Vegan formula made with 80 percent naturally derived ingredients, including coconut oil and aloe vera. Comes in 38 natural shades of black, brunette, blond, and red. Delivers vibrant colors and shine that cover up gray hairs, and lasts for up to 28 washes.
Some customers have reported preferring the old formula.
Earns rave reviews from repeat customers for adding richness to faded color and leaving hair feeling silky soft. Comes in vivid neutral, ash, gold, warm, and red shades. Easy-to-use bottle applicator with instructions. Each tube contains enough product for two applications.
Users report some colors turn out much darker than expected.
Works by improving your natural or color-treated hair by adding versatile, temporary color. Great for touching up hair in between hair coloring. Easy to use, and makes hair look glossy. Produces results in as few as 3 minutes, and can be used daily.
Color doesn't last as long as some other products we considered, yet it can stain bathroom fixtures. Scent is strong and not very appealing.
Non-lather formula cleanses and conditions while instantly infusing color into hair each wash. Many colorful, vibrant tones available. Great way to boost color and maintain vibrancy between salon visits.
Effects are much more subtle on dark hair.
Does a great job of covering up grey hairs and creating natural-looking highlights. Is free from ammonia and peroxide. Leaves hair feeling moisturized. Available in 9 shades. Fades evenly after 8 to 12 washes, and leaves no visible roots.
Some shades may not turn out exactly as depicted.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you’re hoping to update your appearance, cover up gray hair, or just want to experiment with a fun hue, semi-permanent hair color is a great place to start. First-time hair colorists may find a permanent dye daunting, but semi-permanent hair color offers a happy medium. Semi-permanent hair color lasts between eight and 12 shampoos and is easy to apply at home.
Before you go ahead and add a product to your cart, you should consider a few factors. What is your hair texture? Certain dyes are more drying for some hair types. You’ll also want to think about the longevity of the color and the fidelity of the results, meaning how well the end result will match what’s on the box. All the dyes we recommend are meant to be used at home, though some have a messier application process than others.
Lighter-haired folks who want to go darker are great candidates for semi-permanent hair color. You won’t achieve lighter locks with semi-permanent dye. What semi-permanent hair color does is add a gentle tint to your natural hair color, like a subtle brown or red tinge. Consider the undertones of your natural hair color and your skin to find a complementary shade of semi-permanent dye.
Hair that’s coarse, thick, or curly is extremely porous, meaning it will absorb color quickly, giving hair a cooler undertone. The opposite is true for thin, straight hair, which absorbs dye slowly, developing warmer undertones in the process. If your hair is curly, opt for a color that’s somewhat warmer than your natural tresses. Fine-haired folks should opt for a shade that’s slightly cooler than their natural hair.
The average semi-permanent hair color lasts six weeks or more, depending on how often you shampoo. Because semi-permanent dyes don’t contain bleach or ammonia, they only temporarily change hair color. They’re quite useful for those with color-damaged hair, but you’ll need to reapply the product frequently. Avoid any semi-permanent hair color that lasts less than six weeks as frequent reapplication can damage hair.
All semi-permanent hair color is packaged with instructions. Ideally, a box kit should include gloves, dye, and an applicator brush. Unlike permanent hair color, semi-permanent dye does not need to be mixed. A tube of hair color with a pointed applicator tip makes the process less messy. Some semi-permanent dyes are packaged in simple pump-top bottles, so you’ll need to supply your own gloves and brush.
Sulfates have gotten a bad rap in recent years. Sulfates are used in haircare products to create suds, which can give the impression of cleaner hair. But this has its drawbacks as the extra suds can dry and irritate skin and hair, especially color-treated hair. There aren’t any studies that directly link sulfates to cancer or other health conditions. If you choose to avoid parabens and sulfates in your haircare products, look for semi-permanent hair color that is paraben- and sulfate-free.
Color-safe shampoos: Biolage Colorlast Shampoo for Color-Treated HairColor-treated hair requires shampoo that won’t strip its color. Biolage’s Colorlast Shampoo is a top choice. The low pH will keep your hair color vibrant. Its scent is subtle, and the formula is gentle enough to use regularly without drying hair. Buyers love the bounce and shine they notice after using this shampoo.
Color-safe conditioners: Biolage Colorlast Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair
Lock in moisture with a color-safe conditioner. Luckily, Biolage sells a Colorlast Conditioner to pair with the shampoo. Buyers say this conditioner works wonderfully on dyed hair as well as dry or damaged hair. It also has a pleasant, lingering scent.
At-home hair colorists have quite a range to choose from. Expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $40 for semi-permanent hair color. As with most beauty products, price does tend to dictate quality.
Inexpensive: Semi-permanent dyes under $10 usually have no guarantee of being paraben- and sulfate-free. You may also have to worry about how true the color will be compared to what’s on the box. While cost-effective, these dyes usually fade faster than more expensive semi-permanent hair color.
Mid-range: The sweet spot for semi-permanent hair color is $10 to $25. A number of products in this price range are salon-quality. You’ll find paraben- and sulfate-free products, too. Some semi-permanent dyes in this price range include ingredients like essential oils, herbs, and vitamins for extra hydration.
Expensive: Semi-permanent hair color that is above $25 is largely manufactured by salon brands. Many of these products include deep-conditioning components to combat the dye’s tendency to dry out hair.
The IROIRO Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Color is 100% cruelty-free and includes organic coconut oil, yuzu berry fragrance, and natural preservatives. As a bonus, its accompanying pouch is eco-friendly. The natural ingredients, lack of harsh chemicals, and fun color range means this semi-permanent hair color is a favorite among teens. Note that the color is pretty bright for a semi-permanent dye. Some buyers say the color remains vibrant even after 10 washes.
The Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color is another cruelty-free product. This semi-permanent dye includes extra conditioning agents to leave hair soft and manageable. Though the smell is somewhat strong, sensitive buyers don’t report any allergic reactions. The color is long-lasting and won’t bleed during the application and rinsing process. Unfortunately, results aren’t as visible on dark hair.
Q. What’s the difference between permanent and semi-permanent hair color?
A. Permanent hair color provides full coverage and will change the structure of your hair. It requires an extra mixing step prior to use. Permanent dye lasts eight weeks or longer. Semi-permanent hair color, on the other hand, won’t change your hair structure and washes out after several shampoos.
Q. Will semi-permanent hair color bleed?
A. Color bleeding can happen with both permanent and semi-permanent hair color. You can combat this by giving your hair a final rinse with cold water when showering. Let the water run through the hair for several seconds before running your hands through, which can cause more color bleeding.
Q. Does semi-permanent hair dye stain clothing?
A. Yes, semi-permanent hair color will stain clothes. That’s why it’s important to use old towels and wear old clothes when coloring your hair. If you do stain fabric, soak the stain in detergent for 15 minutes and rinse. Then soak the garment or towel in diluted detergent overnight. You can also add a few spoons of hydrogen peroxide for extra stain-lifting power.