How Long Does Permanent Hair Dye Really Last? Here’s The Truth.

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Ever wondered why your vibrant hair color fades just when you’re starting to really love it?

No one wants to have a bad hair day, and it’s even worse if you’re trying to maintain the perfect Instagram selfie.

But before we go radically changing our hair color, there are a few things we want to know. Like, how long does permanent hair dye last? This article will answer that question and more!

For those of us who want to keep our style fresh but don’t have time for frequent salon visits, permanent hair dye is the answer.

We’re here to tell you all about permanent hair dye, how long it lasts and help you to decide if it’s right for you. Let’s go!

How long does permanent hair dye last?

Permanent hair dye is made to look good for up to 6-8 weeks before it starts needing to be re-dyed or topped up.

How long it will look good on your hair depends on a few different considerations, such as:

  • How often you wash your hair.
  • What hair products you use and whether they are gentle on colored hair.
  • Your lifestyle and exposure to color faders like sunshine and sea water.
  • The color hair dye you use – darker colors will stay in your hair for longer.
  • How fast your hair grows – your roots will need to be topped up first.
  • The texture of your hair – if your hair is more porous it will have absorbed the dye better which makes it last longer.

Your natural hair color will make a difference too.

If you have dark brown or black hair then the dye should last at least 6 weeks before fading out.

But for lighter colors like blonde, reds and anything lighter than this, they only make around 3-4 weeks before showing signs of fading.

Expert Insights

“Permanent hair color means just that, permanent. It will fade but never completely go away.”

Ing Sev, Salon Owner,colorist at Creative Hair Design

How Your Hair Type and Color Affect Dye Duration

Have you ever wondered why your friend’s permanent dye seems to last forever, while yours starts to fade in a blink? Well, it’s not just about the dye; your hair type and natural color play a crucial role too.

1. Hair Type Matters

  • Curly Hair: If you have curly locks, you might notice your color fading a bit quicker. Curly hair is often more porous, meaning it absorbs the dye quickly but also loses it faster. So, if you’re a curly-haired beauty, you might need a touch-up sooner than your straight-haired pals.
  • Straight Hair: Lucky you! Straight hair tends to hold onto color longer. It’s generally less porous, which means the dye sticks around for a longer chat.
  • Coarse or Fine Hair: Got coarse hair? Your strong strands might hold onto color like a treasured secret. But if your hair is on the finer side, it might let go of that color a bit more easily, leading to more frequent touch-ups.

2. Natural Hair Color Influence

  • Dark Hair: If you’re starting with a darker base like deep brown or black, you’re in luck. Dark hair tends to make the color stay true for longer, especially if you’re going for a darker dye.
  • Light Hair: For all the blondies out there, or those with lighter shades, your hair might show signs of fading a bit sooner, especially with lighter dyes. Reds and blondes can fade to reveal your natural color quicker.

3. Lifestyle and Maintenance

  • Washing Frequency: Love a daily wash? You might want to rethink that. Washing your hair too often can escort that gorgeous dye right out of your hair. Try to limit washing to a couple of times a week and always use a shampoo for colored hair.
  • Sun Exposure and Swimming: Love the sun and sea? Just remember, they’re not the best friends of your hair color. Wear a hat to protect your hair from the sun, and try to keep your hair dry when swimming. Or, if you’re a water baby, use a leave-in conditioner to create a protective barrier.
  • Hair Products: Your choice of hair products is like choosing friends for your hair color – choose wisely. Stick to products designed for colored hair; they’re gentler and help maintain the vibrancy of your color.

How permanent is permanent hair color?

Permanent hair dye penetrates your hair strands more than any other dye.

This makes it more permanent and last longer than other hair dye formulas such as demi-permanent and semi-permanent hair dye.

This doesn’t mean it will last forever. The dye will fade with time and other external factors such as sunlight and the condition of your hair.

It’s important to remember your roots will grow out too. So part of maintaining your hair color means touching up your roots along the way.

“How often you wash and condition your hair makes a huge difference in hair color that lasts 1 week and hair color that lasts 10 weeks. Most of us over wash are hair by shampooing once or even sometimes more than once daily.

Unless you work a really dirty job like garbage man then chances are your over washing. Try dry shampoo if your hair feels greasy or doesn’t smell so clean in between shampoos. I promise your color will last way longer!”

Sara Donohue, Owner/ Hairstylist/master Colorist/instructor

How does permanent hair dye work?

Permanent hair dye works by depositing artificial color onto strands of hair.

Their formula is typically composed of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), several types of pigment, and an acid to act as a catalyst for the chemical reaction.

Super scientific PubMed studies tell us that the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the natural melanin in the hair’s cortex to produce temporary or semi-permanent colors. Penetrating deep into the cortex of your hair to alter its color with new color pigment.

This video below shows you what it all means!

YouTube video

How long do other hair dyes last?

When we talk about hair color, the word “permanent” can be a bit misleading.

It suggests a forever-kind-of-deal, but in reality, even permanent dyes have their own timeline. To put it into perspective, let’s compare permanent dyes with their cousins, the semi-permanent and demi-permanent dyes.

1. Permanent Hair Dye

  • Lasts About 6-12 Weeks: As mentioned by experts like Wella Professionals, permanent hair dye typically keeps your hair looking lush and vibrant for about 6 to 12 weeks​​. This depends on how often you wash your hair, your natural hair texture, and even your lifestyle.
  • Why This Range?: The 6-12 week range is based on how our hair grows and how the dye interacts with our hair structure. Darker tones might linger longer, giving your hair depth and rich color for an extended period.

2. Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

  • Shorter Lifespan: Semi-permanent dyes are the free spirits of hair color. They don’t stay as long, usually washing out after about 4-8 shampoos. They’re great for those who love to switch up their hair color more often.
  • Gentler on Hair: These dyes don’t contain ammonia or require developer, making them gentler on your hair. Perfect for a subtle color change or enhancing the natural color without a long-term commitment.

3. Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

  • The Middle Ground: Demi-permanent dyes strike a balance. They last longer than semi-permanent dyes but don’t commit as deeply as permanent dyes. Expect them to stick around for about 12-24 washes.
  • Slightly Deeper Color: They’re a tad more aggressive than semi-permanent dyes (but still without ammonia), allowing for a slight alteration in hair color that’s more noticeable than semi-permanent options.

Why Choose One Over the Other?

Your choice depends on your hair goals. If you’re after a longer-lasting, dramatic change, permanent dyes are your go-to.

But, if you’re all about frequent changes or want less damage to your hair, semi-permanent or demi-permanent might be your best friends.

Remember, the more permanent your choice, the more commitment it requires.

With permanent dyes, you’re looking at a longer relationship with your hair color, complete with touch-ups and maintenance.

Semi and demi-permanent dyes, however, are more like a fun fling – brief, exciting, and less demanding.

How Long Does Permanent Hair Dye Really Last - types of hair dyes comparison infographic

Expert Insights

“Its permanent, so it usually lasts between 30-40 washes and it will fade over time. It will never fully come out unless removed with a color remover or lightener. No matter how many years go by, some bit of it will still be there until it is removed or cut out.”

Enza Piazza, Professional Hair Stylist & Colorist

TOP TIPS to make permanent hair dye last for longer.

Frequently Asked Hair Dye Questions

Does permanent hair dye fade eventually?

Permanent hair dye is most vibrant when you first get it done. After that, it will start to fade with shampooing and time.

It’s important to know that both natural and chemical dyes will fade over time- this is because the pigment molecules in the color molecules get smaller with each wash or use.

There are other lifestyle factors that will fade your hair color faster too.

We all want our colors to stay vibrant and perfect forever, so here are some tips on how to keep them looking fresh:

How long does permanent hair dye last before it fades?

Many of us are curious about how long dye lasts before it fades. When you think about it, this is an important question to ask because the last thing anyone wants is to spend time and money on their hair only for it to fade away in a few weeks or months.

It’s hard to say, but permanent hair dye should last at least six weeks.

The average person can expect their color fresh from the salon to fade by around 50% after just two weeks of wear (and some may go as far down as 30%).

Of course this varies depending on your natural hair type and how often you shampoo.

The good news? You can always refresh your hue by using a toner or adding more product onto your scalp when needed!

How long does it take for permanent hair dye to fade completely?

For the most part, permanent hair dye does exactly what it says on the box.

Once the color has been applied, it will take several washes for it to fade completely.

The length of time that the dye will last depends on a number of factors, including the type of dye used, the health of the hair, and how often the hair is shampooed.

In general, permanent hair dyes will last for several months before they fade completely or you’ll need to dye your hair again.

However, some dyes may start to fade sooner if the hair is frequently exposed to sunlight or chlorine.

Can you wash out permanent hair dye?

Permanent hair dye won’t wash out with normal shampoo and conditioner.

Have you ever dyed your hair and then regretted it? You’re not alone. If you want to remove your hair dye at home, there are a few solutions you can try, including:

  • Anti-dandruff shampoo
  • Baking soda
  • Cover removers like Color B4
  • Good old bleach!

Which one will work best for you depends on the type of color you want to remove, how much hair color has deposited on your hair for how long, and the condition of your hair type.


Parting words.

So how long does permanent hair dye last? The answer is really based on what type of dye you use and how your hair reacts to that particular product.

If you use an at-home kit, then it will likely survive about six weeks before fading away into nothingness. However, if you get professional colour done every few months, then it will stay put for much longer than that.

Permanent hair dyes can fade over time depending on factors such as what kind of shampoo/conditioner you use and whether or not your natural oils are what’s causing the colour to wash out.

It may seem like quite a commitment at first glance but if you keep these tips in mind before making that decision, it will be much easier to maintain from then on after. Good luck!

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Authors

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.