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  • A Complete Guide to Hair Dye

Permanent, Semi or Temporary: What Type of Hair Dye Is Best For You?

By Carly Cochrane - 3 months ago | Updated
best hair dye

Whether you’re keeping up appearances or simply wanting to try out the latest colour trends, it’s important to know about the different types of hair dye so that you can make the best choice for your locks.

From permanent and semi-permanent to wash out colours, colour boosters, toners and root touch-ups, there’s a variety of hair dyes painting the industry right now. We break down what they all mean so that you can not only discover the hair dye that suits you, but also achieve a salon-fresh colour from the comfort of your own home.


Permanent Hair Dye

How long does permanent hair dye last?

Permanent hair dye offers the longest-lasting colour as it delivers chemical processing and changes the natural colour of your hair. Instead of gradually fading out, the colour simply grows out as your natural roots regrow. You'll need to be committed to your new shade as there is no going back with permanent hair dye!

Does permanent hair dye damage hair?

Since permanent hair dye chemically alters the colour of your natural hair and is left to process for longer, it's hard to claim that it cannot cause damage to your locks. Dying your hair with permanent colours can cause structural changes to your hair, such as lightening the natural pigment or leaving strands brittle and prone to breakage. However, this can all be avoided if you give your hair the correct care after a colour treatment. Take time to tailor your hair care routine with the likes of gentle colour-protecting formulas, moisturising hair masks and strengthening treatments.

Can you remove permanent hair dye?

Taking the plunge and going with permanent hair dye is a daunting decision. If you're one of those who've dyed their hair with permanent hair dye and regretting your choice, don't panic, there are solutions. Whether your hair is too brassy, a little too dark or just doesn't feel right, you can still amend it.

It can be tempting to dye your hair another colour straight away, but we strongly advise against this. Layering another colour immediately is too much for your hair to take; it forms excess buildup which causes your hair to become fragile and damaged.

Firstly, we suggest using a potent hair colour remover, which removes the artificial colour molecules and returns your hair to its base colour. A bleach-free hair colour remover safely removes the dye and keeps your hair in a healthy condition.

Garnier Nutrisse 5 Mocha Brown Permanent Hair Dye

Garnier Nutrisse 5 Mocha Brown Permanent Hair Dye

£5.79 Go To Store
Josh Wood Colour Permanent Colour Kit

Josh Wood Colour Permanent Colour Kit

£14.00 Go To Store
Schwarzkopf LIVE Colour Intense Colour

Schwarzkopf LIVE Colour Intense Colour

£3.99 Go To Store


Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

How long does semi-permanent hair dye last?

Semi-permanent hair dye is a great option if you want to experiment with a new, fun hair colour without the long-term commitment.

Once applied, semi-permanent hair colour typically fades within 4-6 weeks. Blue, red or green tones may last a little longer, but it is perfect if you're trialling out colours or constantly switching your style to keep up with the trends.

If you decide that you love your new hair look, you can easily re-apply the semi-permanent hair dye to keep colour looking fresh.

How do I apply semi-permanent hair dye?

Using semi-permanent hair dye is easy and can be done from the comfort of your own home. We recommend carrying out a strand test beforehand to ensure the dye works for you and doesn't cause irritation.

To apply, ensure hair is clean and free of oils or styling products. Semi-permanent hair dye can be applied to both wet and dry hair, but wet hair usually works best.

Section your hair into even parts. You can apply the colour all over or you can pick out strands to create cool ombre or dip-dye effects.

Wearing protective gloves, evenly apply the colour to your hair, working from root tip. Leave the dye on your hair for the recommended time listed in the directions. Rinse the colour until the water runs clear and style as normal.

Should I use semi-permanent or permanent hair dye?

It's always good to know the difference between semi-permanent and permanent hair dye before switching up your hair colour.

As mentioned before, semi-permanent hair colours are the perfect short-term option, especially if you're trialling colour for the first time. The formula simply coats the surface of the hair shaft, meaning the effects are super easy to reverse. Not to mention, semi-permanent hair colours are usually peroxide and ammonia free, meaning they are less likely to damage your hair.

If you use a permanent hair dye, it is likely that you will need to touch up your roots every four to six weeks.

How can I get rid of semi-permanent hair dye quickly?

If your new hair colour hasn't turned out the way you expected it, fear not! Semi-permanent hair colour can be easily reversed.

One way to remove semi-permanent hair dye quickly is to keep washing your hair. As semi-permanent hair dyes normally fade within six to 12 washes anyway, you can easily speed up the removal process.

The second option is to use clarifying shampoos and colour-removing formulas. While they won't completely strip the colour out of your hair right away, they target the dye and eventually remove it from your hair.

Wella Professionals Colour Touch Semi Permanent Hair Colour

Wella Professionals Colour Touch Semi Permanent Hair Colour

£7.28 Go To Store
BLEACH LONDON Smoky Rose Super Cool Colour

BLEACH LONDON Smoky Rose Super Cool Colour

£4.80 Go To Store
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Tint

Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Tint

£14.50 Go To Store


Root Touch Up

How do I touch up my own hair roots?

Touching up your hair roots is a job we typically leave to the professionals at the salon but doing it at home saves you huge amounts of time, money and stress.

What product you should use depends on how subtle your roots are and what colour you've dyed your hair. If you've gone from brunette to a different shade of brown or you're trying to hide the appearance of grey hairs, then you can use a spray or powder to touch up your hairs.

If you've gone from blonde to brunette, vice versa or any striking colour, root touch up sprays and powders won't cut it. We suggest using a root hair dye for reliable and trusted results.

How often should I touch up my roots?

How often you should touch up your roots depends on how fast your hair grows. We suggest touching up your roots every 4-6 weeks to keep your hair healthy, happy and looking full of colour. You can touch up your roots at home to save some money, and you can get multiple uses out of a product of hair colouring, spray or powder.

How long does it take to touch up hair roots?

When you head to the salon for a root touch up, it typically takes around 30-45 minutes. If you're a veteran of touching up your hair, it takes a similar amount of time when doing it at home. If you're a beginner to hair dye, it might take a little bit longer, but not much more than an hour.

L'Oreal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray

L'Oreal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray

£5.99 Go To Store
Bumble and bumble A Tint Of Brown Hair Powder

Bumble and bumble A Tint Of Brown Hair Powder

£24.65 Go To Store
Color Wow Root Cover Up

Color Wow Root Cover Up

£22.50 Go To Store


Toner

What does toner do to your hair?

Hair toners are a great product when it comes to keeping colour-treated and bleached hair looking fresh. Working on all colours, from blonde to brunette and red, they are specially formulated to correct and neutralise unwanted yellow, gold and orange undertones, as well as brassiness.

You can even use a hair toner to customise your look. Spruce up your hair colour with some natural-looking highlights or make a statement by fading out to cool-grey.

What hair toner should I use for brassiness?

Brassy hair is when unwanted warm tones begin to show on colour-treated locks. It normally occurs when naturally dark hair is bleached or dyed blonde, or when hair is highlighted.

If you want to combat brassiness, then opt for deep purple or blue toners. This is because violet and blue shades are best for neutralising orange and golden undertones. They'll undoubtedly keep your colour fresh and full of vibrancy and shine.

Is toner bad for your hair?

No, at-home toner is not considered bad for your hair. It is simply designed to help your hair and keep colour looking natural. Think of it as a semi-permanent dye, as it deposits colour without damaging the hair structure.

To keep hair in best condition, you should only use toner every 4-6 weeks, after applying a colour treatment.

How do I apply hair toner at home?

Applying hair toner at home is safe and easy to do. We recommend carrying out a strand test first so that you can trial the results of the treatment.

Start by washing your hair. Toner can be used on towel-dried or completely dry hair.

Apply the toner to brassy areas that require the most colour correction, or apply to the mid-parts of strands and work up to the roots and down to the tips.

Allow the toner to work its magic for 5-20 minutes before rinsing.

Balmain Ash Toner

Balmain Ash Toner

£24.50 Go To Store
IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-in Brunette Toning Drops

IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-in Brunette Toning Drops

£25.00 Go To Store
BLEACH LONDON White Toner Kit

BLEACH LONDON White Toner Kit

£6.35 Go To Store

Now that you have all the intel about the different types of hair dye, you can switch up your style with confidence. For our bleached blonde babes, be sure to check out The Best Purple Shampoos for Blonde Hair so that you can keep your colour bright, beautiful and boosted.

Carly Cochrane

Written by Carly Cochrane

Carly is a beauty editor at Cosmetify and has been a part of our family for three years. She has over five years of experience in health, beauty and wellness writing.

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