Articles > WWYD- What Would You Do? > Root Shadow With Permanent Haircolor, Yes Or No?
Last updated: December 14, 2022

Root Shadow With Permanent Haircolor, Yes Or No?

Root Shadow With Permanent Hair Color or Demi Permanent Hair Color
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Instagram via @hivehairmcr

What Would You Do: Root Shadow Using Demi, Semi or Permanent Color

This “dude with sign” meme just sparked a major debate among colorists—and more importantly, a conversation—that feels long overdue. So, should you root shadow with permanent haircolor or something else, and does it really matter? We did a deep dive into the comments section to hear all sides of the debate, and (bonus!) dug up some helpful knowledge from the BTC community. 


Remember: Everyone is entitled to their own creative process and formulating is not one-size-fits-all. We are simply showing you different opinions, so you can make the right choice for yourself! 😉


Need some advice? DM us on Instagram and Facebook!


Say YES To Using Permanent Color—Here’s When & Why!



“If shadow rooting is done properly there is no reason not to. Why not? Often demi is harder to remove than permanent. How hard something is to remove has to do with the pigment deposited and the level. A Level 5 demi will be harder to remove than a Level 6 permanent. But you’ll get a better shadow root with a Level 6 permanent than with any demi if you want non-translucent coverage. It’s all about knowing what you’re using, how it works and why you’re using it.” – @jessmarievanv


“I like using permanent for shadow roots. It also lifts the base and gives [a] softer looking result.” – @hairbykana


“The only time I do this is if my client wants a rooted blonde look that I’m doing a balayage or foilayage [for] and I will use [10-minute permanent color] and that way I’m covering gray and toning in only 10 minutes. But I won’t use permanent if they don’t have gray.” – @jessicascotthair


“A shadow root is meant to soften a root line/create a low-maintenance look. It doesn’t need a full permanent color processing time but whichever color line the stylists knows and is comfortable with could be used. However I believe if gray coverage is an issue, I would be using the ‘teasylight’ method with full root coverage between foils. Bottom line… there are 100 ways to get from point A to B and different methods and products is what’s made this industry so versatile. Let your creativity flow.” – @jenna.kay.beaudry


“I actually use permanent when I’m doing it on wet hair.” – @aj_720


“I went gray very early, it’s VERY resistant. I don’t normally chime in when it comes to these discussions but really, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. My natural, unbleached/unsoftened hair laughs at demi or semi. Newer or less experienced stylists need to hear that instead of having to learn the hard way on a client’s head.” – @heathermichele7307


“Some permanent colors can be used as a demi with a lower developer.” – @kellymyrz2



Don’t Do It! Work Smarter, Not Harder…



“If my client has that much gray where they need it to be covered I usually do foils and a touch-up in between and then root shadow with a demi for the highlights to achieve that result, because I melt my root shadow into the ends glaze and that typically doesn’t work with a permanent and a demi.” – @styledbyjamieg


“The cuticle is already exploded open with all of the bleach. Slap more ammonia on there and you mess with the hair’s ability to retain color even more. If your purpose for permanent is for the color to hold longer, then your screwed. But my homies and I in the salon use 10-minute permanent color but to cover some of those grays that you can’t hide with just a highlight shadow root. Otherwise, use semi.” – @getjoehairdid


“Stop doing root shadowing!!!” – @yogacolourist


“I used to use [permanent] for shadow rooting. It just made you work harder next round. Work smarter not harder. Your touch-ups will be a pain if you use a permanent. Grays are no problem if you know your product. I play with lots of different color lines. I keep multiple different lines in my cabinet for this reason. I also call the technique, ‘fade out with the grow out.’ I know the fade out process until each of my clients [have] to return.” – @destiny_hair_n_makeup


“The deposit doesn’t happen until a good bit later after application so technically you’re just lifting/staining.” – @meglajohn


“I agree but it will look the same anyways. The difference will be with the grow out. And for those clients that want to change color every month, the permanent is a little more of a project to remove.” – @alicali2


“[There is no use] using the technique to have the grow out process be gradual for a guest only to have them end up with a harsh line of demarcation.” – @lindseymarie577


“Always use demi color to cover gray and go darker. You never need permanent unless you’re lifting… Change my mind.” – @midnightstereo_



Get Creative, Try Different Formulations + Do What You Need To Do!



“There’s too much nuance with this to make a blanket statement. I’ve done both and still do both depending on the situation. I typically use permanent for gray coverage unless we’re planning on lightening the hair soon. I also use permanent on clients whose regrowth is slightly darker than what I want the root to be and I lift it with color instead of lightener.” – @lindseyispublic


“Depends on how much toning is needed at that root. Semi, demi and permanent are based on coverage and opacity. The more tone you need to conceal, the more coverage you need.” – @backtokalli


“Let’s be honest! We all know that one rule doesn’t apply to all! Semi, demi or permanent, we are artists [and] we do what we feel is suitable for each individual client.” – @_hairbyashleigh


“I’d say let people do hair how it best suits them, gives the client good results and leaves them happy. Mind your own business.” – @alydavishair


“Not if you use it correctly! And permanent color can fade fast as well if not used correctly There are so many variables to using both. Learn how to use them properly and in the right situation and you won’t have a problem. Unless the client doesn’t take care of their hair… well, that’s a whole other problem.” – @devevesalon


“I say do what ya gotta do and use what you gotta use!” – @pati.rodrigz


“I do both. It depends on the end result and porosity. Usually demi color takes rather quickly and then fades quickly as well. With permanent color, I have more time to watch it develop. Permanent is usually more matte than semi or demi, so it really is case by case. No one rule for all. Do what you feel is right.” – @emiliogiglio_


“Different fabrics need different chemicals to achieve end results.” – @assembly_hair


“If I’ve done a full bleach, I use demi. If the client is looking for gray coverage, I use a permanent. Each client is different and the last thing I want to do is spend another two hours correcting a mistake.” – @tara_the_mua



Here’s What Ruins Roots Shadows! Hint: It’s Not Color Choice



“Personally, I think the biggest issue is using a shade to root shadow that is up to two levels darker than their natural color, whether that be demi or permanent it leaves an unsightly demarcation line and can be so difficult to lift through.” – @lewiscolour


“I think is more important to know how [to] identify the level base so that the natural color is not altered and then unwanted tones appear.” – @serranos_hairdressing


“I don’t feel like you can cut corners when doing a root shadow. Tons of techniques and different ranges can be used, BUT I have corrected some when a different stylist put Level 3 directly on the root for max processing time to cover gray. I think they tried to cut corners or just don’t fully understand what a root shadow is. We gotta stay educated.” – @hairbybrujaa


“There is absolutely no reason why not to use it. Which strength of developer you will use with it is the real question that makes the difference of deeper or more superficial deposit of pigments. We definitely use both permanent and semi-permanents based on the specific need.” – @hairfashionstudio_dj


“Do whatever, but definitely stop unintentionally bumping a client’s base by toning with permanent.” – @alannahhair


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