Drugstore or Salon: For How Long Does Hair Dye Last?

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Hair dye does more than zhuzh up your look.

Coloring adds volume to the shafts and makes your hair temporarily thicker. Hair dye also creates dimensions and allows light to reflect differently. Some products even protect your hair from pollution and excessive heat. Really, it’s in your best interest to get some color on.

So what’s holding you back?

The commitment to one color may be a nagging reason. Maybe you want to go with Blake Lively’s bright wheat blonde look for a couple of months and then do Priyanka Chopra’s warm chocolate truffle the next. But how long does hair dye last anyway?

How Long Does Hair Coloring Last?

Hair dye lasts about four to six weeks, in general. So it doesn’t stick to your hair forever — once your hair grows out the dye loses its effect and intensity because your roots start to show. And this would be a good time to take a trip to your favorite salon to get it recolored or refreshed.

But the period it lasts on your hair will depend on the type you use, each serving a different purpose and each meeting a specific hair styling desire. Hair dye doesn’t just come in temporary and permanent forms.

The main types of hair dye are:

  • Permanent – best for people who want to stick to a color for longer, and for those who don’t mind sitting in the salon chair for a while. It calls for a complex chemical process to allow the dye to penetrate deeper, making hair color last for four to six weeks.
  • Semi-permanent – best for people who want a bit more variety at certain times. Dyes in this form typically don’t have ammonia and they don’t need developing. So you can grab a box from the store and do coloring at home. How long does semi-permanent hair dye last? About eight washes.
  • Demi-permanent – unlike semi-permanent hair dye, demi-permanent requires a developer. What it does is it penetrates the hair shaft instead of just coating it. So if you want to commit more to a color, demi-permanent is a good choice.
  • Temporary – best for people who want to do a bold color for the evening and return to a tone down hue the next. This type of hair dye will last until your next wash, which is why it’s also called “wash out dye.”

Then you have a selection of other types that will spark your creativity for hair coloring:

  • Henna – not just for the skin but for the hair, too. Henna is the natural alternative to chemical hair dyes, and typically hypoallergenic. But it’s not what you’re looking for if you want to go lighter.
  • Hair Bleach – if you want, for example, blue hair dye, bleach is a good choice. It lightens and brightens, but use it with less frequency than other types because bleach could damage your hair.
  • Balayage – it’s a highlighting technique that’s been around since French colorists introduced it in the ‘70s. It uses freehand coloring to give your hair a natural, multiple tone finish. And it can work as a permanent hair dye because it can last for 12 to 14 weeks.
  • Ombré – unlike balayage, ombre highlights at the roots, typically with a dark tone and fades into a lighter tone at the ends. But you can reverse that tone (i.e., lighter at the top, darker at the bottom).
  • Highlights – if you don’t want to full coverage, highlights allow you to get the specific tone, shade and depth with color. This hair dye lasts long because it’s permanent.

Other types of hair dye are textured highlights and root color.

Clearly, you’ve got several options to capture a certain look. Most of these will require a professional, which means making that salon appointment, to achieve the tone and permanence you have in mind. If you want the vibrant and look-at-me hair color of Keke Palmer or the sometimes two-toned, versatile dyes of Katy Perry, you’re going to need an experienced colorist to prevent hair damage.

But if you just want to take your mane for a spin around the dye block, an at-home treatment should do the trick without the cost.

How Long Does Store Bought Hair Dye Last in Your Hair?

Boxed hair coloring comes in temporary and permanent formulas, so it should have the staying power of the dye you’ve chosen. Some temporary hair dyes, which you can apply in 40 minutes, may even last up to seven washes. Others that are as easy to apply allow you to make like Lady Gaga in one night and your non-glamorous self the next day.

So when it comes to drugstore hair dye, it can be more about how long it takes to dye hair at home than how long it lasts. Because you’re doing all the work yourself, you really don’t want to spend too much time applying the dye.

If you’re not a commitment-phobe when it comes to your store-bought dye, choose the semi-permanent or demi-permanent formulas. These dyes will last for up to 28 shampoos; a daily shampoo would mean retaining your red velvet or smoky ice dye for about four weeks.

Most drugstore hair dyes are formulated with chemicals. If you’re looking to make a switch to “natural,” henna would be a good option. And although it’s blended with natural ingredients, like cocoa butter and essential oils (aside from the lawsonia inermis, or henna), this hair dye lasts long.

How Long Does Henna Hair Dye Last?

Henna hair dye is considered permanent, so it will last four to six weeks. Your chosen shade will stay vivid for that long, which means you need to be committed to the hair color.

Henna dyes work only for darker colors; it’s best suited for adding gloss or boosting black, red or brown hair. But it’s not going to work for lightening hair; if you style your hair in the same breakneck frequency and with such variety as Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, you may want to put the brakes on using henna. You don’t want to be stuck with a strong hair color for too long if you’re supposed to be in some corporate event.

The upside to using this natural alternative is that you don’t have to worry about chemicals ruining your hair. Hair dye can be unforgiving to your tresses if you’ve used too much for too long. 

How Often Can You Dye Your Hair?

You can dye your hair as often as you like if you’ve got virgin hair. If you haven’t dyed your hair before or done any chemical treatment, it should be free from damage.

But if you’ve had some coloring done and you’ve done it with similar frequency as a pop star, let your hair breathe for six weeks before your next coloring session.

If your hair appears to suffer some breakage, dryness or brittleness, put off dyeing until you’ve restored health to your mane by getting a salon treatment or using organic remedies to treat your scalp. . Hair damage isn’t just caused by the frequency of dyeing; your starting color also has something to do with it. If you’re going the extreme opposite with dark hair (e.g., brunette to icy blonde), you may be damaging your strands. If you need to go from dark to light, follow the general guideline of six weeks before your next hair dye.

How often you dye your hair will also depend on the type of dye. If it’s semi-permanent, wait between four to ten shampoos before going with another color. If it’s permanent, wait until your roots begin to show.

To retain the vibrancy of your hair color, follow these steps:

  1. Use sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfate strips hair of buildup and dirt — and right along with it, your dye. Without it in your shampoo, the color will still look electrifying.
  2. Choose products that are best for color-treated hair; some will be specific to your hair color. These products include color-protecting sprays that keep your hair safe from harsh UV rays.
  3. You also need to shampoo at the roots and then through to the ends; condition starting at the ends and then through the roots. When you wash your hair the right way, your hair dye lasts long.

Instead of focusing on whether you should shampoo before getting hair coloring, focus on hair care after getting it dyed. This is what any experienced colorist would tell you when you call in to ask, “Should I wash my hair before dyeing it?” This doesn’t mean to come in for your appointment with dirty hair. Although unwashed hair is better for a dye job because the oil protects your scalp from irritation, too much oil can make coloring ineffective.

Gently wash your hair 12 to 24 hours before your appointment; you’ll keep your scalp safe and allow the color to penetrate well, helping you get that shade you want.

But what if you did everything you had to and you end up with a bad dye job? You don’t have to live with it — for long. You can remove or correct it with kitchen pantry staples or with products.

How Do You Remove Permanent Hair Dye Naturally?

You can remove permanent hair dye naturally. One particular hack calls for vitamin C tablets mixed with hot water until it turns into a paste. Apply it on your hair with a shower cap and leave it on for one hour.

Another hack combines white vinegar with hot water. Drench your hair with the mixture and use a shower cap; rinse after 15 minutes.

Both hacks are fairly safe and can work since vitamin C is non-abrasive (and salons do use it) and the acidity in white vinegar can take out the dye without harming your scalp.

But natural removal of permanent hair dye may not be as effective as letting a professional do it. They would have the experience and the products to help you correct a bad dye job.

Not all dye remover kits will be formulated with chemicals; some will be ammonia- and bleach-free and others will contain natural ingredients, like avocado and aloe vera, taking out the offending color and minimizing damage or breakage.

Hair color treatments can be good for your tresses. But before you commit to one shade, know how long the dye will last and how it’ll affect your hair in the long run. Although you can always correct a bad dye job, it’s better to be cautious about what you put your hair through.

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