How Long Should you Leave Semi-Permanent Dye in Your Hair? The 8 most popular brands’ exposure times.


  • How long should you leave semi-permanent dye in your hair? It depends on each brand. Some manufacturers recommend only 15 minutes and, others, up to 45 minutes.
  • As you can imagine, each hair dye is very different, depending on its ingredients.
  • So, before you start coloring, I recommend that you look at the instructions for the hair color you’ve chosen to make sure you know how long to leave it in your hair.


In order to help you, here’s how you should leave some semi-permanent hair colors in your hair:

  • Manic Panic: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Arctic Fox: 30 minutes
  • Punky Color: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Clairol Natural Instincts: 10 minutes
  • Crazy Color: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Splat Hair Dye: 45 to 60  minutes
  • L’Oréal Colorista: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Wella Color Touch: 10 to 20 minutes


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As you can see, each brand has very different developing times.

 So, if you’re thinking about coloring your hair at home, please check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. 

The success of your color depends on it!


Now, what happens if you leave the dye in for longer or less time than indicated?

Continue reading because I’ll tell you the details!

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What happens if I leave my semi-permanent dye less time than recommended?

arctic fox

As I told you before, you must respect the developing time indicated by the manufacturer of the hair dye you’ve chosen.

The resulting color will not be the same if you respect the manufacturer’s instructions as if you leave the dye in more or less time.


Semi-permanent dye doesn’t penetrate the hair fiber because it doesn’t contain any ammonia or developer.

 It works by forming a pigment layer that is deposited on your hair and absorbed during the developing time. A hair mask works the same way.  


If you leave the semi-permanent dye for less time than indicated, it may result in the dye not depositing sufficiently and the color fading or becoming much lighter.

It can also happen that your hair doesn’t take the color, and your color stays the same as before the application, which would waste your time and money.


 So, always respect the developing times recommended by the manufacturer of the dye you’ve chosen. 

The hair dye you bought doesn’t have any instructions? No problem. Search the manufacturer’s website, and you’ll surely find the instructions there.


What happens if I leave the semi-permanent dye longer than recommended?

burgundy, blue, ruby and other colors

In this case, the opposite can happen. You can saturate your hair with color and make it look much darker than the tone you chose.


You’ll see that semi-permanent hair colors have a time range in their instructions.

For example, Crazy Color sets a time range of 15-30 minutes. Why? It’s simple:

  • If you want a lighter tone, you should leave it in for 15 minutes
  • If you want a darker tone, you must leave it in for 30 minutes

This is just an example. The same applies to all semi-permanent dye brands.


 Hair dye brands are very clear in their instructions and explain that to achieve a lighter or subtle color, you must leave it in for a certain time. Then, for a darker or more intense color, you must leave it in for longer. 


If you didn’t respect the maximum developing time and your hair resulted in too intense or dark, the solution is straightforward! You have to wait until it starts to fade with the washes.

Remember that the semi-permanent dye will wash out. So, you’ll get the color you initially chose after 2 or 3 washes.

However, when the time comes for a color touch-up, you must respect the developing times if you don’t want the same thing to happen to you.


So, how do I apply the semi-permanent dye correctly?

This type of dye is very easy to apply. Since it doesn’t need developer or ammonia, you can do it at home, but I recommend using towels and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty!

Semi-permanent dye is messy in the application process if you don’t have previous experience, so be prepared to get yourself dirty!


What do I need to apply the dye correctly?

As I told you, respecting the application time of each dye is key. If you want to achieve a good color and optimize the coloring times, you must have everything ready and at hand before starting. That’s why I share with you the list of all the elements needed to apply the dye:


  • Semi-permanent dye of the color and the brand you like
  • Gloves
  • Towels and clothing
  • Comb and hair clips

Once you gather all these elements, you can start by following this process:

  • Comb your hair and split it into 4 sections: 2 in the front and 2 in the back
  • Hold each section with the clips
  • Start applying the semi-permanent dye in any of these 4 sections. You can do it with your hands or help yourself with a dye brush
  • Rinse with plenty of warm water until no pigment remains in the water
  • Remove excess water with a towel and comb as usual
  • If you want, you can dry your hair with a hairdryer at a medium temperature


Always remember…

Every manufacturer of semi-permanent dye has its own developing time, and you must respect it if you want a vibrant, intense, and special color.

You can achieve excellent results from home. However, if you have any doubts, you can go to your beauty salon for the best advice.

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