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Choosing the Right Hair Color Application

Last week, we talked about choosing the right shade of hair color, whether burgundy, brown, purple, or lemon yellow. There’s more to the story, though, as deciding to dye your hair involves lots of other considerations, including which type of hair dye to use. Different hair dye applications get different results, and last for varying amounts of time. To make the best choice for your hair and desired look, it’s best to know your options. Here is a quick rundown.

Most hair dyes come in one of three or four formulas: temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or permanent. Each has its own unique benefits and drawbacks.

Temporary Hair Color

Also known as “crazy color,” “watercolor,” or “hair paint,” this type of application truly lives up to its name. Temporary hair color is simply layered on the hair—just like paint—and rinses off immediately. Best for adding shocking highlights and daring hues to already-lightened hair (think pink starbursts or green streaks on blond, or light red or brown, hair) or adding depth to darker tresses, temporary hair color can be applied by anyone, at home. Why not? Any mistakes simply rinse away! Temporary hair colors are usually available in any beauty supply store, in a wide range of applicators, from spray cans to mascara tubes to large bottles.

Semi-Permanent Hair Color

For the woman who wants to change her look, but not every day. Semi-permanent hair dyes last quite a bit longer than temporary ones—about 4 to 5 washes—and usually help users achieve more even, conservative looks, as well as bold new shades. The smaller molecules of a semi-permanent application allow it to penetrate the hair shaft with a minimum of damage, making this a good choice for women with fragile, damaged, or chemically treated hair, and the generally low levels of developers, or lighteners, is also beneficial. Less lightening of the hair means each strand gets to take on its own special shade of the new color, depending on its original hue…and this means more variation, with highlights and lowlights, and a more natural look, in the end. It also means that women who get other chemical services, including permanents and relaxers, can safely get this kind of hair dye during the same salon visit.

However, since semi-permanent hair dye cannot lighten hair, it’s not a good choice for dark-tressed beauties seeking to go blond, red, or brown. It is also best to go to a trained professional for application, although many semi-permanent hair color kits are available in grocery stores and beauty supplies. If done at home, make sure to follow directions very carefully, and to protect your skin and clothes before beginning.

Demi-Permanent Hair Color

The next step beyond semi-permanent, demi-permanent hair color usually lasts about 20 to 28 shampoos, and contains a gentle developer that barely strips hair of its pigment—which means that, once again, this might not be the best option if you’re looking for a lighter hue. On the other hand, demi-permanent hair colors are still safe for weaker hair and same-day application with other chemical treatments. However, be very careful about using this type of formula, and consult a beautician instead of applying at home.

Permanent Hair Color

As its name implies, permanent hair color last forever; removing it and returning to your original locks’ shade is possible, by using a hair color stripper, but can be damaging, and only works for light-colored hair that has been darkened.

All permanent hair dyes use a developer or bleaching agent to lighten and swell the hair cuticle before depositing the new color. As a result, permanent coloring can be very damaging to already weakened lengths, and can even cause hair loss and scalp irritation in many women. Permanent hair hues cannot be applied during the same salon visit as any other chemical process, and must be scheduled carefully with a trained beautician, to avoid over-processing.

On the upside, though, permanent hair color is the only effective way to bring hair to a lighter color, and is usually safe for women with strong, well-cared-for tresses. Roots must be touched up as they grow out and contrast with the dyed locks, but, in general, permanent dyes are better for covering gray and creating a variety of looks, from one, even tone to highlights and lowlights and color chunks.

The choice is all up to you. How long do you want your color to last? Do you just need a wild style for the night, to attend your sister’s punk-rock concert? Or do you seek a multi-dimensional look—subtle, yet intriguing? Any way you go, you now have the information to make a wise choice. Go out and use it, and wow the crowds with your new color!

Take care of yourselves,


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