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How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last and How to Prevent Fading

Cute black lady with a dark brown natural hair color with curly hair strands wearing a green and white shirt.

Semi-permanent hair dye is a wildly popular hair coloring option that allows you to try a new hue without fully committing to it. It’s easy to use, and its usability and benefits are generally well understood.

Still, people have many questions about semi-permanent dye – one of the most common being “How long does semi-permanent hair dye last?” This article will address this question and fill you in on factors that contribute to its longevity.

African American female wearing temporary dye on 4A natural curls with a white and green sweater.

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

Semi-permanent hair dye, on average, lasts anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. This short longevity is good for hair dye newbies because it allows them to get a taste of a new color without having to be stuck with it for months.

The reason that semi-permanent hair dye does not last for months lies in its formula. Semi-permanent eyes are usually free of ammonia and peroxide, both of which are used to forcibly open the hair cuticle, penetrate the hair shaft, and deposit a new color deep within the hair’s cortex.

Semi-permanent hair dyes are not meant to do that. Instead, they’re only designed to deposit color onto the outer layers of the hair cuticle for a less permanent result.

Keep in mind that semi-permanent “temporary” hair dye will begin to fade shortly after the dyeing process is complete. However, most of the fading will occur towards the end of the four-to-six-week mark.

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4 Factors Affecting Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Longevity

It’s important not to generalize when it comes to semi-permanent dye fading times because there are many things that can shorten or lengthen the longevity of the dye.

And that’s what we will be addressing in the following sections. Here are four things that drastically affect how long your hair dye will last. 

1. How Long You Left the Dye on Your Hair

A semi-permanent dye comes with application instructions that specify how long you should leave the dye on your hair for lasting results. But if you don’t follow those instructions tediously, you could experience a couple of effects: 

  • If you don’t leave the semi-permanent dye on your hair long enough, it will fade faster than advertised. If you want your hair color to last, this is the last thing you should do.
  • If you leave the semi-permanent dye on your hair for too long, it may take a bit longer to fade than you anticipated. This is more likely to happen if you are dyeing your hair with a dark dye, like brown or black. However, all semi-permanent hair dyes will wash out entirely at some point.
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2. The Hair Dye’s Formula

Not all semi-permanent dyes are created equal. Some are formulated with proprietary ingredients that increase their staying power, making them last past the 6-week mark.

Others are not formulated with color-stay ingredients and will last closer to 4 weeks or even less in some cases. To determine how long your specific dye will last, your best bet is to read the packaging closely. 

3. The Condition of Your Hair During the Hair Dye Application

Before applying a semi-permanent hair dye, your hair should be extremely clean. That’s why experts recommend that you wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any dirt, debris, or build-up.

Doing so will help to ensure that the dye will latch onto your actual hair instead of whatever is coating your hair. You should wash your hair no more than 24 hours before dyeing it with a semi-permanent dye.

The reason behind this is that after washing your hair, your scalp will quickly replenish the oils washed away during the shampooing process. You don’t want to give your hair a chance to get oily before dyeing it.

If you don’t wash your hair within 24 hours of dyeing it, the results won’t last very long. 

An attractive girl with hair porosity issues on 4A curls wearing pink lipsticks and freshly arched eyebrows.

4. Your Hair Washing Habits

One of the most prominent factors affecting dye longevity is how often you wash your hair after dyeing it. If you wash your hair often (every day or two), your hair dye will fade very quickly.

If you want your results to last, you should wash your hair as little as possible – only when necessary. Once per week is a good rule of thumb.

Washing your hair with sulfate-based shampoos speeds up the fading process of semi-permanent color. So, if you want to keep your hair dye job vibrant, you should switch out your sulfate shampoo for a gentler sulfate-free shampoo.

You can also opt for a co-wash, a conditioner that cleanses your hair without stripping it at all. Of course, whenever your hair begins to show signs of buildup, you will want to use a tougher shampoo to remove it.

If your hair is caked in product buildup, you won’t be able to moisturize it effectively with your other products. In addition, the temperature of the water is important. If you wash your hair with super-hot water each time, this will speed up the rate of color fade.

A happy young lady with semi-permanent hair color in her natural curls wearing a green and white shirt.

How To Avoid Premature Dye Fading

Now that you understand the most common factors affecting semi-permanent dye fade, let’s move on to how to keep your dye from fading prematurely. We will do so in the following list: 

  • Always follow the instructions on the dye’s packaging for the best results. They will tell you exactly how to prepare your hair for the coloring process, how long to leave the dye on, and aftercare instructions. 
  • Keep your hair moisturized. Moisturized hair can hold onto color pigments better than chronically dry hair. So, always ensure that you follow up shampoo sessions with a rinse-out conditioner or a deep conditioner to replenish the moisture
  • Don’t wash your hair often. And when you do, use cold water. Doing so will keep your hair cuticles closed and reduce the risk of color fade. 
  • Cover your head before going out in the sun. Doing so will keep the sun’s rays from dissolving the hair color pigments. You can also apply a leave-in with SPF to protect your hair from fading due to sun damage. 
  • Keep heat styling to a minimum. Every time you apply heat to your hair, it removes some hair dye pigment.
  • Whenever you go swimming in a chlorinated pool, wear a swim cap. Any chlorine present in the water can strip your hair dye prematurely. 
  • Go sulfate-free and color-safe. To maximize the longevity of your dye job, be sure to use products conducive to color preservation. That means putting down any sulfate-based haircare products and opting instead for sulfate-free ones that are also color-safe. 
Very attractive black female wearing a pineapple updo with semi-permanent hair color.

How To Fade Your Hair Dye Quickly

It would be a mistake to think that everyone wants their hair dye to last a long time. There will be times when you hate your hair dye result and want to fade it as quickly as possible.

If that’s the case for you, take the following steps to fade your hair dye quickly: 

  • Always use hot water when you wash your hair. 
  • Switch out your regular shampoo for one with clarifying properties and use it every wash day. You can even use it every couple of days if you wish. 
  • Use a hair dye remover. It can remove all the dye pigment in one session, except in cases where the dye is super dark, or there’s dye buildup. 
African American female with naturally curly hair wearing semi-permanent hair dye.

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We hope that this article has been helpful to you, having given you pertinent information about how long semi-permanent hair color lasts. We wish you the best with your hair, no matter where your hair dye journey takes you!