Hair » What Is Hair Makeup and How to Use It?

What Is Hair Makeup and How to Use It?

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  • Hair makeup is a temporary hair dye that easily washes out in just one shampoo.
  • It comes in a range of formulas, including cream, spray, gel, and liquid, as well as a myriad of bright color shades.

Hair makeup is one of those really easy and fun beauty products that can add some color to your life! There are a ton of different situations that might make hair makeup a better choice than actually dyeing your hair. In this article, we explain exactly what hair makeup is and how it differs from other temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes. We answer any questions you might have about this unique hair coloring product and finish off with some tips and tricks for how to apply it!

In this article:

What Is Hair Makeup?

Hair makeup is a wash-out hair color that lasts just one shampoo. The concept of hair makeup was recently brought to life by L’Oreal as a range of cream colors for the hair. Shortly after, many other brands followed suit with their own unique take on this hair color category. Just as with makeup for the face, hair makeup can be applied early in the day and then washed off in the evening.

It’s an awesome hair product to buy if you love the look of fashion hair color but aren’t interested in actually bleaching or dyeing your hair. It’s great for parties, for Halloween, or just for days when you want to play around and have fun with your look. 

Like regular makeup, hair makeup comes in a wide range of formulas, from creams and pastes to sprays and liquids. Each formula requires a slightly different application method and has its own benefits and drawbacks, which we touch on in our reviews of the best hair makeup products. In general, cream formulas are best for targeted applications, while sprays and gels are awesome for adding color all over. 

Hair Makeup vs. Temporary Color vs. Semi-Permanent Color

You might be wondering how is hair makeup different from other short-term hair color options. Because “hair makeup” is a newer product category, it’s not always easy to differentiate, but we’ll try and make things clear.

Technically, hair makeup is a type of temporary color, which is any hair coloring product that you can apply and then wash out. The temporary color category also includes hair color sprays, hair chalks, root cover-up sprays, and hair glosses. The main difference between hair makeup and other temporary hair colors is that, because it’s a fairly new product category, it has some modern benefits.

Hair makeup formulas tend to be more elegant to use and to blend more nicely into the hair, without leaving weird texture or a dry feeling. Additionally, the colors are really fun, with some really unique pastels and vivids in all shades of the rainbow! In a way, they’re like an upgraded version of those awful hair color sprays you might remember from your childhood.

Then there is semi-permanent hair dye, which is a hair dye that takes hold in the hair without a peroxide developer. As a result, it usually only shows up on pre-lightened hair, and it will fade away over time.

It is sometimes used interchangeably with temporary color, although we’d make the distinction that temporary color washes out after one shower while semi-permanent dye will stay in the hair for multiple washes (sometimes up to 20). Be aware that some brands use “temporary” when they mean “semi-permanent,” so it’s not always obvious from the name. 

Hair Makeup vs. Temporary Color vs. Semi-Permanent Color

How Long Does Hair Makeup Last?

Almost all hair makeup products are designed to only be used for one day. You’re supposed to apply the color in the morning and wash it out at night. However, if you don’t wash your hair every day, you might be able to rock colorful hair for 2 or even 3 days, although it will be somewhat faded.

How to Use Hair Makeup for a Quick Color Boost

Different hair makeup products have different application methods, so we always recommend you read the instructions that come with your product! With that in mind, we do have some tips and tricks.

  • We recommend starting out with an action plan. Do you want streaks? A balayage? Colored ends? All-over color? If you just start applying without thinking about where you’d like the hair makeup to go, you can end up with a messy look.
  • If your look is going to be very precise, consider separating your hair just like you would when dyeing it for real. Clip up and separate the different parts of your hair based on how you would like to distribute the dye.
  • While hair makeup will usually wash out from clothes, it’s not always a guarantee, especially with white. Either cover your shoulders with a towel before applying or make sure to wear an old or dark shirt.
  • Always read the instructions that come with your hair makeup. The best way to use a cream will be very different from the best way to use a spray, for example.
  • In general, most hair makeup products are best applied to clean, well-brushed, dry hair. Some of the products in our selection can also work on damp hair, while others are best applied as a final step after the hair has already been styled.
  • If you’re using your hands to apply your color, consider wearing gloves. Hair makeup will always wash out with soap and water, and it usually won’t transfer from your hands, but it’s still not fun to get your hands covered in color.
  • Some hair makeup products dry down on their own, so you don’t need to do anything to make sure they don’t transfer. Others tend to rub off very easily, in which case you can lock them in with a dose of hairspray.
How to Use Hair Makeup

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