Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent Hair Color: What’s the Difference?

There are loads of hair dyeing methods now-a-days that it can be confusing knowing what is what. For all the dying techniques to even the types of hair dye themselves. Today, I am only focusing on two methods: demi permanent hair dye and semi permanent hair dye. Both get confused for each other quite often and quite frankly, are hard to distinguish at times. 

Lucky for you, I decided to offer the hair dye explanation for dummies, or just average-non-hair-specialist-types, and I am going to attempt the task today to explain the difference between demi permanent vs semi permanent as easily as possible. 


Demi Permanent 

Demi permanent might be one of the least familiar modes of hair dye from personal history. It is a bit more invasive than semi permanent, but still much less harsh that a full on permanent hair dye. Demi permanent uses a developer to dye the hair and can change the hair tone from either warm to cool or vice versa. However, while it does change the hair color below the surface, it is not deep enough to truly transform the hair follicle permanently. 

This is great for highlights, masking a few gray hairs, or even corrective hair coloring for those who have faded their original hair dye quite a bit. Each of these methods or minimal hair dye jobs that don’t need harsh dye jobs to look beautiful. In the end, it is much healthier for your hair and less commitment. Two of my favorite things in the hair department. 

Semi Permanent

Semi permanent dye works much differently than demi permanent. It starts fading quickly. Like, after the first wash, quickly. This method does not use any ammonia and only coats the outside of the hair. This means it is less damaging to the hair and is a great option for anyone looking to give subtle hair dye a try without committing to permanent options. It’s also great for parents with kids that really want to dye their hair, but are scared to damage their natural hair before they get old enough to move into permanent hair dye. 

It also works well for anyone with brightly dyed hair to maintain the color of their permanent dye in between each big dye job. We are talking pinks, purples, or any of our rainbow girls or guys. Semi permanent dye can be your friend for any of these looks. 


Both demi permanent and semi permanent typically last around 5 or 6 weeks. However, demi fades much slower than semi does, since semi comes out a little bit with each hair wash. Remember, it is only coating the hair until it fully fades away. However, demi permanent does use less harsh dying methods than others, so even it’s more chemical makeup fades around the same time. 

As with any hair dye, the client is a key factor into whether the dye will last a shorter or longer time than the average as well as their personal maintenance of their hair and the types of hair care they use.

Each of them have their own results in regrowth, however. Demi permanent has less harsh clash with natural roots, so it does better for those with fast growing hair or dramatically different color than their hair dye. While semi permanent is harsher in contrast and needs to fade a few washes before blending better with your roots. 

It’s also important to note that if you do want to dye your hair a drastically different color, semi permanent might not be an option for you since it is less harsh and may not have enough strength to change the color of your hair to your liking. 

Other Hair Dyeing Methods

There are a few other methods of hair dying other than semi permanent and demi permanent hair dye. The two largest options are permanent dye and temporary. As we have referenced a few times, permanent hair dye lives up to its name and is, in fact, permanent. This is the hair dye that costs quite a bit at the salon and lasts for quite some time. It has a large effect on your hair health and requires more upkeep since it lasts for much more time. 

Temporary hair dye is one use type of dye. This includes hair chalk, spray, putty, or even powder. Each of these work better on certain hair types. For the most part, the darker the hair, the more difficult it is to use temporary hair dye. The largest perk of this method is that it washes out after one use, allowing for a themed hair night, giving a certain color a try, or even tricking your friends and family that you did dye your hair a crazy color. Temporary hair works great for those looking for one time use with no commitment down the line.


Now that we know the main modes of hair dying, we can make some informed decisions on which direction we want to go with our next look. Be sure to check out our lists of popular hair dye options as well as specific needs for hair dying such as ways to mask gray hair or rock highlights. 

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