Hair coloring is one of the most in-demand services, making up 13% of the hairstyling industry. And one of the many reasons why hair coloring is so popular is because, unfortunately, hair dye doesn’t last forever.
Maybe your roots are growing in or maybe that awesome color you had is starting to fade. If so, you can’t help but wonder how long hair dye is supposed to last — and what you can do to make hair dye last longer.
Well, the answer is more complex than you think. Color fading depends on the type of dye you use, your maintenance, and even the color of the dye.
Why Does Hair Dye Fade?
Wouldn’t life be easier if hair dye didn’t fade? Especially when you see words like “permanent” on the dye, it makes you think your hair will look amazing forever.
Well, life isn’t that easy. There are many factors that cause your awesome hair dye to fade or even completely warp. These include UV damage, water, and even heated styling tools. Because of all of these factors and the fact that your hair grows, all hair color is susceptible to fading over time.
However, there are many ways to prevent your dye from fading for as long as possible. First, let’s look at the type of dyes available.
Types of Hair Dye
Increasing the longevity of your dye job first boils down to the type of dye you use. The most popular types of the dye include permanent, semi, and demi-permanent.
No, permanent dye won’t permanently dye your hair firetruck red or electric blue. Permanent dye does last longer than other dyes, but it will last only as long as your hair grows out or you re-dye your hair. In other words, it won’t fade on its own like other dyes.
With permanent dye, the dye opens up each individual hair shaft and embeds the dye in it. This is how permanent dye is able to completely change your hair color.
There are some hair color changes that require permanent dye. For example, if you want to lighten dark hair, you’ll have to use bleach and permanent dye.
Unlike permanent hair dye, semi-permanent hair dye only dyes around the shaft. This type of dye is less damaging but isn’t as intense as doesn’t last as long.
Semi-permanent dyes are best for a tint. For example, I added a red tint to my black hair and my stylist used a semi-permanent tonal color to give me that cherry-cola color.
But don’t think the color doesn’t last. My hair has been this cherry cola color for four months now and I’ve been washing my hair practically daily lately. The dye lasting power depends on your hair, the color you dye it, and how often you shampoo it.
If you want the best of both worlds, use a demi-permanent dye. Demi-permanent dyes enter the shaft like permanent color, but it doesn’t enter your entire shaft. This makes the demi-permanent color last longer than semi-permanent but is less damaging than permanent hair color.
Boxed Dye vs Salon Dye
Now that you know the dye you use affects your color longevity, it’s time to look at two other factors that affect how long hair color lasts: where you get your hair done and who does your hair.
While you may prefer to do your hair DIY, does hair salon dye last longer? All we can say is the dye used at the salon is different than what you buy on the store shelves.
First, let’s discover what the dye at the drugstore actually is.
Boxed dyes aren’t as strong as the dyes purchased by stylists, meaning the color usually won’t last as long. In addition, the color may not be as vibrant. These dyes are also a one-size-fits-all product, not tailored to your unique hair. This is important and we will cover this more in-depth in the next section.
There’s a reason why they save the good stuff for the pros. The color in salon dyes is more vibrant and therefore, longer-lasting.
Salon dye is stronger than boxed dye, yes, but there’s another reason why going to a professional will result in longer-lasting color. Your stylist will create a unique dye formula for you, depending on your hair’s texture, natural hair color, and absorption — beyond your color preferences.
Does Color Affect Dye Longevity?
Yes and no. And the explanation is pretty intricate.
Let’s go back to the permanent vs. semi and demi-permanent fact. Some colors, especially fun rainbow colors, aren’t available as permanent colors.
That’s because the permanent dye has to absorb into your hair’s shaft and mix with your natural hair color. Even if you bleach your hair, the fun colors mix with the orangey bleached mess that it took for these colors to even be visible. And would you want green or bleach dye mixing with that color? Yuck!
While I’m sure dye manufacturers will improve these formulas in the future, for the time being, we will have to settle for beautiful yet fun colors that don’t last as long as natural hair colors.
But what about natural hair colors? Even if you choose permanent, do some fade quicker than others? Well, it depends on many factors — specifically the color you choose and your natural hair color.
First and foremost, darker colors last longer than lighter colors. When you lighten hair, your cuticles have to open to even achieve that color.
That’s why if a blonde person dyes their hair brown, they will have brown hair all year. But if a brunette dyes their hair blonde, their brown roots will grow quickly.
In addition, we all have natural pigments in our hair aside from the typical blonde and brown. This boils down to melanin, the pigment that impacts our hair, skin, and eye color. If your hair, skin, and/or eyes are dark, you have more melanin.
However, melanin becomes more complex than that, and I will try and speak in layman’s terms here.
Melanin doesn’t only include dark pigments, but also red and yellow pigments. But it’s easier to divide melanin into two categories: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
In short, if you’re a blonde, you have more pheomelanin. Just about everyone else produces more eumelanin. Redheads are unique because they can be either, but most have more pheomelanin.
Still with us? I hope so because the type of melanin you produce depends on how long the dye will last.
For example, I naturally have dark brown/black hair and brown/hazel eyes, so I likely produce more eumelanin. I don’t need a professional to tell me this. Black and brown dyes last forever on me. But I tried to dye my hair ash blonde once and in a few days, my hair turned yellow (even with purple dye).
That’s because dark colors not only last longer on me but so do warm colors. If I were to dye my hair a caramel color, even though it’s lighter than my natural hair color, it would still last longer than cool-toned ash hair.
This is likely why some colors may wash out quickly on you but last all year for your friend.
How to Maintain Hair Dye
No matter what type of dye you use or what color you dye your hair, proper maintenance is key. How do you maintain hair dye so it lasts longer? First, let’s take a look at the products you should use.
There’s a reason why practically all hair companies make shampoo and conditioner formulated for colored hair. Certain ingredients, such as sulfates, strip your hair of color quickly. Color-safe hair products will clean and condition your hair while preserving your color.
Next, we’ll cover lifestyle choices. While it may seem obvious, avoid swimming in pools and on the beach. You should also stay out of the sun and avoid using heat styling tools — heat opens up the cuticles, forcing the color to fade.
In addition, you shouldn’t wash your hair too frequently. Any time you get your hair wet, more color spills out. Try and wash your hair only once a week (or only a few times a week) and use dry shampoo if your hair starts feeling oily.
While all of these factors will maintain your dye, the dye will fade and your roots will grow out. It’s inevitable. Because of this, make sure you plan for dye re-dos and root touch-ups.
Answer: Permanent hair dye is called “permanent” for a reason. It will never fade completely. Since you’re depositing color into the strands of your hair, you’re changing your hair’s natural structure.
However, regular washing will remove most of the pigment. But after you dye your hair with permanent dye, it will never go back to your natural color.
Answer: Not necessarily. Many dye brands also make hair dye removers that, well, remove hair dye from your hair. However, it won’t revert your hair back to its natural color. Instead, it will turn your hair white.
But there are DIY methods, such as washing your hair with vinegar. If you don’t want a gross vinegar smell, use dish soap. You can simply wash your hair in hot water daily if you don’t want to use anything harsh on your hair.
Answer: I never used hair dye remover personally, but here are a few I found online:
Framar Kolo Killer Wipes
Joico Color Intensity Eraser
Sephora Collection Heat Activated Color Fader
Malibu C Color Correction
Revolution Pro Hair Colour Remover
Scruples Color Delete Permanent Hair Color Remover
Answer: Absolutely. Removing the color is extremely damaging, leaving your hair dry and prone to breakage. Since stripping your hair raises your cuticle layer, future dye jobs may not last as long.
Answer: A quick search online confirms that the color is red. I can attest to this.
As stated previously, I’ve had cherry cola semi-permanent dye in my hair for four months now. It’s faded but still looks red, especially when I’m in the sunlight. I also put red highlights in my hair in my late teens/early twenties. My stylist said she could still see them. I’m almost 30.
Answer: That answer is fun colors. Most people say blue and violet, but I think that depends. I dyed my whole head purple and with proper maintenance, it lasted for two months (which is a LONG TIME for fun colors). I think blue only lasted maybe a month at the longest?
Answer: Wait two weeks between dyeing your hair or stripping it of color to ensure your hair recovers. Be sure to use conditioning treatments in the meantime.
Answer: Even though we said your hair color will never fully come back after dyeing your hair with permanent dye, you still get your dark roots.
Why is that? It’s called hair regrowth. It usually takes about four weeks for your roots to start growing in, though this could be less or more depending on the reasons we covered previously.
Many people dye their hair on a regular basis, but few people know how long hair dye lasts as well as the intricate details that affect dye longevity. While we all wish our color would last forever, knowing the best hair dyeing practices and maintenance will keep our amazing dye job lasting a long time.
While no dye is truly permanent, the type of dye used and even the color you’re using can determine how many weeks or months the dye will last. Make sure you discuss these details and more with your hairstylist the next time you dye your hair.
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