My Stylist Convinced Me To Try Semi-Permanent Hair Color—And I'm Never Looking Back

It has completely changed my outlook on hair color.

My hair is naturally light brown—I think the girls are calling it “mushroom brown” these days. I kept up with a regimen of ashy highlights and cool lowlights for nearly a decade until about this time last year. I was in a low-maintenance phase and wanted to transition back to my natural color with the help of a little balayage. It worked like a charm. My hair grew out over the course of the year, with the lighter balayage pieces providing the perfect buffer. As my stylist warned, I did eventually hit a point where intervention was needed (both for coverage and camouflaging), but I didn’t want to go back to my highlighting ways. She convinced me to give semi-permanent color a spin and now I’m preaching its benefits far and wide.

Brown Hair Comb Knot
Hector Manuel Sanchez

One of the primary reasons semi-permanent color was suggested was due to my interest in keeping my hair healthy. I saw a noticeable difference in my hair and scalp health once I stopped lightening my hair. The most blatant example was how shiny my strands had become. (Disclaimer: I do have a trusty stock of hair masks that really take my luster to the next level, but their benefits last much longer when I’m not putting my hair in foils every six weeks.) As my stylist promised, my hair felt just as shiny and healthy with semi-permanent color as it did without. It gave my look a boost of richness that I wasn’t expecting—but graciously accepted, of course.

Another concern was covering the grays that have started coming in around the front of my hairline. Permanent hair color changes the structure of hair, making it the most reliable way to cover every last gray. For those who don’t have a full head of silver they’re looking to cover, semi-permanent is a less damaging alternative. It just toned my grays down a bit, making the strays not quite as noticeable as they were before. The process also camouflaged the remaining highlights left behind by my last balayage treatment. The former balayage pieces now look natural—as if my hair is just the tiniest bit lighter on the ends.

Semi-permanent color starts fading at about six weeks. I’m coming up on that mark and my color is still going strong. At some point, I’ll have to go back to permanent color in order to cover my more persistent grays, but for now I’m a full-blown fan of semi-permanent color both for its less-damaging process and for its natural look. It’s a win-win.

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