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Different Types of Hair Color and How to Know Which Dye is Best for You

Updated on July 28, 2011


Are you thinking about coloring your hair or are you looking to understand more about hair color? Here you will find some basic information about hair color and the different types that you can use in your hair.

The main difference between hair colors are how they penetrate into the hair shaft. What kind of color you should use depends on what you are trying to achieve, along with how much time and money you are willing to invest into your hair. Knowing what the differences are can help you determine what product is best for you. First we will begin with the basics.

Each strand of hair has three main layers......

Cuticle (outer layer)

Cortex (middle layer)

Medulla (inner layer)


Thinks you should know.....

Lifting is when you are lightening the color of your hair.

Depositing is when you are are darkening the color of your hair.

Hydrogen peroxide developer is an oxidizing agent that is needed to be mixed with the hair color in order for it to work.

Temporary hair color only coats the hair and does not penetrate into the hair shaft. It will wash out as soon as it is shampooed. There is no commitment or upkeep with this color.

There are a variety of temporary hair color products available......

Color rinses are applied when the hair is wet and not rinsed out.

Color mouses, shampoos and conditioners can be used to enhance your current color or they can be used as a temporary toner to eliminate unwanted shades.

Color hair spray can be used for dramatic effects.

Color markers can help blend your roots between touch ups. (My clients love them!)

Semi-permanent hair color penetrates into the cuticle of the hair shaft and it can deposit color, but will not lighten the hair. It will gradually wash out over 6 to 8 weeks. There is not a significant change in the hair color so there is minimal damage on the hair. Semi-permanent hair color is ideal for clients that want a change in their color, but to not want the commitment of permanent hair color. It can also be used to refresh ends in a root touch up.

Demi-permanent hair color is similar to the semi-permanent hair color, because it is a deposit color only. However this color is able to penetrate into the cuticle and slightly into the cortex of the hair shaft. Demi-permanent hair color is ideal for refreshing your ends in a root touch up, corrective hair coloring, reverse highlighting, and deposit only all over colors.

Permanent hair color penetrates into the cuticle and cortex of the hair shaft and can lift your hair as well as deposit color. Touch ups are required every 3 to 5 weeks, because of the new outgrowth coming in. Permanent hair color will stay in the hair without washing out, but the vibrancy of the original shade will fade out slightly over time. Permanent hair color is also ideal or covering grey hair because of the long lasting effect. Stronger formulas can cause damage to the hair if abused so it must be handled with caution.

It is good to be familiar with the different types of hair color and how they affect the hair, because knowing the differences is essential for positive results.


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    • SalonExpert profile image

      SalonExpert 6 years ago

      Thanks for a wonderful article. The best hair color I have come across in my 10 years as a salon owner and Master Colorist is Organic Color Systems. It has changed my business, health, and life forever.