A fun way to express yourself is to change your hair color. You can go for a subtle color just to mix things up, or for something edgy and drastic with relative ease.
However, using a permanent dye can be a challenging process to get the right color, and you need to be ready to make the commitment not only to the color, but also the upkeep of it.
If you want to try a new color, but the thought of something so permanent sends you into panic, don’t write off dyeing your hair just yet!
An option for you is semi-permanent hair dye, which will give you gorgeous color without the long term responsibility. And when you finally get it, you’ll need to find out how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer.
What is semi-permanent dye?
Semi-permanent hair dye is a deposit only dye, so it is a more gentle and user-friendly alternative to traditional permanent dyes.
Semi-permanent color usually only lasts about 6 to 8 washes, so most of it will be out of your hair within a few weeks, depending on your hair care routine.
This makes these dyes perfect for experimenting with hair colors and trying out different looks.
How semi-permanent dye differs from permanent dye
Permanent hair dyes use developer which usually contains ammonia or peroxide.
These chemicals oxidize and cause the pores on your hair follicles to open, so that the dye can be absorbed, or if you’re lightening; the pigment in your hair can also be dissolved.
Semi-permanent color is different from permanent dye because it just coats the outside of your hair follicle.
It does not use developer – meaning that it is more gentle on your hair, and it doesn’t have the ability to lighten your hair.
Instead, the color basically just sits on the outside of your hair follicles.
How to choose the right dye and color
Personally, I have used both professional hair dye and box dyes.
While box dyes are a less expensive option, I have found that the results are not consistent, it is harder to apply, and you just don’t get as nice of a color, as you would with professional dye.
You also have much more control with regards to the results with professional dye, because you are personally choosing and mixing the developer and color(s).
Since semi-permanent dye is only depositing the color onto your hair, it will just cover your current hair color.
You will not be able to make your hair any lighter.
This means you will need to pick a color that is at your current lightness or go darker.
Without the oxidizing agents which cause permanent change, there is no way to make your hair lighter and have it wash out.
When it comes to choosing a color to try, a good place to start is identifying your skin tone.
The best way to do this is to stand in natural light.
Look at the veins on your inner wrist.
Blue-purple veins mean a cool skin tone.
Green-blue veins mean a warm skin tone, and if you have a mix or you cannot tell, then that signifies a neutral skin tone which is complimented by both warm and cool colors.
Application of semi-permanent hair dye
Whether you choose to go with a box dye or decide on a professional semi-dye, you should follow the directions on the product.
This will ensure that you get the expected results and that the dye colors your hair consistently.
Start with clean, dry hair
Unless your instructions state otherwise, you want to start with dry, washed hair that has not been conditioned.
Your head produces natural oils that help to protect your hair.
These oils can block the dye from fully covering the hair follicle.
So, unlike with processes that lighten your hair and you want that extra protection, your hair should be clean and dry before you apply the color so that it takes better.
Section your hair
To make it easier to work, it is a good idea to divide your hair into four sections.
Part down the middle of your head so you have one section on each side.
Then, for each side, start at the uppermost part of your head and part the section into two smaller sections and use clips to hold them in place.
From there, you can make smaller sections about ¼ of an inch to work with.
Please note that the dye will not lather, so you may need another box depending on your hair length and thickness.
I always find it easiest to start with the very back and bottom of your head. That way you can just layer the dyed strands on top of each other.
If you decide to use a box dye, they usually come with everything you need.
Be sure to use gloves, as you really do not want hair dye to get all over your skin.
Usually, there is an application bottle included, and you just follow the directions, pouring the dye in the bottle, and shaking it to mix it.
To apply, take your first section in the back of your head and separate the first ¼” section at the very bottom.
Start at the root and squeeze a little dye right on the scalp and rub it into the roots.
Work the dye down towards the end.
Add a bit more dye to the section if needed to ensure all of it is thoroughly covered.
Keep sectioning off the first section and applying the dye.
Do the same thing for the other three sections.
For professional hair color, you will start at the bottom of a back section as well.
Take your first ¼” section.
You can either use a dye brush to apply the dye, or use a gloved hand starting at the root and working your way down to the ends.
Work your way up your head until all of your hair is covered.
If you would like, you can also use foils to apply the dye.
The instructions will tell you how long to leave the dye in for.
Usually around 35 minutes or so.
When rinsing out your dye use lukewarm water.
Hot water will loosen the dye’s bond.
Use a color care shampoo and gently wash and rinse until the water runs clear.
Condition and rinse.
It is recommended that you allow your hair to air dry, as heat can make the color fade faster.
How to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer
Although the semi-permanent color is designed to fade out over time, there are things you can do to make it last a little longer.
Don’t wash too often
You should hold off on washing your hair until 72 hours after dyeing it.
This allows the hair cuticles to close and lock in the hair color.
The semi-permanent dye washes out with each shampooing.
You should refrain from washing your hair too often, to once or twice a week (or less) to maintain your color for longer.
Always wash with lukewarm to cool water because as mentioned above, hot water will loosen the dye’s bond.
When you wash your hair, use the pads of your fingers, and gently massage your head. Too much scrubbing will make the color wash out sooner.
You should also be gentle when you towel-dry your hair. Being too rough can actually scrub out the color.
Use color-safe products
Use a color protective shampoo and conditioner.
You should also invest in a sulfate-free, color protect shampoo and conditioner.
You can also try adding any leftover dye to your conditioner and shampoo if there is enough.
Use color-protecting dry shampoo – it will keep you from washing your hair less.
It also helps to control excess oil between washes.
Try a color depositing product like a root concealer, a color boosting conditioner, and a color depositing shampoo.
Just be sure to wear gloves when shampooing. Try to use this shampoo every other wash, as it can be a little drying.
Avoid heat styling appliances
Try to avoid blow-drying your hair or using heated tools like straighteners or curling irons, as this will make the color fade faster.
Avoid exposure to sunlight
Try to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and tanning beds.
Use a hair serum with UV ray protection.
When you are out in the sun try wearing a hat, scarf, or carrying a parasol.
Avoid chlorinated water
It would also be wise to avoid swimming in chlorinated water as this can affect your hair color.
Your color should last around 6-10 weeks or so, therefore, the dye will look the best during the first two weeks since the semi-permanent color is designed to fade out over time.
Does semi-permanent hair dye wash out completely?
As the name suggests, semi-permanent hair dye is made to fade out after so many washings.
You may be wondering if you will go back to your completely natural hair – like it was before dyeing.
How close you get back to your natural color depends on a number of factors:
How healthy your hair is
Healthy hair is less porous, so the color will more easily wash out, than from damaged hair that is more porous and could have more breakage.
Untreated vs. treated hair
The dye will take to hair differently depending on whether the hair has been previously processed or not.
Your hair texture and the brand of hair dye
Some brands are made to last as long as possible.
Others make it easier to fade out the color.
Decide what your goal is with your hair and do your research.
Certain brands and products work better with certain hair types.
Thicker hair will generally fade faster than fine hair.
How close to your natural hair color and lightness level your chosen color is
I used a semi-permanent dye to change my hair from its natural, unprocessed strawberry-blonde color to blue-black with the naive expectation that it would eventually fade out to my natural color.
It didn’t. At all.
Fortunately, I really liked the color, and I ended up keeping it for a year and a half, and I only had to touch up my roots every so often.
Getting my hair back to my natural color was a long, drawn-out, and damaging process that left my hair a watermelon pink for three days so that we could let my hair rest and minimize the damage.
I still internally cringe when I pass boxed black hair dye in the store.
So, if you are a natural blonde and you decide on a dark brown or black semi-permanent dye, the chances of it fading out completely are significantly less than if you go for a color that is a lighter level and closer to your natural hair.
The dye color
The color you choose will have an impact on how well the color will fade.
For example, red hues are notorious for losing their vibrance and fading quickly, while black is notorious for being difficult to remove.
Again, the condition and health of your hair, type, thickness, and texture is all dependent on this as well.
If you’ve been wondering how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer, the best thing you can do is to wash your hair less often, and when you do, to be gentle and use color-preserving shampoo and conditioner that are sulfate-free.
Also, never use hot water as it loosens the bonds between the dye and your hair.
Remember to also keep away from direct UV light.
Always keep in mind that not everyone will have the same exact results when it comes to color treatments and hair processes.
Understanding how different processes and treatment impact your hair, and what changes occur in regards to the follicles and cuticles can help you make the best decisions when it comes to caring for your hair.
It is always a good thing to know your hair type, how thick it is, and what your hair texture is like before picking a color and dyeing your hair.
You should always keep track of what processes you have done to your hair and when they took place.
If you see a professional hairdresser, it is important that you are open and honest with them about what has been done to your hair.
More information will help them to better care for your hair health and make sure they get as close to your desired results as possible.