One of the most frequent questions I get asked by women in the salon is whether they should dye their hair, and if yes, then what should they use. The world of hair color can be tricky to navigate, and not just for those looking to add some extra blonde highlights. Making the decision to color your hair in order to cover grays can lead to a number of questions: Should I use a permanent color? What is the difference between semi, demi, and permanent? And what should I do?!
The best advice I can give is to talk to your colorist about your wants and needs, taking into consideration your lifestyle and hair care routine. I turned to Cutler’s New York Colorist and Redken Hair color consultant, David Stanko, for some expert advice.
“Crawl, walk and run – that’s the analogy to semi, demi and permanent hair coloring treatments,” explains David. “A semi-permanent color is ready to use, without any mixing. What you see in the bottle is what you get. This category of product was extremely popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Way more effective coloring products are available now, such as demi-permanent colorants.”
“Demi’s can color up to 50% gray, change the tone of your hair—from brassy to brunette—or they can tone down the orange in blonde. Plus, the shine and conditioning treatment they give are a major benefit. Demi’s are often intermixed to create the right shade, plus require a dedicate developer to active the colorant. They require some smarts to pick the right shade—and not go too dark; demi’s love porosity! Demi’s are perfect for first timers and color chameleons who like to change their look frequently,”
“Permanent color is probably the most used in salons to cover gray (up to 100%), lighten or darken natural hair color, and create blondes and reds alike. Permanent color is mixed with a developer of various volumes—strengths—and it becomes permanently part of the hair strand. It lasts until it grows out or gets cut out.”
David’s best advice? “Women interested in coloring their hair for the first time may want to start with a demi-type color, then graduate to a permanent color when gray hair population increases or obvious color changes are requested.”