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May 01, 2020
Here we look at how marketeers play sleight of hand with our thinking and our emotions to sell us stuff. You’ll be better prepared for more conscious choices with a little knowledge.
Semi-Permanent Colour? Sounds straightforward doesn’t it? You’d think it means not lasting? But on long hair it could actually take four years between hello and goodbye. It’s a term abused mostly in retail aisles, but a lot of hairdressers misunderstand it too.
What does Semi-Permanent mean to you? Forty years ago, in professional circles it meant a vegetable colour/colour conditioner that lay on the surface of hair for 6-12 washes and then left no trace. The perfect product to overcome fears about commitment and maintenance, but allow experimentation or a general enriching of an existing colour.
But semi-permanent is a marketing term that’s been hijacked and reframed over the years to lure people in. Those that just want to dabble, thinking it’s low commitment. Nowadays the word semi-permanent is used to market weak permanent tints. So the benefit disappears after 6-12 washes but the hair now has the textural qualities of tinted hair. Some of the hair’s own molecules were replaced by the semi-permanent tint molecules.
Does that matter? Not if you are colouring your hair all the time anyway. But with long virgin hair where you just wanted to try something temporary, or if highlighting hair and keeping the natural base contrast in between, it matters a lot. The once virgin (not chemically processed) hair is then processed and so more susceptible to colour change in UV light. That natural long dark brown hair may start to throw up more red. You’ll need to colour again.
What irks me is misrepresenting the commitment some colours entail to clients that may just want a one-night stand. In which case, semi-permanent colour isn’t the right choice. These weak tints are a brilliant addition to a colourists repertoire and absolutely the right thing to choose in certain circumstances. For instance, where a gentler colour than full tint is required, or where the gradual fading of the colour is preferred to high contrast root regrowth.
So to recap – If you are buying a semi-permanent that asks you to mix two things together then that is a weak permanent tint, which will change the hair structure until it’s cut out. If it’s from a single tube or bottle, then this sits on the surface for 6-12 washes and will leave eventually without a trace.
In Lockdown, don’t rush to the chemist to buy semi-permanent hair dye straightaway. Try using a touch-up pencil for your roots - you can get different tones - and they are very good to tide people over.
Otherwise, I’d recommend a vegetable colour, something you’ll apply direct without mixing. It’s gentler, but may still do the job. At least for now. Or email email@example.com for a Zoom consultation and colour pack. Our colourists can talk you through the technique at home and/or watch a tutorial on our YouTube Channel.
Michael Van Clarke
September 30, 2023
September 29, 2023
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