What is Demi Permanent Hair Color?

If you’re looking for a way to add depth and dimension to your hair color without fully committing to permanent dye, demi permanent hair color could be the answer. This type of hair color is becoming increasingly popular among people who want a low-maintenance option that provides natural-looking results.

Read on as we share with you all about demi permanent hair colors.

What is Demi Permanent Hair Color?

Demi-permanent hair color is a type of hair color that deposits color onto the hair shaft but doesn’t penetrate the cortex as deeply as permanent hair color. This means that it gradually fades over time rather than growing out as a distinct line between the colored and uncolored sections of hair. Demi-permanent hair color typically lasts between 12 and 24 shampoos, depending on the brand and the condition of your hair.

Demi-permanent hair color contains small molecules that are able to penetrate the outer layer of the hair shaft but not the cortex. This allows it to deposit color without causing as much damage as permanent hair color, which uses larger molecules that penetrate deeper into the hair shaft.

Because demi-permanent hair color doesn’t contain bleach or ammonia, it doesn’t lighten your hair, but instead adds depth and richness to your existing color. It’s important to note that if you’re looking to go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural color, demi-permanent color might not be strong enough to achieve the desired result.

What demi-permanent hair color can do

Enhance your natural hair color

Demi-permanent hair color can be used to add depth, dimension, and shine to your natural hair color. This is a great option for people who want to make their hair color look more vibrant and healthy.

Cover up gray hair

Research published in the journal Cosmetics in 2020 found that demi-permanent hair color is effective at covering gray hair and providing a natural-looking color result. The research also found that demi-permanent hair color is less likely to cause allergic reactions than permanent hair color. It’s a preferred alternative for individuals looking to hide their grays without resorting to permanent hair dyes, which can be harsher on your locks.

Experiment with different hair colors

“Demi-permanent hair color is a good option for people who want to change their hair color without damaging their hair,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist based in New York City. “Demi-permanent hair color also fades over time, so it’s a good option for people who want to experiment with different hair colors without making a long-term commitment.”

Create highlights or lowlights

Utilize demi-permanent hair color to craft eye-catching highlights or understated lowlights in your hair, adding depth and intrigue to your overall hair palette.

Pros and Cons 

Like any hair coloring process, there are pros and cons to using demi-permanent hair color. Here are some of the factors to consider before making a decision:


  • Demi-permanent hair color is gentle on the hair, making it a great choice for people who want to minimize damage.
  • It’s an effective way to enhance your natural color, add shine, and tone down unwanted brassiness.
  • The color gradually fades over time, rather than growing out as a distinct line between the colored and uncolored sections of hair.
  • Demi-permanent hair color is often less expensive than permanent hair color because it doesn’t require the same level of processing.


  • Demi-permanent hair color won’t dramatically change your overall look, so if you’re looking for a big transformation, permanent dye might be a better option.
  • It’s not suitable for everyone, particularly if you’re looking to go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural color.
  • If you have very damaged hair, demi-permanent hair color might not take evenly or last as long as it would on healthy hair.
  • Depending on the brand and your hair type, demi-permanent hair color may not provide complete gray coverage.

How to Use Demi-Permanent Hair Color

Materials You’ll Need

  • Demi-permanent hair color kit
  • Plastic or glass bowl
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Gloves
  • Hair clips (optional)
  • Applicator brush or bottle (often included in the kit)
  • Old T-shirt or color cape
  • Timer
  • Shampoo and conditioner formulated for colored hair


  • Start with clean, dry hair. Don’t apply any styling products before coloring.
  • Put on gloves to protect your hands from staining.
  • Mix the hair color according to the instructions provided. Some brands require mixing with a developer, while others are ready to use right out of the bottle.
  • Apply the dye to your hair, starting at the roots and working your way down to the ends. Make sure to saturate each section of hair completely.
  • Leave the dye on your hair for the recommended amount of time (typically around 20-30 minutes).
  • Rinse the dye out thoroughly with warm water until the water runs clear.
  • Apply conditioner to your hair and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Style your hair as desired.

For those with dry or damaged hair, it’s best to consider a deep conditioning treatment prior to applying the color to provide added protection. If your goal is to achieve a lighter hair shade, keep in mind that bleaching might be necessary, but it’s a process best entrusted to a professional due to its potential for hair damage. When covering gray hair, you might find it necessary to extend the color processing time beyond the recommended duration. To prolong the vibrancy of your newly colored hair, incorporate color-safe shampoo and conditioner into your routine, and try to limit the frequency of hair washing. 

You should also avoid washing your hair for at least 24 hours after coloring to allow the color to set properly.

Demi-permanent hair color vs. permanent hair color

Demi-permanent hair color is a less committed choice, as it does not penetrate the hair shaft as deeply as permanent color. It typically lasts through about 24 shampoos and gradually fades, making it suitable for temporary transformations or color experimentation. A 2020 study published in the journal Dermatology found that demi-permanent hair color is less damaging to hair than permanent hair color. The study also found that demi-permanent hair color fades more evenly over time, which can reduce the need for frequent touch-ups. On the other hand, permanent hair color is designed for long-lasting results. It contains ammonia and other chemicals that open the hair cuticle, allowing the color molecules to penetrate deeply. This results in a more significant color change that remains until new growth appears.

The choice between demi-permanent and permanent hair color depends on your preferences, commitment level, and the specific color outcome you desire.


  1. How often can I use demi-permanent hair color? It’s generally safe to use demi-permanent hair color every 4-6 weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows and fades.
  2. Can I lighten my hair with demi-permanent hair color? No, demi-permanent hair color doesn’t contain bleach or ammonia, so it won’t lighten your hair. It’s best used to enhance your natural color or add depth and richness.
  3. Will demi-permanent hair color cover gray hair? Demi-permanent hair color can help blend gray hairs with your natural color, but it may not provide complete coverage, especially if you have a lot of gray hair.
  4. Can I use demi-permanent hair color on previously colored hair? Yes, you can use demi-permanent hair color on previously colored hair. However, keep in mind that the color may not turn out as expected if you’re going lighter or trying to cover up the previous color.

Final Takeaway

Demi-permanent hair color can be a great way to experiment with new looks or refresh your current color with minimal commitment.Whether you’re looking to add depth and dimension to your natural color or just want to try out a new shade without fully committing, demi-permanent hair color is definitely worth considering. With its gentle formula and gradual fading, it can provide a great low-maintenance option for anyone looking to switch up their hair color.

If you do decide to give demi-permanent hair color a try, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and take the necessary precautions to protect your hair and skin. With a little bit of care and attention, you can achieve beautiful, natural-looking results that will leave you feeling confident and stylish.

So why not try out demi-permanent hair color for yourself and see what all the fuss is about? Who knows, you might just fall in love with your new look!