Permanent, demi or semi: what type of hair dye should you use?

Permanent, demi or semi: what type of hair colour should you use?

Permanent hair dye, semi-permanent, demi-permanent or temporary hair colour. Which one should you use? And what's the difference?

Choosing the right kind of hair colour isn't just a decision you make for at-home box dye. An expert colourist can help you understand why you'd choose each type of colour and help you choose the best one for your hair. Plus, they'll have access to professional products and know exactly how to customize, mix and apply the colour so you get the best results.

The best colour for you

There are a surprising number of factors to consider when choosing the best hair dye to use on your locks. These include:

  • texture
  • natural colour
  • how often you dye your hair
  • desired results

Types of hair colour

There are four types of hair colour. Each has specific characteristics that will impact your whether you go blonde, brunette or bright pink.

Temporary colour:

  • Only coats the hair
  • Not mixed with developer
  • Lasts approximately one shampoo
  • Does not alter natural hair colour
  • Examples of these are hair chalks, coloured gels, coloured hair sprays, colour conditioners


  • Not mixed with developer

  • lasts in hair approximately four to six shampoos

  • This is the colour that will give you unicorn hair, vibrant ‘fake colours’ blue pink turquoise etc.
  • Coats the cuticle, may stain the hair 

  • Doesn’t lighten the hair, can only darken it
  • Examples of these include Joico Colour Intensity


  • temporary and have different levels of staying power
  • more gentle on your hair than permanent colour
  • great for going darker or for making your hair colour deeper and richer
  • amazing toners or overlays on grey hair if you want to gently colour without worrying about roots

What is the difference between demi and semi?

Semi-permanent colour does not usually contain any peroxide, developer or ammonia. It doesn't penetrate the hair but stays on the surface. It lasts between 15 and 30 shampoos.

Demi-permanent colour only offers you the opportunity to use the same depth or darkness of colour or go darker but it penetrates the hair more deeply so is good for blending or covering greys, for instance. It has slightly more staying power but also washes out within about 30 shampoos.

Permanent hair colour:

  • replaces your natural hair colour 
  • opens the hair cuticle to let the dye in
  • may fade but will never fully go away until it grows out entirely
  • is full coverage, so it replaces the original hair colour
  • requires maintenance to avoid roots
  • is the best option for lightening hair
  • is a long-term colour solution

No matter the hair dye you choose, taking care of that colour is key. Try these products to keep your colour looking rich and vibrant.

Best products for colour-treated hair

Kevin.Murphy Hydrate.Me Wash

Quench dull, parched and dry hair, with a nourishing hydration pick-me-up. HYDRATE-ME.WASH is our super-smoothing, hydrating WASH that will replenish hair with much-needed moisture. Ideal for hair that’s naturally dry, or exposed to harsh, dry climates, it’s packed with antioxidant goodness to help restore a healthy glow to parched locks.

Kevin.Murphy Hydrate.Me Rinse

A luxurious hydrating and smoothing conditioner, designed to restore and replenish hair in need of repair. Ideal for naturally dry hair or for hair that’s been exposed to harsh, dry climates. HYDRATE-ME.RINSE provides an essential moisture boost to nourish dry, parched locks, and transforms the look and feel of split ends. Full of antioxidant goodness, HYDRATE-ME.RINSE leaves the hair with a nourished, healthy-looking glow.

Kevin.Murphy Angel.Wash

If your over-stressed hair is in need of a little salvation, our delicate ANGEL.WASH volumizing shampoo will nourish and transform fine, fragile hair that has been colour-treated or damaged. Infused with soothing essential oils, vitamins, proteins and antioxidants, ANGEL.WASH gently cleanses the scalp and hair while maximizing colour longevity, and protecting against harmful free radicals.

Kevin.Murphy Angel.Rinse

Treat fine, fragile and broken hair with ANGEL.RINSE and WASH. The weightless, volumizing conditioning RINSE was created to soothe and protect fine, damaged and colour-treated hair. Delicately scented and deeply conditioning, Mango and Cocoa Butters help nourish and moisturize the hair without weighing it down.

Kevin.Murphy Blonde.Angel.Wash

Make every moment a bombshell moment, and banish brassy tones with BLONDE.ANGEL.WASH. Our Lavender-infused, colour enhancing shampoo takes on all tones—from creamy to platinum, and with the help of added optical brighteners rescues dull colour, taking it from drab back to fab.

AG Hair Colour Savour Shampoo

Coloured hair demands special care. Colour Savour’s sulphate-free mild formulation gently cleanses hair with a rich, luxurious lather. Proteins and herbal extracts soothe and repair, and our exclusive CARE Complex with sunflower seed extract and natural polyphenols provides both UV and free radical protection to significantly extend the life and vibrancy of colour. pH 5.5-6.5.

AG Hair Colour Savour Conditioner 

The perfect complement to our Colour Savour shampoo, this rich, creamy conditioner contains a blend of protein, amino acids and moisturizers to feed, repair and revitalize coloured hair. Our exclusive CARE Complex provides both UV and free radical protection to significantly extend the life and vibrancy of your colour. pH 4.5-5.5.

AG Hair Colour Savour Mask

AG’s latest innovation is the perfect addition to your Colour Care regimen. Used as a regular remedy at least once a week, AG’s new Colour Savour Mask gloss treatment is an essential step in protecting colour-treated hair from daily hardships like fading, over-processing, heat damage and UV exposure.

Colour-treated hair needs nourishing care. Shea butter and Abyssinian oil add instant shine and softness while sunflower seed extract helps maintain vibrancy. This lightweight and hydrating gloss treatment works on all hair types and contains AG’s exclusive CARE Complex, providing both UV and free radical protection helping extend the life of hair colour.

AG Hair Sterling Silver shampoo

Sterling Silver is specially formulated to eliminate brassy, yellow tones from blonde and silver hair. With its unique violet base, this mild toning shampoo removes dullness and brassiness, leaving blonde and silver hair looking cleaner and brighter. pH 4.5-5.5.

AG Hair Sterling Silver Conditioner

Blonde or silver hair needs specific conditioning and our Sterling Silver is up for the challenge. Formulated to eliminate brassy, yellow tones from blonde and silver hair with its unique violet base, our toning conditioner provides intense moisture, condition and lustre to hair. pH 4.5-5.5.

AG Hair Sterling Silver mask

Packed with 5x the pigment of Sterling Silver shampoo and conditioner, AG’s newest mask is the perfect addition to our best-selling Colour Care line.

An intense and nourishing formula that eliminates brassy, yellow tones from blonde and silver hair with its dark violet base. Shea butter and Abyssinian oil add instant shine and softness while helping reduce and prevent breakage. Infused with AG’s exclusive CARE Complex, providing both UV and free radical protection to help extend the life of hair colour.

Best UV protection to prevent fading colour

AG Hair BB Cream

BB Cream is the go-to, multifunctional hair primer, filling, smoothing, moisturizing and protecting hair against heat styling appliances and colour fading with AG’s exclusive CARE complex. This super-rich, silky priming cream prepares and protects the hair prior to styling, evening-out porosity and leaving hair feeling thicker and healthier.

AG Hair Deflect Fast Dry Heat Protection

Deflect defends hair from the damaging effects of heat styling appliances while dramatically reducing drying time. Infused with abyssinian oil, ultra-light Deflect adds smoothness, slip and shine while helping to protect and extend the vibrancy of hair colour with AG’s exclusive CARE Complex.

AG Hair Fast Food Shampoo

Finally, a fast food that’s good for you. Fast Food sulphate-free shampoo is unbelievably rich and full of moisturizing lather, providing extreme hydration to extremely dry hair while being lightweight enough for all hair types. For optimal results follow with our nourishing Fast Food Leave On Conditioner. pH 5.5-6.5.

AG Hair Fast Food Leave-On Conditioner

Fast Food instantly feeds, smoothes and calms thick or coarse hair that feels frizzy. Potent humectants and abyssinian oil do double duty to moisturize and mend split ends while adding weightless condition and shine to super dry hair. pH 4.2-5.8.

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