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When to Use Permanent vs. Demi-Permanent Color

By: Kenra Professional

When should stylists use permanent color versus demi-permanent color? Is there a right or wrong answer? Yes and no. There are many different uses for each with slight differences as well as ideal suggested use within Kenra Color.

KenraColor demi-permanent Infographic

Permanent Color
Permanent hair color is used for lift and deposit as well as for gray coverage. A small amount of ammonia is used to open up the cuticle layer of the hair so that the dye molecule can go inside and live in the cortex of each hair strand. Gray coverage, vibrant redheads, light and rich brunettes, and sunny blondes are all aided by the use of permanent hair color. Standard mixing for permanent color is a 1:1 ratio with a processing time of 30 minutes. When covering resistant gray, the processing time is 40 minutes. When using Simply Blonde Ultra Lifts, the processing time is also up to 40 minutes. Kenra Color has four developers in the permanent color and lightener categories to give just the right amount of speed, lift, and deposit: 10 Volume, 20 Volume, 30 Volume, and 40 Volume Developer.


SB icons no-developer


Kenra Color 10 Volume is used for deposit or when you’re going darker on the hair. The 20 Volume is used for up to one level of lift and also for gray coverage. Kenra Color 30 Volume can provide between 2 to 3 levels of lift, and 40 Volume can provide 3 to 4 levels of lift, depending on the client's texture and density.
Someone with fine hair may be able to achieve 3 levels of lift with 30 Volume, but for someone with a coarse texture or high density, 40 Volume may be needed in order to get the lift desired.

Standard gray coverage is usually achieved using 20 Volume developer, especially if the client is 80% or more gray. If three or more levels of lift are needed along with gray coverage, 30 Volume and 40 Volume can technically also be used. The permanent color N Series is necessary for gray coverage, and that includes the Natural, Natural Ash, Natural Brown Series, Natural Ultra Ash Series, Natural+, or Natural Warm+ Series. They can be used for standalone coverage or mixed with any of other shades in the portfolio based off of the client's percentage of gray for a custom end result.

For clients with 25% gray, incorporate 25% of any of the N Series into the formulation and 75% of the desired end result. For clients between 25 and 50 percent gray, incorporate 50% of the N Series and 50% of the desired end result. If the client has over 50% gray, incorporate 75% of the N Series with 25% of the desired end result.
Underlying pigment is the natural pigment found in all hair and is visually exposed anytime the hair is lifted two or more levels. Knowing the underlying pigment of your client’s hair at each level allows stylists to either use it to accentuate warm tones or to cancel them out when necessary.

KenraColor demi-permanent Infographic

Demi-Permanent Color

Kenra Color demi-permanent color is ammonia-free and for deposit-only color services. The grow-out is softer and more subtle with little to no line of demarcation, and it can be used not only as a standalone service or to refresh the mids and ends but can also be used to achieve gray blending. Standard mixing for Kenra Color demi-permanent color is at a 1:2 ratio with Kenra Color 9 Volume Activator on damp or dry hair for 5-25 minutes. For gray blending, drop the ratio down to a 1:1, and still process for up to 25 minutes.

Kenra Color demi-permanents can be used in many ways:

Color Enhancing - This is when demi-permanent color is applied from scalp to ends on damp or dry hair anytime an overall deposit in tone is needed. If there is no need for lift or gray coverage on the client, use demi-permanent for this service.

Color Equalizing - This service is done using a corresponding demi on the mids and ends after applying permanent color for lift and/or gray coverage at the roots. The mids and ends have already been colored initially with permanent color in previous services, so refreshing them with demi when possible is a wonderful way to refresh the entire look in one process.

Toning - Because there's no need for additional lift, demi-permanent color can deposit tones on pre-lightened hair that will neutralize or accentuate the warmth all in one step. Typically, when toning pre-lightened hair, the cuticle layer is already open which means that the full process time may not be needed-- usually depositing an appropriate amount in 10 to 15 minutes on damp hair at the shampoo bowl.

Gray Blending - As discussed earlier, adjusting the ratio from a 1:2 down to a 1:1 with 9 Volume Activator and letting it process for the full 25 minutes will provide a superior gray blend. The rules for using the N series in gray formulations apply to demi-permanent color as well.

Clear Gloss - Clear Gloss is a versatile tool in the Kenra Color portfolio that can be used in many different ways. It can be used as a standalone to provide shine on hair that is dull, and it can also be mixed in with any of our other shades to dilute the formula or extend processing times if needed.

Rapid Toners

Also included in the Kenra Color demi-permanent portfolio are Rapid Toners, which are designed to process and tone in five minutes or less. Kenra Color Rapid Toners are mixed like every other demi-permanent color in the portfolio at a 1:2 ratio with 9 Volume Activator, but the processing time is five minutes or less!

Our Rapid Toner collection currently includes a Silver Violet, Violet Pearl, Beige, and a Green Blue Rapid Toner. The Silver Violet and Violet Pearl Rapid Toners are recommended for levels 8 through 10 pre-lightened hair. Beige Rapid Toner is recommended for levels 9 and 10 on pre-lightened hair, and the Green Blue Rapid Toner is an intense saturation of both green and blue to neutralize warmth at levels 4 through 6 .

To learn more about the fundamental uses and best practices when using Kenra Color, be sure to subscribe to the Kenra Professional YouTube channel and check out the other videos in the Kenra Color 101 Series!

Permanent vs. Demi-Permanent Hair Color

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