Permanent Vs Semi-Permanent Hair Colour

Mar 25, 2020Hair Colour

Whether you are new to dyeing your hair or have experienced many colour changes over the years, from balayage and ombré to double process blonde, no doubt you have heard many terms thrown around to describe various types of hair dye and techniques. Two of the most common are permanent and semi-permanent hair colour, but what do these really mean? Wieselmann Salon is home to Melbourne’s best hairdressers and award-winning colourists. Let’s take a look at permanent and semi-permanent hair colour and help you decide which is best for you.

What is Permanent Hair Colour?

As the name suggests, permanent hair colour is exactly that—permanent. Permanent dyes involve mixing an oxidizer (such as hydrogen peroxide) and ammonia with the colouring agent before application. Permanent colour opens the cuticle to deposit the permanent colour directly into the strand. The formulation of permanent dyes is complicated, and most suppliers go to great lengths to attain long-lasting colour that does minimal damage to the strength of your hair.

How Long Does Permanent Hair Colour Last?

Technically, it never leaves, instead the colour fades over time and can be dyed over with a new shade whenever you want to refresh your look.

Why You’ll Love Permanent Hair Colour

  • Permanent dyes don’t have to be applied as often as semi-permanent or temporary colours. They provide a rich, long-lasting colour that doesn’t fade as quickly as the alternative.
  • There is a wide range of permanent colour shades, and these are often more natural-looking.
  • Because permanent hair colour actually alters the colour of your hair, it’s a great solution for covering greys. Most hair colourists will advise that if your locks are more than 25% grey, permanent hair colour is the best option for you.
  • It can be used to lighten, darken, add, or change the tone of your hair
  • It provides full hair colour coverage

However, permanent dyes can be more damaging to your hair. The chemicals used are stronger and the mixture usually has to be left on for a longer period of time.

What is Semi-Permanent Hair Colour?

Semi-permanent hair colour is ammonia-free, so its molecules get under the outer cuticle of the hair shaft but don’t penetrate the strand. Instead, they wrap around the cuticle, creating a coating of colour that’s gradually washed away. They fade progressively and as they don’t contain bleach, they can’t lighten or alter your natural shade.

The Benefits of Semi-Permanent Hair Colour

  • Less commitment – great for when you want to try out a new hue that you’re not that sure about or if you want to change your hair colour to keep up with seasonal trends.
  • No obvious roots – semi-permanent hair colour does not penetrate the strands and washes out gradually, so there’s no tell-tale line showing where dye has been deposited as it grows out.
  • It is available in clear if you want to add shine but don’t want to change colour
  • It can be used to refresh or change the tone
  • No developer/activator is required
  • Colour lasts between 8 and 24 shampoos
  • It doesn’t change hair structure or colour permanently

While semi-permanent colour has many advantages and is a great option for those not wanting to commit to a permanent change, semi-permanent colour does not provide full coverage and is not designed to cover greys. It will also need to be reapplied more frequently. 

Can You Transition Between the Two?

Yes, you can. If you’re starting off with semi-permanent colour, switching to permanent is an easy option. Making the move from permanent to semi-permanent can be a bit trickier because you’re changing from full coverage to one that looks more translucent. For the best advice speak to one of the expert colourists at Wieselmann Salon.

Often, a colourist might use a combination of hair colour types to get the best result. Permanent hair colour may be used to dye new growth while semi-permanent hair colour might be used to restore vibrancy or add depth to the rest of your previously-coloured hair. Whatever the look you’re after, Wieselmann’s team of award-winning Melbourne hairdressing professionals will assess your hair and advise the best options to achieve the exact colour you want. Book a consultation today.


(03) 9827 6899 | Shop 1, 305 Toorak Road SOUTH YARRA VIC 3141