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How Long Does Permanent Hair Dye Last? A Dye Hard Question

by Sherri Owens

Permanent hair dye can last between 6 to 8 weeks before fading. Of course, as your hair does grow during this period, you will need to get touch ups at your roots.

I have been a colorist for a couple of decades and the one question my clients always have for me is, how long does permanent hair dye last after the first application? Well, luckily for them - and you - I have worked with various types of dyes and brands. So, I can give you a pretty good idea of when you need to come in for your next touch up.

Below I will tell you everything I have learned about it.

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Will Permanent Hair Dye Ever Go Away?

Yes, the reality is that permanent hair color doesn't actually last. At most, it can last between 6 to 8 weeks on regular or grey hair.

You may be wondering, why aren't permanent hair dyes, well, permanent?

There is no denying that permanent dye is more potent than other dyes, including semi-permanent hair dye.

When this is applied to the hair strands, the permanent hair dye penetrates the hair cuticle as well as the cortex. As such, the color molecules are more tightly bonded to the hair shaft and the hair cuticles.

Close up of a Woman's Pastel Hair

Despite this, permanent hair dye lasts no more than two months at a time. There are two reasons for this:

First, your hair grows from the root. This means that the new growth doesn't have any permanent hair color on it. In turn, your hair's natural color will be exposed after a few weeks.

The other reason the dye doesn't last is due to permanent hair dye fade.


Why Does Permanent Hair Dye Wash Out?

While the permanent hair color may not actually leave your hair strands, color fade does occur.

This is because permanent hair color is made up of various pigments. Some pigments fade faster than others - this is largely down to pigment size.

As you wash your hair, the dye molecules simply dissolve with the water. Due to this, some hair color washes out each time.

So, even though the permanent hair dye doesn't fully leave your hair, the hair color fades to a different shade.

How Long Does It Take for Permanent Hair Dye to Fade Completely?

Here is the kicker - permanent hair dye will never fade completely, unlike semi-permanent dye. To remove it completely, you have to cut the parts of the hair that contain the permanent dye.

It will fade down to its base pigment, however. There are different factors that will determine how long this will take.

You may notice that the permanent hair color starts to fade at six to eight weeks. However, it may be a couple of weeks more until the fading is more significant.

What Permanent Hair Dye Color Lasts the Longest?

Dark brown and black hair dye often lasts the longest. As they are so dark and made up of several pigments, they take a bit longer to fade.

With brown colored hair, the fading isn't as noticeable. This is because brown hair dye tends to work well with most natural hair colors, so the dyed hair blends in better, even when fading.

In terms of the type of hair dye, oil based dyes last longer. This is because they don't wash out of the hair as easily.

It is also a good idea to invest in the best brands in the industry like Revlon, Garnier, and L'Oreal Paris. As these produce higher quality hair dyes, the hair color will likely last longer.

Bunch of Hair Care Products on a Tray

What Can Cause Your Permanent Dye to Fade?

Here are some of the reasons your permanent color may be washing out sooner than you like:

Dyeing Damaged Hair

If you have damaged or porous hair, the hair color doesn't bind as well. This makes it easier for the dye to be washed out of your hair every time it's rinsed.

Dyeing Badly Bleached Hair

Have you recently applied hydrogen peroxide to your hair or attempted to bleach it at home? If so, any agents still in the hair can end up neutralizing the pigments in the hair color.

As a result, the hair color will fade more quickly.

Washing Your Hair Too Often

As I have already mentioned, pigments can be washed out. So, the more often you wash your hair, the faster the dye will be washed out as well.

Using the Wrong Hair Care Products

If you're using hair care products with harsh chemicals or those that contain sulfates, these components act as stripping agents.

Every time you use these, you are essentially stripping your hair of the dye molecules as well.

Dying Blonde Hair at Saloon

How to Make Your Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer

Now that you know how long permanent hair dye lasts, your next order of business is to figure out how to get it to last even longer. Here are the top tips you can use:

Prep Your Hair Before Dyeing

It is always best to dye healthy hair. For one thing, the dye job will be more even. What's more, the dye will also last longer.

If you're suffering from bleached strands, heat damage, or other issues, try to whip your hair into shape before getting it dyed.

You can try hair masks, deep conditioning treatments, or even get professional treatments until you have healthier hair.

In case some of the damage is too bad to undo, you may want to consider cutting your hair. This is also great for getting rid of split ends.

Get Your Hair Colored at a Salon

I know that getting your hair dyed at a salon isn't cheap. However, this is a good way to ensure that your hair color will last longer.

A colorist can improve color delivery to your strands, resulting in a more even look. Also, the pigments will be more fully embedded in your hair, reducing how quickly they will wash out.

At the very least, try to get your hair lightened at a salon if you are planning on applying darker dye over it.

Professionally lightened hair is often a great deal less damaged.

Wash Your Hair Less

If you're someone who washes your hair every day, you may want to consider cutting it down.

Try to wash your hair three to four times a week instead. You can use dry shampoo in between to keep your locks looking fresh and prevent them from appearing greasy.

If you really need to wash it due to the weather or because you work out, avoid using shampoo every day.

Young Woman with Platinum Blonde and Pastel Hair

Use Colour Safe Treatments

Choose a color safe shampoo - there are just a few shampoos that are actually good for dyed hair. So, it's a good idea to invest in a good brand.

This will keep your hair looking good and save you money as you won't have to freshen up your look as often.

Avoid Heat Styling

Heat styling can damage your hair and strip it of color. So, if you want to make that shade last, try to cut down on how often you use styling tools.

It is also a good idea to use heat protection products on your locks prior to styling them. This may cut down on the fading a little.

Consider Colour Rinses

Color rinses are treatments that act as semi-permanent hair dye. They don't remain for very long and are often gone after a few washes.

However, these rinses are a great way to freshen up your hair in between a full blown dye appointment. It can also help you to look nice for an important event or day.

Now that you know how long permanent hair dye lasts, you can go into your next appointment fully informed. You now know what color to choose, what dye to ask for, and more.

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