Want to Dip Into Temporary Hair Color? Here's Your Complete Guide

Want to Dip Into Temporary Hair Color? Here's Your Complete Guide
Chantelle Baker/Instagram

Eyeing a new hair color but not sure if you want to commit to the change? Welcome to the world of temporary hair dye. Since most temporary colors wash out in as little as two shampoos, you can have fun with trends you’d normally hesitate to try, like Gigi Hadid’s daring blue tips (above).

Here's how it works: Compared to permanent color, temporary hair color is a larger molecule that coats the surface of the hair and doesn’t penetrate deep into the cuticle, says Min Kim, master colorist at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City. Because harsh chemicals aren’t involved in the process, you can switch things up as often as you’d like—all without having to worry about damaging your strands.

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And while you can ask for a semi-permanent color in the salon (this is a longer-lasting option that will gradually wash out after a few weeks), there are plenty of ways to DIY a quick change at home. If you’re tempted to go bronde (one of fall’s hottest hair colors), for example, but aren't sure if the look is right for you, Kim suggests giving it a trial run using TouchBack’s Color Depositing System in Medium Brown ($20; touchbackcolor.com and CVS stores). It can be applied in as little as five minutes while you’re in the shower, and if you're not a fan, it will wash out three shampoos later.  

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When taking rainbow hues and other trendy techniques for a spin, the pro recommends using hair chalk like Bumble and Bumble’s spray-on version ($19; bumbleandbumble.com), which is an easy option for beginners. Redken’s Color Rebel Hair Makeup ($10; ulta.com) is another way to go for a vibrant touch—just avoid using oil-based products when using to ensure the color doesn’t immediately fade away. If your goal is to hide pesky grays inbetween salon appointments, Kim says a mascara (try Cover Your Gray 2-In-1 Applicator Root Touch Up, $5; ulta.com) or a powder (like Madison Reed Root Touch Up, $30; madison-reed.com) is ideal.

One last thing to keep in mind? “Hair that's been previously lightened will grab whatever color you apply and keep it in longer. This translates into the temporary hair color becoming not so temporary,” adds Kim. “If you have lighter ends, use the color more sparingly or underneath the surface of the hair where it can be easily hidden.”

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