How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

People love to dye their hair.

Switching hair colors, adding highlights, and even creating gradient tresses have become popular beauty trends, thanks to celebrities and the Korean Wave.

But how do people dye their hair these days? 

A young woman smiling while holding her split dyed hair in color pink and yellow

There are actually several options now.

A popular one people use today is using a semi-permanent hair dye for those who want to change their look without long-term commitment.

If you are looking to make a fun change or try a new hair color but aren’t quite sure if you want to keep it on for the long run, semi-permanent hair dye is a perfect choice!

But how long do semi-permanent hair colors last? And what are the benefits of choosing semi-permanent over the other types of hair dye? Does semi-permanent dye wash out?

Let’s take a closer look at semi-permanent hair dye — how long it lasts, how it works, if it’s right for you — and some tips to make it last longer (in case you fall in love with the color).

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

When applied correctly, it can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks with 5 to 10 washes. Other factors to consider when questioning color longevity include the product you use and your hair’s natural porosity.

Highly porous hair won’t hold color very well, so it will fade faster. Likewise, a lower-quality product may also not preserve the color for too long.

At the end of the day, this color is meant to last only a short time. The nature of this type of hair color means the dye will wash out completely after several washes.

Depending on how you like the color, you may want to make it last longer. There are things you can do to help ensure your color’s longevity.

What Is Semi-Permanent Hair Dye?

Now that we’ve discussed how long semi-permanent hair dye lasts, let’s take a closer look at this type of dye.

So what is semi-permanent hair dye exactly?

As the name implies, semi-permanent dye, sometimes also known as gloss, is a non-permanent hair color that allows you to enhance your hair with the freedom to wash out the color.

This type of dye contains no peroxide or ammonia. To change your hair color, it coats the hair strands instead of altering them or penetrating them.

So while the dye is gentler on your hair, it also doesn’t color it as boldly or fully, and it’s not effective at lightening your hair or covering gray hair.

This type of dye is good if you want to try out a color for just a little while or are worried about how a particular new color might look.

Because you know it will eventually wash out completely, it allows you to be a little more adventurous.

Misconceptions About Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

While semi-permanent hair dye is gaining popularity — especially among the younger beauty lovers who often like changing their hair color — there are still some common misconceptions about it. 

Some of these misconceptions may make people wary of trying it even though they aren’t true.

Misconception #1: Semi-permanent dye will damage your hair. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Semi-permanent dyes are gentler on the hair than many other types of dye.

Because it just coats the strand and doesn’t open the hair shaft, it doesn’t change the composition of your hair or lift the hair’s natural color pigments.

Misconception #2: Semi-permanent dye is harder to use than regular dye. 

This is also not true. Most semi-permanent colors are easy to apply and can be done at home. In fact, semi-permanent dyes come in these easy-to-use types:

  • Rinses
  • Mousses
  • Sprays
  • Gels and creams

It’s important to understand what’s true and what’s not true about this hair color option so you can make an informed choice when deciding how you want to color your hair.

A woman in white gloves is holding a cup of hair dye

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye vs. Permanent Hair Dye

An important consideration when choosing your hair color treatment is knowing the difference between semi-permanent dye and other types of hair color dyes.

As previously mentioned, semi-permanent hair dye will only refresh or tone your hair by coating the strands in a non-permanent color.

It’s also gentler on your tresses because it doesn’t contain chemicals like peroxide or bleach.

On the other hand, permanent hair dye is what you use when you want to change your hair color permanently. Permanent dye lasts longer and will only completely go away when the hair grows out or if you color it again.

Unlike semi-permanent color, permanent hair dye changes the color and structure of your hair.

It has to be mixed with an activator before use and contains chemicals like peroxide and ammonia.

Once activated, permanent dye is applied to the hair and opens the hair shaft to add artificial color pigments within the hair cuticle. This will permanently change the composition and color of each strand.

Permanent hair color can’t be washed out. It grows out when the roots grow out. Or it can be covered by another permanent dye if you don’t like the color.

This is not advisable, though, as too much dye can damage the hair.

A permanent dye can be reapplied every four weeks to eight weeks, depending on the health of your hair and how fast it grows. You can also opt for gentle permanent dye options to prevent hair damage.

Semi-Permanent vs. Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Many often confuse semi-permanent hair color for demi-permanent hair color. But they’re not the same at all.

It’s true that they work similarly. Both only deposit pigments onto the strands rather than penetrate the hair shaft, so they’re much less damaging to the hair than permanent hair color.

They also don’t contain ammonia, so they can’t lighten the hair.

But the main difference between the two is that demi-permanent hair color needs to be mixed with a developer in order to work, whereas semi-permanent hair color works without one.

The developer opens up the hair’s cuticles to allow demi-permanent hair color to deposit color onto the strands. Because of this, it tends to last longer than semi-permanent hair color, lasting for up to 24 washes.

Semi-Permanent vs. Temporary Hair Dye

So now that you know how semi-permanent dye differs from permanent dye, the next question is how does it differ from temporary hair dye?

Temporary hair dye works relatively the same as its semi-permanent counterpart in that it coats the strands of the hair to color them and doesn’t alter the hair’s composition.

However, temporary dye lasts even shorter than semi-permanent color. Usually, it washes out after a couple of washes as opposed to semi-permanent color, which can last up to eight washes.

Temporary color is perfect if you want something quick to match an outfit or a costume. You get the color for the night and can wash it out completely in a matter of days.

How long does it take for semi-permanent hair dye to fade? And how long does temporary dye last?

A quick rule of thumb:

  1. Temporary hair dye fades and can wash out entirely after 2 washes.
  2. Semi-permanent dye lasts for roughly 5 to 8 washes.
A young woman with pink hair posing on a pink background.

Why You Should be Using Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Now that you know the difference between dyes and understand what semi-permanent hair dye is, you might wonder why you should use semi-permanent hair dye.

The most important consideration is knowing what you expect from your hair color. If you want a quick seasonal change or to experiment for a little while, semi-permanent color definitely fits the bill.

It’s easy to put on and isn’t damaging to your hair.

You can be confident changing your look whenever you want without worrying too much about potential hair damage or having to double down on hair care.

So you can keep changing your hair color until you find the color that you absolutely love!

Benefits of Semi-Permanent Hair Dye 

If you’ve decided that you want to try semi-permanent color, you can also enjoy the following benefits:

Long Lasting but Not Permanent Color

This type of dye allows you to enjoy your new hair color anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair and what products you use.

Easier to Remove

Because it’s not a permanent hair color and doesn’t penetrate your hair strands, it’s easier to remove too.

You can use several methods to remove semi-permanent dye, but the easiest is to shampoo regularly until the color fades away completely.

Less Damaging

This color doesn’t alter the composition of the hair or contain harsh chemicals. That’s why it doesn’t damage the hair as much as other types of hair color.

More Natural Results

High-quality semi-permanent dyes are gentle on the hair and can even make your tresses soft and shiny.

Because they aren’t always as vibrant as other types of color, they often appear more natural, adding more subtle dimension to the hair.

How to Apply Semi-Permanent Hair Color at Home

Now that you know all the benefits and uses of a semi-permanent dye, the next step is learning how to apply semi-permanent hair dye at home correctly.

As mentioned, semi-permanent hair dyes come in different types.

Depending on which type you bought, instructions for dye application may vary. Always refer to package instructions for proper dye application.

For a rough overview, this is how the dyeing process usually goes if you bought the usual semi-permanent box dye:

A blonde woman is dyeing her hair using semi permanent hair dye
  1. Apply to dry, clean hair 

You don’t want freshly shampooed hair, but you also don’t want hair that hasn’t been washed in several days as the natural oils will make it harder for the dye to adhere.

  1. Use a tint brush to apply the product

Using a tint brush to apply will keep the color off your hands and your scalp. It will ensure you get the color onto the hair directly.

  1. Wash hands with soap and water before and after

Be sure to wash your hands before and after you apply the hair dye. Wash your hands before so that your hands are clean when you’re working and after to prevent stray dye from staining your skin.

Quick Tip

Always wear gloves when applying semi-permanent hair color to prevent staining more effectively. Otherwise, the stains may last for a few days.

  1. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes (or a little longer if you want)

Be sure to leave the dye in for a minimum of 30 minutes for best results and to give it enough time to set properly. 

Any shorter, and you risk the color fading faster. On the flip side, don’t leave it on too long too. It can discolor your natural hair if you leave it on too long.

  1. Rinse and style as usual 

Once the color has set, rinse it out with a color-safe shampoo and conditioner and style it how you usually would.

How Can You Make a Semi-Permanent Hair Color Last Longer?

Here are a few simple steps you can take to make your semi-permanent hair dye last longer. Ensure you follow these haircare routine tips.

Don’t Wash Your Hair Too Often

Washing your hair daily can strip the dye away and cause it to fade faster. Try alternating between shampooing every other day and using dry shampoo on the other days to minimize damage.

Use Color-Safe Shampoo and Conditioner

When washing your hair, opt for a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to keep your tresses healthy and maintain color.

At the very least, be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo, which is gentler on color-treated hair.

You can also use a conditioner that contains silicone or cetyl alcohol. These ingredients help moisturize your hair without stripping it of its new hue.

Quick Tip

Stick to conditioners with cetyl alcohol, as other types of alcohol may dry your hair out.

Protect Your Hair From Heat

The heat from styling tools and hot water can be bad for color-treated hair. Hot water can also dry out the scalp and rid the hair of essential oils. 

Too much heat can also make the cuticle lift, which is not good for hair color.

Blow-drying your hair or using a flat iron can cause the strands to become brittle, making them susceptible to breaking.

Too much heat damage will cause the color to fade faster. To keep it vibrant longer, use lukewarm or cool water to wash your hair.

And air-dry it when possible instead of using heat-styling tools.

Quick Tip

If you do need to heat style your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant beforehand to prevent damage.

Limit Sun Exposure

In addition, try to limit your hair’s sun exposure. You can keep your hair covered with a scarf or hat when outside.

Too much sun exposure damages your hair and can fade your hair color faster.

Avoid Chlorine

Avoiding chlorine, like the chlorine found in a pool, is also a good idea when using hair color. This doesn’t just apply to semi-permanent but all types of hair dye. 

Chlorine can discolor your hair and add a slight green tint to your locks.

So try to avoid swimming in the pool immediately after coloring your hair.

If you have to swim, there are some tips to protect your new color.

  1. Apply a pre-swim conditioner to minimize chlorine exposure.
  2. Rinse your hair before swimming to saturate your hair with water and reduce the absorption of chlorine.
  3. Wear a swim cap to add another protective layer to your hair while in the pool.
  4. Shampoo after getting out of the pool to quickly remove the chlorine from your hair.
  5. Use a clarifying conditioner after swimming to help with any damage due to chlorine exposure.

How Do You Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Your new hair color should fade completely after roughly 5 to 10 washes, but if you decide you don’t particularly like it or want to remove it, there are ways you can remove the color at home.

Two methods are particularly effective:

Removing the Color with Shampoo

This method is simple but time-consuming and requires a bit of elbow grease. All you’ll need is shampoo, a scrubbing sponge, and a bowl of warm water.

  1. Mix the shampoo and the warm water.
  2. Using the scrubbing sponge, apply the shampoo to your hair and work up a lather.
  3. Keep repeating the process until the color is completely gone.
  4. When the color is gone, rinse the hair with cold water.
  5. Use a conditioner or a conditioning mask to ensure hair softness.

Removing the Color with Baking Soda

Another method to remove the color is by using baking soda. You’ll need clarifying shampoo, conditioner, and baking soda to utilize this method.

  1. Rinse your hair first and get it wet.
  2. Apply conditioner and leave it in for roughly 15 minutes.
  3. Apply shampoo on your hair without rinsing out the conditioner.
  4. Then wash out the shampoo and conditioner at the same time.
  5. Put baking soda on your colored hair and leave it in for at least a minute.
  6. Rinse out with cold water.
A young woman with colorful hair standing on a cobblestone street.

Frequently Asked Questions About Semi-Permanent Color

Is Semi-Permanent Hair Color Damaging?

This color treatment only coats the hair shaft’s surface rather than penetrating the shaft and changing the hair’s composition.

It also doesn’t lighten hair and contains no bleach or harmful chemicals. This makes it non-damaging and safe to use.

How Often Can You Use Semi-Permanent Hair Dye?

Because it doesn’t penetrate the hair, semi-permanent color is safe to use regularly — even as often as every week.

Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Wash Out Completely?

Yes, semi-permanent hair dye will wash out completely with shampoo.

It may take several washes to get the color out, but with each wash, more and more pigment will be washed out until it’s all gone.

Semi-Permanent Dye — Final Thoughts

Knowing the pros and cons of semi-permanent color will help you make an informed decision when considering which dye you want to use.

If you’re looking for a fun way to add a new color or beautiful dimension to your hair, consider using a semi-permanent color. It’s an excellent choice because it lasts longer than regular temporary hair colors but not as long as permanent dyes.

This means you can get the novelty of a gorgeous new hair color without worrying about it fading too quickly or being stuck with it for too long if you do not like how the new color looks.

So semi-permanent dye is a fantastic choice if you want to experiment regularly! There are many colors to choose from, and you can have fun changing up your look.

Do you love coloring your hair? What are your favorite products?

Want to read more about hair color dyes? 

Check these articles out:


  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

  • Madeline Hall

    With ten years in hairstyling, Madeline Hall has trained with elite colorists Naomi Knight and Lupe Voss and assisted celebrity stylist Alex Chases. From building a solid clientele at San Francisco's Code Salon to impressing Nashville's finest, Madeline is a force in the industry. Passionate about educating clients and staying updated on trends.


  1. Sevanunthen says:

    what is the best black semi permenant hair dye to use thats available in south africa

  2. Thanks for this very “helpful” article. I started using a Demi color in the blonde family (light, golden, dark) in 2022 after having transitioned to grey-white in 2019. The Demi color covers well and as you’ve stated lasts about 3 weeks depending upon # of washings. I don’t particularly like the blonde with my skin tone (very fair and a brunette originally), so I’m playing with the idea of going reddish blonde—fingers crossed—I may be using some of your tips if it doesn’t work out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *