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How to Make Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer

Semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t use ammonia, so it doesn’t last nearly as long as a permanent or demi-permanent dye. If you want to learn how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer, try the tips below.

Making Semi Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer: A Summary

Ammonia-free semi-permanent dye keeps your hair from being damaged, but it can fade so fast sometimes it hardly seems worth the effort. 

Learning how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer with these tips will help you maintain your dyed look and reduce the need to re-dye as often.

Here are a few things you can try:

  1. Prepare Your Hair
  2. Don’t Condition Before Applying Dye
  3. Read the Instructions Carefully
  4. Apply in Sections
  5. Don’t Use Hot Water to Rinse
  6. Let Your Hair Air Dry
  7. Don’t Shampoo for at Least Three Days
  8. Use Color-Safe Shampoo and Conditioner
  9. Wash in Cool or Lukewarm Water
  10. Wash Less Often
  11. Don’t Use Heat
  12. Avoid the Sun
  13. Avoid Chemicals

How to Make Semi Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer in 13 Steps

Learning how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer is less of a step-by-step process as it’s a list of tips and tricks that help retain your hair’s new color. Try any of the 13 steps below to maximize the investment in your hair.

1. Prepare Your Hair

All semi-permanent dyes include instructions to let you get the best results but go a step further. Use a chelating shampoo a day or two before you plan to use the dye. 

The chelating shampoo contains sequestering agents designed to remove build-up on your hair and scalp. The shampoo works well for people with hard water to remove the minerals from the water that can damage hair over time. 

However, you don’t have to have hard water to benefit from this type of shampoo. Invest in a bottle and use it before using any dye to strip the build-up from your hair and scalp. 

This shampoo is more expensive than most regular shampoo, but you don’t use it daily or even weekly. If you use it more than once or twice a month, you’ll strip too much and dry out your hair.

If you only use it a day or two before each time you dye your hair, the bottle will last a long time and cost very little in the long run. And since it’ll stretch your dye job to last longer, it’ll save you money on buying more dye. The extra cost will balance over time. 

Clarifying Shampoo vs. Chelating Shampoo

If you don’t want to spend more on chelating shampoo, use a good clarifying shampoo. This type removes build-up too, but it can only remove it from the outside of the hair and can’t give your scalp and follicles as deep a clean as chelating shampoo. It will still remove enough build-up that your semi-permanent dye will last a little longer. 

2. Don’t Condition Before Applying Dye

Rewash your hair the day you’ll dye it, but don’t use conditioner. You know that slippery feeling your hair has after you condition it? Conditioner smooths the hair’s surface to give it that feeling, and the smooth surface keeps the dye from properly adhering.

Give yourself time to towel-dry your hair afterward, don’t use a blow dryer, and wait a couple of hours to ensure the hair is thoroughly dry. Applying semi-permanent dye to dry hair is best to get the most vibrant and longer-lasting color. 

Use both these tips for washing with a chelating shampoo the day before and washing without conditioning the same day, whether you’re applying at-home semi-permanent dye or you’re going to a salon to have it done professionally. 

Preparing your hair this way and applying the dye to dry hair (unless the dye’s instruction says otherwise) will help extend the life of both dye applications. 

3. Read the Instructions Carefully

One of the most common mistakes people make when dyeing their hair isn’t following the instructions. All dyes tell you exactly how to apply their product and how long you should leave it on your hair. 

From mixing the dye incorrectly to not leaving it in place long enough, user error is a big part of the reason for fast-fading dye jobs. 

Since semi-permanent dye doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals like peroxide and ammonia that demi-permanent and permanent hair dyes have, leaving the dye on a little longer than instructed won’t damage your hair.

It won’t necessarily give you a deeper color, either, depending on the dye. Follow the instructions as closely as possible for the best results. And when you start with a good dye application, the color will last longer. 

4. Apply in Sections 

Part your hair down the middle, then part each side into two or three sections to make the application process more manageable. This tip is more about getting a good overall dye job.

But part of learning how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer is getting an even, thorough application in the first place. 

Working a section at a time helps you ensure you’re getting proper coverage and can keep it from feeling less overwhelming than trying to dye your whole head at once. 

5. Don’t Use Hot Water To Rinse

If you find rinsing with cool water too uncomfortable, use lukewarm water, but avoid using hot water at all costs. Hot water cleans better because the heat of the water breaks down oils and water-soluble substances better than cooler water can.

It can do the same with hair dye by breaking down the dye and “cleaning” your hair better than cooler water would. 

If you rinse with hot water after dyeing, you’re fading the color before it even has a chance to dry on your hair. Rinse with plain cool or lukewarm water (or cold water, if you can stand it), and don’t use shampoo or any other product. 

6. Let Your Hair Air Dry

You can towel dry your hair gently if you want to, but letting it air dry will preserve the most color. If you use a towel, blot your hair but don’t rub or scrub it with the towel. Also, don’t use a blow-dryer, a straightening iron, or any other kind of heating hair appliance to dry it.

7. Don’t Shampoo for at Least Three Days

If you’re someone who shampoos every day in the shower, you might have trouble with this tip, but wait at least three days before your next shampoo. 

Semi-permanent hair dye only lasts for about 6 to 8 washes, and if you shampoo right away, you’re not giving it time to sit on the hair. The dye needs a few days to adhere, so it’ll last longer when you start washing your hair again. 

8. Use Color-Safe Shampoo and Conditioner

When you’re ready to wash again, use shampoo and conditioner designed for color-treated hair. If you don’t have this type of shampoo or don’t want to buy it for this purpose, use a mild shampoo, and use as little of it as possible. 

Don’t use a chelating or clarifying shampoo, which will strip a lot of the color away. Save those for pre-dye washings. Condition thoroughly, which can help the dye stay on your hair. 

Here’s a bonus tip: If you have leftover dye, mix a tablespoon to your bottle of conditioner.

You’ll be refreshing the color each time you wash. Read the ingredients on the dye before you do this to ensure it’s semi-permanent and not another type. Don’t add it if it contains ammonia or peroxide. 

9. Wash in Cool or Lukewarm Water

Use the coolest water temperature you can when shampooing and conditioning your hair. You don’t want the hot water to speed the breakdown of your hair dye. 

10. Wash Less Often

Go as long between washings as you can. Many people wash their hair every day, but your color will be gone in a week or sooner if you do that.

Washing the hair every day isn’t recommended for people unless they have incredibly oily hair because it strips away so many natural oils. If you want to learn how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer, the best tip is to wash it infrequently. 

Every time you shampoo, you’ll remove some of the dye. So go as long as you can without washing it, and when you do, use as little shampoo as you can and condition thoroughly. 

11. Don’t Use Heat

Don’t blow dry your hair or use hot straightening or curling irons. Heat opens your hair’s cuticles and will let the color fade faster. Heat is also not healthy for your hair, and healthy hair will retain color longer. 

Regular curlers left overnight or braiding wet hair can help you achieve curls and waves without heat. If you can’t get by without using a curling iron, crimper, or other appliance to achieve your signature look, use a heat-protectant spray first.

12. Avoid the Sun

Wear a hat to protect your hair when you’re in the sun for prolonged periods. The UV rays of the sun fade natural hair color, so it can quickly fade your dyed shade. 

13. Avoid Chemicals

You don’t have to skip that invitation to a pool party but know that the chlorine will cause the dye to fade fasterDon’t use any product with peroxide or coloring chemicals to avoid damage and reactions that could affect your hair’s color. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Image illustrating how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer

From which temporary dye lasts the longest to how often you can use dye, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to make semi-permanent hair dye last longer:

What’s the Best Temporary Hair Dye?

If you want to cover gray hair at the roots temporarily, black mascara works well and will last through a couple of shampoos. Experts recommend natural vegetable dyes that can last up to 20 to 30 washings for overall coloring.

What Hair Color Fades the Fastest?

Red hair color, especially a deep red shade, fades faster than other colors.

What Hair Color Lasts the Longest?

Brown hair colors tend to last longer than faster-fading reds and hard-to-maintain blondes. Blonde hair dyed black could last much longer than you want it to, so be careful with drastic color changes.

Does Semi-Permanent Color Stain Pillows?

Semi-permanent hair color can sometimes transfer to pillows, sheets, towels, and clothing. Be sure your hair is thoroughly dry before going to bed to help avoid it. The chances are that if it does transfer, it will wash out of the pillowcase the same way it washes out of your hair.

How Often Can I Use Semi-Permanent Hair Dye?

You can use semi-permanent dye every week if you want to because it lacks the harsh chemicals of more permanent dyes and often washes out within a week.

So, How Do You Make Semi Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer?

Remember that much depends on whether you’ve previously color-treated your hair and the health of your hair follicles.

Dry hair that’s damaged won’t color as evenly or keep the color as long as healthy hair. Most semi-permanent dyes should last 6 to 8 shampoos, but you can make it last longer with these tips.