8 of the best semi-permanent hair dyes to switch up your look

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The best semi-permanent hair dye

by Louella Berryman |

Most of us have been stuck salon-less for the past few months, so you may have considered wandering into the world of semi-permanent hair dye.

It's the safer hair dye option for those who are accident prone or just indecisive - it washes out after anywhere between one and 30 washes.

No bleach, developer or ammonia, it's the way to go if you want a fresh look, funky colour change or just to cover up those greys in between hairdresser appointments.

We spoke to some snazzy hair colouring experts about how to use semi-permanent hair dye to achieve great results, as well as busting some myths about the wash out dye.

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.

Related: The best purple hair dye for perfect violet locks

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 as the ends are always a lighter shade.

If you want to keep it looking more natural you can do your root area, 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 masking 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, or if you want a couple of days of jazzy colour you could opt for BLEACH LONDON's fun 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, as you don't want to try and attempt to get hair dye off your skin or belongings afterwards.

Check out our favourite semi-permanent hair dyes for a whole new hair look

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Where to buy the best semi-permanent hair dyes

Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye
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This ultra bright dye works best on blonde hair or lighter shades, but the results can be fantastic. Plus, you can choose whether you'd like a pastel hue or vibrant barnet.

Pros: Provides vibrant colour, leaves hair feeling soft and smells great.

Cons: One bottle may fall short for longer hair and a few reviewers suggest the colour fades quickly.

Amazon
L'Oru00e9al Paris Casting Cru00e8me Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
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This best-selling formula is a quick, effective way to give your hair a refresh. It lasts up to around 30 washes and comes in a 41 strong shade range - an old favourite that gives bold results.

Pros: Easy to apply and very long-lasting for a semi-permanent dye. Leaves a brightening, natural result.

Cons: May leave your hair feeling a little dry, so make sure to condition thoroughly after use.

Amazon
Clairol nice n easy No Ammonia Non Permanent Hair Dye
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Another classic, this Nice n easy hair dye is 100% ammonia free and super affordable, as well as having a great shade range and lasting up to 24 washes.

Pros: Applies beautifully, and covers grey hairs well. Provides a deep colour and total coverage.

Cons: The hue is very resistant, and therefore not suited for those looking for a quick wash out.

Amazon
Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask
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CREDIT: LookFantastic

This semi-permanent dye works slightly differently to a traditional dye - it's a conditioning mask instead of a classic dye treatment. Its oil-infused formula conditions hair and boosts colour, perfect for use in between salon visits.

Pros: Tones hair well and prevents colour fading in between salon visits. Formula moisturises hair and leaves it feeling soft and healthy.

Cons: Provides a subtle enhancement of colour, not the best option if you're looking for a drastic change.

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye
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For a cruelty-free option, Clairol's natural instincts dye is a great choice. It enriches your hair with coconut oil and and aloe vera and is made from 80% naturally sourced ingredients.

Pros: Long-lasting dye that leaves shine and adds volume.

Cons: This product stains easily so be sure to wash all surfaces well after use. According to reviews, the colour is a little darker than expected.

Amazon
BLEACH LONDON Awkward Peach Super Cool Colour
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BLEACH LONDON is the queen of edgy pastel hair, and this semi-permanent dye is perfect for a temporary look that washes out in a few shampoos. To keep colour for longer, you can use a small amount of the dye in your conditioner.

Pros: Easy to use and leaves a great, vibrant colour that washes out within a few weeks. Ideal for a temporary fun change.

Cons: The colour is closer to pink than it is to peach.

L'Oreal Colorista Washout Temporary Hair Dye Pink
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If you fancy a pop of colour for a week or two, then this is the dye for you. L'Oreal Paris Colorista Washout is a semi-permanent pastel hair colour in a conditioning hair-mask formula. Result.

Pros: Provides a subtle, pastel colour to brighten your look. Ideal for those not looking for a bold colour.

Cons: Second bottle might be necessary for a more drastic result, and the colour fades rather quickly.

Amazon
Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Colour
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This treatment cream lasts up to 12 washes and is enriched with henna for a more natural take on a semi-permanent hair dye. Naturtint is a great way to enhance your natural colour and is a gentle alternative to typical hair dyes.

Pros: Easy to use and no mixing required, leaves hair feeling shiny and healthy, with a natural colour.

Cons: Need to leave on for a while for colour to stick, especially when dyeing grey hairs.

Is semi-permanent hair dye bad for your hair?

No is the short answer. Semi-permanent dyes are designed not to damage hair, as they don't contain hydrogen peroxide and 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, where as 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.

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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.

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

How do you make semi-permanent dye last longer?

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

Using the right products can also make a massive different, Tracy recommends using a damage-control shampoo, like Fudge Professional's Damage Rewind shampoo, before you dye your hair to condition and lock in moisture.

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