hair dyes work through a chemical process called oxidation and can lighten your natural hair color. When applied to the hair, the chemical mixture penetrates the hair shaft, removes your natural pigment, and deposits a new color. After oxidation, the dye molecules expand in a size and stay trapped inside the hair, giving it the new color.

Permanent dyes provide full coverage for grays and alter the color of the hair until it grows out.

Harsh chemicals used in permanent hair color can cause dryness and can damage your hair in the long run.

Demi-Permanent Hair Colors

Demi-permanent hair dyes use alkaline agents milder than ammonia and a small amount of peroxide. The absence of ammonia makes them unable to open the cuticle completely and remove the natural hair pigment. Demi-permanent pigments create medium-sized color molecules that take some time to wash out. These colors can cover your first grays, darken your color or enhance shades of natural or previously color-treated hair. They are unable to color your hair to a lighter shade than your current color. The color washes out over time, lasting up to 24 shampoos.

Demi-permanent dyes are a more effective choice for covering gray hair than semi-permanent colors, but they provide weaker gray coverage than permanent colors. They are gentler and less likely to damage your hair than permanent dyes.

Semi-Permanent Hair Colors

Semi-permanent hair dyes coat the hair shaft and change the color temporarily to different shades, giving the appearance of beautiful and glowing natural highlights. These ammonia-free formulas are a gentle way to color your hair. Semi-permanent hair color will last for 12 washes, on average, depending on the products used and the condition of the hair.

The absence of ammonia and peroxide makes them safer and less damaging to the hair. The colors are particularly suitable for fragile, damaged, or fine hair.

If you color your hair very often and don’t want to commit to a certain color, a semi-permanent dye is your best option. They produce the most vivid results and give you high-fashion hair color shades.

Semi-permanent color works better if you just want to enhance your color or add subtle tints.

You can apply color for several hours without causing damage to the hair. They even can improve the condition of your hair.

These colors have a nice smell and don’t cause any scalp irritation.


Semi-permanent dyes cannot lighten your hair. If you have dark brown hair and want to achieve more vibrant colors, you must bleach your hair. If you dye over dark hair, the color will act as a highlight in sunlight only. They are also not recommended for gray coverage.

All semi-permanent dyes continue to bleed from your hair during washes – especially red dyes. They also stain skin, fabrics, sinks, etc. If you use semi-permanent dye at home, you should carefully prepare your work area because the color may end up everywhere.

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

Semi-permanent hair dyes only deposit color and don’t lift natural pigment. The color generally lasts about 6 to 8 weeks. The following factors determine how long the dye will last:

  • Hair dryness – Hair dyes last longer on dry hair than oily hair.
  • Contact duration – Longer contact duration leads to a longer-lasting result.
  • Frequency of hair washing – Frequent washing causes the color to fade quicker.
  • Color darkness – Darker dyes will last longer than lighter ones.
  • Hair color brand – The label informs the consumer how long the hair color will last. Semi-permanent colors by Adore Creative Image and Special Effects SFX will last longer than some of the other brands.

Tips for Application and Maintenance

  • Shampoo the hair before dying, but do not condition.
  • Wear a shirt you are ready to throw away as things can get messy.
  • Use Vaseline on your ears, neck, and hairline to prevent dye from getting on your skin.
  • Leave it longer on your hair after applying for a more intense color.
  • Rinse your hair with vinegar to help the color last longer.
  • Wash your hair with cold or moderately cold water.
  • Switch to sulfate and sodium-free shampoo and conditioner.

Temporary Hair Colors

This type of hair dye does not last long because it merely covers the color your hair already has. When applied to the hair shaft, a temporary dye coats the outer cuticle of the hair. It does not contain chemicals capable of stripping your hair of its natural color and washes out fast because the color has nothing to cling to. These dyes usually come in bright, attractive packages made for a single-use.

When Should You Use Temporary Hair Colors?

You want your hair to look different and nice every time. But coloring your hair involves the use of chemicals. Temporary hair dyes are for special events or Halloween, when you want a new color to match your outfit or costume, but want to get rid of it the next day.

Another use is to experiment with different colors before choosing a permanent dye.

People often use temporary hair colors to temporarily cover their grays and avoid the over-use of potentially hazardous chemicals in permanent dyes.

Temporary dyes also increase the overall volume of the hair because they are simply adding an extra layer to your hair.

Types of Temporary Hair Dyes

Temporary dyes come in the form of gels, mousse, sprays, creams, chalks and colored mascaras.

Coloring Sprays

This is an extremely simple way to color your hair. It lasts only until your next shower and the colors come in a plethora of shades. These are often used for Halloween or for attending a sporting event.


Gels are water-soluble, easy to apply and may be used for styling as well as coloring. Gels also wash off the next time water hits your hair. Gels are ideal for kids and adults who seek “color without commitment.”


Hair chalk is perfect for individuals who want pastel-colored hair. They are easy to apply and wash out in the shower. They are perfect for darker hair where you cannot use most of the other types of dyes. You can get them relatively cheap and they are available in a variety of colors.

Colored Mascara

Hair mascara is used for temporary highlighting to update your style for a night out. It will brilliantly stay in until you shower.


These ingenious, extension-like inventions attach to your hair wherever you’d like them. They come in a large variety of colors and last until you unclip them.

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