Types Of Hair Dye | The Ultimate Hair Color Guide.

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Hair color is a tricky thing. There are so many types of hair dye if you’re looking to switch up your natural color.

If you’re trying to cover roots, change the entire shade or even go for more of an ombre effect, it can be really overwhelming!

That’s where we come in with this ultimate hair color guide – breaking down all the different hair dyes available and what they do best.

From permanent, semi-permanent, temporary, washout, hair rinses, balayage, ombre, highlights, dip dyes…there are a fantastic mix of color treatments painting our world right now. It’s hard to work out which one we need to get our must-have look.

This year’s hot hair color trends, have given us loads of ideas and inspiration.

Now, we’re here to explain the different products you need, so you can decide which one is right for you!

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Types of hair dye chart infographic: Hair Dye Type	Duration	Characteristics and Benefits	Suitable For	Key Ingredients
Permanent	6-8 weeks	Lasts longer, covers grey hair, suitable for drastic changes	Stubborn grey hair, dark hair, style changes	Contains hydrogen peroxide for permanent color
Demi-Permanent	6-12 weeks	Gradual fading, subtle change, no lightening effect	Subtle color change, natural shades	No hydrogen peroxide, may contain ammonia
Semi-Permanent	10-12 washes	Rich, vibrant color, easy to switch, minimal commitment	Subtle change, bright colors, pastels	No hydrogen peroxide, no ammonia
Temporary	Few washes to weeks	Short-lived, easy to switch, no commitment	Temporary changes, parties, events, kids	No hydrogen peroxide, no ammonia
Please note that ingredient formulations can vary between different brands and products, so it's always a good idea to read the product labels for accurate information on the ingredients used in each specific hair dye product.
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What are the different types of hair dye?

The main different hair dye variations you’ll find are permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent and temporary.

But there are so many kinds of hair coloring products on the market today and more to come as technology advances.

Your options depend on your personal preference, what you want your hair color to be, and how long you want it to last.

Each has their own pros and cons to bringing colored gorgeousness to your head. Just click on one to find out more!


Permanent hair dyes.

What is permanent hair dye?

Permanent hair color changes the actual makeup of your hair. 

It does this by the use of peroxide which opens the cuticle of the hair shaft which lets the color penetrate deep into the core of your hair shaft.

Tiny molecules enter all the way into the cortex, where they react and expand to a size that cannot be washed out.

Phew! That’s the science. What it really means is that permanent color is the strongest and most long-lasting of all.

How long does permanent hair dye last?

Permanent hair dye lasts from 6-8 weeks before the new hair regrowth will start showing though.

It gradually fades with time or in the sun, but it won’t wash out like other dyes.

But that doesn’t mean it lasts forever – you’ll need to re-dye your hair to cover root growth and refresh your color every few weeks.

Is permanent hair dye right for me?

This the best type of hair color for covering stubborn grey hair and are particularly good if you have dark hair.

They’re also best for you if you want on-trend styles like balayage and ombre, or a drastic color change like half and half hair!

Pros of permanent dye:

  • More coverage.
  • A bigger change in hair color.
  • Absorbs into your hair and last longer.
  • Can lighten hair color.
  • Takes 30-45 minutes to achieve maximum color change.

Cons of permanent dye:

  • Fades in time.
  • Contains peroxide.
  • Can leave your hair feeling dry and damaged with over-use.

Best For: Gray hair coverage and longer-lasting hair color.


Demi-permanent hair dye.

What is Demi-permanent hair dye?

Demi-permanent dyes are the type of hair colors that contain no ammonia – but they do contain a low-level developer (hydrogen peroxide).

Like permanent dyes, demi-permanent sinks into the shaft of your hair, but it doesn’t penetrate as deep as permanent does.

Because of this, it’s not as long-lasting as permanent, but it lasts longer than semi-permanent!

Demi-permanent is also known as ammonia-free and is a vegan-friendly hair dye.

How long does demi-permanent hair dye last?

Demi-permanent hair dye can last for up to 6-12 weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair.

While this may not be permanent, it still provides ample time to rock your new color and enjoy the confidence boost that comes with it.

Plus, the gradual fading process of demi-permanent dye has its own charm, naturally blending into your hair color and giving you a unique, dimensional look.

Is demi-permanent hair dye right for me?

Demi-permanent is the best type of hair color for you if you’re looking for a subtle color change or if you’re looking to experiment with a new, natural shade.

Remember you can’t lighten your hair with demi-permanent, so choose a shade the same or darker than your current color. You can always switch to permanent if you’re not happy with the results.

Pros of demi-permanent:

  • Natural coloring, allows for regrowth.
  • Demi-permanents are much more effective at covering grey hair than semi-permanents, but less so than permanents.
  • Great for color correction.

Cons of demi-permanent:

  • It lasts 20-28 washes.
  • Contains peroxide which can dry out your hair.
  • It can’t lighten hair color.

Best For: Enhancing natural hair color without the commitment of permanent dye.


Semi-permanent hair dye.

What is Semi-permanent hair dye?

Semi-permanent hair color (aka direct dyes) contains no peroxide or ammonia.

The color coats the surface of your hair shaft rather than penetrating or altering it.

While it’s more gentle on your hair, it’s not as effective at covering greys as demi-permanent or permanent color.

Semi-permanent dye enhances your natural color so you won’t get roots growing out like you will with permanent dyes.

But it’s also not as effective at covering greys as permanent colour and the effects won’t last as long – around 10-12 washes.

How long does semi-permanent hair dye last?

This type of dye typically lasts between 10-12 washes, which can vary based on hair texture and the specific brand of dye used.

That being said, don’t let the term “semi-permanent” fool you – these dyes can still provide rich, vibrant color that will turn heads and boost your confidence.

And the best part? If you decide you’re ready for a change, it’s easy to switch things up again without any long-term commitment.

Is semi-permanent hair dye right for me?

Semi-permanent is best for you if you want a subtle change of color or you’re ready to experiment with something different.

You can also have fun with bright colors and on-trend pastel colours with semi-permanent as it’s easier to remove than semi-permanent hair dye and it doesn’t cause so much damage to your hair. Go on!

Pros of semi-permanent:

  • Semi-permanent types of hair colors contain no nasties that can damage your hair like ammonia or peroxide.
  • You can switch things up without committing to a permanent color.
  • It gives a natural multi dimensional coverage which means natural highlights will shine through.
  • You can experiment with colors without worrying about the long term effects.

Cons of using semi-permanent:

  • Semi-permanent color cannot lighten your hair.
  • Not the best at covering greys.
  • Only lasts for 8 to 10 shampoos.

Best For: Changing hair color often, not as long lasting.


Temporary hair dyes.

What are temporary hair colors?

Temporary types of hair colors come in various forms – from rinses, henna hair dyes, shampoos, crayons, hair chalks, gels, sprays, and foams.

You can even dye your hair with tissue paper!

They’re fun, they’re crazy, they’re fabulous, and only last as long as the next wash so you can be adventurous as you dare!

How long do temporary hair dyes last?

Temporary dyes won’t stick around very long!

They typically last anywhere from a few washes to a couple of weeks, depending on the product and your hair type.

This means you can have fun with your hair and switch things up whenever you feel like it without worrying about a long-term commitment.

Are temporary hair colors right for me?

Temporary types of hair colors are right for everyone!

As long as you don’t want them to last more than one wash. They’re great for parties, Halloween, birthdays and rainy days (indoors obvs).

These are perfectly safe color options so kids can join in too. Be bold! There are plenty of fabulous colors to try out.

Pros of temporary hair colors:

  • They’re temporary! You can wash them off whenever you like.
  • You can experiment with different colors for every occasion.
  • You can experiment with streaks, highlights and dip dye looks.
  • You can try out a color you’re thinking of making more permanent.
  • They’re also great for kids!

Cons of temporary hair colors:

  • They can be messy to apply!
  • You won’t achieve all over coverage.
  • They don’t look natural – but that’s the fun!

Best For: Parties, special occasions, safe for kids.

How to choose the right type of hair dye for you.

We all want to look and feel our best, and there’s nothing like a fresh hair color to give us a boost of confidence.

Whether you’re looking to touch up your roots, change your entire hair color, or experiment with a bold new shade, choosing the right hair dye is key.

Here’s what you need to think about when selecting hair dye, so you can achieve a flawless and personalized look that suits you!

#1 Hair type and texture.

It’s super important to take your hair type and texture into account when choosing a hair dye.

If you have fine hair, you may want to opt for a lighter shade and avoid heavy dyes that could weigh your locks down.

Or, if you have thick or curly hair, you may want to choose a dye that’s specifically formulated to penetrate the hair shaft and provide even coverage.

No matter what your hair type, be sure to read the product packaging and look for a dye that’s appropriate for your hair type.

#2 Skin tone

Your skin tone can also have a significant impact on which hair dye shades will work best for you.

If you have warm or golden undertones, you may want to lean toward honey or caramel hues.

If you have cool undertones, you may find that ashy shades look more natural on you.

Not sure what your skin tone is? Here’s a handy checklist that can help you decide!

If you have warm undertones:

  • You have red or golden undertones in your hair.
  • Your skin tone will be golden, tan or olive.
  • You have green veins in your wrist.
  • You suit bright or rich shades.
  • You probably have freckles.
  • Gold jewellery looks awesome on you.

If you have cool undertones:

  • Your skin tone is pink or pale.
  • You prefer wearing jewel and pastel colors.
  • The color yellow does not look good on you.
  • You have blue veins in your wrist.
  • Pearls and silver jewellery look awesome on you.

#3 Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle may also play a role in determining which hair dye is right for you.

If you’re someone who enjoys swimming or spending considerable time outdoors, you may want to choose a dye that’s long-lasting and fade-resistant.

Similarly, if you’re someone who likes to switch things up often, you may want to opt for a semi-permanent or temporary color that you can change frequently.

#4 Strand test

Before making a final decision on a hair dye, it’s always a good idea to perform a strand test.

This will help you determine how the dye will look on your hair and how your locks will react to the formula.

To do a strand test, simply apply a small amount of dye to a few strands of hair (preferably in a hidden area) and leave it on for the recommended amount of time.

Rinse the dye out and observe the results. If you’re happy with the outcome, the dye is likely a good fit for your hair!


Parting words

We hope this ultimate hair color guide has helped you to understand the different types of hair dye.

You now know how to choose your perfect hue, and have a better understanding of what will work for your lifestyle.

Whether you want to make a statement, hide your natural hair color or just take the time for an at-home beauty treatment, our ultimate hair color guide has got you covered.

So what are you waiting for?

Author

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
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    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!