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Semi-Permanent Hair Dye for Gray Hair: Does it Work?

Read our short semi-permanent hair color guide!

PSA: different hair colors deliver different levels of gray coverage, meaning not every at-home hair color is going to camouflage silver strands. So, if you're thinking about using a semi-permanent hair dye for gray hair, make sure you read the tips below first. We've got everything you need to know to tick off your hair goals... 

Hold up – what is a semi-permanent hair color?

Good question. Semi-permanent dye is pretty much what it sounds like: a hair color that lasts longer than temporary sprays and powders but doesn't hang around forever. It's also free of ammonia, which means that unlike permanent colors, it doesn't open up the hair cuticle and deposit pigments inside the strand – instead, it lays just under the hair cuticles that are already slightly lifted from daily wear.

Plus, you don't have to mix semi-permanent color with a developer; the shades come ready to apply right out of the bottle so you can easily get the color of dreams. So, it's low on mess, high on speed and zero on damage. It also gives either an ultra-natural color result, enhancing your existing texture and tone or can provide brilliant fun colors on pre-lightened hair. The dream. 

So, can semi-permanent dye cover up gray hair?

This is the question you came for, right? And the answer is yes and no. Semi-permanent hair dyes will lightly blend rather than cover gray hair. So, you won’t get the same intensity you'd find in a permanent hair color, like Clairol Nice'n Easy, but the result is ultra natural-looking if you want a sheer result. Think softly blended and beautiful. Try Clairol Color Gloss Up, which is perfect for when you have less than 25% gray hairs or if subtle coverage with unreal shine is your vibe. Then, if you want more concentrated, longer-lasting camouflage later on, you can graduate to a high-pigment demi-permanent hair dye, like Clairol Natural Instincts, or a permanent hair dye. Simple.

What semi-permanent dye should I use to soften grays?

If you have less than 25% grays and you're looking for sheer coverage, Color Gloss Up is your go-to, packed with conditioning shea butter and argan oil. It enhances your natural color while veiling strands in a glossy, translucent tint. Plus, it comes in a range of shades, from natural hair colors for blondes, brunettes and redheads, to bold hair colors like Blazin’ Red and Teal Time. Like we said, it's not going to cover up those silver strands, but it will give a blended finish that you can bump up with the Root Touch-Up collection. (But more on that below!) 

How long does a semi-permanent hair dye last?

All semi-permanent hair dyes are different, but if it's Color Gloss Up you're using, you can expect to enjoy high-shine, softly tinted hair for up to 10 washes. And because it's so quick to apply (it only takes up to 15 minutes to develop!), touching it up is easy. As soon as your dream hue fades, restore your head of glossy color with a quick 15-minute touch-up. 

How to apply Color Gloss Up

No matter if you're low on time, Color Gloss Up offers ultra-speedy semi-permanent results. Follow the steps below to get the most out of this color-depositing hair mask... 

1. Wash hair with shampoo for your hair type

Hair needs to be clean and damp when you apply Color Gloss Up, so get prepped by washing with a shampoo that's tailored to your hair's unique needs. If you have dry hair, reach for a moisturizing formula packed with vitamins, or if you have oily hair, choose a shampoo that deeply cleanses and balances your scalp.

2. Remove excess water and prepare your kit

Squeeze out any excess water from your hair like you would before you apply your usual conditioner, then put on plastic gloves and grab your tube of color.

3. Apply your semi-permanent hair dye

Apply your Color Gloss Up shade in sections, taking care to really saturate strands. Use fingertips or a wide toothcomb to evenly distribute the dye. Then, leave it on for between two and 15 minutes. The longer you leave it on, the more the color will pop. 

4. Rinse your hair and glow

Once your semi-permanent hair dye has developed, rinse it out thoroughly with lukewarm water. The nourishing formula means you don’t need to follow up with a conditioner – just dry, style and glow with the glossiest mane. 

Expert tip: Remember when using any semi-permanent dye to always perform a skin allergy test 48 hours prior to each use, even when the product has been used before. Simply apply a small amount of the product to a clean area of skin inside the elbow. Leave undisturbed for 45 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water, dry gently and leave the test area undisturbed for 48 hours. If there are any signs of rash, redness, swelling burning, itching or similar effects, the product must not be applied. If any of those signs occur within the 45-minute time period, rinse immediately.

3 tips to boost gray coverage

So you've got your semi-permanent color on, but you've decided you want to bump up gray coverage. No problem! These quick and easy-to-use hair products will keep those silver hairs under wraps... 

1. Apply a permanent hair dye just on the roots

If you love the sheer finish of a semi-permanent dye on the lengths but you also want to hide gray regrowth, try teaming Color Gloss Up all over with Root Touch-Up By Nice‘n Easy on the root area. It’s a permanent hair color that disguises gray roots and white hair in just 10 minutes, with a precise applicator brush that lets you ‘spot treat’ the strands your semi-permanent dye doesn't cover. This way, you reap the zero damage, shine-boosting benefits of Color Gloss Up through the lengths, but silver strays are also camouflaged for up to three weeks. Just remember to choose a shade that closely matches your natural color if you’ve never colored your hair before.

2. Combine semi-permanent dye with a gray root spray

Prefer a temporary hair dye on the roots? Enter the Root Touch-Up Spray, which works a little like a tinted dry shampoo to instantly disguise even the most stubborn gray hairs. You’ve got a range of easy-to-blend shades to choose from, so whether you’ve got blonde hair, brown hair or black hair, there’s a spray-on solution for you. Simply mist through regrowth and go.

3. Erase gray and white hair on the go with a root powder

Here's another temporary fix to keep harsh roots and grays at bay: the Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder, available in five adaptable and blendable shades. It looks like an eyeshadow compact, complete with a pressed powder and a precise brush for on-the-go application. Simply brush it directly onto regrowth for coverage that lasts until your next shampoo. Meanwhile, your semi-permanent hair dye will shimmer through the lengths, so you're getting the best of both worlds. What could be better?

Bonus: The Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder can also be used on brows, letting you define your arches in just a few sweeps – while ensuring your root color and brow color match. 

Looking for more tips to disguise silver roots? Discover our complete guide on the best types of hair dye for covering gray hair.

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