Unless you were a rainbow-haired scene kid for the better part of your childhood, it can be insanely nerve-wracking to play around with at-home hair coloring kits. What if you accidentally choose a weird color? What if you somehow dye your hair peach? What if you permanently damage your hair and watch clumps of it break off in the shower?
Okay, first of all, none of that will (likely) happen. But if our quiet reassurances do nothing to quell your anxiety, then may we introduce you to the world of semi-permanent hair dyes? Unlike their more terrifyingly permanent sister, semi-permanent washes, highlights, and tints infuse your hair with color that washes out after anywhere from five shampoos to 28 shampoos, making them the ultimate choice for commitment-phobes (hey, yo). And to help you cut through the colorful noise, we rounded up only the best, cult-favorite brands, below. Get ready to take some selfies.
Brite Make Me Pastel Shampoo and Conditioner, $16 each
Calling all blondes: These purple and pink formulas are specifically made with you in mind. Filled with just the tiniest bit of pigments, these temporary washes (use the purple shampoo and conditioner together, and the pink shampoo and conditioner together, obviously) leave your hair with a pastel haze of color each time you use them, and they softly fade without any weird streaks or marks after a week.
Biotera Sheer Illuminator Shiny Tinted Moisture Treatment, $14
Generally, if you’ve got darker hair, there’s no good way to get temporary dye satisfaction unless you bleach it first, which kind of negates the purpose of trying a temporary color. But this bleach-free conditioner and dye hybrid leaves brunette hair with a soft, subtle tint, and you can choose between copper, gold, platinum, and red. Just slather it throughout your hair, leave it on for three minutes, and take a few selfies before it fades after a week.
Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color, $7
If you’re like, great, purple and pink and green hair is fun, but what about the “normal” colors I can wear to work, then hey, hi, we’ve got you. These ammonia-free dyes (which come in 36 shades, what uuuup) are pretty much universally lauded for being the best of the drugstore bunch.
Not only does the color last through 28 shampoos and won’t show signs of fading for at least four weeks, but they’re also infused with aloe and coconut oil to hardcore moisturize hair for very minimal damage.
ColorMe by Giuliano Temporary Hair Color, $7 each
Okay, technically, these are super, super temporary—as in they’ll wash out with your shampoo, but with colors ranging from copper, to red, to yellow and violet, they’re the perfect little tool to give you subtle highlights on face-framing layers. Just paint them over a small section of hair (they even work on inky black and brunette hair), let it dry for 15 minutes, and then live your life.
Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Cream, $10
We mean, you can’t include hair dyes and not include the most famous of famous brands: Manic Panic. This cult-favorite vegan formula is thick and creamy, making it super easy to spread throughout your hair, and the insanely bright colors will leave darker hair colors with a subtle, colorful hue, rather than with a full-on rainbow look as it would with white or blonde hair colors.