Whether you’re decorating your Pinterest board with acid brights, burnt orange balayage or bold berry hues, experimenting with colorful hair has never been so easy. Before you think about jumping on the bold hair bandwagon, it’s important to know how often you should color your hair. Revealing the answers to your most pressing color queries like, “How long does semi-permanent hair dye last?” and “how often can you dye your hair?” helped us decode how to choose which coloring technique is right for you.
Plus, our experts break down the ins and outs of the chemical processes of dyeing your strands. They also reveal how to make sure your hair stays in its best shape, no matter what hair color you’re trying. Keep reading for answers to pressing questions like, “How long does semi-permanent hair dye last?” and find the best color path for you:
How Frequently Can You Dye Your Hair?
Permanent and Semi-Permanent Dyes
How porous (read: damaged) your hair is will have an effect on how vibrant your permanent or semi-permanent dye will look and last. As a general rule, permanent colors may fade but will have to be grown-out or dyed over if you want to change them, whereas a semi-permanent shade is made to be washed out. Generally speaking, experts recommend anywhere around four to eight weeks between coloring, given that proper care and maintenance is taken to ensure hair is protected from damage.
Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
If you’re not looking to make a permanent hair change, a semi-permanent hair dye could be the answer. This technique allows you to experiment with color without making a lasting change (think: festival-worthy pastels that you might want to wash out for the workweek).
Depending on the type of dye used, a semi-permanent hair dye can last anywhere from one wash to a few weeks. It’s the perfect choice if you’re not ready to commit to a complete hair makeover, or just want to add a hint of pigment to your locks.
How long does permanent hair dye last?
If you’re ready to commit 100% to a new hair color, you’ll want to opt for a permanent hair dye. This is a great way to get a lasting, rich color, especially if you’re trying to touch up roots or cover gray hairs. The results of semi-permanent hair dye compared to a more permanent solution are night and day.
Permanent hair dye—especially bleach—is made to last until regrowth and will have to be grown out of your hair rather than washed out. A semi-permanent hair dye, on the other hand, will gradually fade with each wash. So, if you’re looking to make a color change that will last, permanent hair dye is your answer.
How long do hair dyes last?
Generally speaking, permanent hair dye keeps its hue until new regrowth appears on your head, which can be any length between 0.4mm a day to 1/2 inch a month.
However, there are two main factors that will influence how long your hair dye lasts and the color stays fresh: one, the type (and strength) of coloring treatment you use, and two, how you maintain your strands. With a wash in-wash out technique, the damage to the hair is lessened. It allows you more dyeing options without the permanent damage consequences.
How long does bleach last?
Bleaching hair involves using chemicals to strip the strand of its melanin so it appears lighter in color. Bleaching is a 100% permanent method and cannot be washed out, therefore it will last until you get new regrowth. You cannot alter the color of bleached strands except for adding more color onto them, or, alternatively, by waiting for them to grow out.
The same is true for highlights, balayage and ombré. All of these processes involve lightening or “lifting” the hair. You can do this with bleach or high-lift tint, depending on your base hair color and desired outcome. In all cases, lightening the hair is a lasting change.
Whatever lightening technique you choose, it’s important to think about the permanent hair damage implications that come with bleaching. According to Peter Bailey, Unilever Global Technical Manager for Hair Care, “The chemical process inside your hair fiber breaks a number of the structural protein bonds, leaving your hair brittle and more prone to damage.”
If you’ve taken the plunge and your strands are looking a little worse for wear, learn how to repair bleached hair and rejuvenate damaged blonde locks.
How often can you dye your hair? An expert weighs in
While it can be tempting to swap from one hair color to another on a whim, it’s important to acknowledge that dyeing your hair can have a serious effect on how healthy it looks. Four to six weeks is the general rule between appointments, but again, the less frequent, the better, and this cadence depends on how much care is taken in the interim.
“Whenever you bleach, dye or chemically straighten your hair, you are causing significant damage to the fiber structure,” warns Peter. “All of these chemical treatments involve breaking a large number of the di-sulphide bonds, which are the chemical bonds that hold the protein strands together.” This effectively breaks down the hair fiber. It leaves holes in the cortex and cuticle, making it more porous. As a general rule, the more porous hair is, the more dry, coarse and damaged it can appear.
“The more you color your hair, the more protein you are losing from each individual fiber, making your strands difficult to comb, style and maintain, with an increased likelihood of split ends and breakage.” If you’re looking for a chemical-free alternative, natural dyes like henna can give you a strong color (depending on your original shade), without disrupting the hair fiber.
Usually a Halloween-centric option, color sprays come from a can. You coat the hair in a layer of pigment—but don’t expect a long-lasting solution. They usually come out with one wash if you have very fair or porous hair. However, be warned as they can stain strands.
Perfect for festivals or themed parties, hair chalk allows your hair to become a canvas for color—without the permanent consequences. Most chalks will fade as the day wears on. However, it’s important to read the instructions before applying so you don’t end up with any stains.
How to Maintain Dyed Hair
There are a few golden rules when it comes to looking after freshly-colored locks:
1. Pick a color-safe wash-and-care system.
When looking after the condition and vibrancy of your dyed tresses, it’s important to add wash and care products that are designed for the job, like Love Beauty and Planet Blooming Color Murumuru Butter & Rose Shampoo and Conditioner.
2. Always use a heat protectant.
As the process of coloring is generally a chemical one, it’s important to treat dyed hair with a lot of care. The first step? Applying a heat protectant to damp strands before you even think about picking up a hairdryer. We love using TIGI Copyright Custom Create Heat Protection Spray to prep our strands and keep them safe from heat damage.