Not sure if permanent hair color, semi-permanent, or henna hair color is right for you? We’re breaking it down in this Naturtint blog post to help you identify the best one for your needs.

What’s The Difference Between Permanent And Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Real talk: it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the vocabulary involved with hair color and hair care. From balayage and ombre to permanent and semi-permanent hair color, sometimes it’s tough to know what exactly you’re looking to achieve with your hair color and what would work best for your specific hair needs. 

Not to worry, though! We’re here to break down the differences between permanent, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and temporary hair color.  

Related: What is the best hair color for me?

Everything you need to know about permanent and semi-permanent hair color  

Follow along as we answer your frequently asked questions about permanent hair color and what makes it different from the other hair color types.  

why is it called permanent hair color? 

As you may have guessed, permanent hair color is indeed permanent. Permanent hair color never really leaves and only fades or grows out over time. Or, it may be bleached out or removed from the hair.  It adds to the natural pigment in your hair, so the color you’ve chosen can replace it. 

Permanent hair color is the longest-lasting option on the market. It is an oxidizing, indirect dye that can lighten, darken, change the tone and deliver maximum gray coverage. It raises the cuticle to allow maximum penetration, lightening the natural pigment and oxidizing the color molecules in the cortex of the hair.  

The condition of each person’s hair will affect their final result. Porosity, texture, length, appearance, and amount of gray hair are all factors that you should take into consideration when choosing your shade. 

Oh, and don’t forget to perform a skin sensitivity and hair strand test before you use any permanent hair color on your full head of hair!  

how does permanent hair color work? 

With permanent hair color, an alkaline medium gently lifts the hair’s cuticle in order to allow the color pigments to enter the hair shaft all the way into the cortex of the hair where they react and expand to a size that cannot be washed out. The hydrogen peroxide in the developer activates the color pigments when mixed. The hydrogen peroxide will also help remove some of the color within the hair shaft. 

Naturtint permanent hair color lightens up to 2 shades while the color is being deposited. After about an hour or so, the mixed solution will have oxidized and will no longer work. 

what makes permanent hair color different from semi, demi, and temporary hair color? 

The main difference between permanent and semi-permanent hair color is how the color reacts to the hair. When using permanent hair color, the developer opens the hair shaft. Then, the color enters the hair shaft and changes the hair color.  

With semi-permanent hair color, the color coats the hair shaft, however, does not enter it. Acting as a gloss on the hair shaft, it doesn’t cling to anything for too long and eventually washes out.  

Speaking of washing out, if you’re looking for a quick fix and low-commitment cover-up, temporary hair color is your best option. It’s great for experimenting, provides instant gray coverage, and is easy to wash out with only 1 or 2 shampoos.  

Finally, Demi-permanent hair colors are an intermediate between the semi-permanent and permanent hair colors.  They last longer than semi-permanent hair colors (up to 24-26 shampoos), but natural pigment can’t be lightened. However, they can help you maintain your shade or darken it. 

In this process, pre-color molecules penetrate the cuticle and enter the cortex of the hair where they partner with the natural pigment to create medium-sized color molecules. These are smaller than those found in permanent hair color and wash out over time. Demi-permanent contains a small amount of peroxide, which allows for a subtle, but noticeable color enhancement.  

how long does permanent hair color really last and how can you make it last longer? 

How long your permanent hair color lasts will differ from person to person and depends on your hair’s condition and how you care for it. With Naturtint permanent hair color, you’ll typically see some fading after 3-4 weeks. So, you can reapply every 4-8 weeks depending on how long it takes the color to fade from your hair. And, if you use a red color, it may fade sooner than other colors. Also, those with dry or porous hair may notice their color fading sooner.  

To delay color fading, follow these simple steps:  

  • Prep your hair before coloring 
  • Rinse and wash your hair with lukewarm water 
  • Shampoo less often if you can and use a pH balanced shampoo 
  • Condition well after and in between coloring 
  • Avoid using heat tools as much as possible 

For more detailed info on how to make your hair color last longer, check out our blog post here!

what makes Naturtint different from other hair color brands?  

Naturtint was created by an independently-owned, woman-run company in Madrid, Spain, and has been the leader in scientifically innovative hair color and in reducing the number of chemicals used in permanent hair color for over 25 years. Our botanical-inspired formulas contain only the highest-quality ingredients to deliver and maintain radiant color and shine! All Naturtint products are cruelty-free and vegan, so you can be confident that you’re choosing a better option for your hair and the planet.  

And, Naturtint is now the first permanent hair color to be certified by the USDA BioPreferred ® Program. Check out our wide array of shades and the world’s first petroleum-free propylene glycol alternative here.  

We use the Global ISO standard 16128 which defines naturally derived as plant or mineral derived materials and water which have undergone limited processing. The Naturtint naturally-derived percentage varies between product ranges from 92% to 99%. 

The bottom line: you can find your perfect hair color type 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out what hair color type is best for your hair. As you can see, whether you choose temporary, demi-permanent, permanent, or a semi-permanent hair color, you have options to help your hair look and feel its best.  And, if you’re looking for fall hair color inspo, be sure to check out this post!

Back to blog


1 of 10