A lady sitting at home dying her hair and cleaning the excess off her head.

Your guide to using semi-permanent hair dye

Have you got an urge to switch things up a bit with your hair by changing the colour?

Maybe you’ve always had the same colour since you were young, or perhaps you like to keep things fresh by switching shades every few months?

Whatever your hair colour sitch, we wanted to focus your attention on something that’s on our mind right now – semi-permanent hair dye.

Because if you’re up for dying your hair, you’ve got two main options; to use a permanent hair dye or pop a semi-permanent hair colour on your barnet. The colour-changing choice is yours…

How long does a semi-permanent hair dye last?

Semi-permanent hair dyes tend to last around six weeks, which roughly equates to around eight washes, depending on how often you wash your hair.

Having said that, the six weeks is based on you hardly using shampoo during this time or being out in the sun too much or going swimming due to the chlorine. The vibrancy of your hair colour will naturally fade over time, but shampoo, sun and swimming are three of the main colour-fading culprits, so to speak.

The first two weeks of dying your hair, or having your hair dyed, is when your colour will look its best. And if you want to maintain if for as long as possible, then try to shampoo and condition your hair no more than once a week, and when you do, use products that have been specifically formulated for dyed hair. These products contain ingredients that are designed to lock your colour in your hair for longer, as well as keep your hair feeling healthy and nourished.1

Does semi-permanent hair dye wash out completely?

Yes, over time, although everyone’s hair is different, so you and your best friend may use exactly the same colour, but the end result, and how long it sticks around for will differ.

Basically, permanent hair dye works by penetrating hair deep down as its core, while semi-permanent hair dye only coats the outer hair shaft. This is precisely why semi-permanent dyes are a semi-permanent fix2 and why they’re a great choice if you’re not 100% sure about dyeing your hair. And if you are a bit of a fan of changing your hair colour on a regular basis, then using a temporary, semi-permanent hair dye, means you can swap your shades much more easily without being hampered by your previous colour.3

Is semi-permanent hair dye better than permanent?

Oooohh, now that’s a really good question. Well, semi-permanent hair dyes don’t contain any bleach or ammonia, and this makes them more gentle on your hair than permanent hair dye.4 Meanwhile, permanent hair dye, as the name suggests, lasts the longest of all the hair dyes – the semi-permanent dyes, the demi-permanent dyes, the colouring sprays and the hair chalks. Permanent hair dye penetrates your hair, so the results stay around for longer. This type of dye can be used to help lighten, darken or tone your hair, cover grays and provide full coverage. Unlike temporary hair dye, permanent hair color grows out with your hair, leaving a line of your natural colour, or ‘roots’ as most people call them, that need re-doing on a regular basis for a more natural finish.5

How do you look after hair that’s been coloured with a semi-permanent colour?

Exactly the same way you’d look after your hair if it’s been coloured with a permanent dye. Mild shampoos cleanse your hair and don’t leave behind any build-up, as well as shampoos and conditioners that are formulated to for coloured hair will help maintain your colour and keep your hair looking healthy.

Meanwhile, deep treatments, such as hair masks, will help make sure your hair stays moisturised and free from frizz, regardless if your hair’s been dyed five times or 50 times.6 (For more on hair masks read, ‘Hair masks you can make at home.’)

What is the best semi-permanent hair dye?

If you’ve already started to have a look around, you’ll have spotted that there are a fair few semi-permanent hair dyes to choose from. And this makes choosing the best semi-permanent hair colour a bit of a tricky thing to do, especially if you’re totally brand new to the concept of colouring your hair.

Which one’s going to look right on your hair? Is your hair really going to wind up looking like the woman’s hair on the box? Is the dye going to take easily? Will your hair still look healthy after you’ve dyed it?

Dyeing your hair, especially if you’re doing it yourself, can open up a whole can of hair dyeing worms. But don’t let those initial questions put you off because, don’t forget, you can learn from people who’ve already been there and tried and tested the hair dyes.

Our pick of the best semi-permanent hair dyes (as reviewed by our customers):

Henne Color Henna Powder Hair Colour Mahogany Red 100g

A box of Henne Color Henna Powder Hair Colour Mahogany Red 100g

Customer rating: 4.5 stars

This hair colouring powder is enriched with henna. Henna is known for its beneficial properties for the hair and scalp. It has a fortifying, action. It brings softness, suppleness, shine and volume to the hair.

Ingredients: Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Leaf Extract, Sodium Picramate.

Other creds: Available in red, brown, blonde, black and auburn and free from oxidiser and ammonia p-phenylenediamine.

Customer reviews: “I had a dull bland shade of blonde, and wanted a colour that would give my hair some oomph, so I opted for this red shade. Gotta say, the quality of this henna dye is way better than any of the expensive famous brands. It conditions your hair much better and adds way more shine. Totally worth every penny.” – SarahClark

“Brilliant, easy to mix and I made not very thick paste, so it dried quickly, but I still left in my hair for good few hours, then I washed with water not with shampoo. I washed my hair the next day with shampoo and results were amazing. I had beautiful mahogany colour, not a typical orange henna colour.” – Sadia57

Henne Color Henna Powder Hair Colour Copper Red 100g

 A box of Henne Color Henna Powder Hair Colour Copper Red 100g.

Customer rating: 4.3 stars

Customer reviews: ““Very strong lovely long lasting colour, vibrant and long lasting.” - SusanCinnamonSwirl

“I love this dye. It gives my dark auburn hair a lift and the colour looks very natural and convincing. In an ideal world, the mixture would be more of a powder, as it's got little twigs and such which are very hard to wash away!”- J Raines

Naturtint-Permanent Hair Colour 5.62 – Mahogany (90ml)

 A box of Naturtint-Permanent Hair Colour in the shade5.62 – Mahogany (90ml).


Customer rating: 3.8 stars

Reflex from Naturtint is a gentle alternative to permanent hair colouring, giving a temporary colour result that fades in up to 12 washes and uses naturally conditioning henna to provide softness and shine, whilst maintaining scalp health.

Other creds: Available in mahogany, black, dark chestnut brown, light chestnut brown, hazel blonde and golden blonde.

Customer reviews: “Amazing, beautiful hair colour. So shiny, soft and vibrant, hair looks healthy and feels lovely.” – Moonstar

“I've been using this semi-permanent hair colour range for ages and I absolutely love it. Gorgeous colour and kind to hair.” – Amanda SJ

“This was my first go with this dye, as the henna products I'd used before all turned out too orange! It won't be my last use of it. The dye went on easily and covered well, creating really bright highlights on the grey hairs and a deep red colour - pretty like the picture on the box - across my otherwise mid-brown hair. Let's see how long the colour lasts.” - Gramanda


Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Colour 7.0 - Hazelnut Blonde (90ml)

A box of Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Colour in the shade, Hazelnut Blonde (90ml)


Customer rating: 3.7 stars

Customer reviews: “I have only used this colour once and I am very impressed. I am going to continue using it. My hair feels so soft. I have washed my hair 3 times since putting the colour on my hair and now my grey hairs look like I have blonde highlights. It is a lovely natural colour.” – Jo Mower

“My hair is really soft with a lovely shine and looks good.” – Aannmarie

Planning on popping a semi-permanent dye on your hair (or getting it done in a salon) and are undecided about which colour to go for? Have a read of this, ‘What colour should I dye my hair?’ Shop Hair Care

Last Updated: 12th January 2021