What Is The Difference Between Semi vs. Demi Permanent Hair Color

What Is The Difference Between Semi vs. Demi Permanent Hair Color

What is Semi- vs Demi-permanent Hair Color?

Choosing between hair color options can be confusing, especially as everyone’s hair is unique. Your colorist will have definite opinions about demi-permanent color versus semi-permanent color and will consider individual factors such as the degree of porosity that determines how readily your hair will accept color, how vivid your natural color is the overall health of your hair, and your hair wash habits.

The primary difference between semi- and demi-permanent hair color is how long they last after repeated washing and exposure to sunlight. Both methods are temporary compared to permanent hair color, with demi- lasting up to 30 washings, and semi- lasting about 5. Here’s how to decide which method is best for your hair and your hair color goals.

What is Demi-Permanent Hair Color And How Does it Work?

Demi-permanent hair color is made without the potentially damaging ammonia that permanent hair color requires. It is used by mixing it with a low-volume developer that activates hair color with a low level of peroxide to lift the outer cuticle so that pigment can lodge there without affecting the innermost fibers of the cortex. Demi-permanent color is usually applied to dry hair before shampooing to deposit pigment on the surface layer without lightening your natural hair color.

Who Is Demi-Permanent Color Best For?

Demi-permanent is the best choice – and the least damaging one – if you’re looking for a temporary hair color change or to shift your tone from cool to warm or vice-versa. It affects natural hair enough to darken it and is a fine choice when gray hairs begins to appear, making them look like natural highlights that blend with your overall color – with less demarcation as hair grows out.

Demi-permanent color is also perfect for refreshing faded ends. If you're wondering how to take care of bleached hair, demi- permanent color is a great way to brighten up dull and brassy blondes.

What Is Semi-Permanent Hair Color and How Does It Work?

Semi-permanent hair color is a low-maintenance and short-term commitment. This “deposit-only,” temporary hair dye lasts for a short while and is often referred to as a toner, stain, or gloss. Unlike demi-, semi-permanent color does not require a developer to work and is usually applied to freshly-washed hair. It doesn’t change hair color as much as it enriches the tone, and adds some depth or vibrancy.

Who Is Semi-Permanent Color Best For?

Semi-permanent hair color is the best choice if you’re new to the hair color arena, or a “color virgin” in salon parlance. It is the most temporary hair color method – and the least risky as it can be washed out quickly and easily if the results aren’t to your liking. If you’re wondering how often can you dye your hair, this method allows you more freedom. It’s also the best way to indulge adventurous fashion whims as often as weekly and makes for full-spectrum Halloween hues.

Semi-permanent color can also counteract yellowing blonde hair, keep red from fading-usually the first hue to lose its punch – and prevent brunette from turning red or brassy. Wondering how to get rid of brassy hair? Your colorist can add semi-permanent color to a masque or conditioner to create a custom toner to use between salon visits.

And since we’re discussing color, you might be asking:

What Is Permanent Hair Color?

Permanent hair color involves a process where ammonia and hydrogen peroxide work together to lift the hair cuticle to change the structure of the melanin and keratin, the elements responsible for hair color and texture, respectively, in order to deposit dye. Permanent hair color can lighten, darken, or alter the tone and will last up to 8 weeks, though root touch-ups may be required monthly. Permanent color can offer full coverage of grays.

What Else Should I Know?

Blonding specialist Cyd Charisse has this advice for you if you’re considering playing with fashion colors such as pink, blue, or purple:

“They’re so much fun and can be great accessories to your look, but with any color change, there has to be a commitment; the longer you wait between color services the more your color will fade.”

Not ready to commit? “Try small pops of color on layers underneath that can be hidden or featured less of a big deal if they fade, or the ultimate commitment-free method: clip-ins.”

Your choice of cleanser and how often you prefer to wash is key to determining how long your color will last. We have many tips for dyed hair including washing less frequently or choosing a detergent-free formula that will help you get more brilliance for your buck. We recommend New Wash, which is often called the colorist’s soulmate; you will consider it your hair’s best friend, especially when it comes to preserving the color and keeping your hair looking and feeling absolutely brilliant with intense shine.


1. What Is Demi-Permanent Hair Color? L'Oreal Paris. URL.
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2. The Difference Between Semi and Demi Permanent Hair Color. Mane Addicts. URL.
Accessed October 7, 2020.

3. Cydcharisse. Instagram. URL.
Accessed October 7, 2020.