The best semi-permanent hair dyes to switch up your look

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The best semi-permanent hair dye

by Louella Berryman |
Updated on

Most of us can't afford salon prices for bold new hair colours, so you may have considered wandering into the world of semi-permanent hair dye. It's the best hair dye option for those who are accident-prone or just indecisive. It washes out after anywhere between one and 30 washes.

With no bleach, developer or ammonia, it's the way to go if you want a funky colour change, for example, a vibrant neon or perhaps a darker hair dye shade.

Closer's best semi-permanent hair dye at a glance:

Best semi-permanent hair dye (Editor's Choice): Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye 20.68 on Amazon

Best semi-permanent hair dye for natural shades: L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye 9.49 on Amazon

Best affordable semi-permanent hair dye: Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non-Permanent Hair Dye 4.60 on Amazon

Back to our round up. Or maybe you just want to freshen up your blonde hair dye or cover up those greys in between hairdresser appointments. There are many reasons why you may find yourself opting for semi-permanent hair dye.

So, without further ado, check out the best semi-permanent hair dyes we found on the internet right now. We're dying to know. Get it? Your experimental hair colour awaits...

SHOP: The best semi-permanent hair dye


Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye

Best semi-permanent hair dye (Editor's Choice)

Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair DyeAmazon
Price: $20.68
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The well-renowned Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Bright or Pastel Hair Dye works best on blonde hair or lighter shades, but the results can be fantastic on any hair colour. Plus, you can choose whether you'd like a pastel hue, like pink or silver hair dyes, or vibrant barnet, such as purple.


  • Vibrant colour
  • Makes hair feel softer


  • Colour may fade quicker depending on how often you wash your hair


L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Best semi-permanent hair dye for natural shades

L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair DyeAmazon
Price: 9.49
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The best-selling L'Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Semi-Permanent Hair Dye formula is a quick, effective way to give your hair a refresh. It lasts up to around 30 washes and comes in a 35-strong shade range. An old favourite that gives bold results whilst still retaining a natural look. We especially love the auburn hair dyes available in the range.


  • Easy to apply due to non-drip formula
  • Long-lasting colour results


  • May leave hair a little bit dry


Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non-Permanent Hair Dye

Best affordable semi-permanent hair dye

Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non Permanent Hair DyeAmazon
Price: 4.60 (was 4.99)
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Another classic, the Clairol Nice'n Easy No Ammonia Non-Permanent Hair Dye, is 100% ammonia-free and super affordable, with some shades being as low as under 5. Furthermore, Clairol has a great varied shade range, and its formula lasts up to 24 washes.


  • Natural-looking coverage
  • Gets deep into the roots


  • Won't wash out easily


Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye

Best vegan semi-permanent hair dye

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair DyeAmazon
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For a cruelty-free option, Clairol's Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent No Ammonia Vegan Hair Dye is a great choice. It enriches your hair with coconut oil and aloe vera and is made from 80 per cent naturally sourced ingredients. As well as this, at a super affordable price, it's easier than ever to go for a more sustainable option like this.


  • Long-lasting colour results
  • Contains no ammonia in formula


  • Colour slightly darker than expected


BLEACH LONDON Super Cool Colour Cream

Best pastel semi-permanent hair dye

BLEACH LONDON Super Cool Colour CreamLookFantastic
Price: 6 (was 8)

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BLEACH LONDON is the queen of edgy pastel hair, and this semi-permanent Super Cool Colour Cream dye is perfect for a temporary look that washes out in a few shampoos. To keep colour for longer, you can use a small amount of the dye in your conditioner.


  • Vibrant colour results
  • Perfect for temporary fun


  • Colour may differ on certain hair colours


SHRINE Drop It Hair Colourant Peach

Best customisable semi-permanent hair dye

SHRINE Drop It Hair Colourant PeachSHRINE
Price: 10.39 (was 12.99)

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Not only does the SHRINE Drop It Kit come in a range of so many different colours, from natural to vibrant, but you can actually customise the intensity of your hair depending on how many drops you prefer to mix in. Whether it's in your shampoo or your conditioner (which is what we'd recommend), top up your colour between appointments with this fairly easy to use semi-permanent hair dye.


  • Customise the vibrancy of your colour
  • Comes in a range of colours


  • May need more dye for longer hair


Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask

Best semi-permanent conditioning dye

Moroccanoil Color Depositing MaskAmazon
Price: 28.85
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This semi-permanent Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask works slightly differently from a traditional dye - it's a conditioning mask instead of a classic dye treatment. Its oil-infused formula conditions hair and boosts colour, perfect for use in between salon visits.


  • Vibrant colour results
  • Washes out after a few weeks


  • Colour may differ on certain hair colours


Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Colour

Best semi-permanent henna hair dye

Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair ColourHolland & Barrett
Price: 10.99

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This treatment cream lasts up to 12 washes and is enriched with henna for a more natural take on a semi-permanent hair dye. Naturtint's Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Colour is a great way to enhance your natural colour and is the best henna hair dye, a gentler alternative to typical hair dyes.


  • Free from parabens and SLS
  • No mixing required


  • Need to leave on longer than others

Is semi-permanent hair dye bad for your hair?

We spoke to some snazzy hair colouring experts about how to use semi-permanent hair dye to achieve great results. Katie Allan, founder of MAYFIVE salon and hairstylist to London Fashion Week stars and beyond, says there are some key things to remember when you're dying your hair at home.

No, is the short answer. Semi-permanent dyes are designed not to damage hair, as they don't contain hydrogen peroxide. They only change the surface of your hair, not inside the cortex of the strands. There's no developer, and most treatments are quick and easy, lasting up to a couple of months maximum.

Katie says there's no need to be worried about hair damage after using semi-permanent dye. "It only gently lifts the cuticle for the colour to sit in-between, whereas a permeant will lift the cuticle to sit inside the hair."

Does semi-permanent hair dye wash out?

Yes. Semi-permanent dyes are designed to wash out, leaving your hair the same colour it was before you dyed it. Some dyes last longer than others and can go anywhere between one and 30 washes without losing colour.

The Colour Guru and Global Head of Technical Training at Fudge Professional, Tracy Hayes, says semi-permanent hair dyes are super easy to use, and they do indeed wash out.

They are generally easy to apply," she says. "Simply massage through on clean towel-dried hair and leave for the recommended time, which is generally up to around 20 minutes. These colours do not penetrate the hair completely but just coat the surface layers and therefore last around 3 - 10 washes depending on the colour chosen."

However, if you have ultra-light or porous natural hair, some dyes can take longer to wash out or even change the colour of your hair more permanently. This can be the case with red shades or black hair dyes. If you find your skin is stained after using the dye, try this quick, easy solution to remove dye off skin.

How do you make semi-permanent dye last longer?

The best way to make your semi-permanent hair dye last longer is to avoid overwashing. With a brand new barnet, it can be tempting to keep washing it with conditioning shampoos to keep it looking fresh. However, over-shampooing can wane your colour faster, and you'll end up with a faded-looking 'do.

If you're wondering how to keep hair dye from fading, using the right products can also make a massive difference. Tracy recommends using a damage-control shampoo before you dye your hair to condition and lock in moisture.

How do you get the best results at home?

"Make sure you do your research on the right shade for your hair," says Katie. "Go by the colour that is coming from your roots, not the ends. This is because the ends are always a lighter shade.

If you want to keep it looking more natural, you can do root touch-ups and then leave out some pieces of the lighter colour you already naturally have, along with pieces of the gloss brought down," she says.

"If you're using it to cover greys, you need to be aware that it won't cover the colour 100%", Tracy says. "Semi-permanent colour will not completely colour grey hair 100%, but it can blend up to 20% and therefore mask the grey, to give a slightly translucent look to the colour and the appearance of highlights."

What's the best semi-permanent hair dye?

The best dye for you depends on how you want the results to look.

If you're looking to boost your undertones between salon appointments, you could use a conditioning hair dye mask or treatment (like the SHRINE Drop It Kit) or a hair toner. If you want a couple of days of jazzy colour, you could opt for something fun like BLEACH LONDON's pastel hair creams.

There's a whole world of semi-permanent dyes out there, from funky to subtle and everything in between. Like all hair dyes, make sure you wear gloves. Also, always perform a patch test on your skin before getting stuck in. Yes, it might be boring - but it has to be done.

Louella Berryman is the audience development executive at Bauer Media, where she works in all things digital for heat, Closer, Yours & Mother&Baby.

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