When it comes to choosing at-home hair colour, it’s not just about the shade. You need to find the perfect formula to match up with your hair goals too. That means the coverage, how long the colour lasts and how it cares for your hair are all important things to think about. But when you’re faced with temporary, permanent, demi-permanent and semi-permanent hair colour, we know things can get a little bit confusing.
Let's be honest: these universally used terms are actually quite misleading. So, we’re breaking down the differences for you.
Discover what sets temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent and permanent hair colour apart with this quick-to-follow guide. You’ll be working your perfect product in no time!
Quick take: the differences between temporary, permanent and semi-permanent colour
How long it lasts:
Clairol Root Touch-Up Spray or Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder.
Until your next shampoo.
No hair damage – think of these temporary touch-ups as 'makeup for hair'.
Yes, if you're using a root concealer like the Root Touch-Up Spray or
Low-commitment grey coverage that stays flawless until you shampoo it out. Ultra-natural finish that's easy to blend for a seamless effect.
Up to 10 washes.
Packed with conditioning ingredients like shea butter and argan oil to boost smoothness.
Sheer and translucent. Semi-permanent colour will subtly blend greys but won't cover completely.
Zero-damage, high-shine, conditioning formula that enhances your natural hair colour and dimension. Perfect for dull hair in need of a quick refresh.
Up to 28 washes.
Ammonia-free formula is ultra gentle. A boost of coconut oil and aloe vera makes it ideal for dry hair types.
Grey blending – perfect for those first silver strays.
Radiant, healthy-looking hair. Plus, it comes in a range of beautiful shades for every hair type.
Nice'n Easy has conditioners built into every step.
Full 100% grey hair coverage, even on stubborn silver strands.
Vibrant colour results, with complete coverage of greys. A great choice for the longest-lasting finish and bolder transformations.
Now for a closer look...
You've seen the basics on the different types of hair colour; now let's look closer at their individual benefits so that you can choose your ultimate colour...
Temporary hair colour: to touch up greys and grown-out roots on the go
Temporary hair dye is your go-to when you want a one-wash wonder shade. It gives you an instant pop of colour that you can simply shampoo out when you're ready. In the Clairol collection, our temporary Root Touch-Up Spray and Concealing Powder each make disguising greys ultra easy; just apply the Spray into roots or sweep the Powder through regrowth for cover-up you can top up on the go.
And, because they each feature micro-fine powders, they feel completely weightless on hair, blending seamlessly with your current colour. You'll find a range of shades to choose from, whether you're working a blonde shade, a red mane or brown hair. Covering up greys has never been so easy.
Semi-permanent hair colour: for sheer pops of colour to enhance your current shade
Semi-permanent hair dye lasts longer than temporary colour, but requires less commitment than a permanent or even a demi-permanent colour. Case in point? Clairol Colour Gloss Up hair gloss, which lasts for up to 15 washes when used on pre-lightened hair, so you can rock your dream hue for a couple of weeks as it gently fades.
Think of it like a tinted topcoat for locks, delivering a sheer wash of colour and megawatt shine, along with a dose of argan oil and shea butter for extra smoothness. Choose from a wide array of Colour Gloss Up shade options, including soft naturals like Warm Caramel Brownie and Toasted Almond Blonde. You'll also discover fashion colours such as Out Of The Blue and pastel shades like Rose All Day.
Plus, you can use this semi-permanent dye to correct orange tones in already coloured hair, with Play It Cool Blonde bringing balance to blonde hair when strands start to steer too warm. And there's no mixing; simply apply your go-to hue directly onto damp hair, leave it on for between two minutes and 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Demi-permanent hair colour: for long-lasting, bold colour with no ammonia
Demi-permanent hair colours are like the midway point between semi and permanent shades. They last longer than a semi-permanent hair dye but not as long as a permanent hue. Unlike many permanent shades, they also boast an ammonia-free formula. This means they don't use ammonia to completely open up the hair cuticle – something that most permanent hues do so that pigment can be deposited inside the hair shaft.
Instead, demi-permanent dyes wrap around and just under the outer cuticle of the hair, veiling strands in vivid colour that gradually fades away. So, if you want something longer-lasting than temporary or semi-permanent dye, reach for a demi-permanent hair dye like Natural Instincts. With coconut oil and aloe vera to keep hair soft and hydrated, it's gentle, effective, and gives you vibrant flawlessness for up to 28 washes.
Permanent hair colour: for the ultimate in long wear with intense vibrancy
This is your longest-lasting colour option. If you want salon-grade colour (without the time-consuming salon visits!), reach for a permanent colour. Not only will you achieve up to 100% grey coverage, but you'll also get show-stopping vibrancy from your chosen shade. Seriously, the results are TikTok-worthy. Our most popular permanent product is Nice'n Easy Crème, which develops in just 25 minutes and comes in a variety of incredible shades.
And, finally, if it's just root coverage you crave, try permanent Root Touch-Up; a sweep-on formula that makes greys vanish in 10 minutes. The easy-to-use applicator brush lets you zero in on silvery strays for no roots, no greys and no trips to the salon. Plus, it lasts for up to three weeks, so you can brush on your perfect shade and wear with confidence.
Want more tips on the different colour types? Discover everything there is to know about doing a root touch-up at home.