Last Updated on 28th September 2021 by Chauncey Morgan
Semi-permanent hair dyes have become really popular with the rise of the unicorn hair trend. This sort of dye often has bright, unnatural colors or metallic and pastel finishes.
Often you will get the best results if your hair is bleached to a very light yellow color (level 10), particularly with cool shades such as blue, silver, or violet. This is because this sort of hair dye (not to be confused with demi-permanent hair dyes) is color-depositing only.
Unlike permanent hair dyes, which use a developer and ammonia to open up the hair cuticle and can lighten hair, semi and demi-permanent dyes can exclusively darken hair. They fade over time without changing the original color of your hair too much. However, demi-permanent dye has peroxide as a developer and will slightly lighten hair a bit.
What Is Semi Permanent Hair Dye?
Unlike permanent hair dyes, semi-permanent hair dyes, also called hair glosses, are deposit-only colors. This means they don’t open the hair cuticle and lighten hair, only darkening it or adding a tint or gloss. However, unlike permanent hair color, semi-permanent dyes last only for a few washes and don’t 100% cover gray hair.
Glosses are available in clear if you only want to add shine or colors that can be used to create rainbow hair looks. You won’t need an activator to use them, and they are often vegan friendly and conditioning. You can just use it straight on your hair. Depending on your hair porosity the results will be more or less intense and long-lasting.
What Is Demi Permanent Hair Dye?
Demi-permanent color is a longer-lasting, no-ammonia version of a permanent dye. It doesn’t lighten the hair and only deposits color, but it’s mixed with a low volume developer which will damage the hair a bit. However, it also has increased grey coverage and can be used to tone highlights, enhance your natural color, or color-correct a bleach job gone wrong.
If you have grey hair that is very fine and porous you can use demi-permanent dyes to cover it. However, often the result is blended hair that looks like natural highlights instead of grey hair.
How Often Can You Dye Your Hair?
If you are using semi-permanent hair color, you can dye your hair as often as you want, because it doesn’t have anything that could damage your hair. Many people who sport unicorn hair mix a bit of their hair dye into their conditioner to top up the color and reduce fading.
If you are wondering how often should you dye your hair with a demi-permanent dye mixed with peroxide or other developers, then the answer is different. Semi-permanent dyes fade slowly over a period of a few weeks, but if you keep re-applying them too often, they have a tendency to deposit too much color and the peroxide will hurt your hair.
If you are using demi-permanent colors, you probably should wait around a month in between dye jobs, but it depends on your natural hair color, your dye, and the general health of your hair.
If you are trying to fix a hair dye disaster—for example, removing orange from hair—you can do it more often, but be fanatic about deep conditioning and protein treatments to make sure your hair doesn’t become straw-like.
To make sure you’re on the right track, be sure to check out our handy hair color charts here!
How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Color Last?
How long semi-permanent hair dye lasts depends on the brand you use, the health and porosity of your hair, and which color you are using. It also depends on how often you wash your hair, and how you do it. Expect to have some fading from the first wash, but I have personally managed to keep red tones from Manic Panic on my dark hair for several months.
Generally speaking, demi-permanent color stays in the hair for 12 to 24 washings, while semi-permanent only lasts for six to 12 washings. But this is a very rough average of a process that is incredibly unreliable in terms of results.
As you are only depositing color, and not opening the hair cuticle fully just like with permanent hair color, the end result and durability will depend a lot on the past history of the hair being dyed.
You can apply semi-permanent dye to virgin hair, and it will last much longer than if you apply it to bleached hair. This is because bleached hair, a prerequisite for anybody not naturally blonde to have unicorn or pastel hair, is much more porous and the color escapes the hair quicker when washing.
|Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids (Violet) 3.0oz||$|
|Pravana Chromosilk VIVIDS, CRYSTAL AQUAMARINE||$|
|Pravana Chroma Silk Creme Hair color Vivids Wild Orchid||$|
Darker semi-permanent dyes usually last longer than pastel colors or lighter tones, but they fade to a pastel color with washes. Also, if you use heat styling that will burn out color from your hair quicker.
The brand of semi-permanent dye you use can also make a huge difference: how long Manic Panic lasts is nowhere near as long as salon-only brands such as Pravana Vivids for example.
This also means that removing Pravana Vivids is almost impossible without bleaching the hair, whereas Manic Panic can be removed with hot oil treatments and vitamin C for far less damage. It’s all about striking a balance between how often you want to re-color and how much damage your hair can take.
How long does semi-permanent hair color last? This also depends a LOT on the aftercare. Dry shampoo will become your best friend, and cold water rinses something you deal with. Hot water, anti-dandruff, or other harsh shampoos and frequent washing will fade semi-permanent hair color much quicker.
If you live in a sunny climate, SPF for your hair and avoiding heat styling will also keep your bright hair rainbow-like for longer.
How to Remove Semi Permanent Hair Dye
How to remove semi permanent hair color is a frequently asked question. People often want to change the color of their hair or decide that maybe that bright blue they got for summer is not the best color to go to work with.
There are many ways to remove semi permanent hair color, and it’s a good idea to try the less damaging ones first and bring in the bigger guns (bleaching or bleach baths) if all else fails.
Timing matters! If you are wondering how to remove blue hair dye right after applying it, you are lucky because it’s much easier than after several weeks have passed and you are left with stubborn greenish-turquoise tones in your hair that refuse to go away.
Use Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Generally speaking, fading semi-permanent dyes until they become a pastel color is easy, the problem is getting rid of that last shades of very light pink or blue.
Start with washing your hair several times with shampoo—anti-dandruff shampoo works great—and hot water. You should see a lot of color going down the drain just by doing this.
Use Hot Oil Treatment
Hot oil treatments are also great to remove semi-permanent hair dye and condition your hair at the same time. You can buy hot oil treatment kits or just applying WARM—not hot but warm and pleasant—olive oil or coconut oil, and leaving it on your hair for about 15 minutes. After this, wash your hair again with shampoo and hot water, and most of the dye should be gone.
|PURA D'OR (4 oz) Organic Moroccan Argan Oil 100% Pure Cold Pressed||$|
|Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner By Arvazallia for Dry or Damaged Hair - 8.45 Oz||$|
If you want to help your rainbow hair dye fade faster, you can just use hot water and clarifying shampoos regularly. If you are blonde or have bleached your hair to get unicorn colors, you can also squeeze the juice of a lemon and cover your hair with it for about 10 or 20 minutes. Bonus points if you sit in the sun during this period.
Use Vitamin C for Stubborn Semi-Permanent Color
For more stubborn semi-permanent dyes or colors that need to be gone quickly, you can try a Vitamin C treatment. You can mix crushed vitamin C tablets with dishwashing liquid and use that to wash your hair.
If you have a sensitive scalp, anti-dandruff shampoo will do the trick as well but it may be slower. This works great for removing semi-permanent dyes that are vegetable-based, like Manic Panic and Directions.
Hair Dye Removers and Bleaches
Many manufacturers of vivid semi-permanent hair colors have released products designed to extract them from hair. Those extractors are not the same ones used for permanent and semi-permanent dyes. They are specific for fashion colors, rainbow colors, and other color depositing glosses. Performance may vary, but they can be a good thing to try if your hair is damaged by the bleaching and you can’t get rid of the remnants of a unicorn hair shade.
Bleach can be used to finish removing semi-permanent hair dyes if you want to dye your hair another light color. Otherwise, you can use a darker dye on top of the faded dye to achieve a natural brunette or dark blonde, but be careful with the undertones, as you can end up with muddy green hair.
|Manic Panic Flash Lightning Bleach 30 Volume Box Kit||$|
|Manic Panic Flash Lightning Hair Bleach Kit 40 Volume||$|
|L'Oreal Quick Blue Powder Bleach, 16 Ounce||$$|
We hope to have answered all your questions about semi-permanent dye, from how often can you dye your hair to how to get hair dye out of hair or how long does semi-permanent hair color last, Feel free to ask anything we missed in the comments!