How to go gray with semi-permanent hair color

How to Go Gray with Semi-Permanent Hair Color

You are willing to ditch the permanent hair dye and embrace your natural gray hair but are terrified of the grey hair demarcation line. Also, you want a smooth transition to grey hair without a skunk line.

Don’t worry. I am here to help.

There are several semi-permanent colours and hair rinses which can effectively conceal grey hair during the grey hair grow-out period.

These colours are safe to be used on natural grey hair and can effectively camouflage the growing grey roots during this grey hair transitional phase.

These colours don’t give full grey coverage and wash out in a few washes.

So, how will it help in the grey hair transition?

You will continue doing the grey root touch-ups as usual. The only difference will be that the permanent hair colour will be replaced by a semi-permanent hair colour closer in shade to your natural hair colour or the permanent dye you are currently using.

While your hair continues to grow, periodic trims will remove the previously dyed hair. Over the course of a few months, the dyed hair will be completely removed, revealing hair that is coated in a semi-permanent colour, which will slowly fade away, ultimately revealing your naturally grey hair.

In this post, I am going to share everything about how to go grey using semi-permanent colours, including their pros and cons.

Also, I will be sharing some semi-permanent colours and hair rinses to cover gray hair during the awkward grey grow-out period.

So let us start,

Semi-permanent hair dyes are non-oxidative hair dyes. These dyes don’t need a developer to be activated. These dyes are best for people with sensitive scalps and allergic to ingredients in permanent hair dye. These dyes are also the best choice if you decide to change your hair colour for a short time. In short, semi-permanent hair dyes are:

  1. A gentle blend free from ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Also referred to as direct dyes, these dyes deposit hair colour on the surface of hair strands without penetrating the cuticles.
  3. Semi-permanent dyes last about 4-12 washes and wash out completely gradually.

Will semi-permanent hair color cover my gray hair to 100%?

Semi-permanent hair colour doesn’t offer full coverage for grey hair. It can only blend grey hair, functioning as a sheer coating.

But in some cases where hair is very fine and porous, it can give full coverage.

The coverage will not be as intense as that of permanent hair dyes containing peroxide and ammonia, but enough to cover them.

The pictures below show the intensity of gray coverage a semi-permanent hair colour gives with one usage. It can be around 60-70%  but can’t cover grey hair as a permanent hair dye does.

Still, the outcome of coverage may depend on hair quality, porosity and other factors.

Temporary hair color on grey hair, before and after picture

Here are some more pictures to get a better idea:

semi permanent hair dye on grey hair
gray coverage by semi permanent hair color
Go gray using semi permanent hair color
Semi-permanent color gives sheer coverage
After picture of semi permanent hair color on grey hair

Will it give an even colour to my grey hair?

The results may be patchy if the hair is unevenly porous.

Also, avoid applying colour to the split ends. Trim them from time to time to prevent uneven colour that can ruin the look of your hair.

How long will it last on my grey hair?

Semi-permanent dyes last on hair for around 4 to 12 shampoos.

How can I identify if colour is a semi-permanent hair colour?

Look on the dye box for these words to know if it is a semi-permanent colour:

  1. It should say it is a semi-permanent hair colour.
  2. It should say no ammonia and no peroxide.
  3. It shouldn’t have to be mixed with an activator or developer.

Can I use it over other Semi, Demi-permanent or permanent hair colours or even on pre-lightened hair?

Yes, it can deepen and enrich the present hair colour of the same shade, so if your permanent dyed ends have faded to orange or brassy, semi-permanent colour can tone or refresh your faded hair colour on using the similar shade.

How can I use semi-permanent hair color?

  1. Apply it on shampooed hair without conditioner. The hair must be clean without any layer of products on it.
  2. It is used on damp hair or as instructed on the product packaging for best results.
  3. Wear gloves to apply the colour before rinsing to protect your hands from straining.
  4. Apply petroleum jelly along hair and skin hairline.
  5. Rinse it with cool running water.

What is the best colour application technique for grey hair?

Always start from the roots so that they may give an intense colour to your roots and then to the rest of your hair.

Try to avoid colour overlapping; it might intensify the colour and might be difficult to wash out.

You can leave it on your hair for the recommended time or as long as you want, as there is no damage or lift.

Can I use it immediately after a relaxer or chemically treated hair? 

You can use a semi-permanent colour after a relaxer or chemically treated service on grey hair to tone your hair without any damage.

How to choose the perfect shade of colour?

It is always recommended to get a shade closer or darker to naturally pigmented hair or the shade you have been using while colouring your hair with a permanent hair colour, as eventually, the colour will fade and lighten with every wash.

You can mix two or more shades to get a shade closer to your natural hair colour. (Take the help of a salon expert to get a perfect shade)

Will it give a harsh demarcation line when the colour grows out?

Semi-permanent dye fades more gracefully than permanent dye. It washes out more evenly than the permanent dyes and doesn’t give a weird, harsh root line.

Does semi-permanent hair dye wash out completely?

Depending on the condition, the colour of your hair and how porous your hair is affects how long the colour will stay. On average semi-permanent dyes stay on hair for up to 28 washes or 6-12 washes.

Semi-permanent dyes last longer on post-bleached or damaged hair can stain highly porous hair, and may take much longer to fade and wash out completely. 

What if my stubborn grey hair does not take colour?

It may take some experimentation to figure out the time your hair may take to absorb the dye.

Dyeing grey hair may take longer. You may let the dye stay on your hair for longer. Although, like, the standard time for colour processing is 25 minutes, it can be increased to an extra 10 to 15 minutes long to cover grey hair.

You might like Reading: 10 Excellent Ideas to Hide Gray Hair Demarcation Line

Does semi-permanent causes dryness in hair?

No, but it actually conditions hair. It does not have ammonia and peroxide like what is present in permanent hair colours to damage.

Will it affect the natural tones of my hair?

No, as it covers the outer layer of hair, it keeps the natural tones of hair as it fades.

What are aftercare suggestions to help semi-permanent colour last longer?

1 – Shampoo your coloured hair with a colour-safe shampoo. It doesn’t use any colour-stripping agents.

2– Shampoo your hair with lukewarm or cold water because it causes the hair colour to bleed and fade much quicker.

4 – Minimise heat styling your hair because the heat opens up cuticles and flushes out the colour much faster.

5 – Use alcohol-free products.

6 – Do not wash hair with shampoo immediately after rinsing the colour. Instead, just rinse the colour with lukewarm or cold water, followed by a conditioner.

7 – Use a DRY shampoo to extend the stay of colour on hair.

8 – FOLLOW the instructions of the brand accordingly.

9 – Don’t be in a hurry for the first shampoo after colouring; wait for at least three days and let the colour settle on the hair. Also, reduce the frequency of washing and protect hair from fading quickly.

10 – Protect your hair from sunlight by using sun protection sprays, hats and scarves.

11 – Avoid swimming; the chlorine in pool water may cause discolouration and even fade the colour. To minimize the effect of chlorine, saturate hair with clean water and or conditioner before swimming. Also, make sure you rinse your hair with clean water thoroughly after swimming.

What if the colour does not come out?

Some colours hang on longer than others. So to wash them out you can try these DIY ideas:

  1. Increase the frequency of washing hair. Instead of washing it twice a week, start washing it 5-6 times a week.
  2. Try using dishwash detergent and baking soda.
  3. Use clarifying and anti-dandruff shampoo. These slowly lift colour without causing damage.

But these techniques dry out hair, so always deeply moisturize hair after such washes. If nothing works, seek the help of a professional.

Important points to consider before using semi-permanent hair color on grey hair:

  1. Always do a test section underneath. For example, apply colour, and observe how the colour behaves after several washes.
  2. You can hide your grow-out with semi-permanent brown/black/blonde. It will not look exactly like the permanent colour but more translucent. It will be an excellent camouflage.
  3. Semi-permanent colours never lift or lighten your existing hair colour.
  4. If you put light colour on dark hair, you will see no change in colour. But if you have more white hair, every colour will show but eventually will wash off because there is no peroxide in colour to make permanent changes to the hair.
  5. Semi-permanent colour, when used on wet/damp hair, washes out quickly and does not even give an intense colour. But when used on dry hair, it may stay on the hair for long.
  6. Ensure you buy a semi-permanent colour, safe to be used on gray hair. Colours without a developer are safe.
  7. The intensity and fading of colour also depend on brands, as some are stronger than others.

You might also like reading: How to Use Vibrant Hair Colours on Natural Gray Hair

Semi-permanent Hair Dyes Available in Natural Shades:

Clairol Professional Beautiful Advanced Gray Solutions, Semi-Permanent Hair Color for Gray Coverage

Clairol Professional Beautiful Collection, Advanced Gray Hair Solution, Semi-Permanent Hair Color, Rich Dark Brown

Clairol Professional AGS has O2 Technology, which provides gray coverage and refreshes your permanent hair color without the use of developer. It gives intense grey coverage of up to 50%. 

Easy application directly from the bottle. Apply the colour to towel-dried hair in sections. Processing time is for 25 minutes.

A gentle formula that moisturizes as it colours, leaving hair soft and silky.

Available in nine shades. Two or more shades can be mixed to get your desired natural colour.

Manic Panic Natural Hair Dye Bat Outta Hell Dark Brown

Manic panic dark brown semi permanent hair color

This cruelty-free and vegan formula is used for these semi-permanent colours, which are PPD and ammonia-free, paraben-free, Gluten-Free, resorcinol-free, phthalate-free, and PETA-accredited.

Ready to use cream-based colour. No Developer Required.

dpHUE Gloss+ Medium Brown Semi-Permanent Hair Color & Conditioner

dp Hue Gloss+ dark brown semi permanent hair color

Available in 11 shades. Hydrating ingredients that leave hair soft, shiny and illuminated. No peroxide or ammonia.

All shades can be mixed with Sheer to dilute or with other pigmented Gloss+ products to create an ideal hair colour.

oVertone Haircare Semi-Permanent Color Depositing Conditioner with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil, Espresso Brown

overtone espresso brown semi-permanent hair color

A cream-based colour depositing conditioner. Safe to be used on all hair textures and types.

Lasts for 2-20 washes. Possible to create custom colours by mixing two or more colours.

It contains nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and avocado oil, which hydrate hair while adding intense color and shine.

Adore Shining Semi Permanent Hair Color, 48 Honey Brown

Adore Shining Semi Permanent Hair Color, 48 Honey Brown

No alcohol, no peroxide, no ammonia.

Gives a long-lasting colour. Contains aloe vera. Upto 12 months life span of the product after opening.

Two or more colours can be mixed to make custom shades.

Iroiro Natural Premium Semi-Permanent Hair Color 10 Black 4oz

Iroiro Natural Premium Semi-Permanent Hair Color 10 Black 4oz

Iroiro makes 100% vegan and cruelty-free products. This semi-permanent color gives a vibrant and long-lasting colour that lasts longer.

This product is free from PEGs, Parabens, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Synthetic fragrances, Peroxide, Ammonia, PPD and Alcohol so safe for natural gray hair.

The main ingredient of this product is coconut, and it’s a cream-based colour.

This product is available in more than 8 natural shades of hair.

That’s all, but I repeat,

Always do a strand test before the whole head application as different colours behave differently on different hair. 

The highest risk attached to going gray with this route are:

  1. The colour may stay on grey hair for a longer period of time in some cases. But eventually, it comes out.
  2. The colour may sometimes leave a green, blue or red coloured tinge while fading. Again it depends on several factors like water you use, your previous coloured hair, the products you use etc.
  3. Read the instructions and about the product thoroughly before use.
  4. Consult your hair expert to know more. 

You might also like reading:

Blue Shampoo, Purple Shampoo or None for Gray Hair?

ACV Rinse for Healthy and Shiny Silver Hair

Tried and Tested Gray Haircare Products

4 thoughts on “How to Go Gray with Semi-Permanent Hair Color”

  1. i am looking for a product for my color treated hair. Something that is natural product that would control my frizziness and make my hair healthier. I realize now that most of the lchemicals in products discussed are ont good.

  2. I have been having my graying hair dyed at a salon for years. I am almost 100% gray. The dye makes my hair more reddish now. My natural color was an ash blonde. I am very fair and have hazel blue eyes. How do I go gray? By having highlights put in? Semi permanent dye? How do I get more ash and less red?
    My hairdresser says I look young for age 72 amd going gray would age me a lot.

  3. Melanie de Jager

    Hi, my hair is all grey, with a small patch if white at the front.
    schwarzkopf used to sell a semi permanent soft purple which highlighted my grey perfectly and I often got positive comments. We can not longer buy that shade in Australia. Do you know if another brand that can achieve the same results? A lot of them specify for light coloured hair but don’t cover grey.

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