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    Hair Color Permanent, Demi, Semi: What’s the Difference?

    A hairdresser applying hair color to a clients hair

    Hair Color, What’s the difference?

    The statistics tell us 80% of women are choosing to color their hair today. This could be a result of baby boomers holding off the inevitalbe gray hairs or maybe just trying to enhance tones from dull and lifeless to bright and vibrant. Whatever the reason, once you’ve made the decision to color yourt hair, you’ll have another immediate decision to make . . . what type of hair color should you use.  There are three types of hair color to choose from when considering taking the plunge,.

    Permanent hair color leaves a stronger line of demarcation, and does not fade out. It is the most difficult color type to maintain since on average our hair grows a ¼ inch per month. The ammonia is an alkalizer that opens the cuticle layer, allowing the hair color molecules to penetrate into the cortex; this is where the color molecules remain. Alkaline is the ammonia in hair color that opens the cuticle and allows the color to penetrate. This process opens the cuticle and may leave your hair frizzy and rough-looking. This is why following with a conditioner is always necessary. The conditioner closes the cuticle which allows it to lay flat increasing shine and easing style time.

    A semi permanent hair color  slightly penetrates the hair shaft ; it lasts up to approximately 8 shampoos depending on your hairs porosity. This would be used more for someone not wanting a commitment to a coloring at all but wants to add just a little something to their current hair style.

    A demi permanent hair color gently penetrates the cortex, and depending on how dry and/or damaged your hair is, it could last longer or even get darker than expected. A demi permanent hair color is usually used when you want to enhance your current hair color and you’re not quite ready to make a commitment to a permanent hair color. Demi permanent hair color will usually last a little longer than a semi permanent hair color, but still  fades out after several weeks.

    This brings me to what I believe is a very important step in protecting any hair color treatment that is overlooked by many. Not only does your hair need a great shampoo and conditioner, but what you’re putting on your hair before using heat is just as crucial. Not using a product to protect your hair prior to blow drying or flat ironing is more damaging to your hair than anything else that you could do to your hair. Especially since a majority of our blow dryers can reach 140 degrees and our flat irons a whopping 450 degrees. Making sure your styling aid provides thermal protection is a must when trying to preserve your beautiful hair color!

    In my 10 years as a hair stylist I have worked with many leave-in conditioners and styling products that provide thermal protection. There are a lot of good ones in today’s market! I recently was given the opportunity to take part in the development of a new product which I am excited about called Keracolor which provides thermal protection and enhances hair color. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new leave-in! For more great hair color ideas check out our Pinterest Hair Coloring Ideas Board.

    Guest contributor Tarah Edberg has been a hair stylist for 10 years with Salon Zeo in Minneapolis and specializes in various hair color and foil techniques and is a Keracolor featured hair stylist.


    1. Hi Tricia,
      Can’t recommend doing this. Your hair could turn out orange and brittle and/or brake off.
      Have a consultation or two before deciding what to do next. Lightening is best left to professionals. The integrity of your hair is at stake.
      Good luck!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — February 9, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    2. what if you have used a demi color chestnust brown imixed 40 developer an got a med reddish color what would happened if i were to mix 1 tabs developer40 to a tables;poon shsmpoo 1 teaspoon conditioner and left on hair for 30 minutes what wold i get. i would like for it to be a little more lighter

      Comment by tricia — February 9, 2012 @ 2:18 am

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