Types of Hair Color

There are many different types of hair color and sometimes that can be confusing to people. For instance, do you know the difference between semi-permanent dye and demi-permanent color? Well, if you answered “no,” then I want to use this article to clarify the difference between all these different types of color.

Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent? Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Temporary Hair Color

This little girl is rocking temporary hair color. Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Temporary hair color is a no-commitment color. It will rinse out with your next hair wash and it can be applied in many different ways. Color rinses are really popular, especially with the little old ladies that like to wash their hair once a week. Temporary color also comes in the form of comb-in color, spray-on color and hair chalk. You will see a lot of these around Halloween when people just need to change their color for one night.

Temporary color works by setting pigment on the outside of the hair shaft. No peroxide is used, meaning these types of hair color will not lift your hair. Keep in mind that if your hair is bleached or damaged, your hair may absorb the color. In this case, it could take up to 8 weeks for it to fully wash out.

Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent? Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Manic Panic, Splat and Paul Mitchell Inkworks are all Semi-permanent colors. Semi-permanent color has smaller molecules than temporary color, meaning that it is able to partially penetrate into the hair shaft. Because of this, semi-permanent colors typically last a few weeks, or up to 6 washes.

Usually these are applied with a bowl and brush. There are ways to make semi-permanent color last a little longer, which can be desirable, since most punky, vibrant colors are semi-permanent. I learned a neat trick recently. If you apply the color using foils, you can lightly tap the foils with a flat iron to heat them up. BE CAREFUL if you try this though, because the steam can burn your scalp; it definitely takes practice. Also, only do this if the color doesn’t use peroxide and you are experienced with hair color. I would actually recommend not trying it at all.

Furthermore, instead of rinsing the color when you are done, you can flat-iron the product out of the hair until it is dry. The heat helps lock the color in. If you aren’t daring enough to try this technique (I don’t blame you if you aren’t), just try heating up the color with a hair dryer.

Semi-permanent color typically won’t use peroxide, but sometimes you’ll see small amounts of low-volume peroxide used. Because of this, they are safe on damaged hair.

Demi-Permanent Hair Color

Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent? Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Demi-permanent color is right in-between semi-permanent and permanent color. These will last a pretty long time, but will completely fade out before you have noticeable outgrowth. Demi-permanent color is formulated with an alkaline agent other than ammonia (which is used permanent color). They are generally not damaging to your hair. They are also mixed with low volume peroxide which means that they will not lift the hair.

Demi-permanents are a lot safer on your hair than permanent color, but also provide less coverage. The color line I use is Paul Mitchel, and their demi-permanent line, PM Shines, contains protein which actually helps repair your hair. Demi-Permanent dye typically lasts about 6 weeks.

Permanent Hair Color

Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent? Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Permanent color will last pretty much until it grows out or you lighten/color over it. If you are using permanent color on virgin hair, it will lift, but it can deposit on any previously colored hair. Remember, the golden rule of color is: COLOR WILL NEVER LIFT COLOR.

As far as developers go, on virgin hair, 20V developer will lift up to 2 levels and deposit, 30V will lift up to 3 levels, 40V will lift up to 4 levels (you usually only use this with high-lift blondes). 10V will only deposit, not lift. To read more about how color works, check out Hair 101. I really recommend that you think hard about choosing a permanent color because once it’s in your hair, you’re stuck with it.

Bleach / Lightener

Demi-Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent? Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

Bleach can either come in a cream or powder form. You should make sure that the bleach you are using is safe to apply to the scalp before you do so. Some bleach will burn and blister your scalp. They can be mixed with any volume of peroxide, but remember that the higher the peroxide, the more damaging it is. I usually use 20V unless you are really trying hard to lift a dark color out. Bleached hair will turn anywhere from red to pale yellow. I recommend using a toner with bleach, for a nice, finished look. That brings me to my next category…


This woman has toned blonde hair. Do you know what all the different types of hair color are? Find out now..

The whole purpose of a hair toner is to change the tonal level of bleached hair. If you want platinum blonde, you’ll want to use a purple based toner. If you want ash, you will use a blue based toner. There are all different types of toners. Strawberry blonde, beige, and neutral are some examples of the different shades of blonde you can achieve through toner. In my opinion, if you bleach your hair, you should use a toner. It’s great to get rid of the golden undertones, and will make your hair look more polished.

RELATED: How To Use a Hair Toner For Brassiness

What do you think about these different types of hair color? Do you have any color questions? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.

6 thoughts on “Types of Hair Color”

  1. Sorry for type error I didn’t leave long inaf and at back still uncolur yellow can put same coulor Nast on yellow tons at front it’s fine as I start from from from but I just leave it 15 mn?

    • Hi Katy, thanks for the question. This is hard because I don’t know what your hair looks like or what color you are going for, but I would think that you should just reapply the permanent color to the areas that still need to process and let it process for the full time. Hope it helps 🙂

  2. Hi pls help me I’ve coulor my hair with permanent coulor pre bleach hair but I find leave long inaf and Sam parts at back still yellow at front it’s fine what can I do now?

  3. I’m struggling so much with my hair it’s been bleached loads but so patchy, majority of it is a yellow and the rest bright orange. I’ve heard about blue base purple base etc but I’m in England. No beauty supply stores where I live just body care, boots and asda. And no toners!!!! And their blonde dye says it tones and highlights when I used the light ash blonde it worked but my hair was left dark n I hated it, there are light blond, ultra light blonde medium blonde etc etc and they all say they have toners in them. And ash is the only one for orange. And the others say best for medium to light blonde But can’t I use one of those? Or does it HAVE to be ash, I can’t buy wella only on the Internet at £11 a pop! I’ve heard so many ‘try silver lady’ ‘try white lady’ and at £11 I can’t afford to make a mistake. Help please

  4. how do you know which toner to choose? what volume of developer? how do you know how long the toner should be in your har?
    also i’d love a tutorial of root touch ups and how to pull the colour through? thank you so much, i love your information it’s so helpful!

    • Hi Sam! I am glad you like our blog! I need to touch up my roots soon, so I think a tutorial just might work! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

      As far as the toner goes, you will want to use a toner with a complementary color to the color you are trying to tone. For example, if your hair is really yellow, you will want to use a violet/platinum based toner, which will cancel the yellow. If your hair is orange, you will want to use a blue/ash based toner. It is important that you be careful, because if you put an ash toner on white hair, your hair will turn grey. If your hair is already a light level, you can tone it however you want (examples are strawberry blonde, platinum blonde, ash blonde, golden blonde, beige blonde, etc.) That part is up to you.

      Most toners use a 10V developer because they are strictly depositing pigment. However, I have seen some use a 20. All color lines and toners are different, so you will have to follow the directions for that specific toner. They will tell you how long to leave it in, and what developer to use!

      Good luck Sam! Thanks again! 🙂


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