Can You Put Permanent Hair Color Over Semi Permanent?

Permanent hair color is a dye that chemically alters the hair shaft, providing a long-lasting color that typically grows out as hair regrows. It penetrates the hair cuticle, making the color change more enduring compared to temporary or semi-permanent options.

You can apply permanent hair color over semi-permanent hair dye. Semi-permanent color doesn’t penetrate the hair shaft deeply, it creates a temporary stain on the outer layers. Applying permanent color can cover and modify the existing color effectively, providing longer-lasting results. It’s essential to choose a shade close to your desired outcome and consider the condition of your hair for optimal results.

You can apply permanent hair color over semi-permanent dye. It’s advisable to wait a few weeks between applications to minimize potential damage and allow the semi-permanent color to fade. Always perform a strand test first to ensure desired results and avoid unexpected color outcomes.

How Permanent and  Semi-Permanent  Hair Color Works

Permanent and semi-permanent hair colors work in different ways to change or enhance hair color. Permanent hair color penetrates the hair shaft and alters the natural color by lifting the existing pigment and depositing new color molecules. It often contains ammonia and peroxide to open the hair cuticle and allow the color to penetrate deeply, providing long-lasting results. 

On the other hand, semi-permanent hair color doesn’t penetrate as deeply and only coats the outer hair shaft. It usually lacks ammonia and has lower levels of peroxide, making it a gentler option. Semi-permanent color gradually fades with each wash, so it’s a good choice for those who want a temporary change or to experiment with different shades without a long-term commitment. Both types of hair color offer versatility, allowing individuals to express their style and personality through their hair.

Compatibility of Permanent and Semi-Permanent Hair Color

AspectPermanent Hair ColorSemi-Permanent Hair Color
PenetrationPenetrates deeply into the hair shaft.Coats the outer layer of the hair shaft.
Chemical CompositionContains ammonia and higher levels of peroxide.Typically lacks ammonia and has lower levels of peroxide.
Color Change DurationProvides long-lasting results; color change is permanent.Offers a temporary change; color gradually fades with washes.
Commitment LevelRequires a more significant commitment due to lasting color.Allows for experimentation with less long-term commitment.
Suitability for Gray HairEffective in covering gray hair completely.Can blend with gray hair but might not fully cover it.
Hair Damage PotentialMay cause more damage due to stronger chemicals.Generally considered gentler with less potential for damage.
Application FrequencyInfrequent application as color lasts until new growth.The more frequent application is needed as color fades with time.

Steps for Applying Permanent Hair Color over Semi-Permanent

Applying Permanent Hair Color over Semi-Permanent

1. Prepare Your Hair:  Start by washing your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo to remove any residue from the semi-permanent color. Towel-dry your hair gently, leaving it slightly damp for better color absorption.

2. Section Your Hair:  Divide your hair into manageable sections using hair clips. This helps ensure even distribution of the permanent color and makes the application process more systematic.

3. Mix the Permanent Hair Color: Follow the instructions on the permanent hair color kit to prepare the color mixture. Usually, this involves combining the colorant and developer. Wear protective gloves during this step to avoid skin contact.

4. Apply the Permanent Color: Begin applying the permanent color from the roots, working your way down to the tips of each section. Use a brush or applicator for precision. Make sure to saturate each strand thoroughly to achieve an even and consistent result.

5. Wait and Rinse: Allow the permanent color to develop according to the recommended processing time in the instructions. Once the time is up, rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Follow up with a color-safe conditioner to help maintain the vibrancy of your new permanent hair color.

Maintaining Color Longevity

Maintaining the longevity of hair color involves adopting a few simple practices to keep your chosen shade vibrant for an extended period. For both permanent and semi-permanent colors, it’s essential to use color-safe or sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. Washing your hair with cool water helps seal the hair cuticle, preserving color and preventing premature fading.

Minimizing sun exposure and using protective products, such as hats or UV hair sprays, guards against color degradation caused by sunlight. Avoiding excessive heat styling and incorporating deep conditioning treatments can also contribute to prolonged color vibrancy. Lastly, regular touch-ups for roots (in the case of permanent color) or reapplication (for semi-permanent) will ensure a consistent and fresh appearance.

Tips for a Successful Application

1. Prepare Your Hair: Begin with clean, dry hair. Avoid using conditioner before application, as it can create a barrier that hinders color absorption. Ensure your hair is free of styling products as well.

2. Protect Your Skin and Clothes: Apply a layer of petroleum jelly or a barrier cream around your hairline and ears to prevent staining on your skin. Wear old clothing or use a cape to shield your clothes from potential color splatters.

3. Follow Mixing Instructions: If your hair color requires mixing, follow the instructions carefully. Use the provided tools, such as brushes or gloves, to ensure an even and mess-free application.

4. Section Your Hair: Divide your hair into manageable sections using clips. This makes it easier to apply the color evenly and ensures that every strand is covered, especially if you have thick or long hair.

5. Timing Matters: Adhere to the recommended processing time specified in the instructions. Set a timer to avoid leaving the color on for too long, which can lead to undesired results. Once the time is up, rinse your hair thoroughly and follow up with the recommended after-care steps for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Put Permanent Hair Color Over Semi-Permanent Color?

Yes, you can. The semi-permanent color will act as a base, and the permanent color will further enhance or change the shade. However, the final result may vary based on the colors used.

Do I Need to Remove Semi-Permanent Color Before Applying Permanent Color?

Generally, no. Permanent color can be applied over semi-permanent color without removing it. The existing color may influence the final outcome, so choose a shade close to or compatible with the current color.

Will Permanent Color Completely Cover Semi-Permanent Color?

Permanent color has better coverage capabilities, but complete coverage depends on factors like the color contrast between the two and the condition of your hair. It’s advisable to perform a strand test to assess the result beforehand.

How Long Should I Wait Between Semi-Permanent and Permanent Coloring?

While there’s no strict rule, it’s recommended to wait a few weeks between color applications. This allows your hair to recover and ensures better absorption of the new color.

Can I Go Back to Semi-Permanent After Using Permanent Color?

Yes, you can switch back to a semi-permanent color. Wait until the permanent color fades or grows out, and then apply the semi-permanent color as desired. Keep in mind that the transition might take time.


Applying permanent hair color over semi-permanent color is generally possible, but there are factors to consider. Since the semi-permanent color only coats the outer hair shaft, it may not provide a strong base for the permanent color to adhere to. Results can vary, and it’s essential to choose a permanent color close to your current shade to achieve the desired outcome. 

Conducting a strand test and consulting with a professional stylist can help ensure compatibility and avoid unexpected color results. Overall, while it’s feasible to transition from semi-permanent to permanent color, careful consideration and proper application techniques are key to achieving the best and most satisfying results.

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