Permanent vs Demi Permanent Hair Color

Permanent vs Demi Permanent Hair Color

Preparing hair color


When it comes to hair color, there is no right or wrong. Everyone has a different reason for why they want to color their hair. If you have gray hair, you may be looking to cover or blend it.

Perhaps something is different in your life, and you wish to celebrate it with a bold pop of color. Maybe you’ve been through a particularly difficult experience and you are looking for color as a symbol of out with the old and in with the new.

Whatever the case, we may not all have the same reason for wanting color but we all want gorgeous hair.

A few brave souls will walk down the hair color aisle of their nearest supermarket and pick a color that best suits their goal.

I always caution people against this option. I once colored my hair at home. I remember thinking how hard can it be? I’ve seen my mother dye her hair at home and she’s never had a problem.

I chose a lighter color than my natural color, quite a few shades lighter. I was 28 and feeling bold and daring. Long story short, I didn’t like it so I turned around and dyed it again, only darker.

Not only did I do a lot of damage to my hair, which I ended up having to cut a lot of it off, but I somehow managed to turn it green. Yikes!!!

On top of that, it was a Sunday night, the salons were closed, and I was out of options. Yes, Monday morning I went to work with a green tint to my hair. I was quite humiliated.

If that had happened today, it probably wouldn’t be bad at all. Hair color in the workplace has come a long way from what it was in the 1990s. It is not uncommon to find bold and unique hair colors in the workplace.

Women have found a way to make bold hair color look professional and elegant.

Wavy pink hair

People who prefer to take their chances with an expert will simply make an appointment with a colorist who will assess their hair and provide a consultation about what type of hair color is right for their hair.

Although it’s a bit pricier, this option is probably safer, as long you go to a licensed specialist.

Whether you color your hair at home or at your nearest highly rated salon, you need to know that there are different types of hair color products on the market. There is semi-permanent, demi-permanent, ad permanent.

In this article, I will be comparing demi permanent hair color and permanent hair color.

What is the difference between demi permanent and permanent hair color?

The hair industry classifies hair color by levels. Level one is semi-permanent. Level 2 is demi-permanent. Level 3 is permanent.

The higher the level, the more permanent the color. This is not something I knew when I was buying hair color in my mid-20s. Wisdom comes with age.

The difference between demi-permanent and permanent hair color comes down to the types of chemicals used and their effects on the hair.

Level 2 (Demi-Permanent) hair color comes in a crème form or a liquid form. The liquid is a lighter version and is best for toning and shine. The crème has more substance and can produce a wide range of color options that customers demand.

Demi-permanent hair color is alkaline based and contains no ammonia. For this reason, demi-permanent hair color is not as harsh as permanent hair color.

Demi-permanent hair colors penetrate the first layer of the hair known as the cuticle but do not penetrate the strand.

Think of it like a gift-wrapping paper. You can use any wrapping paper on the outside of a box and that doesn’t change or have any effect on what is inside the box, which is the gift.

In this same way, demi-permanent wraps around the outside of the hair without changing the structure of the hair. 

Hair follicle

Level 3 (Permanent) hair color contains ammonia and peroxide which work hand in hand to create their magic.

One chemical opens the cuticle to allow the color to penetrate the cortex. The other removes the pre-existing color and allows for the new color to be deposited.

As with everything else in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to using either type of hair color. But it’s important to understand both so that you can make informed decisions about what is best for your hair.

A professional colorist can tell you what type of hair color to use to achieve the results that you want.

But only you know what your hair is like on a day-to-day basis. If you are suddenly experiencing more hair loss, then you may want to go with a demi-permanent color to minimize the amount of stress on your hair.

If your grays are coming in fast and furious, but the quality of your hair is great, then you can opt for a permanent hair color.

If you are already doing other chemical processes for your hair such as a relaxer or texturizer, then you probably don’t want to do a permanent color.

Can I use demi permanent hair color to cover gray hair?

Dying gray hair

You can use demi permanent hair color to cover gray hair.

As with everything else in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

Now that you know how demi-permanent and permanent hair color works, you can decide which option to go with based on the current health of your hair.

Gray hair is about more than just aging. It is about genetics. Don’t get me wrong, environmental and emotional factors such as stress can accelerate what is already written in your genetic code.

Race also plays a role in how quickly a person’s hair goes gray. For example, Caucasian people make start to see gray hair in their early 30s whereas African Americans may not see gray hair until their mid-40s.

There is also a matter of premature aging. This can happen because of medical, metabolic, or genetic conditions.

Demi-permanent color is great if you are looking for a less harsh option than permanent hair color.

If you have gray hair, the job of demi-permanent hair color is not to cover them completely but to tone and blend them with the rest of your hair color.

The result is a beautiful multi-dimensional effect that adds a range of different complementary tones to the hair.

Permanent hair color is a great option for drastic change. If you have more salt than pepper, and you want to go from white to blonde or white to black, permanent hair color will give you the effect that you are looking for.

How long does a demi permanent hair color last?

Demi permanent hair color is meant to last for about 24-26 shampoos.

This is because demi-permanent color coats the hair rather than penetrates the hair. The detergents in shampoo make the color molecules detach from the hair.

If you are thinking about using permanent hair color but are not sure if you will like the color, one way to test it is with demi-permanent color.

This short-term commitment will wash out in time if you happen not to like it.

Does demi permanent hair color fade?

Hair oil

Yes, demi permanent hair color will fade in time. But these tips will help you to ensure your hair color stays looking it’s best for the longest amount of time possible.

Tip #1: Try to avoid washing your hair every day. The longer you can go in between hair washing, the longer your color will last.

Tip #2: Avoid washing your hair with hot water. Hot water degrades the color molecules further causing them to fade faster.

Tip #3: Use a heat protector. Just like hot water, high heat from styling tools will also fade your color faster. If you must use heated styling tools, protect your hair and your hair color with a heat protector.

Tip #4: Develop a weekly deep conditioning routine. The chemicals in hair color can dry your hair causing it to become brittle and frizzy. Weekly conditioning treatments will seal your hair cuticle, provide needed moisture, and minimize frizz.

Examples of oils to use in DIY weekly conditioning treatments at home are coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.

Is there such a thing as demi permanent hair color shampoo?

Numerous hair products on the market claim to be color safe. However, the best shampoos are natural shampoos that do not contain harsh chemicals such as parabens and sulfates.

These commercial-strength chemicals will further break down the color molecules in your hair causing your color to fade faster.

BellaGeneration Hair System is a natural 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner that contains 100% organic ingredients that are gentle on the hair and scalp. It contains natural oils such as coconut and olive to provide the right amount of moisture to repair damage and control frizz.

Plant based hair shampoo

In summary, there are many different types of hair color on the market from at-home products to salon products.

Some hair colors such as demi-permanent are just meant to wrap your hair strands in color, while others, like permanent, are meant to change the structure of your hair.

Both demi-permanent and permanent hair colors do a good job of covering gray hair but in different ways. Demi-permanent is short-lived lasting roughly about 24 washes.

You can ensure that your hair color looks great for as long as possible by not exposing your hair to high heat and by moisturizing your hair periodically.

The decision about what type of hair color you should use should be based on the strength and health of your hair.

If your hair is not strong enough to withstand the chemicals present in hair color, you may end up with a head full of damaged hair. Buyer beware!


Click Here for Plant Based Products

BellaGeneration March Promo

Got Questions or Comments?

Email us:

Miriam Marsh Author

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.