Typically, your average permanent hair dye will start to fade after about four weeks. But of course, many factors determine your dye’s longevity.
I get asked about hair dye a lot. As a budding cosmetologist, it’s my go-to! Hair color is a multi-billion dollar industry, so it’s no surprise that this is a question on everyone’s mind. With the rise of fashion colors and new dye technology, there’s still a lot of misconception about how long colors stick around.
With this guide, we’re going to clear up some of the confusion! Keep reading to learn about:
- Different types of dyes
- How hair dye works
- Factors that impact dye fade rate
- How you can prolong the intensity of your color
Different Kinds Of Hair Dye
Take one look at your local beauty supply store, and you’ll see a myriad of different products. It’s not just a large selection of colors! Hair dye isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of product. There are a handful of different formulations that provide unique results based on your needs.
The type of dye you choose is the very first thing that will influence how long the color lasts.
Permanent Hair Dye
Permanent hair dye is the one that most people use. It’s also the formula with the biggest commitment!
As the name would imply, permanent hair dye is long-lasting. You have four weeks, give or take, until the color starts to fade a bit. But even then, the fading is usually subtle.
When you use permanent hair dye, you’re replacing your natural pigment with the color you choose. As a result, the dye never really goes away. Unlike other formulas, the dyed hair will never return to the exact shade it was pre-dye. The only way you’ll see your natural color again is through new growth.
That said, permanent hair dye isn’t literally permanent. It, too, will fade and dull.
Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
Next up, we have semi-permanent hair dye. These formulas are a lot gentler than permanent alternatives. They work a little differently, relying on color-depositing technology rather than full-on infusion. More on that later!
On average, semi-permanent dyes last only four to six shampoos. You may even see some color wash out in the shower!
While not as long-lasting as permanent products, semi-permanent dyes do have their advantages. First, it doesn’t permanently alter your hair! The color can fade out completely, which will let you swap out colors later without doing too much damage.
Semi-permanent formulas are also great for fragile hair. Your hairdresser can also use these dyes directly after relaxing or perming treatments!
Demi-Permanent Hair Dye
Demi-permanent dyes cause the most confusion to those who aren’t familiar with the science behind hair coloring. To put things simply, demi-permanent dyes provide a nice balance between permanent and semi-permanent formulas.
A demi-permanent product will penetrate the hair shaft like a permanent one. As a result, it’s more damaging than semi-permanent dyes. However, the penetration is pretty minimal. They’re usually ammonia-free and easier on your hair. Usually, the dye will only go past the first layer of the cuticle.
These products provide some nice coverage. They’re great for blending grays and adding some nice color to naturally blond hair. Demi-permanents aren’t as vivid as permanent dyes. For this reason, you typically see stylists use it for those who want to enhance their natural color.
How long does hair dye last with its demi-permanent? In most cases, these dyes can last between 12 and 24 washes.
Finally, we have temporary color. Technically speaking, these products aren’t dyes at all! But, many people lump them in with more long-lasting solutions due to the drastic change they create.
Temporary colors only last one or two washes. The product simply sits on top of the hair. Oftentimes, they’ll create a somewhat crunchy or greasy texture like styling products. So, they’re best used with styled hair that you’re not going to touch!
How Does Hair Dye Work?
To get a better idea of how long your hair color will last, it’s important to understand how the process works. Different types of dye will treat your hair differently, which is why they have different lifespans.
Permanent dye has the biggest effect. Utilizing ammonia to open up the hair cuticle, these dyes infuse each strand with color. The developer does most of the heavy lifting here, allowing the dye to penetrate the shaft and replace your natural color. Once the color works its magic, the hair is resealed, locking the color in.
Demi-permanent dyes use a similar concept to color the hair. But, they lack the harsh ammonia that makes deep penetration possible. The formula will get through the outermost cuticle layer, but it won’t replace your natural pigment.
Semi-permanent hair dyes only sit on top of the follicle. Some of it might get into the cortex, but these formulas rely on color-depositing methods rather than full penetration to make your locks pop!
What Causes Hair Color To Fade?
Now that you understand the dyeing process a bit more, let’s talk about what causes the color to fade. Hair dye is never permanent. Contrary to popular belief, hair isn’t fixed. Technically speaking, the hair is no longer living once it escapes your scalp. However, each strand has tiny keratin scales that open and close based on environmental conditions.
The ever-changing state of the hair changes its texture, strength, and color. Here are some of the reasons why color goes away.
Notice how we referred to the lifespan of hair dye in washes.
Your hair goes through a lot when you wash it. The heat will open the cuticle much like the pores on your skin. When this happens, a little bit of pigment escapes. When you add shampoo into the mix, the pigment loss is exacerbated.
Shampoos open up the cuticle even more while conditioners close it. Not only that, but it strips your follicles of natural oil. If you shampoo too much, you may end up damaging your hair and speeding up the fading process.
Are you familiar with the chemicals in your cleaning and styling products? Chances are, some of the chemicals are ruining your color.
One of the worst offenders is sulfates. Sulfates are surfactants that help to remove dirt and grime. While they certainly get the job done and make your hair feel clean, they don’t discriminate against oil and hair pigment. Sulfates, along with other chemicals, will quickly remove the dye with each use. This dramatically shortens the lifespan of your color.
Use a hairdryer or iron daily? You might be putting your hair color at risk!
There’s no denying that excessive heat is not good for your hair. Sure, there are protectant sprays to reduce damage. But even when you use those, you’re exposing delicate strands to excessive heat.
Not only does it ruin the texture and overall health of your hair, but that heat also destroys pigment molecules. Heat styling is known to cause faster fading and uneven color.
Like heat from a tool, a bombardment of heat from the sun will do damage, too. However, it’s not just the physical heat you have to worry about. The invisible ultra-violet rays will break down the chemical bonds of the dye!
The more time you spend outside without UV protection, the faster your color will fade.
Ways To Make Your Hair Dye Last Longer
Exactly how long does hair dye last? While we have a good general idea based on the formula used, it’s not an exact science.
There’s a lot that goes into getting a new hue. Plus, everyone’s hair is different! So many things impact your hair color as well. It’s impossible to determine exactly how long hair dye lasts!
If you think that your hair color is fading faster than it should, there are some things you can do to prolong the vibrancy of your dye as long as possible. Here are some tips to try out!
Stick to Sulfate-Free Cleansers
The first thing you need to do is ditch the harmful sulfates! Sulfate-free shampoos will clean your hair nicely while keeping the natural oils intact. These products are fantastic for keeping the hair moisturized and well-protected.
Scale Back On Shampoo
Shampooing every day is a big no-no. While unavoidable completely, shampooing is the most damaging thing you can do to your color. Try spacing out your shampoo days. You can still wash your hair or use dry shampoos to get rid of oils.
Use Color-Safe Products
Many color-safe cleansers exist. They work similarly to sulfate-free products. Typically, they contain gentler ingredients that will keep your hair looking vibrant without ruining the color deposits.
Moisture is key to good hair health regardless if you have dye or not. Deep conditioning treatments will give your hair a boost of hydration. This will prevent physical damage and keep the color deposits intact.
Avoid Heat Styling
As mentioned earlier, heat styling does your color no favors!
Try to avoid heat styling altogether if possible. You can try safer alternatives. For example, use curlers overnight or switch your hairdryer to cool blast. If there’s no getting around heat stylers, using protectant spray is a must!
Try Color-Depositing Shampoos And Conditioners
Color-depositing products are a great way to support your dye. They cleanse the hair like any other product. But, they also have some pigment in them. With every wash, you’re infusing your hair with some brand-new color. It’ll keep your hair looking fresh for much longer.
How long does hair dye last? It all depends on the dye you use and how you take care of your hair! Permanent hair dyes usually last around four weeks, but there are plenty of ways to shorten or lengthen that timeframe.
Dyeing your hair is a great way to change up your look and get a boost of confidence. However, it’s a lot of work to maintain. Hair dye doesn’t last forever, so you have to be extra vigilant to ensure that the pigment stays bright and vibrant.
Don’t let the fear of fading keep you from experimenting with color. Try some of our tips to keep your color looking fresh!