What Exactly Is a Hair Tint? UK Salon Guide

When people visit the salon for a change of hair colour, the common method is to apply permanent dye as highlights, full head, or any other style. You can’t do anything about this long-term decision if something goes wrong. For this reason, hair tinting is a good alternative.

A hair tint is temporary hair colouring. It’s different from dyes because dyes are meant to be permanent, and a tint is semi-permanent, lasting only about 4-12 weeks. Hair tint coats your hair strands with a tint of colour to give you a fresh look and add some shine.


Want to learn more about what hair tint entails and what you need to do to maintain it? Read on.

hair dresser applying hair tint to a woman's hair

What Exactly Is A Hair Tint? (in UK Salons)

A hair tint is a temporary hair colour that deposits colour or coats your hair strands without changing the original pigment as dyes do. The tint does not absorb into the hair shaft, which means the colour will come off with every wash until it’s all out.

(Source: PAUL EDMONDS of London)

How Long a Hair Tint Lasts

Typically, hair tints last 4-12 weeks (24 washes) (Source: PANTENE), depending on how often you wash your hair and the products you use. Tints applied to damaged or bleached hair also last longer because the colour absorbs more into the strands.

Once the colour fades away, you have the option of reapplying if you liked it or getting a different colour.

Hair Tint Ingredients

As for ingredients, hair tint has fewer chemicals than dyes. The colour of hair tint comes from various synthetic colouring agents (Source: Science Direct) and then water or alcohol as the base product.

If the tint is in the form of a mousse or cream, other ingredients like silicone are added for shine, not to mention vitamins and oils for conditioning.

As you can see, hair tints do not contain oxidizing agents like potassium persulfate or hydrogen peroxide, nor do they need an alkalizing agent. (Source: Science Alert). This makes the tint less permanent, but it’s safer for your hair and won’t cause as much damage as dyes do.

How Tinting Colours Your Hair

Another important thing to know about hair tint is that it’s mostly ideal if you want to darken your hair colour or freshen up the original colour. This means you can go slightly red, brown, and even blue on dark hair, but you can’t make significant colour changes like you would with dye. 

If you are a natural blonde, you can go brownish, pink, or orange with hair tint because those colours are closer to blonde.

In other words, hair tint intensifies your natural hair colour and makes it shine more. If you want to change the colour, you have to go with a palette closer to your natural colour. This also means that hair tints don’t work so well for white hair unless you want to make it yellow or orange.

Your hairdresser will show you the colour palette that’s possible with your natural colour, and you can choose from there. If you want to make a significant colour change, the best option is permanent hair dye.

Why Choose a Tint Vs Hair Dye?

Despite the fact you’re a bit more restricted with colours (as explained above), there are many reasons why people choose hair tint over dye: (Source: GOOD DYE YOUNG)

  • It’s semi-permanent, so you don’t have to live with the regret of changing your hair colour for long.
  • It’s great for damaged or brittle hair because it won’t process your hair more.
  • Tints have a high-quality cream base like a hair mask to condition and add shine to your hair.
  • Tints come in vibrant colours that your hairdresser can mix to create your custom shade.
  • You can change your hair colour periodically and be a different person every month or so.
  • Tints do not contain harsh chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen peroxide that can damage your hair (Source: Empire Beauty Schools), and they are fortified with vitamins, oils, and minerals.
woman with full head tint

What Is Meant by a “Full Head” Tint?

Deciding you want to go the hair tint route and not dyes is only the beginning. You also have to decide how you want your hair to be coloured. Styles like balayage, ombre, and highlights come in here to make the hair colour more exciting and varied.

That said, the best way to use a hair tint is to do a full head tint. Why? Because as we mentioned above, hair tint doesn’t make significant colour changes; it only darkens or revitalises your natural colour.

A full head tint is a speedy process where you apply the colour evenly all over your head from roots to ends. This means your stylist won’t need to do foils and toners, and they can just apply the tint like regular mousse or relaxer and rinse off when the colour develops.

(Source: SuperCuts)

Besides being a simple, one-step process, full head tint coats your entire hair with one shade of colour, rendering it beautiful and fuller. If you have blonde hair, the blonde colour underneath can still show through the tint, creating a lovely glowing effect.

It’s important to get a retouch around 2-4 weeks out to ensure the colour remains uniform and to cover up the growth.

While hair tint is semi-permanent and will come out in a few weeks, you should still take good care of it. Washing with shampoos and conditioners made for colour-treated hair is one way to ensure the colour lasts at least a few weeks. 

You should also protect the hair from sun damage (Source: WWD) and also keep it moisturized with oils and conditioners. Doing so will protect the hair from damage and also help it maintain the extra shine and lustre.

I hope this helped you make a decision if it comes to hair tint vs dye, and also explaining what one is, exactly. If you have any questions, your local salon is a great place to ask for help.


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