So you want to switch up your hair game but do not want to commit to fully changing your hair colour? There’s a thing for that—semi permanent hair colour!

A semi permanent hair colour is a gentler alternative to the permanent one. It’s formulated with lower levels of developer and doesn’t contain ammonia, so it won’t penetrate the hair shaft as deeply. Instead, it coats the outer layer of your hair rather than penetrating deep into the hair shaft. Thus, a temporary change that gradually fades away with each wash.

Whether you’re looking to switch up your shade, add some vibrancy to your current colour, or just cover up a few pesky greys, semi permanent hair colour has your back. Plus, since it’s less harsh on your strands, it’s a great option for those with sensitive scalps or damaged hair.


How semi permanent hair colour works

Semi permanent hair colour formulations typically contain three main components: dye intermediates, coupling agents, and conditioning agents. Since it coats the outer layer of the hair rather than penetrating deeply like permanent dye, it can easily blend with existing colour or add a subtle tint to bleached strands.

If you ever wanted to rock a vibrant pink without having to bleach your hair so much, you totally can—only if you’re blonde.


Hair lightening levels still matter regarding semi permanent hair colour (SPHC). If your hair is already light blonde or a very light shade, you might be able to skip the bleaching step and go straight to the pink. SPHC works best on lighter shades where the colour can shine through.

So if your hair is on the darker side of the spectrum, you might need to lighten it up with bleach before you can achieve that desired pink hue. Some semi permanent dyes are specifically formulated to work on black hair.

There’s still a chance that some pigments might linger longer than expected, especially if your hair is porous or damaged. This is called staining. It’s not alarming though; with regular washing and proper hair care, any residual colour should fade over time.


Semi Permanent Hair Colour vs Demi

Permanent hair dye typically contains stronger chemicals, like ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, that allow the colour to penetrate deep into the hair shaft and stay put for the long haul. This means you’ll get more dramatic results with permanent dye, but it also comes with more potential for damage.

Demi-permanent hair dye falls somewhere between permanent and semi permanent options. It contains a lower concentration of developer than permanent dye, allowing for less penetration into the hair shaft. While demi dye lasts longer than semi permanent, it still won’t stick around as long as permanent colour.

  Semi permanent hair colour Demi permanent hair colour


varies highly on the health of your hair, products used, and hair care routine

Lasts for 7 to 12 washes* Lasts for 20 to 28 washes*
Colour Intensity Can vary from subtle enhancements to bold transformations. Typically ranges from moderate to bold, offering richer and longer-lasting colour.
Damage Considered less damaging because it doesn’t use a developer. Can be slightly more drying due to its high developer content.
Versatility Great for experimenting with fun, temporary colour changes without the commitment. Better suited for those seeking longer-lasting results, and covering grey hair.

Like any other chemicals, semi permanent hair colour can damage your hair, but not as much as a permanent one can. Although, it shouldn’t be a subject of worry to you if you maintain it well and follow proper hair care.

semi permanent hair colour vs demi


How to semi permanent hair colour

Should you wash your hair before semi permanent hair colour?

Yes! It’s like priming a wall before painting – you want a smooth surface for the colour to adhere to for optimal results. This allows the SPHC to penetrate more effectively. Wash with water and shampoo only (skip the conditioner).

No need to worry about your scalp burning since SPHC typically doesn’t contain harsh chemicals like ammonia or high levels of developer, which are known to cause irritation or burning sensations on the scalp.

However, if you have a sensitive scalp or have experienced irritation from hair dyes in the past, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test before having SPHC applied all over your hair.

A step-by-step guide to applying SPHC at home or in a salon

After cleaning and drying up your hair and doing a strand test, we then section your hair. This will make it easier to apply the colour evenly.

Start applying the colour from roots to ends, working section by section. Use a comb to distribute the colour and ensure it’s evenly applied throughout your hair.

Once all your hair is coated, set a timer based on the recommended processing time for the specific product you’re using. It is usually recommended to leave it for 20 minutes (or longer if your hair is dark).

When the timer goes off, hop in the shower and rinse heavily with lukewarm water—no shampoo. Follow up with a colour-safe conditioner to lock in moisture and keep your locks looking luscious.

Blow-dry and style your hair to reveal your fresh new look.


Maintenance and Aftercare

Alright, let’s talk maintenance and aftercare for your semi permanent hair colour (SPHC). Here are some top-notch recommendations and tips to help you keep your SPHC looking vibrant for as long as possible:

Gentle Shampooing: Only after a few days should you wash your hair with shampoo. Use a sulphate-free, colour-safe or colour-saving shampoo. Go easy on the suds and lather up with a shampoo that’s kind to your colour-treated hair.

Cool Water Rinse: Hot water might feel relaxing, but it’s not doing your SPHC any favours. Instead, rinse your hair with lukewarm or cool water to help seal the cuticle.

Skip the Heat: Heat styling tools like flat irons and curling wands can speed up colour fading, so give your hair a break from the heat whenever possible.

UV Protection: Just like your skin, your hair can also suffer from sun damage. Shield your strands from harmful UV rays by wearing a hat or using a UV-protectant hair product.

Deep Conditioning Treatments: Hydrated hair is happy hair, and happy hair holds onto colour better. Look for nourishing masks and treatments designed specifically for colour-treated hair to keep your locks looking their best.

Avoid Chlorine and Saltwater: Chlorine from swimming pools and saltwater from the ocean can wreak havoc on your SPHC. Before taking a dip, protect your hair by applying a leave-in conditioner or wearing a swim cap to be extra sure. Rinse your hair thoroughly afterwards to remove any lingering chemicals.

What is Semi Permanent Hair Colour Here’s Everything You Ought to Know


Removing SPHC

How do you remove semi permanent hair colour when you’re ready to switch things up or go back to your old hue? Here’s the lowdown:

Clarifying Shampoo: A clarifying shampoo is specially formulated to remove buildup from hair products, including semi permanent hair colour. This type of shampoo is STRONG so it’s best to use three pumps and a hair mask or hydrating conditioner after so they won’t be left dry.

Vitamin C Treatment: The acidity of the vitamin C can help break down the colour molecules, making it easier to wash out. Here are 4 ways to remove hair dye with vitamin C.

Baking Soda and Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: Mix equal parts baking soda and anti-dandruff shampoo to create a paste. Apply it to your hair, leave it on for 20-30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Professional Color Remover: If DIY methods aren’t cutting it, you might want to consider a professional colour remover. These products are specifically designed to safely remove unwanted hair colour without causing too much damage to your hair. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid any mishaps.

Time and Patience: Sometimes, the best way to remove semi permanent hair colour is simply to wait it out. As you shampoo and wash your hair over time, the colour will gradually fade on its own. It might take a bit longer, but it’s a gentle approach that won’t cause any damage to your locks.

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment to nourish your hair and restore moisture after the colour-removal process. Mentioned above also apply to when your semi permanent hair colour turns out darker than you expected, or if you want to lighten semi permanent hair colour.


Semi Permanent Hair Colour: Things You Now Know

In summary, semi-permanent hair colour (SPHC) offers a versatile and low-commitment option for those looking to switch up their hair colour without the permanence of traditional dye. It coats the outer layer of the hair shaft with pigment, providing a temporary change that gradually fades with each wash. SPHC works best on lighter shades, blending with existing colour or adding subtle tints to bleached strands.

Compared to demi-permanent and permanent dyes, SPHC offers a shorter duration of colour, typically lasting 7 to 12 washes, making it ideal for experimenting with fun, temporary colour changes. While it’s less damaging than permanent dye, proper maintenance and aftercare are essential for preserving colour vibrancy.

When applying SPHC, it’s important to wash the hair beforehand for optimal results and to follow a step-by-step application process to ensure even coverage. After application, gentle shampooing, cool water rinses, and UV protection help maintain colour longevity.

If you’re ready to switch things up or return to your original colour, there are several methods for removing SPHC, including clarifying shampoo, vitamin C treatments, baking soda, and professional colour removers. However, patience and time can also gradually fade the colour without causing damage to the hair.


Whether opting for DIY methods or seeking professional assistance, the temporary nature of semi-permanent hair colour allows for endless possibilities in expressing individual style. Achieve the desired results for a seamless and enjoyable experience by embracing the journey of hair transformation and considering expert advice at Christopher Hanna.