Everything You Wanted to Know About Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Everything You Wanted to Know About Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Labels are a complicated thing. We’re quick to label ourselves or other people (a habit we definitely need to break!), but when it comes to consumer products - like food, beauty & cosmetics, and hair color - labels play an important role in helping us understand exactly what we’re getting.


If you’ve been to a specialty supermarket in the last thousand years, you know that things like keto, organic, grass-fed, and gluten-free have become popular labels that indicate where your food comes from and how it was made. 


When it comes to hair dye, the same rule applies: labels are everywhere (like demi, semi, and temporary, oh my!), and Splat wants to teach you everything there is to know about the most common - and perhaps most misunderstood - label out there: semi-permanent hair color. 


If you want the freedom to customize your color and the flexibility to change it again, then semi-permanent hair color is the best pick. It’s a temporary change - NOT a long-term commitment. It’s the most common type of hair dye for that very reason. 



Most semi-permanent hair dyes are diluted and thickened with a conditioner base so they last about 4-6 weeks before washing out. Splat’s Original Color kitsMidnight kits, and Ombre kits are formulated a little differently so they tend to last a lot longer, even though they’re still semi-permanent dyes. We use pigment-concentrated dyes that haven’t been diluted, which typically results in stronger vibrancy and longer-lasting color. In fact, don’t be surprised if your new bold color lasts you a few months before you need to do a touch-up. (If you’re looking for a less concentrated and more conditioning semi-permanent dye, check out our Splat Naturals collection. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a color that lasts the typical 4-6 weeks).


Your hair texture and porosity will also play a part in determining the longevity of your hair color. Porosity determines how your hair can retain and absorb moisture. Porosity can be broken down into three categories: low, normal, and high. Low porosity hair has cuticles that are bound very close together, normal porosity hair has cuticles that are slightly less bound, and high porosity hair has cuticles that are more widely spread out. Learn more about hair porosity and how to find out which type of hair you have here. Porosity level is based both on your natural hair chemistry and texture as well as through processing methods such as pre-lightening with bleach. Processing your hair opens up the cuticle, giving it a higher porosity level that will hold onto color better and longer than virgin hair which has a still-sealed cuticle.


Now, for the ‘science’ part: 
When it comes to the technical aspect of semi-permanent hair color, the most important thing to know is that it coats the surface of your hair. Semi-permanents are called direct dyes because they don’t use ammonia or peroxide to fundamentally change your natural color the way permanent dyes do. Permanent dyes work differently by first removing color from your hair before depositing the dye deep into the actual cuticle of the hair. Semi-permanent dyes work by layering color directly over the surface of your hair, without changing your natural color.


At Splat, we LOVE color, and we’re here to help you transform from color to color to color! That’s why most of our complete kits and creams are made with semi-permanent dye: it makes trying on new looks and changing colors easier since the color will be layered on top of your current color and won’t last forever.


If you’re still thinking, “I just don’t get it...I know semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes are different, but I still don’t understand how!” Don’t worry, we’ll break it down even more!


Try thinking of it like this:

  • Imagine you have two sheets of construction paper: one is white, and one is yellow. If you use a blue crayon to color on both sheets of paper, you’re layering the color on top of each sheet of paper. But blue is going to show up much more vibrantly on the white piece of paper than on the yellow since the white paper is a ‘blank canvas’ that lets the ‘true’ blue color show through. Blue crayon on a yellow sheet of paper is going to look more muddled, and possibly even green, since the yellow in the paper is showing through the blue. (This is also why one of the biggest hair color snafus is buying blue dye only to wind up with green hair if you’ve bleached your hair blonde but it’s still too yellow).


With semi-permanent hair color, you’re only coating the surface of your hair,  and the color will eventually wash out. With permanent dyes (like those used in Splat’s NEW Double Lift Permanent Color Kits), you’re essentially removing your virgin hair’s natural color, then replacing it with your new permanent color.


At Splat, our goal is to help you achieve bright, bold, beautiful hair color results that are anything but ordinary.  Vivid colors - like teal, blue, pink, red, orange, and violet - layer best on pre-lightened hair. That’s why Splat’s Original Color kits come with bleach...to help you get as close to white as possible so that the color will apply evenly and accurately onto your hair.  If you want a bright, bold, brilliant pop of color, you need a blank canvas to get the best results, and bleach helps void your hair of color so that the true hue of your dye can be revealed.  


So that’s it! That’s everything you need to know about semi-permanent hair dye. 


Don’t worry, we aren’t going to quiz you later, but we do want to recap what we went over above: 

Semi-permanent hair color works in three major capacities:

  • The way it applies onto your hair (as a direct dye, it coats the surface of your hair)
  • The length of time it lasts (from several weeks to several months, depending on the dilution of the dye and your washing habits) 
  • The way it layers on top of your natural color (which is why many of Splat’s color kits include bleach) 


We hope this has helped you better understand semi-permanent hair dye...how it works, why it works, and when to use it. The more knowledge and understanding you have, the easier it will be for you to change your color at home. If you want to ‘go pro’ and get the best results, try checking out our list of 10 Pro Tips to Coloring Your Hair at Home


We also recommend visiting this link to find the tips and tricks that will help you avoid any At-Home Color Mistakes.


(And if you’re craving a permanent change, try Splat’s NEW Double Lift Permanent Color Kits. They use a permanent dye to lift - then dye - the natural, fundamental color of your virgin hair. It’s a bold, beautiful color with long-lasting results).


Now you know everything there is to know about semi-permanent hair color. With vivid new hair color, we’re sure you’ll be quick to call yourself beautiful. And THAT is a label we’re more than comfortable using!

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