Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair color contains ammonia and is mixed with developer in various volumes in order to permanently change hair color. The ammonia is an alkalizer that opens the cuticle layer, allowing the color molecules and developer to penetrate into the cortex. Once inside, the developer lightens natural pigment and develops the color molecules so they remain permanently in the cortex.

Common uses include:

  • Gray coverage
  • Change color of hair
  • Lightening natural hair color*

*Permanent hair color formula for lightening hair up to 3 - 4 levels must be mixed with double 40-volume developer for maximum lift (remember that a client's natural pigment will affect timing and final results).

Examples of Permanent Hair Color

  • Clairol Professional liquicolor permanente when a liquid formula is preferred
  • Clairol Professional premium crème permanente when a cream formula is preferred

Clairol Professional liquicolor permanente

Comes in 59 shades and is ideal for fast bottle applications, in-between foils, or to quickly apply all-over color to longer or extremely thick hair.

Clairol Professional premium crème permanente

Comes in 46 shades, and can be mixed with the demi Mix Tones Warm and Cool for additional custom formulas. You can put premium crème permanente into foils using bowl & brush or to apply to isolated sections on head.


Timing is 30 minutes for standard color application; 45 minutes for maximum gray coverage and for high-lift shades. Typically, with permanent color, the first 15 minutes provide time for the peroxide and ammonia to open the cuticle and penetrate into the cortex to lighten natural pigment. The final 15 – 30 minutes are for additional lightening and dye-molecule development to provide maximum deposit.

Gray/White Coverage

For maximum gray coverage, formulation should include either Neutral or Ultra Riche Neutral to provide the missing balance of tones in white hair.

Neutral is a blend of equal parts of all 3 primary colors. It is essential for covering white (non-pigmented) hair because it creates a foundation to replace missing pigment. Using Neutral in a hair color formula ensures coverage and true tones.

Basic gray coverage formulation is based on percentages of gray. Percentage of Neutral in formula matches the percentage of white in hair:
25% white: ½ oz. Neutral shade in target Level plus 1 ½ oz. target shade
50% white: 1 oz. Neutral shade in target Level and 1 oz. target shade
75% white: 1 ½ oz. Neutral shade in target Level and ½ oz. target shade

For natural results and balanced tone, formulate within 2 Levels darker or lighter than Natural Level.

Additional Advice

To remove color, rinse with tepid water, shampoo thoroughly and condition the hair. Towel dry and style as usual.

Apply hair color evenly and thoroughly to thin sections to ensure complete saturation. A section should be fine enough to see through it. If it is too thick, the color will not penetrate through the hair, leaving gas in the color application, commonly called "holidays."

Hair color should be applied evenly and thoroughly to the re-growth of previously tinted hair only. Because of the ammonia, hair that has been previously treated with permanent color, lightener or chemical relaxers will benefit from the use of a non-ammoniated, demi color, such as premium crème demi permanente.

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