Difference Between Permanent and Semi Permanent Hair Color

Coloring hair is becoming a trend nowadays. Everyone, females or males, wants to experiment with their hair with vibrant or aesthetic colors. It is like makeup applied to the hairs to look more enhanced. For this purpose, different companies have introduced types of colors and other options for dyeing hair for changing the physical appearance overall.

While most people have a general idea of hair coloring in saloons and beauty parlors but well now everything is possible at home only. Therefore it is important to know the colors and what they contain as lack of knowledge/information can cause serious damage to the hair.

Permanent vs Semi-Permanent Hair Color

The main difference between permanent and semi-permanent colors is in how many washes they can survive. In the case of permanent hair color, they can survive from 28 to 34 washes, while semi-permanent hair color can hardly survive 12 washes after it starts fading away. Also, semi-permanent hair color cause relatively much less damage to the hair as compared to the permanent hair color. They also differ in terms of the developer, chemical ingredients, sitting on a layer, etc.

Permanent vs Semi Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair color is hair dye that sits for a longer duration. It contains more chemicals along with peroxide. It does not wash out easily and goes deeper than the outer surface. The care of hair has to be done as these colors can cause some serious damage to the hair that cannot be healed.

Semi-permanent hair color lasts for few washes and contains no chemical, including peroxide. There is not a developer either that is to be mixed with ammonia. When you applied the color to your hair, it just simply sits on the top layer of it and gives a shinier appearance. These cause zero or no damage to the hair.

Comparison Table Between Permanent and Semi Permanent Hair Color

Parameters of ComparisonPermanent Hair ColorSemi Permanent Hair Color
Permanency6 to 8 weeks3 to 4 weeks
ChemicalsContains chemicalDoes not contain it.
DeveloperContains itDoes not contain it.
Sits onCuticlesThe outer surface of the hair
DamageMore damageLess damage

What is Permanent Hair Color?

Permanent hair color goes deep than the outer surface of your hair; it goes to the cuticles to make sure the color sits for a longer period. It changes the hair color completely rather than just enhancing the original color. The ammonia formula in color has to mix with a developer before applying it to make sure it sits properly on the surface.

This contains peroxide and other chemicals too, and this is the reason why the hair color lasts for a long time. Apart from this, they have the following advantages:

  • This color does not have to be applied regularly or more frequently as the color lasts for a good period.
  • Permanent hair color comes in a variety of colors; therefore, there is an option for everyone.
  • They look natural as they get absorb in the hair.
  • They completely cover the grey hair, giving full coverage.
  • Regular shampooing is not a problem with permanent hair color as they do not wash out easily.

Apart from all the above-mentioned advantages it has some disadvantages too, that includes:

  • It causes more damage to the hair than any other hair dye/color. This is due to the strong chemicals it contains.
  • The mixture has to be kept for a longer period.
  • It may cause some allergic reactions.
  • It cannot be washed out if not satisfied with the color.

What is Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Semi-permanent hair color does not last for a large period. It starts fading away after just 6 weeks sometimes. It enhances the hair color and makes them look shinier and smoother. It is best if you want to experiment with the hair color and especially if this is your first time coloring.

Coloring hair with semi-permanent hair color has some advantages such as, the last of short period that means you can change the color more frequently and you can experiment more also if you didn’t like the color you can always wash it off, it causes the least damage to the hair as compared to any other hair color (due to absence or peroxide or any chemicals), they are not expensive and can be afforded by most of the people, the color look more natural, they can use straight from the applicators,

For proper making sure the color lasts for a longer period, proper care has to be taken. For caring shampoos and conditions specially designed for the staying, the color should be used.

Semi-permanent hair color does not contain chemicals, and most of them are also cruelty-free and vegan. They sit on the outer surface of the hair and improve the texture and color of your hair.

Main Differences Between Permanent and Semi-Permanent Hair Color

  1. The main difference between both permanent and semi-permanent hair color is in the time they stayed, or after a period, they start fading away. Permanent hair color, as the name suggests, lasts for more time in comparison to the semi hair color. Permanent hair color can last for 6 to 8 weeks, whereas semi-permanent hair color starts fading after just 3 to 4 weeks.
  2. Both colors also differ in terms of chemical composition. Permanent hair color contains chemicals, i.e., it contains ammonia and peroxide, whereas semi-permanent hair color does not contain chemicals (peroxide).
  3. Permanent hair color contains a developer that has to be mixed with ammonia so that the hair color can sit properly on hair, whereas semi-permanent hair color does not contain any developer.
  4. As mentioned above, both of them lasts for different periods, and the reason behind this is permanent hair color with the help of developer and chemicals sits on the cuticles of the hair so that the color can properly sit on hairs evenly while semi hair color only sits on the outside layer of the hair.
  5. As permanent hair color contains chemicals, it can cause some serious damage to the hair, whereas no such serious or permanent damage is caused in the case of semi-permanent hair color.
  6. Semi-permanent hair color does not change the hair color completely. It just enhances the original color of the hair, making them shinier and brighter, while permanent hair color can completely change the hair color.


Therefore, there should not be any confusion between both the color types, and you can choose which color type you want to have. It is important to know about them as they can damage hair, leaving them frizzy and broken. So if you have the information, you can prepare the hair for them. Before and after the hair coloring procedure, proper care is required so that the quality of it should not be compromised. Also, it is not good to color hair more frequently. Gaps between coloring are required. And if the hair starts getting damaged beyond a point, proper help from professionals should be taken immediately.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022202X9390506D
  2. https://www.derm.theclinics.com/article/S0733-8635(18)30675-2/abstract
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00311.x
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