Does semi-permanent dye damage your hair? When is it a good idea to avoid using it?

  • Semi-permanent dye doesn’t damage your hair because it doesn’t contain ammonia and its volume percentage of peroxide is very low, usually between 6 and 15 volumes.
  • It doesn’t have damaging effects on your hair because it doesn’t work on your hair cuticle; instead, it deposits color on the surface of your hair.
  • That’s why the color will disappear after 4-6 weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair and the brand of dye you use.


long hair

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When it comes to hair color, the possibilities are infinite.

There are many options for changing your hair color, but you can be sure of one thing:   semi-permanent dye won’t damage it, since it doesn’t contain ammonia and it has a low percentage of peroxide, and in some dyes, it doesn’t even have any. 


  • Do you think your hair is dull and even a little dried out?

Well, you can use a semi-permanent dye no problem since it won’t dry your hair out more, and it will even enhance your color.


  • Have you never dyed your hair before and you’re worried dye might hurt it?

Your best option is semi-permanent dye. But you should always keep in mind that you won’t be able to lighten your hair color.


Semi-permanent dyes don’t cause any damage to your hair.  They’re so safe that even women who are one month pregnant can use them, and animals can, too. 

Believe it or not, many of my clients dye their dog’s white hairs with semi-permanent dye. Of course, in those cases, they don’t come to my salon. Instead, they go to a dog salon.

Do you want to know more about semi-permanent dye?


If so, keep reading, because I’ll tell you:

  • Why semi-permanent dyes are less harmful than permanent dyes
  • When you should not use a semi-permanent dye, even if it won’t damage your hair

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Why semi-permanent dyes are less harmful than permanent dyes

hair is not damaged

If you’re worried about your hair or your scalp’s health, then semi-permanent dyes are a great choice, since they don’t contain ammonia, and if they do contain peroxide, it is in a low volume.

But, it’s still a dye, so how can it be less harmful for your hair?


  • Well,  this is where we’ll need to talk about the differences between the molecular structures of semi-permanent hair dyes and permanent hair dyes. 

Don’t be afraid! Even though it sounds like something out of a high school chemistry class, I’m going to explain it to you in an easy, straight-forward way.


  • Semi-permanent hair dyes are made up of small and large color pigments that penetrate your hair cuticle and deposit themselves on the outer layer of your hair cortex.

Permanent dyes are made up of much smaller color pigments that swell when they’re combined with hydrogen peroxide and come together to stick deep inside each hair follicle’s cortex.

Since the color molecules are so much smaller, they do a good job at penetrating your hair follicles when they’re combined with hydrogen peroxide and don’t go away when you wash your hair.


  • The key difference between semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes is the presence of a developer, which is one of the ingredients, besides ammonia, that does the most damage to your hair.

Permanent dyes contain color and developer, while semi-permanent dyes don’t contain ammonia, and because of that, they can’t open your hair shaft to allow the color pigments to enter your hair follicle.

That is why semi-permanent dyes aren’t dangerous and won’t affect your natural hair color pigments. All they do is deposit the color onto your hair.


  • Do you understand why semi-permanent dye doesn’t damage your hair?

Because it doesn’t actually cause any kind of chemical processing of your hair.

Semi-permanent dyes don’t damage your hair, and if your hair has never been dyed before or has never undergone any other kind of chemical processing, you’ll see that the dye actually makes it brighter and shinier.


  • And if what you’re trying to do is enhance your natural color, semi-permanent dye will inject a little more life into it, without causing any kind of damage.

Semi-permanent dye causes a temporary change in your hair, since the color will fade as you wash it. When your hair starts to grow out after you’ve used the dye, your roots won’t be so noticeable, so you also don’t have to be as attentive to maintenance.


And now you tell me: Are there any situations in which you should not use semi-permanent dye? Yes, but not because it will damage your hair. And, those situations are exactly what I’m about to tell you about.


Even if semi-permanent dyes don’t damage your hair, there are situations where it’s best not to use them

manic panic

  • To start out, I’ll tell you that  if your hair is more than 75% white or gray, then semi-permanent dye won’t work for you. 

Because although it won’t damage your hair, it also won’t cover the gray or white. And if it won’t work on that hair, then why would you use it?


In that case, you’ll have two options: make the transition to gray hair, using highlights, for example, or use a permanent dye.

The transition is a slow and long process, so you’ll need to prepare yourself. And dyeing your gray with a permanent dye will do more damage to your hair, so you’ll need to do nutritive treatments once a week a counteract that damage.


  • Do you have some kind of allergy? Does your scalp have symptoms of an inflammatory reaction like psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis?

If that’s your case,  then semi-permanent dye won’t damage your hair, but it might make that inflammation worse. It’s best to speak with your dermatologist first, before using any kind of dye product if you are in this situation.  


Secondly, if and only if your dermatologist has given you the go-ahead for dyeing your hair with semi-permanent dye, you should do a strand test. Then, you’ll be completely sure that the semi-permanent dye won’t be bad for either your hair or your scalp.


Now, if what you’re looking to do is:

  • Hide your first bits of gray hair
  • Enhance your color
  • Make your hair brighter
  • Tone highlights
  • Darken your hair
  • Avoid the look of roots growing in


Semi-permanent dye is ideal because you’ll be able to accomplish any of the above goals, without damaging your hair in any way.



Semi-permanent dye doesn’t damage your hair because it doesn’t contain ammonia and the percentage of peroxide it does contain is very low.

The only cases where you need to be careful about using it is if you have psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. In those situations, you should speak with a dermatologist so they can help you decide what is best for your skin.

And now that you’re sure you don’t have to worry about your hair’s health, what color semi-permanent dye will you use?

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