These are the Reasons Why Some Hair Colours Last Longer than Others

Published on Oct 03, 2019

Have you coloured your hair before?

Whether it is vibrant hair colour or subtle highlights, you are likely to find that the colour fade over time... some faster than others!

As we are curious to find out why, we consulted some of Singapore's best hair colour specialists to understand more about colours!

Read on to find out the major factors affecting how fast your hair colour fades!

It depends on the colour you choose...


You may not know this but different colours are made up of different NUMBER of colour pigments.

Hidden rainbow peekabo hair colour by Picasso Hair Studio

Rainbow Peek a Boo Hair Colour by Picasso Hair Studio

According to Jesly from Picasso Hair Studio, Purple contain 8,000 molecule pigments while red contains 3,000 and blue contains 1,000. This simply means, the more pigments, the longer the colour can last!

Mermaid hair colour on curly long hair

Mermaid Hair Colour by Picasso Hair Studio

Darker colours last longer than lighter colours as the lighter the colour, the more you need to open or "lift" the hair cuticle to achieve the colour. With the opening of the hair cuticle, lesser colour is also locked into the hair. Lifting can be done using bleach or highlift colours, although both will still damage the hair to varying degrees. 

It depends on your natural hair colour...


How long your hair colour lasts also depends on the natural colour pigments in your hair. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair and eyes its colour. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people. Melanin consists of black, brown, red and yellow pigments, and it's divided into two sections: eumelanin and pheomelanin. 

The hair colour you see is a result of the level of eumelanin and pheomelanin in your hair. eumelanin causes shades ranging from brown to black, whilst pheomelanin ranges from blond to red. Darker hair, therefore, contains more eumelanin; generally, eumelanin is often the more abundant of the two types, though red hair contains primarily pheomelanin. Differing hair colours are merely the consequence of different balances in concentrations of these two pigments, and blond hair is often a result of a low concentration of melanin in general.

What hair dyes do is that the chemicals PPD, hydrogen peroxide and its coupling agents will oxidise the melanin until the final desired hair colour is achieved. 

Warm darker colours stay longer on Asian hair as higher levels of eumelanin is retained in the hair, giving it its colour. It also doesn't require bleach (removal of eumelanin), so the high levels of eumelanin will allow the colour to stay longer. 

Cool colours like blue or grey are achieved by removing more of the eumelanin to lighten the hair and replacing it with another cool colour tone. As the cool colour pigment disappears after a while, leaving behind pheomelanin, hair will turn to faded yellow real fast, for Asian hair. As the chemical reaction to achieve, say blue or grey hair, lasts only for a short time, the colour pigment will eventually disappear, leading to pheomelanin or what we see as faded yellow. 

Do note that not all Asian hair have the same level of red undertones/eumelanin or pheomelanin. It is this difference that allows the same hair colour product to have different results on you vs your friend's hair!

The state your hair is in...


You probably already know this, the more damaged your hair, the faster the colour will fade. This is because your hair cuticles open up and becomes more porous when it is damaged, causing colour pigments to leak out easily. 

Red hair by COVO Japanese Hair Salon

COVO Japanese Hair Salon 

That's why COVO Japanese Hair Salon includes Argan Oil and their unique COVO Hair Treatment in all their hair products. These treatments contains high-quality Keratins, Silk Proteins, Ceramide, which plumps up the hair, repairing the cuticle and make it less porous. This way, the colour can stay in better and look more vibrant as the entire hair cortex is plumped up. That's why the hair colours here last longer than most hair salons!

It depends on the type of hair colour you choose....


Samantha from Full House Salon explains to us that there are essentially 4 main types of hair colour, and they each last for varying lengths of time:


1) Minimal Ammonia Levels

2) K-PAK Technology

3) Trans-Cuticle Delivery System


  • Temporary Hair Colour: It coats only the cuticle layer and lasts 1 shampoo
  • Semi Permanent Hair Colour: It doesn't require developer and simply coats the cuticle to give you the illusion of a colour. As the size of the colour pigment is huge, it tends to last for only 8 to 15 shampoos. Examples of Semi Permanent Colours are Manic Panic, Arctic Fox. The actual length of time may however vary depending on colour choice.
  • Demi Permanent Hair Colour: Low volume developer is required as demi permanent colour can penetrate into the cortex slightly. It is a mixture of big colour pigments and smaller intermediate dyes. Therefore, the colours can stay in the hair for a longer period of time. Examples of Demi Permanent Hair Colour brands is Pravana.
  • Permanent Hair Colour: This is your typical hair colour that is mixed with full strength developer to penetrate fully into the cortex and permanently alter the natural melanin in your hair by lifting. Examples of this hair colour includes Joico, Hoyu, L'OReal, Redken and Wella.
Pixelated glow in the dark pink hair colour by 99 Percent Hair Studio

Pink Glow in the Dark Pixelated Hair Colour by 99 Percent Hair Studio @ Bedok Point

It depends on the brand of hair colour you choose...

Some people think that the brand of hair colour you choose doesn't really matter. I'm one of those. I prefer using vegetable non-ammonia dyes as I like to change my hair colour often it doesn't damage hair that much.


@AlbinWonderland has had pink hair for 10 years! A bottle lasts her for a year and she dyes her hair every few months.

It however, lasts for only 2 weeks on my hair. 

Blue hair colour

Denim Blue by Full House Salon

According to Samantha, the brand of hair colour CAN make a huge difference. This is because different brands of hair colours contain different technologies which can help to prolong hair colour. She is a huge fan of JOICO K-Pak Permanent Hair Colour. Although it is technically more challenging than usual hair colours, there are a few factors that make it a far superior hair colour brand. 

Every hair colour contains only a precise percentage of ammonia necessary. This contributes to minimal cuticle damage, less scalp irritation, reduced odour and healthy, vibrant colour results.

Each Joico colour contains Quadramine Complex, which is a dual-charged (positive and negative), hybrid protein complex comprised of all 19 amino acids in the proper sequence and exact molecular weights (150-2500) necessary to ensure maximum reconstruction from the cortex to the cuticle. This Quadramine complex reconstructs the hair both internally and externally, resulting in stronger- and healthier hair following the colour process. Secondly, the natural compatibility between Quadramine Complex and the hair’s structure helps dye molecules penetrate faster and deeper, resulting in colour quality and longer-lasting results.

Peekaboo hidden purple lavender hair colour

Peek-a-Boo Colour by Full House Salon

This exclusive delivery system occurs due to a unique reaction between Quadramine Complex and Lecithin, a naturally derived emollient found in Vero K-PAK Color. Lecithin reduces the surface tension of the hair, allowing Quadramine Complex and colour molecules to enter the hair - around the open cuticle and also through the cuticle. This action provides enhanced colour penetration with minimal cuticle swelling, allowing for rapid, deeper penetration of the dye molecules, resulting in superior colour longevity. It also enhances the reconstructive benefits of Quadramine Complex, allowing for quicker penetration of the amino acids.

Red highlights

Red Highlights by Full House Salon

Having tried Joico hair colour for herself, Agent G's sister, Agent J swears by how moisturised her hair feels after a hair colour at Full House Salon

It depends on the stylist's skill...

Samantha from Full House Salon reminds us that there is a lot of skill and judgement that goes into a hair colour. 

Depending on the colour and customer's hair condition, different hair colour would require different processing time.The stylist also needs to know how much of the colour cream to apply; too thin and the colour won't be able to penetrate to the cortex layer. 

The right developer and ratio of mixing different colour creams are also instrumental in achieving a long lasting colour.

Any mistakes in the above steps would result in hair colours that fade in days!

Brown balayage

Sandalwood Balayage by Full House Salon @ Tampines Central

In this respect, local stylists may do a better job than Japanese or Korean stylists as they have had more experience mixing the right colours for local customers!

Finally, it depends on YOU.

Do you use a colour protecting shampoo and conditioner to repair the hair cuticle and restore pH balance to your hair after your colour? 

If you use the wrong shampoos (e.g. harsh oily scalp shampoos), your hair colour will fade much faster than expected!

Use colour protecting shampoo for a long-lasting hair colour

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