How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Color Last? (Answered)

Choosing semi-permanent is an excellent option for those who want to color their hair without using a developer. But, how long does semi-permanent hair color last?

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Color last

How long the semi-permanent color lasts depends on the product you use, the health of your hair, and the application method. Healthier hair will have more trouble absorbing the dye. Some products are also meant to be more permanent than others.

What Is Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Semi-permanent hair color contains no ammonia. Because it doesn’t have any ammonia, it only deposits color. 

The color cannot penetrate the hair fiber, so it doesn’t last nearly as long as demi-permanent or permanent hair color.

So semi-permanent hair color will not make your hair lighter. But, you can use it to deepen the shade of your hair or darken your hair. 

For example, applying a copper semi-permanent color might work if you’re a natural blonde but want to have more red tones in your hair.

Semi-permanent color is also great if you want to experiment with different colors without committing to one just yet. Maybe you want to try a purple-to-pink ombre look. 

You can use semi-permanent colors to experiment and then give your stylist examples for a more permanent color.

Types Of Semi-Permanent Color

woman getting her hair colored at a salon

There are lots of different semi-permanent color products available on the market. Some behave more like conventional hair color, while others act more like a deep conditioner. 

Some are meant to apply vibrant colors, while others maintain the current color. 

An example of a semi-permanent product that acts more like conventional color is “box dye.” 

This is what you find in department stores. They have a 2-3 step system that deposits color. 

They also typically use a non-ammonia product to set the color in the cuticle.

Color depositing conditioners are another product you can use. These work like deep conditioners that deposit color and keep the hair hydrated. 

They come in different intensities. Some are used for an initial color application, while others are best suited for maintaining color.

Several plant-based products deposit color. One of those products is henna. However, these products don’t come in many color choices and may not be as vibrant as some other products mentioned.

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Color Last?

Well, that depends on several factors. The first is how light your hair was in the beginning. If you have hair that has been previously processed or damaged, the color can more easily penetrate your hair fibers. 

That will make the color last longer.

If you have naturally light hair that has never been processed, you may have slightly different results. Usually, lighter hair is more porous. 

This porosity makes it easier for the color to penetrate deep into the hair fiber. Also, because your hair is lighter, the color will show up more brightly. 

So you won’t notice the color fading as quickly.

If you have natural or processed dark hair, you may find that semi-permanent color doesn’t last very long for you. 

This is because the color won’t show up as brightly, so you need more pigment to see it. Also, the color can’t bind to the hair cuticle if you have healthy hair. So the color just washes away.

Can You Make Semi-Permanent Color Last Longer?

woman smiling while getting her auburn hair colored at a salon

There are a few ways to make the semi-permanent color last longer. The first is to use a developer to lighten your hair. 

Not only with that expose the cortex of your hair to the color, but the lighter shade will make the color appear more vibrant.

But one of the benefits of using semi-permanent colors is that you don’t need to use a developer. Well, using a developer gets you the brightest, longest-lasting color. 

But you can lengthen how long semi-permanent color lasts by trying these methods:

Wash Before Applying Color

Decreasing how frequently you need to wash your hair will help preserve your color. So, start by washing your hair before applying the semi-permanent color. 

That way, you can get a few extra days before you need to wash again.

Apply The Color To Dry Hair

Another way to make the color last longer is to help it deposit deeper into your hair fiber. The best way to do this is to apply it to dry hair. 

Wet hair will dilute the color, and the water molecules will fill the pores that the color is trying to fill. 

You will also be able to see where you have already applied color much more easily.

Set The Color With Heat

Many semi-permanent color brands recommend setting their products with heat. Usually, you use heat to set your color in two ways. 

First, after applying the pigment, wrap your hair in a plastic bag or cap. The heat from your scalp will help to set the color in your hair cuticle.

The next step comes after you have rinsed out the excess product. 

Use a hair dryer on a high heat setting to set the hair color even more firmly in the cuticle. Using a higher setting works best, but be sure to use a heat protectant.

Wash Your Hair With Cool Water

This tip isn’t as fun, but it does help your color last. Showering with warm or hot water opens the hair cuticle, making the dye wash out more quickly. 

Showering with cool water keeps the cuticle closed, sealing in color. It doesn’t protect all of it, but it does help it wash out more slowly.

Touch Up And Reapply Frequently

If you want this to be a more permanent look, then you will need to reapply your color pretty frequently. Most semi-permanent dyes say they last between 4-12 washes. 

But, your color will continue to fade throughout that time. Touch up your color frequently to keep it looking vibrant.

Use Permanent Color First

One way to make your semi-permanent color last longer is to use it as a supportive step to your permanent color. Let’s say you want bright red hair.

If you use semi-permanent color on its own, the color may not be as vibrant. But, if you use demi or permanent color first, that will make your bright color last longer.


A semi-permanent color is an excellent option for those who don’t want to commit to a color or don’t want to damage their hair. 

There are lots of products for you to choose from on the market. 

Think carefully about how long you want the color to last, what color you want, and what your future hair goals might be. 

That will help you choose the product that is right for you. And, if you want the look to last longer, just follow these steps. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll decide you want to switch to that look permanently.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I combine semi-permanent colors with a developer?

You should not combine semi-permanent colors with a developer unless that brand says specifically that you can do so. These colors are usually meant to be used on their own or with products included in a kit. Following their instructions will get the best results.

Is hair chalk semi-permanent?

No, hair chalk or wax is not semi-permanent. It is called temporary color because it should come out in 1-2 washes. People often use them for costume parties or concerts. However, if your hair is very light or damaged, it may leave a tint behind.

Is purple shampoo a semi-permanent hair color?

While purple semi-permanent products exist, purple shampoo is not considered a semi-permanent color. Purple shampoo is most often used to brighten blonde hair. It’s temporary, just like chalk or wax. The color benefits will stop once you quit using the shampoo. 

Can I mix hair color with conditioner?

You cannot mix hair color with demi-permanent dye. This will make it apply unevenly. However, you can mix it with some semi-permanent products to help nourish your hair while depositing color. You can also mix it with color depositing conditioners if you don’t want to deposit much hair color.

Will semi-permanent color damage my hair?

This depends on the type of color used and how you applied it. Usually, semi-permanent dyes don’t cause much damage to the hair. However, you may find that you have a more permanent tint to your natural color or that the color is difficult to remove. Ask your stylist which colors they recommend for your hair goals.

Can I make semi-permanent dye at home?

There are lots of ways to make semi-permanent dye at home. One popular recipe says to boil your hair in Kool-aid. However, these methods are not recommended. They can cause severe and irreparable damage to your hair. Don’t risk it. Stick with the tried and true products available.

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