- 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.
Maybe your school or job doesn’t allow unusual hair dyes, but you’d like to let loose on the weekend, or maybe you’re worried about damaging your hair with bleach. Maybe you just want to experiment with a new color every day, or just once in a while! No matter your reason, we want to help! That’s why we’ve selected the best hair makeup products you can try to spruce up your tresses.
We then 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!
Hair Makeup Guide: Contents
- 11 Best Hair Makeup Products to Try
- What Is Hair Makeup?
- Hair Makeup vs. Temporary Color vs. Semi-Permanent Color
- How Long Does Hair Makeup Last?
- How to Use Hair Makeup
11 Best Hair Makeup Products to Try
Creams, sprays, and gels – oh my! These are the best hair makeup products to give your hair a vibrant transformation.
1. Best for Dark Hair: L’Oreal Paris Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color for Brunettes
This is the product that started it all, and it’s still one of the best hair makeup options to try. Made by L’Oreal for brunettes, it’s a cream dye that allows you to rock an exciting color just for one day. The formula is creamy and easy to spread, but it dries down into the hair fairly quickly, almost like a mattifying foundation. Once it’s dry, it won’t accidentally rub off or transfer on your clothes, and it feels soft.
It looks like hair dye with a hint of sheen, which is extremely pretty! The only difference is that it’ll wash out in the shower. The color range is really fun, with shades of green, blue, purple, and more. Order it from Amazon!
2. Best Color Range: Good Dye Young Poser Paste Temporary Hair Makeup
This hair makeup comes in our favorite color range, and with the best pigmentation, so you won’t need to apply too much. It comes in 8 colors, including yellow, which is unusual. This cream formula is more like a paste (or maybe a cream concealer), so it’s very thick and quick-drying.
We recommend working quickly with it and applying it to already brushed hair. The final look is a little textured since it’s more of a hair wax. It has incredible longevity, though that does mean that washing it out is a little harder than with the other options on the list. Buy it at Sephora!
3. Best Spray: Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Rainbow Mist
This is an upgraded version of those temporary hair dye sprays you bought at the Halloween store when you were a kid. However, while those sprays often looked pretty spotty and chunky in the hair, this turns out looking really nice. The formula is similar to a dry shampoo with a lovely sugary scent and with a high dose of pigment.
It works best on hair that has already been styled. It has a strong color payoff, and it’s fast to apply, although it doesn’t give as much control as a cream. The only drawback is that you get very little product in a tube, so you use it up quickly, especially if your hair is dark. It’s available in 4 shades right now. Pick it up from Ulta!
4. Best for Root Touch-ups: Bumble and Bumble Bb. Color Stick
These are like concealer sticks for the hair, and they’re meant to help you along if you dye your hair regularly and need to cover root-growth. Instead of coming in ridiculous colors, they’re available in blonde, brown, and black. They cover small areas at a time, so they offer a lot of control when your hair needs a precise touch-up. This hair makeup range is available at Sephora.
5. Best for Blondes: L’Oreal Paris Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color for Blondes
Do blondes have more fun? The range of hair makeup options they have from L’Oreal suggests so! Grays, yellows, blues, purples, and more… this is a wide selection of stunning shades. This is nearly the same formula as our pick for brunettes, but the main difference is that it’s a little less pigmented. It’s still pigmented enough to show up on blonde hair, but it reduces the risk of staining. Purchase it from Amazon!
6. Best for Curly Hair: Curlsmith Hair Makeup Temporary Color Styling Gel
This gel is hair makeup made with curly hair in mind. It’s sort of a two-in-one curly hair styling gel and color, so it helps the curls hold while also covering them in mineral pigments that give a shiny tint of color. It’s meant to be applied all over to damp hair, ideally after a leave-in conditioner, and then the hair can be diffused-dried or air-dried. The final result is flawless curls with an unusual tint that won’t transfer. Get it in your favorite of 5 gorgeous shades at Ulta!
7. Best for All-Over Color: L’Oreal Paris Colorista 1-Day Temporary Hair Color Spray
Whereas L’Oreal’s hair makeup takes quite a bit of time to apply, this is the quick and dirty option for temporary color. The spray deposits the color in seconds, and it instantly covers a lot of hair (while also making a bit of a mess, unfortunately). We’d recommend this if you want an all-over wash of color, while the 1-day hair makeup is better for creating streaks or a balayage.
We love the wide shade range and appreciate that it works on both dark and light hair. It can transfer a bit on clothes or skin, but you can use a layer of hairspray to seal it in a bit more. Find it online through Amazon!
8. Best for Clean Hands: Clairol Color Crave Temporary Hair Color Makeup
This hair makeup is slightly similar to our top pick from L’Oreal, but it’s got a few details that make it its own unique product. The formula is a little creamier thanks to amodimethicone, and the pigments have a bit of a sheen. One great thing about this product is that it comes with an applicator, so you don’t need to get your hands dirty when applying it, although, be aware that it works best for larger streaks.
The only drawback is that this product doesn’t last a long time, especially if you’re trying to cover a lot of hair. It’s sold on Amazon.
9. Best for Kids: Punky Colour Trolls B Wild Temporary Hair Color
While nearly all hair makeup products are awesome for children, this one is actually marketed for them, with a tie-in to the Trolls film. The formula is similar to a gentle hairspray, but it’s easy to work with, and it goes on quickly. It does have some drawbacks, as it can be sticky and can transfer on clothes. However, the color range is really fun, and the price is hard to beat! Pick it up at Ulta!
10. Best Natural Formula: Captain Blankenship Golden Waves Sea Salt Hair Spray
If you want a hint of color and glitter, but without any unknown synthetics, we think you’ll love this sea salt hair spray. It’s a beautifully scented spray of sea salt and aloe, which gives the hair a bit of beachy texture. It’s also enhanced with mica pigments, which add a sheen and soft wash of color, like a strobe highlighter for the hair. It’s available at Ulta in Gold, Rose Gold, or Silver.
11. Best Hair Gel: Manic Panic Dye Hard Hair Color Gel
This is another product we think makes the most sense for children, or for Halloween. It’s a traditional hair gel, so it goes on the hair moist and then dries down to feel hard but looks a little damp. It helps to hold slicked-back, spiky, or mohawk hairstyles, and because it’s pigmented, it also adds a vibrant but washable color. Order it online via Amazon!
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 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. 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.
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.
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