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What's the Difference Between Semi-permanent and Permanent Hair Color?

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What's the Difference Between Semi-permanent and Permanent Hair Color?

Jessica Biel ombre hair color

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images What's the Difference Between Semi-permanent and Permanent Hair Color? Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images What's the Difference Between Semi-permanent and Permanent Hair Color?

gorgeous gray hair

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The difference between semi-permanent and permanent hair color is how long you want the color to last and how much of a change you want.

Semi-Permanent Color: Washes Out in 6-12 Shampoos
If you're looking to subtly deepen your natural hair color or add a layer of color (such as a red tone on brown hair), a semi-permanent color is your best option. Keep in mind semi-permanents darken hair. Because they don't contain ammonia or peroxide, semi-permanent color can't lighten hair.

Semi-permanent color washes out over a period of time (six to 12 shampoos, depending upon the formula), so if you don't like the color, you don't have to live with it for too long. Another benefit of semi-permanent color: Because the color is temporary, you won't have to deal with noticeable roots.

A Longer-Lasting Option: Demi-Permanent Color

Want a longer-lasting option? Consider a demi-permanent color which, like semi-permanent color, deepens and intensifies your natural color but won't lighten hair, according to InStyle magazine's book, Getting Gorgeous. The difference is demi-permanent color lasts 12-26 washes, depending on the formula.

The Longest Lasting Option: Permanent Color

If you want a more dramatic change (two or more shades darker or lighter than your natural hair color), a permanent color is a better option. It also works best on coloring gray hair.

According to 'Getting Gorgeous,' permanent hair color contains a blend of peroxide and ammonia and removes pigment from hair while also depositing new color. It won't wash out and instead has to grow out. You'll need to re-touch roots every 6 to 8 weeks.

Note: When you're coloring your own hair, stylist Louis Licari suggests in InStyle magazine, to choose "the exact name over the eloquent one -- Medium Ash Brown instead of Sunlit Brown." He also suggests you get 2 boxes if you have thick, curly or long hair so you don't run out of product as you apply it.

For more on hair color, don't miss:

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