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Hair Colour: Permanent vs. Semi vs. Demi vs. Temporary

EBSYou’ve decided you want to change your look by colouring your hair and are probably wondering what colour should you choose? Before making that determination, it's important to understand the different types of colour available to you and how they work. 

Permanent Hair Colour

As its name suggests, permanent hair colour changes the colour of hair permanently. When mixed with a developer, permanent hair dye opens the hair cuticle and deposits colour inside. When the cuticle re-seals, it prevents the colour from escaping. Permanent hair colour will not fade, instead it will ‘grow out’ as new hair grows in. Permanent dye can be used to lighten, darken or maintain the entire head and will provide grey coverage.  

Permanent hair colour is the best option for duration and grey coverage.

Demi-Permanent Hair Colour

Demi-permanent hair colour is a low ammonia dye that is typically mixed with a low volume developer. Demi-permanent dye opens the surface of the cuticle and allows the colour to penetrate slightly in to the shaft. Demi-permanent formulations will not lighten, lift or offer grey coverage. Demi-permanent colour will last between 12-24 washes before gradually fading and can be used for a variety of applications including:

  • Enhance natural hair colour
  • Refresh faded colour
  • Deposit colour over lightened or blonde hair
  • Blend colour, but not cover grey
  • Toning brassy or ashy hues
  • Blend highlights
  • Add shine (clear)

Demi-permanent hair colour is a great way to change up your colour without the long-term commitment.  

Semi-Permanent Hair Colour

Semi-permanent hair colour contains no ammonia and does not need to be mixed with developer. Unlike demi or permanent colour, semi-permanent hair dye does not penetrate the hair shaft – it deposits colour on to the surface of the hair. Semi-permanent hair colour will not lighten hair, change hair colour or cover grey, but can be used to:

  • Deposit colour over lightened or blonde hair,
  • Blend grey
  • Refresh faded colour
  • Tone hair colour that has turned ashy or brassy
  • Add shine

Semi-permanent colour will last up to 12 shampoos depending on the health and porosity of the hair and is great for anyone with an allergy or sensitivity to ammonia. 

Temporary Hair Colour  

Temporary hair dye changes hair colour instantly by coating the hair with colour. It is often in the form of a chalk, powder or spray. It will not lighten or darken the actual hair colour. Temporary colour is used to conceal re-growth, cover grey hair or add panels of colour. Temporary hair dye washes out with shampoo.

Because of its ability to quickly add colour and rinse out, temporary hair colour is ideal for quick fixes or experimentations.

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