The very second I entered self-isolation, I knew it was only a matter of time until I royally f*cked up my hair color. It’s not that I have a problem with grown-out roots (TBH, I even prefer a little contrast), it’s just that I have a kiiiinda hard time sticking to one hair color—especially when I’m bored out of my mind. And after spending the last few weeks distracting myself with my ~other~ passions (I have officially re-arranged my furniture to the point of exhaustion), I feel like the time has finally come to change things up. But for the sake of coming out of quarantine on speaking terms with my hairstylist, I’ve decided to swap my go-to box dye for something a lil different (and, well, safer): temporary hair dye. Ahead, I rounded up the 10 best temporary dyes, tints, sprays, and chalks—all of which will give you a brand new lewk with zero commitment.
Wait, does temporary hair dye wash out?
Yup! Most temporary—aka semi-permanent—hair dyes will last 15 washes max, though some formulas can last as little as one day. With temporary dyes, “there’s no developer, there’s no hydrogen peroxide, there are no chemicals—the color just sits on the hair’s surface,” Patricia Slattery, AVP of hair color education, training, and testing at L’Oréal Paris, has told Cosmo. BTW, even though some box dyes are labeled as “semi-permanent,” you should always scan the fine-print instructions—if it tells you to mix anything at all, the dye isn’t temporary (and could last you closer to 28 washes).
What is the best temporary hair dye?
That depends on a couple things: (A) how long you want your color to last and (B) the end result you’re looking for. Since temporary dyes don’t actually lighten your hair—remember: they’re just sitting on the surface—you need to think strategically before you pick a color (i.e. if you’ve got dark-brown hair, you can’t expect a hot-pink dye to show up). DW, though, because that’s where I come into the equation. Keep reading for 10 temporary dyes you can actually count on.
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Best Temporary Hair Dye Mask
Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask
My favorite thing about this temporary hair dye is how dang easy it is to apply. Just comb a generous amount of the formula through clean, towel-dried hair (just like how you would with a regular hair mask), let it sit for 5-7 minutes, and rinse it alllll the way out. You’ll be left with a fun wash of color—you’ve got seven options, though I’m obsessed with the shade Hibiscus for light blondes—that fades a little every time you shampoo.
Best Temporary Hair Dye for Gray Roots
Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel
Feel like giving your roots a quick touch-up? This temporary hair dye from Christophe Robin is great for covering gray strands, and it comes in a nice selection of blonde and brown hues. And thanks to ingredients like antioxidant-rich oat flakes and keratin-stimulating flower extracts, it’s nice and gentle on your scalp, too.
Best Temporary Hair Color Spray
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Rainbow Mist
Spritz this temporary dye throughout your hair and you’ll get a sparkly, shiny wash of color that washes out at the end of the day. Feel free to play around with this one, whether you opt for a few face-framing highlights, ombré ends, or Billie Eilish roots.
Best Temporary Hair Dye Paste
Good Dye Young Poser Paste Temporary Hair Makeup
Considering hair-color queen Hayley Williams (remember Paramore?) is the mastermind behind this temporary hair dye, you know it’s good. The paste-like formula makes it super easy to concentrate on specific areas (like your roots or ends), and even though the color is 100 percent temporary, it looks crazy vibrant until you wash it out.
Best Temporary Hair Dye and Deep Conditioner
DpHue Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner
Think of this temporary formula as part hair dye, part deep conditioner. Perfect for faded hair colors that needs extra shine and dimension, comb it through clean, damp hair, leave it alone for 20 minutes, and rinse—you’ll be shocked by how good your hair looks (and feels!).
Best Semi-Permanent Hair Dye for Vibrant Color
Manic Panic Amplified Semi-Permanent Hair Color
If you’re in the mood for an all-over change that’ll last you a couple weeks, look towards this semi-permanent hair dye from cult-favorite brand Manic Panic. It comes in a ton of bright colors (I’m a fan of Ultra Violet and Cotton Candy Pink), and it’s v easy to apply (especially if you’ve colored your hair at home before). Just remember: The lighter the color, the lighter your base needs to be.
Best Temporary Hair Color Stick
Bumble and Bumble Bb Color Stick
New to the at-home hair color game? It doesn’t get much easier than this ultra-convenient stick—the smooth, velvety texture glides right over your hair (almost like lipstick), leaving behind a subtle color that washes out ASAP.
Best Temporary Hair Color Chalk
Got 2b Playful Temporary Hair Chalk
Consider this temporary hair dye the grown-up version of that chalk you sneakily used in elementary school—it literally clips into your hair, allowing you to gently slide all the way down the strand. This one washes out right away, but a quick blast of hairspray on your finished look will keep it looking vibrant-AF through the day.
Best Temporary Root Touch-Up Spray
Clairol Root Touch-Up Temporary Refreshing Color Spray
This temporary hair dye is basically like dry shampoo for root coverage—spray it along your roots to quickly disguise gray or grown-out strands fast (truly a miracle for Zoom calls), and then rinse it out before bed.
Best 1-Day Temporary Hair Dye
L’Oréal Paris Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color
Not into LTRs? This temporary hair dye gives you bright, holographic color for just one day—so if you’ve been thinking about trying out a new hue just for the sake of it, this formula might be the way to go.
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