Types of hair dye | The ultimate hair colour guide.

types of hair colours

Hair colour is a tricky thing. There are so many types of hair dye if you’re looking to switch up your natural colour. If you’re trying to cover roots, change the entire shade or even go for more of an ombre effect, it can be really overwhelming!

That’s where we come in with this ultimate hair colour guide – breaking down all the different varieties available and what they do best.

From permanent, semi-permanent, temporary, washout, hair rinses, balayage, ombre, highlights, dip dyes…there are a fantastic mix of colour treatments painting our world right now. It’s hard to work out which one we need to get our must-have look.

This year’s hot hair colour trends, have given us loads of ideas and inspiration.

Now, we’re here to explain the different products you need, so you can decide which one is right for you!

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hair dye kit

What are the different types of hair dye?

There are many kinds of hair colouring products on the market today and more to come as technology advances. Your options depend on your personal preference, what you want your hair colour to be, and how long you want it to last.

The main different variations you’ll find are permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent and temporary.

Each has their own pros and cons to bringing coloured gorgeousness to your head. Just click on one to find out more!


Permanent hair dyes.

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What is permanent hair dye?

Permanent hair colour changes the actual makeup of your hair. It does this by the use of peroxide which opens the cuticle of the hair shaft which lets the colour penetrate deep into the core of your hair shaft. Tiny molecules enter all the way into the cortex, where they react and expand to a size that cannot be washed out.

Phew! That’s the science. What it really means is that permanent colour is the strongest and most long-lasting of all.

It gradually fades with time or in the sun, but it won’t wash out like other dyes. But that doesn’t mean it lasts forever – you’ll need to re-dye your hair to cover root growth and refresh your colour every few weeks.

Is permanent hair dye right for me?

This the best type of hair colour for covering stubborn grey hair and are particularly good if you have dark hair.

They’re also best for you if you want on-trend styles like balayage and ombre, or a drastic colour change like half and half hair!

Pros of permanent dye:

  • More coverage.
  • A bigger change in hair colour.
  • Absorbs into your hair and last longer.
  • Can lighten hair colour.
  • Takes 30-45 minutes to achieve maximum colour change.

Cons of permanent dye:

  • Fades in time.
  • Contains peroxide.
  • Can leave your hair feeling dry and damaged with over-use.

What is the permanent hair dye?

If you want to dye your hair a permanent colour at home, John Frieda’s Precision Foam are the top types of hair colours we recommend because of their easy to apply, non splash wonderousness and lasting colour. You can read about why they’re the best in our John Frieda Precision Foam review here.

John Frieda Precision Foam Hair dye.

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Demi-permanent hair dye.

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What is Demi-permanent hair dye?

Demi-permanent dyes are the type of hair colours that contain no ammonia – but they do contain a low-level developer (hydrogen peroxide).

Like permanent dyes, demi-permanent sinks into the shaft of your hair, but it doesn’t penetrate as deep as permanent does. Because of this, it’s not as long-lasting as permanent, but it lasts longer than semi-permanent!

Demi-permanent is also known as ammonia-free and is a vegan-friendly hair dye.

Is demi-permanent hair dye right for me?

Demi-permanent is the best type of hair colour for you if you’re looking for a subtle colour change or if you’re looking to experiment with a new, natural shade.

Remember you can’t lighten your hair with demi-permanent, so choose a shade the same or darker than your current colour. You can always switch to permanent if you’re not happy with the results.

Pros of demi-permanent:

  • Natural colouring, allows for regrowth.
  • Demi-permanents are much more effective at covering grey hair than semi-permanents, but less so than permanents.
  • Great for colour correction.

Cons of demi-permanent:

  • It lasts 20-28 washes.
  • Contains peroxide which can dry out your hair.
  • It can’t lighten hair colour.

What is the best demi-permanent hair dye?

If you want to dye your hair a permanent colour at home, Clairol Natural Instincts is the top hair dye we recommend for its gorgeous range of natural colours and eco-friendly ethos. You can read more about why it’s so fabulous here.

Clairol Natural Instincts No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye.

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Semi-permanent hair dye.

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What is Semi-permanent hair dye?

Semi-permanent colour contains no peroxide or ammonia. The colour coats the surface of your hair shaft rather than penetrating or altering it.

While it’s more gentle on your hair, it’s not as effective at covering greys as demi-permanent or permanent colour.

Semi-permanent dye enhances your natural colour so you won’t get roots growing out like you will with permanent dyes. But it’s also not as effective at covering greys as permanent colour and the effects won’t last as long – around 10-12 washes.

Is semi-permanent hair dye right for me?

Semi-permanent is best for you if you want a subtle change of colour or you’re ready to experiment with something different. You can also have fun with bright colours and on-trend pastel colours with semi-permanent as it’s easier to remove than semi-permanent hair dye and it doesn’t cause so much damage to your hair. Go on!

Pros of semi-permanent:

  • Semi-permanent types of hair colours contain no nasties that can damage your hair like ammonia or peroxide.
  • You can switch things up without committing to a permanent colour.
  • It gives a natural multi dimensional coverage which means natural highlights will shine through.
  • You can experiment with colours without worrying about the long term effects.

Cons of using semi-permanent:

  • Semi-permanent colour cannot lighten your hair.
  • Not the best at covering greys.
  • Only lasts for 8 to 10 shampoos.

Which is the best semi-permanent hair dye?

If you want to dye your hair a semi-permanent colour at home, absolute top of the list is the L’Oreal Colorista Washout range. The colours are hot, with loads of on-trend pastels to transform you locks. We also love the permanent Colorista range for when you find the colour that steals your heart. Swoon.

L’Oréal Colorista Washout Aqua Blue Semi-Permanent Hair Dye.

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Temporary hair dyes.

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What are temporary hair colours?

Temporary types of hair colours come in various forms – from rinses, henna hair dyes, shampoos, crayons, hair chalks, gels, sprays, and foams. You can even dye your hair with tissue paper!

They’re fun, they’re crazy, they’re fabulous, and only last as long as the next wash so you can be adventurous as you dare!

Are temporary hair colours right for me?

Temporary types of hair colours are right for everyone!

As long as you don’t want them to last more than one wash. They’re great for parties, Halloween, birthdays and rainy days (indoors obvs).

These are perfectly safe colour options so kids can join in too. Be bold! There are plenty of fabulous colours to try out.

Pros of temporary hair colours:

  • They’re temporary! You can wash them off whenever you like.
  • You can experiment with different colours for every occasion.
  • You can experiment with streaks, highlights and dip dye looks.
  • You can try out a colour you’re thinking of making more permanent.
  • They’re also great for kids!

Cons of temporary hair colours:

  • They can be messy to apply!
  • You won’t achieve all over coverage.
  • They don’t look natural – but that’s the fun!

What is the best temporary hair dye?

If you want to get some temporary colours to experiment with at at home, L’Oreal top the colour charts again with their Colorista Hair Make Up. The colours are splendid and can be mixed together to create any shade you choose. Go wild!

Colorista Hair Makeup 

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Parting words

We hope this ultimate hair colour guide has helped you understand the different types of hair dye.

You now know how to choose your perfect hue, and have a better understanding of what will work for your lifestyle.

Whether you want to make a statement, hide your natural hair colour or just take the time for an at-home beauty treatment, our ultimate hair colour guide has got you covered.

So what are you waiting for?