What Is Permanent Hair Color?

Permanent hair dye lasts up to eight weeks.
A hair dyeing kit.
Hair dye is available in every shade from light to dark.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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There are numerous ways a person can change the appearance of her hair. One of them is by using permanent hair color, commonly referred to as permanent hair dye. This chemical is designed to allow color to penetrate existing strands of hair and inject them with color that does not wash away. This color will eventually grow out, meaning that new growth must be dyed if uniform coloring is to be maintained.

If a person wants to change or enhance her hair color, she may notice that there are several types of dye available. All dye, however, is not suitable for every situation. For example, when a person with dark hair wants to lighten her hair, semi-permanent dye may be available in a shade that she likes, but this type of dye is not suitable for lightening. Therefore, permanent hair color is her best option.

Permanent hair color can produce drastic changes. This is because such products lighten the hair first. Once the hair is lighter, permanent color saturates the strands. Although these products lighten the hair, they do not completely bleach it. Therefore, even when the same shade is used, if natural hair color varies, the result of hair coloring is likely to vary. This is why it is common to find charts with hair dye that show what color the hair is likely to be based on what color the hair is before the dye is applied.


There are two chemicals that play a major role in the effectiveness of permanent hair color: ammonia and peroxide. Ammonia, an alkaline, is the lightning agent. Peroxide is commonly marketed as developer when it is sold separate from hair color. This chemical strips the hair of sulfur. Ammonia and peroxide work together to achieve permanent hair coloring.

The chemicals that are in permanent hair color are generally considered harsh and can damage the hair. For this reason, it is inadvisable for a person to dye her hair too often. People are also advised to allow several weeks to lapse between the application of perms and permanent hair color.

Also, there are some permanent hair dyes that are designed for self application. However, there are others that state that they are for professional use only. When a package is labeled this way, it is generally best to heed the warning and allow a professional stylist to do the coloring. In either case, it is important to make sure that once the coloring process is concluded the hair is thoroughly washed and conditioned.


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