In 2008, a study was done which found out the percentage of people who dyed their hair. The results were taken from each and every first world nation and it found that about 68% women on an average use hair dyes and around 50% of men use hair dyes.

Usually people dye their hair for one of the 3 reasons:

  • Cover the grey hair
  • Change the style
  • Restore them to their original colour.

Someone who is interested in dying hair soon discovers that there are several options and kinds of dyes they can choose from and each one of them have their different characteristic trait and henceforth the effect.

Things to know

  1. Types of hair Dyes
  2. Temporary dyes
  3. Semi & Demi Permanent Dyes
  4. Permanent Oxidative
  5. Permanent Progressive
  6. Conclusion

Types of Hair Dyes

Firstly there is no such thing as natural organic permanent hair dye. Those are just marketing strategies of the companies. There are 3 categories that dyes fall into:

  • Temporary
  • Semi-Permanent and demi permanent.
  • Permanent

Temporary hair dyes:

These can come into many forms like a rinse gel shampoo, colour mousse or sprays. These are dyes that are for one time use for certain events and costumes. Ingredients of it can vary among additives, surfactants and alkaline and catatonic colour molecules too big to penetrate the cuticle so their effect mainly occurs on the surface.

The cationic colour molecules have positive charge against your negative hair, so due to the electrostatic effect it sticks to the surface of hair. After you apply it, you can take it off with 1-2 two shampoo washes.

Semi and demi permanent Dyes:

Larger dye molecules that do not penetrate hair cuticleSmaller dye molecules that do penetrate the hair cuticle
It is less permanentIt is little more permanent
Alkaline enough to slightly lift the hair cuticles to only partially penetrate hair shaftIt is alkaline enough to burn the cuticles so the small dye molecule easily penetrate the cuticle
When the chemicals in the semi hair dye comes in contact with air, it oxidises and darkens and since the colour molecules are too big to penetrate the cortex, it washes off after 5-6 washes.Since it completely penetrates the cortex it is more similar to permanent oxidative hair dyes. But it washes off in 25-30 washes.

Permanent Dyes:

Basically there are two different types of permanent hair dye. Oxidative and progressive. They are both permanent types of hair dyes but have many differences.

Oxidative dye

It is a colouring technique that penetrates dye molecules deep into the haircortex. It’s the most drastic and permanent method of dying hair. Oxidative hair dyes have 2 main components ammonia hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide.

Part One

The ammonia hydroxide has tiny dye chemicals molecules called couplers added to it. Coupler molecular are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft they come in primary colours like red, yellow, green and blue. Mixtures of primary molecules can make any other colour.

So hence why the mixing skills are very important in this task. Ammonia has an alkaline pH of 11, so its role is to swell up and lift the hair cuticles allowing these tiny coupler molecules to enter more easily.

Part Two

The second component to an oxidative permanent hair dye is hydrogen peroxide which is used to simultaneously bleach your natural hair picking and developing a new colour, hence why its often called the developer.

Its usually in the form of a light cream so it can spread easily. We mix these 2 components and then apply immediately. Once applied the alkaline pH of ammonia causes the hair cuticles to swell up lift and even dissolve some sections.

This allows the colour molecules to easily penetrate the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes which initiates a chemical reaction called polymerisation reaction. That causes the dyed molecules to combine and increase in size hence why the hydrogen peroxide is referred to as a developer.

The higher the volume of the developer the more powerful it is. Due to its larger molecular size dye become trapped into the cortex and can never be washed out. The combination of the 2 chemical causes the peroxide to react and oxidise.

This reaction completely bleaches your hair’s natural melanin, so you achieve a new colour instead of the mixture of your natural hair and the dye colour. This is the only way to achieve a lighter colour than your natural hair colour.

Progressive Hair Dye

It is applying the hair dye repeatedly over time and with each application your hair gets darker and darker. It builds up gradually until you reach a desired amount colour. This technique can only be used to darken natural hair colour and not lighten them. Its mostly used to cover greys.

Progressive hair dyes are free of ingredients like peroxide and ammonia but contains ingredients that are just as toxic and highly harmful to any life tissue. The main ingredients in this hair dye is lead acetate.

The applied lead acetate reacts with sulphur compounds in the hair during the first application, so its contact with air causes oxidation then the progressive colourant creates a tint of dark pigments that coats and somewhat penetrates parts of hair shaft.

After hair dries, it transforms into a layer of synthetic pigment and slightly changes the colour. After repeated use, the layers stacks one upon the other causing the colour to darken more and more.


It is recommended to use only semi permanent hair dyes for the hair but if you want to have a more permanent solution, demi- permanent dyes are better options. Permanent dyes both oxidised and progressive are extremely harmful for the quality and strength of your hair. Read the article, do hair products mess up with your hair.

Most importantly, it penetrate the hair and slowly gets consumed in the scalp which can cause problems in long term. There have been cases noted for itching, balding, spots, acnes on the scalp due to excessive permanent dying. It is also forbidden for heart patients, cancer patients, pregnant mothers, etc.



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