I don't know about you, but when it comes to trying out beauty looks, I love to change it up. This applies not only to makeup, but also to new hair looks that venture beyond the monotony of my favorite shampoos and conditioners, leave-ins, and tried-and-true hair wraps. And while there are a variety of hair cuts and styles out there that can facilitate giving you a new look every day, the adventurous among us may also be interested in trying out semi permanent hair colors, which can be applied from the comfort of your own home!
But how do you find the right temporary hair dye for you, and how do you go about applying it? We got in touch with Desirae Blais (opens in new tab)—a professional hair stylist, licensed cosmetologist, and DIY Vivid Color Expert for Sally Beauty—in order to familiarize ourselves with all things at-home temporary hair color. Read on for your easiest, hair-healthiest dye experience yet.
What To Look for in a Semi Permanent Hair Color
Considering the wide range of temporary hair colors on the market, it can be difficult to understand which one is the right one, and even more impossible to decipher the long lists of ingredients on the backs of the packages. To ease this shopping process, we had Blais break it down.
"I always suggest vegan/cruelty free products for temporary hair colors since these are made from natural ingredients like shea butter and vegetable dyes," she advises. "This will cause no damage and help moisturize your hair."
And when it comes to ingredients you should stay away from? Blais suggests "staying away from any temporary color that has hydrogen peroxide or ammonia, as these products will affect the cuticle and be a more permanent color, shifting your natural hair chemistry."
How to Apply Temporary Hair Color
Blais says that when it comes to temporary hair color, the safest way to proceed is on clean, damp hair. "This allows you a little leeway during application to make sure everything is fully saturated," she explains. "Always follow manufacturer instructions on processing time to make sure you maximize your results!"
How Long Does Temporary Hair Color Last?
Once the temporary hair color has successfully been applied, Blais says that it typically lasts "10-12 washes, depending upon how often you wash your hair or how light the canvas of hair they were applied to. Vivid color always lasts best on hair lifted to pale blonde or what I like to tell people—the color inside of a banana."
To make your color last as long as possible, she says you should "always wash with cold water, using color safe products. Also, use low heat and heat protection while styling where high heat will also result in color fading."
And when it's time to wash that dye out completely? She advises uses a clarifying shampoo, and adds that "hot water is the safest way to remove without damage to the hair canvas."
Best Temporary Hair Dyes
Hair Color for Vivid Results
Blais specifically recommends Strawberry Leopard for stand-out color that pops. She explains, "Strawberry Leopard has a hair care line specifically catered to vivid color hair and includes a shampoo, conditioner, heat protector, and color sealing spray to maintain the life of your new vivid hue."
Moisturizing Hair Color
Blais says that this is one of her favorite temporary hair color lines, calling it "super moisturizing" and praising its large selection, vegan formula, and cruelty-free ethics.
Hair Color for Mixing
This is another of Blais' favorite options, which she loves for its "large color selections that can be mixed together to create custom colors." She also adds that, like her other favorites, it's vegan and cruelty free.
Hair Color for a Natural Look
This formula includes aloe and coconut oil, which, per Blais' recommendation, are great for ensuring that your hair doesn't become damaged by the dye. The product is also designed to look and fade naturally, so your new 'do doesn't need to look jarring.
A Sweet-Smelling Hair Color
Countless reviewers rave about the great smell of this product, but rest assured that it's also quite effective—and nourishing to boot! "What I really love about this product is that it's great for refreshing my color and it's a really great moisturizing hair mask at the same time," writes one customer. "It's killing two birds with one stone."
Hair Color for Light Hair
This product works best on blonde hair, and those users love the ease with which it washes out. It's also great for those with a creative, ever-changing mind: One pleased customer writes, "There [are] so many color choices and you can change it up without damaging your hair."
Hair Color for Added Shine
This product is formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, so you don't need to worry about drying out your strands. It's also a great option if you're looking to turn heads: Reviewer after reviewer marvels online about the shine that this delivers!
A Spray-On Hair Color
Looking for a temporary hair color that's easy to apply? Consider this spray-on option from L'Oreal, which is great for very temporary looks (think: a music festival, a costume party, etc.). Plus, one reviewer helpfully adds that if you're dealing with a greasy scalp, this also doubles as a "fabulous dry shampoo."
The Hair Color and Conditioner Combo
Reviewers love this option, citing it as a low-maintenance way of maintaining the hair color of their choice. Plus, customers say that it doesn't stain their tub, clothes, or towels.
The Hair Color for Curly Girls
This hair color is designed to sit on top of the hair shaft rather than penetrating strands, thereby preventing damage. It also promises to help hold and scrunch curls, and customers say it works! One raves, "The product holds curls really well! It worked great for my hair type and I think it honestly helped with frizz too."
Meet the Expert
Desirae Blais is a licensed cosmetologist and hair stylist based in Maine. In addition to working as a hair expert for Sally Beauty, she also works as a stylist at Blush Beauty Me and creates content on Tik Tok.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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