What Is Semi Permanent Hair Color?

If you've never colored your hair before, you may be tempted to try it but scared by horror stories of hair coloring gone wrong. You don't need to take the plunge all at once. Semi-permanent hair color can be a safe way to try changing your color without the commitment of a permanent change.


Temporary hair color washes out after just one or two shampoos. It may also rub off on your pillow or clothes. Permanent hair color is just as the name sounds. It causes a color change that can only eventually grow out, not wash out. Semi permanent hair color falls between the two. It provides a color change that lasts around 12 to 24 shampoos, or even longer in some cases.


Since semi permanent hair color is conditioner-based, it doesn't cause damage to your hair as a permanent hair color can. It actually improves hair's condition. This makes it easier to use in combination with other hair treatments, such as a perm.

If you're unsure about coloring your hair, semi permanent hair color makes it easier to decide, since it's not a permanent change. It can be helpful if you enjoy changing your hair color often. It also allows you to boost the depth and highlights in your natural hair color without completely changing it.


Semi permanent hair color can only be used to darken your natural color; lightening your hair requires an ammonia-based, permanent product. Also, semi permanent color doesn't provide good coverage on gray hair.

Another drawback to semi permanent hair color is the number of different stages your hair may go through as the color gradually washes out. Some of these may not be to your liking.

If you want a drastic change in your color, you're better off with a permanent product. Semi permanent hair color works best if you stay fairly close to your natural shade.


Permanent and semi permanent hair color are not simply varying strengths of the same product; they work on the hair in different ways. Permanent hair color uses ammonia to swell the hair follicle, providing room for the product to penetrate past your hair's natural defenses. Semi permanent hair color is a dye with particles small enough to slip through the hair follicle's shields without changing their structure.


If you try a semi permanent hair color and don't like it, there are several ways to speed the process of fading the color. Washing your hair several times within the first 24 hours after applying the color can make a big difference. After that, you can try applying lemon juice or vinegar, letting it sit for about ten minutes, then washing again. Only do this after 24 hours have passed, though, or you run the risk of ending up with green hair.

If you're willing to try another chemical product, you can find one at your drug store, but make sure you buy one specifically for semi permanent hair color. Less technical solutions that may help include extra hot water, hot oil treatments and using Prell shampoo.