Hair, unlike a suit, watch or a pair of trainers, is the one style statement you can’t just slip off. Which means it’s worth ensuring yours – whether brown, salt and pepper or white-out blond – is sending all the right signals.
In an age of ‘Brotox’ and brow sculptors for guys, the vanity of man dyeing his hair is old news. So why then, if we love doing it so much, are we still getting it wrong?
To help you get the best dye job possible, we consulted the colouring cognoscenti for their advice on everything from hiding greys to a complete overhaul. Colour yourself informed.
Should I Dye My Hair?
Having the right hair colour can make a big difference to how you look, which makes finding the right shade for your skin tone so important. As a general rule, you want a hair colour that’s the opposite of your skin’s undertones. To find out which camp you fall into, check the underside of your arm. Those with cool skin tones have blue or purple veins and suit warmer colours, while warm skin tones have more greenish-looking veins and suit cooler colours.
Hair Type & Colour
Unfortunately for some, switching up your hair isn’t a level dyeing field. Generally, the darker, thicker or curlier your hair, the harder it will be to bleach. That’s not to say a new ‘do is off the table. However, it may take several treatments to get the desired effect, which can cause damage to your hair. If you aren’t the owner of fine, light natural hair, consider leaving this one to the experts.
For most men, it’s the tell-tale signs of ageing that gets them reaching for the dye dispenser. However, even if you’re looking to make the change earlier in life, the number of candles on your cake still matter. Far from us to put a limit on what guys should do, some looks are better left to the youth. Past your late 30s, sidestep neon pink in favour of something a little more classic.
You can take all the ‘what colour should I dye my hair’ quizzes the internet can muster, but no matter what your star sign/spirit animal/favourite Disney princess leads you to an answer, it won’t be the right one if it doesn’t suit your personal style. Consider factors such as your job (and the dress code it requires) as well as everything already hanging in your wardrobe before even picking up a colour swatch.
Hair Colour Types
Whether you’re in the mood to try out the latest hair color trend or dyeing your hair is already a permanent fixture in your hair journey, it’s important to know about the different types of hair color—including permanent hair color and semi-permanent hair color—and how they each interact with your locks. Not all hair color is created equal, and each type serves a different purpose.
Understanding the eight different types of hair color will allow you to make the right choice and feel confident in your new beauty look—whether you plan on keeping it permanently or not. Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know to determine which type of hair color is best for you. Behold: The ultimate guide to the different types of hair dye.
It’s always recommended to seek out a professional colorist or, at the very least, advice of your barber or stylist before you consider coloring your hair home.
Certain types of color formulas are better for particular types of hair or results. Let’s look at each type of color.
Hair Colour Type 1 : Temporary Color
Temporary color comes in a variety of forms, including rinses, shampoos, gels, foams, and sprays. Temporary colors simply coat the hair shaft, rather than penetrating it, making the color fairly easy to rinse out. Temporary color is available in brighter, more unnatural shades and is often used for Halloween or costume parties. It should be noted that hair that is very dry or damaged may allow some penetration of the hair shaft, so the color may linger through several washings.
Have an out-there color you want to take for a spin? The L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray is a temporary hair color spray that you can wash out at the end of the day. Try one of the many fun shades available and take a new hue for a test drive. Another option is the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup 1-Day Color, which is another temporary hair color that washes out in just one shampoo and comes in an array of colors. If you like to get super creative, hair makeup may be the route you should go, as you can mix multiple shades together for a custom color. So fun!
Hair Colour Type 2 : Semi-Permanent Color
Semi-permanent color is just that — semi-permanent and will last for four to eight shampoos or for a few weeks. Semi-permanent color can often be applied as a cream or rinse and is made up of a smaller molecule, which can penetrate the hair shaft. Because semi-permanent color contains lower concentrations of developer (peroxide or ammonia), they are less damaging to the hair and safer for damaged hair. Semi-permanent dyes darken hair or add color, but cannot lighten hair. Because the color fades over time, you will not have to deal with the hassle of having your roots touched up. Semi-permanent color will not completely cover gray hair but will darken it and make it less noticeable.
There are a myriad of benefits to using semi-permanent color, including that it can help add gloss and shine to dull-looking hair, it’s great to use when growing out permanent color, and it can be used to help provide temporary root touch-ups. To reap those benefits, try the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color. The semi-permanent color fades in four to ten shampoos so you can try a trendy color and transform your style without committing to a new color for the long haul.
Editor’s note: Like temporary color, if your hair is porous it could retain semi-permanent color more, meaning you may get more wear between applications. Keep that in mind if you’re banking on only making a short-term change!
Hair Colour Type 3 : Demi-Permanent Color
Demi-permanent color is more permanent than semi-permanent color. Like semi-permanent color, a demi-permanent color contains no ammonia and will also not lighten the hair, but it does deposit color more effectively than a semi-permanent color, so the effect will last for around 20 or 30 shampoos (or up to 12 weeks). Often, salons use demi-permanent color as a refresher for existing color or to blend away gray hair.
Hair Colour Type 4 : Permanent Color
Permanent color is normally applied in the form of a cream and completely penetrates the hair all the way to the cortex (this is where melanin, which gives the hair its color, is located). Permanent color combines with the hair’s natural pigments — the two combined form larger molecules, which become permanently trapped in the cortex. As a result, permanent color will not wash out (although it may fade) and can only be removed by using a bleaching or stripping product (or, of course, waiting for the hair to grow and cutting it off). Permanent color is best used for those desiring to completely cover gray hair or for creating an entirely new color altogether.
Despite its long-lasting benefits, permanent hair color will eventually have to be reapplied due to new hair growth. Also, depending on your base color and what you’d like to achieve, you may have to gradually color your hair to achieve your desired look. While it would be great to go from dark to platinum blonde in one sitting, slow and steady usually wins the permanent hair color race. Want a few permanent hair color recs? Take your pick from our best options below.
L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference: This permanent hair dye will give you fade-defying color for up to eight weeks. The hair dye comes in over 50 luminous shades, giving you endless opportunities to change your look.
L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme: Need a formula that will cover even the most stubborn grays? This hair dye is for you! There are over 30 beautiful shades to choose from that will leave you with rich, radiant color and 100% resistant gray coverage.
Hair Colour Type 5 : Highlights
Not every look requires all-over color, which is where hair highlights come into play. These are achieved by placing the color on different segments of the hair to help promote depth, tone, and shade. The chunky-looking highlights of the past are no longer the biggest trend, now a more dimensional, subtle look has become the go-to way to help refresh tired locks. Instead of being limited to one type of highlights, there are quite a few you can choose from. These include:
This highlighting technique involves painting on highlights where your hair naturally hits the light, helping to give your hair a more youthful, natural-looking glow. Since balayage involves strategic placement, this highlighting technique is best left to the pros.
Highlight Type 3 : Lowlights
Instead of picking strands to lighten, this technique involves introducing darker tones to the hair for added dimension that’s perfect for a seasonal hair update.
Highlight Type 4 : Texture Highlights
This style will incorporate different shades of highlights to create a multi-dimensional final look. To try it out for yourself, reach for the L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Highlights, which helps you achieve a multi-faceted spectrum of pure blonde highlights in one easy step.
Editor’s note: Most highlights for hair are done with permanent color, but they are much easier to change out than a full-coverage dye job. If you’re an at-home hair color novice, it’s usually best to consult a professional colorist before trying out a new hair highlighting technique.
Hair Colour Type 6 : Root Colour
For some people, gray hair can be the bane of their existence. In this case, you may not need or want a full color dye job, so a root touch up may be the best way to help maintain your natural color. The great news is that root concealer products can range from temporary to permanent, and there are plenty of new options to cover gray hair quickly and easily.
One of our favorites is temporary root cover up spray, which is a great way to help conceal the appearance of gray roots. If you need a quick solution, these sprays distribute a fine-mist of color that washes out with your next shampoo.
Temporary root concealers are not a great permanent solution—hence the name—but they are amazing for last-minute events and touch-ups. Sound like what you need? Try the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up, which covers up gray roots in just seconds.
For those times when you may be in a pinch and need an on-the-go option, we’ve got you covered there, too! The L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen allows for easy, smooth, and precise application to hide even the most pesky grays on any hair type or texture. Even better—the pen is small enough to stash in just about any purse or suitcase.
Hair Colour Type 7 : Hair Bleach
If you have naturally dark brown or brunette hair, there is a good chance you’ll need a hair color bleach to lighten your hair before dying it to a lighter shade or going blonde altogether. While bleach is a great way to lighten and brighten your hair, be aware that using it can lead to damage. Here are a few at-home bleaching kits to consider.
You’re likely familiar with henna tattoos—you know, the ones you used to beg your parents for on the boardwalk during summer vacation. But henna isn’t only used to adorn the skin with swirling designs, it’s also used to color hair. Derived from the henna plant, henna hair dye typically gives hair a reddish hue, providing shine and color vibrancy in the process.
Henna may be a good option if you’ve previously experienced an allergic reaction when dyeing your hair (don’t forget to spot test!), as natural henna is usually hypoallergenic. Henna also may be beneficial for those with dandruff, so it could be worth a try if you’re fed up with your itchy, flaky scalp.
Finally, once you’ve colored your hair to your liking, make sure to take care of it with these essential maintenance tips:
1- Use a shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for color-treated hair.
2- To avoid your hair color from fading in the sun, make sure to wear a hat or appropriate sunscreen (i.e. hair products that contain UV protection) when exposed.
3- Your hair should be dampened with spring water before getting into chlorine; this will help dilute the chlorine, which normally damages hair’s color.
4- Use a wide-toothed comb and dab your hair dry with a towel, instead of drying it roughly with a towel.
Hopefully, these simple tips have helped you understand the coloring process; now you can get the hair color you’ve always wanted.
Until next week, keep on stylin’.
Hair Dye Q&A
What Colour Should I Dye My Hair?
You wouldn’t eat the same thing for breakfast every day, so why should you settle for having the same hair colour day in day out? Of course, pouring hot sauce on your Cornflakes might be ‘different’, but it doesn’t mean it’s better. Which is a long-winded way of saying whatever colour you pick should still be right for you, and that involves taking into account all the variables above, including your skin tone, age and hair type.
How Often Should I Dye My Hair?
Whether you opt for a professional treatment or an at-home bottle job, there’s a fine line between maintaining your roots and overdoing it on the dye. How often you can colour your hair depends on factors such as your hair type, natural colour, and what shade you are changing to. However, you are still dolloping chemicals on your ‘do, so most professionals suggest leaving at least two weeks between each treatment to minimise damage.
What Should I Do Before Dyeing My Hair?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a hair dye virgin, or it went horrifically wrong the last time. To avoid the latter happening again, there are several things to swerve before cracking open a bottle: chiefly styling products such as hair gel, straighteners and hair dryers, and chemically relaxers. All of these either add to the damage caused by bleaching chemicals or slow the rate at which the bleach takes effect on hair.
How To Get Hair Dye Off Skin & Hands
Hair dye has come a long way since the Elizabethan era when women used urine to give their locks a yellowy tinge (gross). In fact, today’s bottle jobs are so effective that the skin on your face, neck and hands can suffer the same consequences as your strands. To avoid this, always wear gloves, and try putting a thin layer of Vaseline or baby oil along your hairline before dyeing. To remove stains, apply a small amount of laundry detergent, dish soap or olive oil on a damp washcloth and gently rub the skin until it has disappeared.
Can You Dye Wet Hair?
When it comes to hair dye, whether you should apply it to wet or dry hair depends on a number of different factors, such as hair type, and there is plenty of contradictory information floating around. While some say wet locks are better protected from damage, others believe it could block the dye from working. If in doubt, stick to what’s recommended in the instructions list – the advice is usually there for a reason.
Does Hair Dye Expire?
Before you think “what’s the worst that could happen?” and slather on a bottle that’s been at the back of the cupboard for six months – stop. Unopened dye doesn’t always have a set expiration date (if it does, it will be printed on the bottle), but if the consistency is off or the product looks separated, get it in the bin and buy a new one.
How Long Does Hair Dye Last?
It’s worth sticking with semi- or demi-permanent dyes unless you’re 100 per cent confident you know what you’re doing. These usually last around 28 shampoos, but to save your scalp from drying out, it’s wise to skip a wash every now and then so this can be between four and six weeks.