Plus, why I swapped my permanent highlights for semi-permanent color.

By Patricia Shannon
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There are a number of reasons to opt for semi-permanent hair dye instead of the permanent variety. The real clincher for me was the fact that it was less harsh on my strands, which was increasingly important as I noticed they were beginning to show their age. I wanted softer, silkier hair and knew a big factor in getting there would be laying off the heavy-duty lighteners. Even if your hair is as a brand-new penny, you might also opt for semi-permanent hair color if you're dipping your toe into the hair-coloring pool for the first time. It's a lower commitment option for those who aren't fully ready to embrace the world of bi-monthly (or more) touch-ups. Semi-permanent hair dye typically lasts about six weeks, but you could see it gradually start to fade prior.

The difference between semi-permanent and permanent formulas has to do with what part of the hair is actually dyed. With semi-permanent, only the outer layer is colored, it doesn't open up the hair shaft like permanent color. Semi-permanent color also doesn't contain peroxide or ammonia—two ingredients found in most permanent varieties. But, here was the clincher for me: It can actually function as a hair gloss, bringing a dose of shine and luster while covering grays, reviving dull locks, and even simply switching up your look when you're in need of a refresh.

Woman Applying Hair Dye
Credit: Getty/Marc Vuillermoz

Now, if you find yourself wondering how to remove semi-permanent hair dye if your color didn't quite turn out as you had hoped, all is not lost. There are a few tricks you can try at home, though it's always advised to seek a professional if possible. A clarifying shampoo (paired with a restorative mask to help boost nutrients and shine) can help speed up the fade, or you can opt for a formula specifically designed to fade color like Sephora Collection Heat Activated Color Fader.

Once I started using semi-permanent color I was pleasantly surprised by just how quickly the youthful glossiness returned to my strands—literally with the first application. You can apply semi-permanent hair color at home, but you might want to take the professional path as I did and head to the salon for the best results.