- Temporary hair color is a no-ammonia hair dye that changes the hair color instantly without lightening, darkening, altering the natural hair color, or causing any damage.
- It comes in the spray, paste, cream, and powder forms, and can be washable and semi-permanent.
- Depending on the type of temporary hair dye, it can last you from a single shampoo to around 18 washes fading progressively.
If you have commitment issues, temporary hair color will change your entire look, but only for as long as you want it to! Temporary hair dyes come in all kinds of formats and amazing ranges of colors, so we think you’ll be tempted today.
From one-and-done applications that’ll last just as long as your next shower to gorgeous tints that’ll fade slowly and seamlessly, we’ve selected the best temporary hair colors for you to try! Then we give all of the must-know info about temporary hair color, from explaining the different types and how they differ from traditional hair dyes to explaining how to use and maintain different kinds of temporary hair dye. We finish off with a guide for the removal of both temporary hair color and dye formulas.
Temporary Hair Color Guide: Contents
- 13 Best Temporary Hair Dyes
- What Is a Temporary Hair Dye?
- Types of Temporary Hair Colors
- Differences Between Temporary, Semi-Permanent, Demi-Permanent & Permanent Dyes
- Does Temporary Hair Dye Damage Hair?
- How to Dye Hair with a Temporary Color?
- How Long Does Temporary Hair Dye Last?
- Maintaining Your Temporary Hair Color
- How to Remove Your Temporary Hair Color?
13 Best Temporary Hair Dyes to Try at Home
These are the best temporary hair dyes available online, including fashion colors and natural colors for any type of need.
1. Best Semi-Permanent: Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids Creme Hair Color
For vivid hair colors, you can’t do better than Pravana, which is a professional brand loved by hair colorists. The color range reminds us of the rainbow, and since it’s semi-permanent, the colors also have a lovely conditioning effect. They’re technically made for bleached hair, but if you use them on level 5-3 hair or lighter, you will still end up with a subtle tint. They will start fading out of natural hair after a few washes, although they’re more persistent in bleached hair. Get yours from Amazon!
2. Best Vivid Colors: Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color
These semi-permanent hair dyes from Arctic Fox are pretty classic. They make the hair smell amazing and feel super soft, with colors that last for up to 16 washes (though it’ll start fading by the 5th or 6th wash). As with other semi-permanent dyes, it deposits color into the hair, so it’ll only show up on blondes – those with light or medium brown hair might get a lovely tint, however. If you’re obsessed with the vivids, you may need to use some bleach first. You can pick it up from Ulta.
3. Best for Gray Coverage: Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel
If you have gray hairs you would like to cover, this is the best temporary hair color to choose. The formula deposits color into your gray hairs, helping to blend them into the rest of your hair. There are 4 shades available, ranging from golden blonde to dark chestnut. The color slowly starts to fade as you shampoo it but will usually last 5-7 washes.
It’s a unique formula that can be helpful if you only want to cover your grays for a week or two, like in between salon visits, because you have long-term plans to totally change up your color, or because you want to grow out your grays and need to get through the awkward period of having roots. Buy it at Sephora!
4. Best Spray: L’Oreal Paris Hair Color Colorista 1-Day Spray
This is like the colored hair spray from your childhood, but upgraded! It’s a spray that comes in a ton of super fun colors and washes out with a single shampoo (or maybe two if you’re a very light blonde). It’s totally commitment-free, and as a bonus, it’s super easy to use.
The formula is similar to a typical hair spray, which helps prevent the color from rubbing off on clothes or pillows. Controlling the spray can be a little difficult, so it’s best for more diffused applications like along the roots or ends. You can order it from Amazon.
5. Best Mask: Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask
This temporary hair dye depositing mask comes in a massive range of colors, which we adore. It’s like an all-in-one dye, mask, gloss, and hair toner. It nourishes the hair with plant oils and soy proteins and adds an amount of color that’s comparable to a semi-permanent dye. Keep in mind that the color will only take if your hair is already a few shades lighter or darker than what you’re going for. Purchase it from Sephora!
6. Best Wax: Hailicare Purple Temporary Hair Dye Wax
This temporary hair color comes in the form of a wax, and it works on all hair types! It does generally look better on curls or on shorter hair since it offers a bit of a hold, but the colors are vibrant and cover the hair thoroughly. The silver is especially popular and trendy, though we’re partial to the beautiful purple, which works well even on super dark hair. It’s super easy to apply in a controlled manner, especially if you just want a few streaks. Shop for it on Amazon!
7. Best Conditioner: dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner
This is a unique product that combines a few benefits for shiny, tinted hair. It’s a deep conditioning treatment that deposits a tint of color into the hair, and it comes primarily in natural colors, including multiple shades of blonde, brown, black, and even strawberry or copper. It doesn’t alter the hair radically, so you should always pick a color that’s just two shades different than what you already have.
This temporary hair color can also be a great choice for slightly changing the effect of highlights or a balayage or for maintaining the vibrancy of a permanent hair color. You can use it as often as you like, but if you only use it once, you can expect the color to fade after 4-7 washes. Get it from Sephora!
8. Best Gloss: John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss
This is another fantastic hair gloss that boosts natural and dyed hair, with a color range that sticks to natural shades. It can be used in the shower on a weekly basis after you’ve shampooed and conditioned your hair. All it takes is a few minutes, and it leaves a glossy sheen while enhancing the vividness of your hair color. You can use it alone over lighter hair in order to give yourself a very subtle change, and like a semi-permanent color, it’ll wash away within a few washes. You can purchase it from Amazon.
9. Best Neon Colors: Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Hair Color
This citrusy temporary hair color is very fun to use! It’s another nice semi-permanent option that comes in some super vibrant shades like teal, neon green, and bright orange. As with other gentle, semi-permanent dyes, it comes out the most vibrant on hair that has already been bleached, but it can still show up as a pretty tint on naturally light or medium hair. The formula itself is nicely conditioning and softening. It’s available at Sephora.
10. Best Cleansing Conditioner: Keracolor Clenditioner Hair Dye
If you’re a fan of co-washing, then this is the best temporary hair color to try! It’s a “clenditioner,” so it cleans, moisturizes, and deposits color into the hair all in one go! The shade range is immense and includes vivids, pastels, and natural hues. You can use it continuously to keep the color fresh or just once and then let it wash out after 10-15 washes. It also works nicely as a toner to fix the undertones of already dyed hair. Order it online from Amazon!
11. Best Budget: Got 2B Playful Temporary Hair Chalk
Nothing is easier or cheaper than colored hair chalk! This temporary hair color is a colored powder that covers the hair in a lovely, pastel tint, and it’s available in shades like green, blue, and purple. You simply clip it over a strand of hair and pull it down to cover in a streak or to create a balayage. The only problem with this type of temporary hair color is that it can rub off on clothes if you don’t seal it with hair spray. Grab it from Ulta!
12. Best Vegan: Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Semi-Permanent Hair Color Full Coverage
If you still haven’t found the perfect fashion color, it’s time to check out Lime Crime! These are the best temporary hair dyes as far as color selection is concerned, with over 19 color options available! Like other semi-permanent options, your hair needs to already be light, or the color will only show up as a tint. The formula smells sweet and has conditioning effects, although you might need a couple of jars if you want to dye your entire head. Order it from Ulta!
13. Best Wax for Curls: Color Blast Temporary Hair Makeup Wax
Colored waxes are the best temporary hair color option for curly hair. They cover the strands beautifully with a vivid color while also keeping the curls neatly in place and retaining their bounce. The color range is stunning, from fashion shades like blue and gray to peachy copper to shiny gold. Since it’s a wax, it stays put in the hair very well, so you can go a few days without washing and still enjoy the vibrant color. Find it on Amazon!
What Is a Temporary Hair Dye and How Does It Work?
Temporary hair dye is a catch-all term that encompasses all hair color options that don’t stay in your hair forever. This includes washable hair sprays, pastes, and creams, which are sometimes also referred to as hair makeup as well as semi-permanent colors that will stick around for a month or two until they get washed out.
Types of Temporary Hair Colors
Here are all of the types of temporary hair colors and dyes that you can try!
The first subcategory of temporary hair colors is the washable ones. You apply them to your hair, and they will cover it from the outside to give you a pretty color. They come in the following formats:
• Sprays with which you can quickly cover your hair, but that can also be a little messy.
• Creams, which you apply to dry hair, but otherwise treat like a regular hair dye. They dry down and work well for all-over color or for streaking.
• Finally, there’s hair chalk, which is awesome for adding streaks and is especially nice for children.
Semi-Permanent and Color-Depositing Formulas
The second subcategory is semi-permanent dyes, which are color depositing formulas that actually allow pigment to penetrate the hair, although it fades with every show until it eventually totally washes out.
• Semi-permanent dyes are the most common. They often come in unusual colors and are meant to be applied to dry hair before a shower.
• Conditioners, masks, and color depositing shampoos are similar to semi-permanent dyes, but they need to be applied in-shower. They can be left on the hair for longer or shorter periods of time, depending on how vivid you want the color to turn out.
• Hair glosses and tints are less saturated with color, so they give more of a tint and color-refreshing effect. They are usually used in the shower, as well.
Differences Between Temporary, Semi-Permanent, Demi-Permanent & Permanent Dyes
In addition to temporary hair colors that come out with a single wash and temporary hair dyes that deposit color into the hair without changing its integrity, there are also demi-permanent and permanent hair dyes, which aren’t considered “temporary” at all.
The main difference between the temporary options and the demi-permanent/ semi-permanent ones is the absence of ammonia in the color and a peroxide-based developer. Whereas temporary colors either cover the hair or deposit a bit of color into it, both demi and permanent hair dyes include a developer that also lifts the hair cuticle.
This gets the color deeper inside the hair and results in a more long-lasting change. It can also slightly dry out or damage the hair.
Permanent dyes can actively lighten the hair or darken it significantly, and while the color may slightly fade with time, the hair will be permanently altered. With demi-permanent dyes, the results are much less intense because of the lower percentage of cuticle-lifting ingredients, but the color will still last a lot longer than with a semi-permanent formula.
Does Temporary Hair Dye Damage Hair?
If your main concern is keeping your hair healthy, then temporary hair dye is exactly what you should be going for! Temporary hair dye doesn’t damage the hair at all, regardless of whether it’s a wash-out or a semi-permanent formula.
Unlike permanent hair dyes that include bleach-based developers, both semi-permanent and temporary hair dye options only deposit color without changing the structure of the hair. They often also include different conditioning agents that can actually make your hair softer and shinier!
How to Dye Hair with a Temporary Color?
When it comes to dyeing hair with temporary hair color, it totally depends on what kind of product you’re using and what kind of effect you would like.
• Always read the instructions on whatever product you end up buying to ensure that you’re using it correctly to achieve the results you want.
• Generally, washable dyes should be applied to dry hair either before or after it’s been styled and then should be left in the hair without washing or getting it wet at all.
• To avoid making a mess, always cover your shoulders with a towel when applying a temporary hair color.
• With some temporary colors, the tint may rub off on clothes or skin after you’ve applied it. To avoid that, seal the color in with a hair spray.
• Color-depositing masks and conditioners should be applied in the shower while the hair is damp and then rinsed out after a set amount of time.
• Semi-permanent formulas should be applied to dry hair and then rinsed out after a set amount of time, just as with any other hair dye. You can check out our hair color articles to dye specifically based on the technique or color you love.
How Long Does Temporary Hair Dye Last?
Longevity totally depends on the kind of temporary hair dye you purchase.
• Most washable chalk, cream, and spray hair colors will only last a day or two and will come out the first time you wash your hair.
• Some wash-out formulas are a little more persistent, especially if your hair is naturally very light, so you might have to wash your hair 2-3 times before all of the color totally washes out.
• Temporary hair dyes like the Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel will wash out after 5-7 washes, which puts them between washable and semi-permanent formulas.
• Semi-permanent hair dyes will start to fade after 3-4 washes and will usually fade completely after 12-18 washes. However, it’s important to note that if your hair is naturally extremely light (especially if it’s bleached), then a bit of color might stain your hair, so even though it’ll go back to being light, it’ll still have a tint.
Maintaining Your Temporary Hair Color
Do you want your temporary hair color to look super vibrant for as long as possible? We have some tips!
Washable Temporary Color
Ultimately, the best thing about washable temporary colors is that they wash out easily, but we still have a few tips that’ll help you keep the color in place.
• After applying your temporary hair color, seal it in with a healthy coat of hair spray. The hair spray will leave a protective layer over your hair that will prevent the color from rubbing off or fading.
• Avoid washing your hair for as long as possible since a washable formula will start coming off the second you bring it in contact with water.
• When you shower, wear a shower cap to protect your hair.
• Go to bed with a hair cap on to avoid the temporary color from rubbing off on your pillows and making a mess.
Temporary Hair Dye
Maintaining a temporary hair dye is a lot like maintaining any other hair dye, so here are the must-know care tips!
• The more often you wash your hair, the faster the color will fade, so try to limit shampooing.
• Hot water will open the cuticle and force the dye to seep out, so make sure to only wash your hair in lukewarm water.
• Use a shampoo that is free of sulfates and other stripping detergents.
• You can actually use a product like Kersatase Clenditioner that will constantly add more pigment to your hair to keep the color always updated.
• Avoid heat styling your hair too often and stick to gentle options like blow-drying on low heat.
• Wear hats and UV-protecting hair oils when going out in the sun since UV rays can fade semi-permanent dyes.
• If you’re a swimmer, saturate your hair with water before hopping in the pool to prevent the chlorine from seeping in and changing or fading your temporary hair color.
How to Remove Your Temporary Hair Color?
Removing temporary hair color can be as easy as hopping in the shower, or it might require a slightly more intense washing routine, depending on what kind of product you chose.
Removing Washable Dye
When it comes to washable temporary hair colors like sprays, chalks, and waxes, all you have to do is hop in the shower. Even a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo will work for getting the temporary color out of your hair. Some formulas are a little more persistent, so you might have to shampoo your hair twice before all of the color comes out.
Fading Semi-Permanent Dye
If you’ve used a semi-permanent dye and want it to fade faster, start using a clarifying shampoo in the shower. Any cheap, sulfate-based shampoo can work, although you’ll want to make sure to condition your hair well afterwards since it can be very drying. The more often you shampoo, and the hotter the water you use, the faster the temporary hair dye will fade from your hair.
Totally Removing Semi-Permanent Dye
If you don’t want to wait for your temporary hair dye to fade over the course of a few showers, you can utilize a product like Color Oops, which helps to pull color out of the hair with relatively minimal damage. You apply it to dry hair just as you would a hair dye and leave it in for 20 minutes with a shower cap on.
Once the time passes, hop in the shower and continuously rinse your hair for 20 minutes with the help of shampoo. This will normally be enough to fade semi-permanent dye that has been applied to virgin hair.
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