My hair didn’t take the semi-permanent color, what should I do? Can I fix it?

didnt take the color

Did you use a semi-permanent dye to hide your gray and the darn things are still there, taunting you?

Was there no difference in your hair color after using the dye?


If your semi-permanent dye didn’t work or didn’t take, it’s probably because of one of these 4 reasons:

  • You have a higher percentage of gray than semi-permanent dye can cover
  • You chose a color much lighter than your base color
  • You didn’t leave the dye in for as long as the instructions indicated to
  • Your hair is highly porous


YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: Can I leave semi-permanent dye in my hair overnight?


Semi-permanent dyes are one of the best inventions ever created for coloring your hair because they allow you to change your hair color temporarily, without affecting the internal structure of your hair, and best of all, they don’t contain aggressive chemicals.

But, they do have their limits. What do I mean?

I’ll explain it using an example.


Susan, one of my clients, entered my salon fuming a few days ago.  After I got her to calm down, should told me that she had dyed her hair to hide her gray because she had an emergency. 

Her emergency was that she had lunch with a very important client, so she couldn’t attend with messy hair, full of gray. Since she didn’t have enough time to come into the salon, she bought a color kit in the supermarket.


When I asked her which kit she had chosen, she pulled the box out of her bag and threw it on the table, as if it were on fire. What did the box say?

“Semi-permanent dye.” And there was our problem.


 Susan’s hair was about eighty percent gray, so this dye was never going to be able to cover up all of her gray.  

The result? She ended up having to improvise a kind of turban in her hair for the business lunch, and then in the salon, I used a permanent dye to hide her gray.


Do you see what I mean? Semi-permanent dye can fail you if you don’t use it right, or if you don’t use the right kind of dye for what you’re trying to do.

Do you want to know why the semi-permanent dye didn’t take in your hair, leaving it the same color as before?


If so, stick with me, because we’re going to look into each of the possibilities with a little more depth.

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If you want to hide gray with semi-permanent dye, it must be less than 50% gray.

semi-permanent dye has no enough power to cover it

If more than half of your hair is gray, it’s not going to work.

If more than 50% of your hair is gray, you should opt for a permanent dye to completely cover your gray.


The reason is simple.  Semi-permanent dyes don’t contain ammonia, so they can’t get into the inner part of your hair to deposit their pigments. 

You don’t want to use a permanent dye because your hair dries out easily?


Then another option could be using 20 volume oxygenated water on your gray, drying it with a hairdryer, then dyeing your hair with the semi-permanent dye.


A semi-permanent dye will only lighten up to your current hair color. If you choose much lighter colors, then you won’t see any changes in your hair.

Do you have a dark brown 5 base tone and you used a light blonde 8 semi-permanent dye?


Well, then, of course, you won’t see any difference in your hair color.

Because “color on color doesn’t lighten.”  You should choose a semi-permanent dye the same as your base color, or up to two shades lighter. 


For example, if your hair is a dark brown 5, you can opt for a light brown 6 or dark blonde 7.

Not choosing the right color is one of the most common reasons for why semi-permanent color didn’t take in your hair.


For semi-permanent dye to take in your hair correctly, you need to leave it in for the right amount of time.

For your hair to correctly take the semi-permanent dye, you need to leave it in between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the brand you choose.

For that reason, I recommend reading the instructions that come with your dye very closely.

If you leave it in for less time, the pigments won’t deposit correctly in the external part of your hair.


 You should also use the mix as quickly as possible because the dye starts to work as soon as you have the mix prepared.  That means that it doesn’t work to prepare the mix, then set it aside for an hour while you talk on the phone with your friend.

You should prepare the mix and use it on your hair immediately. Cover your hair right afterward with a bathing cap to keep your scalp’s warmth close, which will also make the color stronger and last longer.


If you have very porous hair, then the dye won’t deposit in your hair correctly and it will fade quickly.

Look at your hair. Does it look and feel dry? Does it tangle easily? Is it prone to breaking? Is it uncommon for it to shine?


If so, then you have porous hair, which means that your hair cuticles, which absorb moisture and hair products, are too separated.

When this happens,  they’ll absorb the dye pigments quickly, but they won’t retain them.  

That means the color won’t stick in your hair.


If this is your situation, you should moisturize and nurture your hair with a hair mask at least once a week.

That way, when it comes time to use the dye, the pigments will penetrate your hair fiber, deposit correctly, and stay there.



Semi-permanent dyes won’t take in hair that’s more than 50% gray, and you won’t be able to lighten your base color more than two shades.

You need to leave the dye in between 30 and 45 minutes for it to take and keep your hair hydrated so the pigments can penetrate it.

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