Temporary Hair Dyes: Types, Advantages, and Limitations

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Gaga

What is Temporary Hair Color?

According to the color durability after the application, hair dyes can be classified into several basic types: temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent.

Temporary hair dyes are the easiest way to change your hair color without a long-term commitment. You can color your hair just for a special event or add a little fun to your night out.

Temporary hair dyes are formulated to change your hair color quickly and will last until you wash your hair. Unlike permanent hair dyes, their pigment molecules don’t penetrate the hair shaft. Instead, they adhere to the hair as a temporary coating outside of the hair shaft. When you wash your hair, the pigment will be rinsed off and your original color will be back to normal.

a student girl with short hair colored with temporary dyes

The variety of color choices and a convenient wash-out nature make these cool products highly popular, especially among teens. Temporary hair colors are ideal for special occasions such as Halloween, festivals, performances, or theme parties.

Types of Temporary Hair Dyes

Temporary hair dyes come in a variety of forms, such as hair chalks, pigmented shampoos, colored waxes, hair sprays, gels, and hair mascaras.

1. Hair Chalk

a girl with hair colored by hair chalks

Hair chalks are becoming increasingly popular due to their beautiful pastel colors and easy application process. The color usually lasts until the next shampoo. But if your natural hair is an ultra-light color, it may take up to four shampoos to wash out.

To help the color adhere to the strands, spray each section of your hair with water. Use protective gloves to prevent getting your hands stained. Using flat iron over colored strands can provide you with longer-lasting color.

A chalk comb is a hairbrush with hair chalk in it, so you can apply the color without staining your hands. You just need to comb your hair with the chosen color. Repeat if you want a more intense color.

Popular brands: Hair Chalk Set For Girls by GirlZone, Alex Spa Hair Chalk Salon, and Hair Chalks Set for Girls by Original Stationery.

Refrain from chalking your hair too often because it can strip your hair of its natural moisture.

2. Hair Color Spray

Colored hairsprays coat your hair with pigments and come in a variety of different colors. They are very effective and easy to apply. Hair color sprays deliver rich color without harsh chemicals, so you can use them wherever you’d like without harming your hair, and they are easy to wash out. Some brands work on dark hair nicely.

a girl with multicolored hair

Popular brands: B Wild! by Punky, Temporary Hair Color Spray by Jerome Russell (works pretty well on dark hair), L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Hair Color Spray, and Manic Panic Amplified Color Spray.

3. Colored Wax

The colored wax is intended to color your hair while styling it. It stays in your hair until you wash it out. The application is easy, just use your fingers to run it through. Hair wax can give a rigid texture to your hair. It works best for short and thick hair.

Popular brands: Mofajang Hair Color Wax, Color Crazy Hair Wax by Ashley Lee, and Temporary Hair Dye Wax by HailiCare.

4. Colored Hair Gel

Tinted hair gels are used similarly to regular styling gels. They offer a good hold, with the added benefits of no-commitment color. A bright, neon-colored gel that glows under UV light is perfect for completing your outfit on fun nights out.

5. Colored Mascara Wand

Colored mascara is usually used for creating streaks and highlights. It would take longer to apply it to your whole head, especially if you have long or curly hair. This mascara also can be used to temporarily cover your gray roots.

Advantages of Temporary Hair Colors

  1. These color products come ready to use, straight from the applicator, which makes the application easy. No need to use a developer and a mixing bowl.
  2. Temporary hair colors can be applied to hair without bleaching. That is why they are not as harsh on your hair as permanent hair dyes are. Since wash-out hair dyes are made from non-toxic materials, you can use them as often as you want without getting your hair damaged. They are also safe to use on permed or chemically straightened hair.
  3. Washable hair dyes are ideal for experimenting. You can change your color whenever you wish, and there is a wide range of shades to choose from. You can also use them to try out a new color without committing to it before dying your hair permanently.
  4. The added layer of color temporarily increases the volume of your hair, making it look fuller and thicker.
  5. Temporary dyes don’t contain ammonia, so they don’t have a strong and unpleasant chemical smell like permanent hair dyes.
  6. Washable hair dyes can be used to temporarily cover gray roots and prolong the time between root touch-ups.
  7. Temporary hair colors can also be used to remove unwanted yellowish tones in white hair.
Fashion girl with blue hair color


Because of their very low penetrating ability, temporary hair dyes have some limitations.

  1. If you want the color to last longer, you’ll need to re-apply it after each shampoo. The application process can be messy.
  2. The pigment may stain your hands every time you run your fingers through the hair. If you get caught in the rain, the color could run and may stain your clothes.
  3. For people with naturally dark hair, temporary hair dyes are not very effective. When applied to dark hair without bleach, a temporary color may not show up. Fortunately, there are some exceptions.
  4. Damaged and overprocessed hair can grab the temporary color quickly, resulting in unevenly colored hair after washing it. Using Neutral Protein Filler before the application will provide you with more consistent results.
  5. Temporary colors can add too much texture to your hair and leave it feeling heavy, knotty, and crunchy.

How Long Does Temporary Hair Dye Last?

Since this type of hair dye coats only the top of the hair, the effects usually last till the next shampoo. How quickly they will wash out depends on the product and the porosity of your hair.

Some brands can last for several washes, so check the label for the information.

If you have high-porosity hair due to bleaching or other chemical treatments, your hair can “grab” the color and keep it longer than virgin or dark hair. You may need more than one washing to remove the color completely from your hair.

a girl with green temporary hair color

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


1 thought on “Temporary Hair Dyes: Types, Advantages, and Limitations”

  1. I will keep in mind the advantages of temporary hair coloring, such as the lack of ammonia, which is huge. My wife wants to dye her hair but has always been apprehensive due to the ammonia that is contained within several permanent hair coloring products. I will be sure to recommend a temporary job for her so she can stay healthy.

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