Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Wash Out Completely?

Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Wash Out Completely?

Some women color their hair because they want a new look. To be blonde after being born a brunette is exciting, after all, they do have more fun!

But then there are other colors like pink or even that smoky gray that everyone’s rocking now. Suddenly all the colors of the rainbow aren’t frowned down upon by the masses.

Other women get grays as early as in their 20s. Unless they want to try that new gray coloring, they generally run out and get a box of semi-permanent hair dye to cover it up.

Thrifty gals who just want a change of color will also pick up a box of that semi-permanent hair dye and try out life with a different shade of hair. It’s certainly cheaper than going to the salon.

For whichever reason you’re standing in front of the semi-permanent hair dye boxes at the store though, keep in mind that dyes contain polymers with hydrophobically modified and cationic functionalities, which provide a high level of color protection (According to a 2009 study).

Hence, a semi-permanent hair dye with peroxide or ammonia in it, is the same as a permanent dye.

Does Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Ever Washes Out Completely?

Semi-permanent hair dye usually washes out completely because it coats the outside layer of the hair, unless your hair is porous and damaged, in which case, the semi-permanent color will be absorbed into your hair just like a permanent dye. So, instead of washing out after 6 to 12 shampoos, semi-permanent dye will stay in your hair making it very difficult to fade.

Don’t worry if you colored your hair with something you’re not keen on or you want to change to a completely different shade for a new season.

We’ll discuss options for you further below. But first, here’s what you need to know about semi-permanent hair dye, ideally before you put it all over your head!

How long is a semi-permanent hair dye supposed to last

How Long Does a Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last?

Semi-permanent hair dye can last for about 6 weeks. While the color will often start to fade sooner than that, it mostly depends on your lifestyle factors, shampoo usage, and the color you chose. Blue and red semi-permanent dyes can last even longer than 6 weeks.

Let’s look at temporary colors first though. These generally don’t contain bleach or ammonia and they can’t lighten up your natural shade. These will fade with every shampooing and simple exposure to the air.

But according to a 2013 study semi-permanent hair dyes will come out after anywhere from 6 to 12 washings. There are many variables regarding that too that will affect your hair color. As your hair grows out at the roots and fading occurs, you can expect to have a bit of an uneven look to your hair.

We’ll discuss these factors in greater detail below, but basically, once you dye your hair with the semi-permanent stuff, it’s in there until you either change the color or cut it off. We have a few other ways to handle it too if you keep reading.

And if you want that color to last for as long as possible, you’d do wisely to take care of it. Using the right kind of shampoo and conditioner will prolong your new color according to a 2017 study.

You should also be mindful of your time in the sun or swimming in chlorinated water. This can impact your hair big-time.

Why your semi-permanent dye won’t come off

Here Is Why Your Semi-Permanent Dye Won’t Come Off

When you use something like Manic Panic, it’s designed to wash out. This is a great option for anyone who isn’t completely sold on doing their hair a particular color. Using hot water to wash it will make it fade faster too.

Manic Panic Cotton Candy Pink Hair Dye Color
  • Safe To Mix To Create Custom Shades
  • Gradually Fades In Four To Six Weeks
  • Cruelty Free

View on Amazon

And that shampoo and conditioner? You’d better use ones that don’t contain sulfates or parabens or else your color will fade faster. Actually, you’d better make sure you never use those on any hair, dyed or not.

This one by Malibu C (Amazon link), is free of parabens, dyes, formaldehyde, sulfate,and it’s designed to get rid of all the hard water impurities, making it the perfect choice to deep cleanse your hair.

What I like about this option is that the company only uses the best hair-friendly natural ingredients, promoting healthy hair.

This treatment is in fact enriched with a Vitamin C and E complex, which help take care of color and fight free radicals, amino acids for that extra shine, and Pro-Vitamin B5 to deeply nourish each strand.

What’s more? There are no side effects when using it, and it’s safe for color-treated and keratin-treated hair.

Malibu C Hydrate Color Wellness Set
  • Protects the Vibrancy of Color-Treated Hair
  • Adds Shine
  • Vegan & Cruelty-free
View on Amazon

But wait, there’s more. Your semi-permanent hair color could fade in less than 6 weeks depending on how long you’ve let the dye sit in your hair and also on whether or not you used heat to set it.

Some other considerations for the length of time your semi-permanent dye will last:

  • Did you bleach your hair? Any time you light up your hair, it attracts that hair dye for a permanent color on your hair.
  • Is the color you used very different from your natural color? If it’s more in tune with your natural shade, it will fade out a bit better without looking so fake when the roots start showing.
  • Is your hair healthy? When your hair is dry or damaged, it’s very porous. It will soak up and retain semi-permanent hair dye much more differently than healthy, smooth hair.
  • What brand did you use? Some brands are better at bonding to your hair and staying true to their hue
  • Are your roots showing? New hair growth will come back in at the same color of your natural hair. It will look and sometimes feel differently than the longer portions of your tresses that have been treated with semi-permanent hair dye.

Basically, it varies on all those points mentioned above but it can fade away to your natural color again if the semi-permanent hair dye you chose is similar to your original color, if your hair is healthy, and if it’s less porous.

It can depend on the brand too. With so many factors, it’s best that you think about the color you’re planning to dye your hair.

If you want a shade that’s similar to your natural color, this might be a good place to start if you want to shake things up but not too much. If you want to play with colors, perhaps a less permanent solution is ideal first, just to see if you like it.

Hair chalk or temporary hair dye can even be a fun way to get the look and have it wash away afterward, though it doesn’t give hair a good texture.

Semi-permanent hair dye could stay in your hair longer than you bargained for though and could last like a permanent color in the lengths of your hair.

It all comes down to your hair type, health, the color you choose, and the brand. And speaking of brands, some are stronger than others. Read on to find out more!

The strength of semi-permanent dye impacts how long it takes for it to wash out

The Strength of Semi-Permanent Dye Matters Too

The potency of your semi-permanent hair dye will also depend on the peroxide. The level used to mix with the dye most certainly varies from dye to dye, and from brand to brand.

The stronger that peroxide level is, the more coverage you get, plus the bright the shades will be. You will likely see roots grow in before that color starts fading out though.

For weaker peroxide, you’ll get less coverage. The results will be less brilliant too. You’ll commonly see this in golds, ashy colors, and reds.

Choosing a formula like L’oréal can give you salon results without the salon price tag because it offers different strengths of peroxide which basically covers all your bases in the world of color.

How to get rid of semi-permanent hair dye

How to Get Rid of Semi-Permanent Pigment

Ok, so for whatever reason, you’re sick of that semi-permanent color you’ve treated your hair with and you want it gone.

Maybe you want to get back to your old shade. Maybe you want it to become healthier before you try a new look. In any situation, you can try out one of these techniques to get rid of semi-permanent hair dye.

■ Use Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying shampoos won’t ever just remove that hair color away, but they can make it fade faster. This will make it easier to cover.

Try an anti-dandruff shampoo like Pharmaceutical Specialties Free and Clear or your over the counter clarifying shampoo like Free & clear . Either option will allow you to slowly lift that semi-permanent color away without causing damage.

Pharmaceutical Specialties Free and Clear Shampoo
  • Remove Flaking and Scaling
  • Controls Oily Scalp
  • Non-Irritating
View on Amazon

You can also use this technique if the shade you chose came out darker than you wanted to brighten it up and lighten it a few shades. This is great if your hair could do with a break from over-processing (hint: most hair can!).

One thing to note with using dandruff shampoos or clarifying shampoos is that after washing your hair with them a bunch of times, you’ll want to use a deep moisturizing hair mask.

These will help restore balance and harmony back to your hair. While effective shampoos for cleansing and lifting away that color, they can dry out your hair.

If you already have dry hair to begin with, don’t skip the step of using a conditioning hair mask. This Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask will certainly help with that!

 If you already have dry hair to begin with, don’t skip the step of using a conditioning hair mask. This Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask will certainly help with that!

This product is enriched with antioxidant-rich argan oil and nourishing ingredients, which makes it ideal for dry hair. It improves manageability, elasticity, texture and softness.

There are no parabens in this product, so you can be sure that your hair won’t suffer from any kind of irritation.

And you don’t need much of this product in order for it to work its magic! Just five minutes of your day, and you’ll be on your way with beautifully soft hair!

Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Hair Mask
  • For Medium to Thick, Dry Hair
  • Hydrates and Improves the Hair Texture
View on Amazon

■ Try Vitamin C Tablets

This is one of those things that’s so crazy it might just work. A truly oddball suggestion, but one that might get you results is to take vitamin C tablets (I’d recommend this pack on Amazon) and crush up anywhere from 5 to 30 of them (depending on how long and thick your hair is).

Mix them with your shampoo and glop it all over your head. Then, go chill out with a good book, gab on the phone, or do whatever for 45 minutes.

According to some, this works like a charm while others have noted nothing comes of this except that you waste vitamin C tablets you could be taking for your health.

Those who found it not to work suggested you just stick with either dandruff or clarifying shampoos as we mentioned above and skip crushing up vitamin C tablets. (Note: Don’t ingest more than 1000mg per day of vitamin C from all sources!)

The belief that it works could stem from the fact that vitamin C is acidic and that acids can oxidize the color away, at least according to this study. You can try it, but we’re fully in favor of keeping things simple and sticking to the good ol’ shampoo method from above.

■ Use Semi-Permanent Color Remover

Of course, you can just march right into the store where you bought your semi-permanent hair dye and pick up an at-home color remover.

They’re about as cheap as your boxed dye was and they will strip the hair dye from your hair without using bleach or ammonia which is far less damaging (2011 study).

Fair warning that color remover tends to smell even more unpleasant than semi-permanent hair dyes themselves.

Another warning: this might not be as effective if you’re using it on bright colors (think pink or blue for example). It may take several goes to fade out the color. It can also leave hair feeling thinner and stringier so you’ll have that to contend with too. You’ll certainly need to nurse it back to health.

Other Suggestions for Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

These methods for removing your semi-permanent hair dye can be helpful for those of you that stick to more natural shades.

But for those of you that go all out with heaps of bright color (nothing wrong with that) might really want to think long and hard before you make a semi-permanent thing out of those types of colors.

They can really linger in the hair, which isn’t a bad thing if you absolutely love your hair when it’s bright pink.

But if you did it on a whim and you’re less than thrilled, well, now you’re left with fading it and finding something to aptly cover it up.

For brighter colors like these, we suggest you go with a washout style like Manic Panic as mentioned above because it is designed to wash out. It’s not semi-permanent or even permanent. It generally lasts about 2 weeks before it fades away.

Hair chalk, as we also mentioned above, is another way to get fun colors into your hair without making a semi-permanent (or permanent) decision.

These come right out when you wash your hair though they can leave your hair’s texture very dull. They don’t add shine. They can also get all over your hands (and your clothes) because they transfer easily.

One side note with hair chalk is that if you’re blonde, it may take a couple of washes to get it out, but it will definitely wash out.

Another option you can choose for fun is brightly-colored clips of fake hair. You can clip them into your hair and then put it up in a ponytail, braid, or other styles to give the illusion that you have fun bits of wild colors in your hair.

While teens and college girls definitely love this, women as they move through their 20s (and older!) love it too because they aren’t committed to hair that’s red, yellow, blue, green, purple, or any other bright shade.

Women just out of college that want to express themselves but have a job where a professional appearance is important can use these methods for hair color without having the task of trying to strip out unwanted semi-permanent hair dye.


Semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t ever really leave your hair. That’s because your hair grows out at the roots. And while that hair grows in as your natural color, the lengths of it will fade and fade over time until you either cut your hair or color it another color.

Depending on your hair quality and the quality of the dye, it could fade faster or slower. Many factors go into how it fades, but if you’d like to get hair back to its natural shade, it’s best that you try some simple fading techniques as we discussed in this post. This will help you easily strip away the color and get ready for a new one.

Make sure you prime your hair with lots of conditioning before going into another semi-permanent hair dye color. The healthier it is, the better it will look and feel and the happier you’ll be with the results!


My name is Hajer and welcome to my site. This is my little haven, my outlet, where I can express myself, and show you everything I've learned about makeup, skincare, hair tips, and so much more, as well as the different beauty mistakes I've made so that you can avoid them.

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