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Which Type of Hair Color is Right for You?

One of the big mysteries surrounding hair color is the difference between “types” of color. From temporary to semi-permanent to demi-permanent to permanent, each hair color type has pros and cons. Today, we’re breaking down each kind to help you make the best decision for your look.

Temporary Hair Color

Temporary hair color is great for testing out a new subtle look because it only lasts until your next shampoo. This hair color type is temporary because it does not penetrate the cortex of the hair. Of course, hair color that washes out easily does have its cons. It may not “take” to some hair types, but if it does, it will only last about five shampoos. Also, because this color is surface level, you cannot lighten your hair with temporary hair color.


This type of hair color is considered “semi-permanent” because it gradually fades out of the hair after 5-7 shampoos.  How long it lasts depends on how porous your hair is. Semi-permanent hair color contains no ammonia or peroxide, and doesn’t penetrate the cortex of the hair.  So if you have fragile hair you may prefer this option because it doesn’t cause damage to the hair. But, like with temporary hair color, semi-permanent hair color does not lighten hair, and you’ll notice the hair color fading slightly with each wash.


Demi-permanent hair color is designed to enhance natural or previously color treated hair. Like the hair color type mentioned above, it won’t lighten hair or remove the hair’s natural pigment. The benefits of demi-permanent hair color include: covering gray hair, changing the tone of the hair and deepening the color of the hair.  You’ll also experience less fading overtime. Another benefit of demi-permanent color is that the results are typically less homogeneous than with permanent hair color. In other words, root regrowth may be less noticeable than with permanent hair color, which changes the pigment of the hair entirely.


For anyone looking to make a dramatic change to the hair, permanent hair color is the best option.  Permanent hair color penetrates the hair’s cuticle to change the hair’s natural pigment. For this reason, permanent hair color is the best option for lightening hair or covering gray hair.  Unlike the temporary types of color listed above, permanent is just that. It doesn’t wash out – it only grows out. If you want to go two shades lighter or darker, permanent hair color is your best choice.

When thinking of coloring your hair, do keep in mind that you may want to consult with a professional about your plan before proceeding. Also, be sure to read any warning labels that come with the product(s) you choose. Doing so will help you avoid a color disaster, choose the right hair color type, and achieve that fresh new look this season.

Jyl Craven
About the author

My love and passion for the hair industry started when I was very young. I have always felt very fortunate in knowing that being a hair designer/educator was my future. I constantly strive to better educate myself and my design team. Making others look and feel their best is what I strive to achieve. My specialty is hair color, but I love cutting as well. To be the best artist you can, I feel you must be well rounded in all of your skills. That is why I also train other salons across the country in all of L ´Oréal Professionnel color and cutting techniques. I have been privileged to work with the most talented artists in the industry. Thank you for visiting our site and I hope to see you in our salon.