The best semi-permanent hair dyes to switch up your look

The perfect choice for commitment-phobes...

The best semi-permanent hair dye

by Louella Berryman |
Updated on

Most of us can't afford salon prices for bold new hair colours, so you may have considered wandering into the world of semi-permanent hair dye. It's the best hair dye option for those who are accident-prone or just indecisive. It washes out after anywhere between one and 30 washes.

With no bleach, developer or ammonia, it's the way to go if you want a funky colour change, for example, a vibrant neon or perhaps a darker hair dye shade.

In a hurry? Here's our best semi-permanent hair dye at a glance:

Best semi-permanent hair dye (Editor's Choice): Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye - View offer on Amazon

Best semi-permanent hair dye for a variety of natural shades: L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye - View offer on Amazon

Best affordable semi-permanent hair dye: Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non-Permanent Hair Dye - View offer on Amazon

Back to our round up. Or maybe you just want to freshen up your blonde hair dye or cover up those greys in between hairdresser appointments. There are many reasons why you may find yourself opting for semi-permanent hair dye.

So, without further ado, check out the best semi-permanent hair dyes we found on the internet right now. Your experimental hair colour awaits...

SHOP: The best semi-permanent hair dye

Best semi-permanent hair dye for a variety of natural shades

L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Rrp: £9.99

Price: £9.49
Alternative retailers
Beauty Expert£7.99View offer£7.99View offer
Lookfantastic£9.99View offer
Boots£9.99View offer


The best-selling L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye formula is a quick,


  • Easy to apply
  • Long-lasting


  • May leave hair a little bit dry

Best semi-permanent hair dye (Editor's Choice)

Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye
Price: £20.24


The well-renowned Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye works best on blonde hair or


  • Vibrant colour
  • Hair feels softer


  • Colour may fade quicker depending on how often you wash your hair

Best affordable semi-permanent hair dye

Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non Permanent Hair Dye

Rrp: £4.99

Price: £4.50
Alternative retailers
Boots£5.49View offer


Another classic, the Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non-Permanent Hair Dye, is 100% ammonia-free


  • Total coverage
  • Gets deep into the root


  • Won't wash out easily

Best vegan semi-permanent hair dye

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye
Price: £6.99
Alternative retailers
Boots£6.99View offer
Sephora£7.35View offer


For a cruelty-free option, Clairol's Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye is


  • Long-lasting
  • Adds volume


  • Colour slightly darker than expected

Best pastel semi-permanent hair dye


BLEACH LONDON is the queen of edgy pastel hair, and this semi-permanent Super Cool Colour Cream


  • Vibrant
  • Perfect for temporary fun


  • Colour may differ on certain hair colours

Best semi-permanent conditioning mask dye


This semi-permanent Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask works slightly differently from a


  • Easy to use
  • Vibrant colour
  • Washes out after a few weeks


  • Some colours look different on certain hair

Best semi-permanent henna hair dye


This treatment cream lasts up to 12 washes and is enriched with henna for a more natural take on a


  • Easy to use
  • No mixing required


  • Need to leave on longer than others

Semi-permanent hair dyes: FAQs

Is semi-permanent hair dye bad for your hair?

We spoke to some snazzy hair colouring experts about how to use semi-permanent hair dye to achieve great results. Katie Allan, founder of MAYFIVE salon and hairstylist to London Fashion Week stars and beyond, says there are some key things to remember when you're dying your hair at home.

No, is the short answer. Semi-permanent dyes are designed not to damage hair, as they don't contain hydrogen peroxide. They only change the surface of your hair, not inside the cortex of the strands.

Katie says there's no need to be worried about hair damage after using semi-permanent dye. "It only gently lifts the cuticle for the colour to sit in-between, whereas a permeant will lift the cuticle to sit inside the hair."

There's no developer, and most treatments are quick and easy, lasting up to a couple of months maximum.

Does semi-permanent hair dye wash out?

Yes. Semi-permanent dyes are designed to wash out, leaving your hair the same colour it was before you dyed it.

Some dyes last longer than others and can go anywhere between one and 30 washes without losing colour.

Tracey says semi-permanent hair dyes are super easy to use, and they do indeed wash out. "

They are generally easy to apply," she says. "Simply massage through on clean towel-dried hair and leave for the recommended time, which is generally up to around 20 minutes. These colours do not penetrate the hair completely but just coat the surface layers and therefore last around 3 - 10 washes depending on the colour chosen."

However, if you have ultra-light or porous natural hair, some dyes can take longer to wash out or even change the colour of your hair more permanently. This can be the case with red shades or black hair dyes.

If you find your skin is stained after using the dye, try this quick, easy solution to remove dye off skin.

How do you make semi-permanent dye last longer?

The best way to make your semi-permanent hair dye last longer is to avoid overwashing. With a brand new barnet, it can be tempting to keep washing it with conditioning shampoos to keep it looking fresh. However, over-shampooing can wane your colour faster, and you'll end up with a faded-looking 'do.

If you're wondering how to keep hair dye from fading, using the right products can also make a massive difference. Tracy recommends using a damage-control shampoo before you dye your hair to condition and lock in moisture.

How do you get the best results at home?

"Make sure you do your research on the right shade for your hair," says Katie. "Go by the colour that is coming from your roots, not the ends. This is because the ends are always a lighter shade.

If you want to keep it looking more natural, you can do root touch-ups and then leave out some pieces of the lighter colour you already naturally have, along with pieces of the gloss brought down," she says.

"If you're using it to cover greys, you need to be aware that it won't cover the colour 100%", says The Colour Guru and Global Head of Technical Training at Fudge Professional, Tracy Hayes. "Semi-permanent colour will not completely colour grey hair 100%, but it can blend up to 20% and therefore mask the grey, to give a slightly translucent look to the colour and the appearance of highlights," she says.

What's the best semi-permanent hair dye?

The best dye for you depends on how you want the results to look.

If you're looking to boost your undertones between salon appointments, you could use a conditioning hair dye mask or treatment (like the SHRINE Drop It Kit) or a hair toner. If you want a couple of days of jazzy colour, you could opt for something fun like BLEACH LONDON's pastel hair creams.

There's a whole world of semi-permanent dyes out there, from funky to subtle and everything in between. Like all hair dyes, make sure you wear gloves. Also, perform a patch test on your skin before getting stuck in. It's boring - but it has to be done. Ok - let's explore the best semi-permanent hair dyes you can buy online. We're dying to know. Get it?

Louella Berryman is the audience development executive at Bauer Media, where she works in all things digital for heat, Closer, Yours & Mother&Baby.

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