Allure June 1, 2022



The Best Temporary Hair Dyes for Touching Up Roots or Going Full Day-Glo


Refresh your natural color or go bold with these fun, semi-permanent shades.

In the winter of 2020, while Allure's deputy editor Kara McGrath was bored at home with grown-out roots, she cracked open a tub of pastel-pink color-depositing conditioner. About 40 minutes later, she had cheery, rosy hair and 58 selfies to mark the start of what has become a long-term relationship with temporary hair color. Even though we're not stuck at home 24/7 anymore, you never know when you'll look in the mirror and suddenly see your hair as a blank canvas, ready for some DIY hair color magic. Luckily, you've come to the right place to prepare for those moments.

When determining which hue is right for you (and your hair), colorist Matt Rez says warm shades like peaches, reds, and pinks will "always grab more evenly and are more forgiving," so they're probably your best option for the first foray into at-home color. Colorist Rachel Bodt advises that you test dyes on wet or damp hair first, so you can see how your hair will grab the color. (Use an inconspicuous strand, perhaps by the nape of your neck, for your test run.) 

Unfortunately, hair-dyeing is an area where blondes really do have more fun: While some brands make a brunette option, you'll get the most vibrant results from bright hair colors on bleached hair. Bodt strongly advises against using at-home dye kits, however. "You can do more damage than good," she says. Instead, if you can't make it to a colorist first, Kener suggests trying colorful clip-in extensions instead.

Because not everyone is ready to take the plunge into the world of vibrantly colored hair quite yet (even in temporary hair dye form), we've included a couple of temporary hair color products that can also enhance brown hair, cover up stray grays, and disguise persistent roots until your next colorist appointment. Gone are the sticky hair chalks of the past — some of these innovative formulas even have hair care and styling properties, because who says switching up your hair color from home has to come at a cost?

We gathered up a few of the best color hair dyes to try at home, including the products that McGrath personally put to the test. All of the choices below span the color spectrum for root touch-ups or full-on fantasy switches. While they're all temporary or semi-permanent, Nine Zero One stylist Sierra Kener says you can extend their life by adding a couple of drops of the color to your conditioner — that way you'll get a light refresh every washday.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss

Rescue blonde hair from brassiness between salon appointments with Madison Reed's Color Reviving Gloss in Crema (pictured above). This violet gloss (pictured above) cancels out pesky yellow and orange tones and restores blonde and gray hair to cool-toned, brilliant brightness. 

It also comes in seven other shades, including Espresso, a dark brown, and Barolo, a coppery red, guaranteed to liven up pretty much any possible hair hue. We love this semi-permanent gloss's hair restoration abilities so much that it won a coveted Best of Beauty Award in 2020.

L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover-Up

For temporary color in a pinch, Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, recommends L'Oréal Paris’s Magic Root Cover-Up for its easy application and accessible price point. In seconds, this spray deposits matte pigments that seamlessly camouflage roots and grays. 

According to Valdes, the matte finish helps with oily roots and disguises thinning spots by sticking to the scalp as well as the hair. Although most of the color options are on the darker side, Valdes advises that you can diffuse the finish by combing it out after spraying.

Curlsmith Temporary Rinse-Out Color

Curlsmith's Temporary Rinse-Out Color is a cross between hair makeup and hair gel that's perfect for curly folks who want to try out a vivid color for a day or two. This gel coats hair in eye-catching pigments and then dries down to a curl-defining, transfer-resistant finish. 

Because the dye-free formula sits on top of hair instead of penetrating it, it's non-damaging and shows up on dark hair without the need for bleaching. It also completely washes out with just one shampoo, perfect for color-curious commitment-phobes.

Color Wow Root Cover Up

For a more forgiving formula, Valdes suggests Color Wow's Root Cover Up. "It's a super easy application that's kind of like applying eye shadow," Valdes says. While it's not the most full-coverage formula on this list, reflective mineral powder instantly adds dimension and the eight soft shades are easy for beginners to blend.

Valdes also loves how consumer-friendly it is — the brush makes precise application a breeze and it's the perfect size to carry with you everywhere. But we hardly have to tell you how much we love this product, as it's scored an Allure Best of Beauty Award every year since its debut in 2013.

DpHue Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner

Even natural hair colors need a little bit of love sometimes, which is where DpHue's Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner comes in handy. Available in 11 shades ranging from light blonde to black, this color-depositing and nourishing hair mask deepens your existing color while adding vibrancy and shine to any hair color or texture.

Hally Color Cloud

For a soft wash of color, try Hally Color Cloud. The brand has managed to make the process almost completely mess-free with a foam that pumps out white, spreads clear, and develops into a warm rose-gold, lilac, ash-blonde, soft-brown, or pale-blue shade. Plus, it comes with eye patches and putty (yep, like the stuff you played with as a kid) to play with while you wait.

Overtone Coloring Conditioner

Overtone Coloring Conditioner has quickly become a beloved choice for all-over tinting. The product combines a deep-conditioning treatment with highly saturated color, so it's perfect for anyone who wants a dramatic change and hasn't seen the inside of a salon for a while. The brand has more than 15 shades to choose from (McGrath is partial to the pastel pink), including options for brunettes.

Good Dye Young I'm Bored Hair Makeup

McGrath says that Good Dye Young's I'm Bored Hair Makeup is the best option for creating streaks. The serum-like texture makes it easy to add a couple of accent strands rather than allover color. Also, it doesn't need to be washed out right after you apply, so it's great if you decide you must get some splashes of red in your hair 20 minutes before a party.

Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Cream

In the world of temporary, bright hair colors, Manic Panic is an icon. The brand offers semi-permanent color creams that come in over 40 vivid and neutral hues to make all of your fantasy-shade dreams come true. The tints can last up to six weeks. 

Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray

Karissa Schaudt, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, suggests easing into at-home color by using Oribe's Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray to create temporary root shadows. "It rinses out after shampooing and won't affect future salon touch-ups," she says. The spray-on tint comes in six shades and also contains rice starch to help sop up excess oil from the scalp and UV absorbers to cut down on color fading. 

Wella Color Charm Paints 

Wella's Color Charm Paints are semi-permanent dyes that are made for mixing. There are 16 shade options and a clear formula that you can use as a "pastelizer" to soften any of the more vibrant hues. Each color mix will stay visible for up to 20 washes depending on the initial color intensity, and the ammonia-free formula won't destroy or make your hair brittle. 

Splat Conditioning Color Masque

Similar to Overtone, Splat's Conditioning Color Masque delivers repairing ingredients as it deposits a vibrant tint. The baobab seed extract in the treatment is protein-enriched to help hair retain color, while quinoa strengthens hair and protects against UV damage. The masque comes in this fuchsia shade, purple, and teal — or as a clear gloss to add shine to your existing color. 

Chi Chromashine Semi-Permanent Hair Color

You don't have to worry about mixing up a developer to reap the vibrant benefits of Chi's Chromashine Semi-Permanent Hair Color. The bright hair colors can be deposited directly onto your hair, and after about 10 minutes under low heat from a hair-dryer, your color will set. The brand suggests coating hair with its Chi Keratin Mist before applying color to even out porosity and get a more uniform tint. 

BTZ Color Bombz Temporary Hair Color Spray

If you'd prefer to dip your toe in the hair-color pond before going all out with an actual dye, then give BTZ's Color Bombz Temporary Hair Color Spray a shot. There are 12 crazy hair colors to choose from and each washes out with regular shampoo. Top off the tint with hairspray to get the color to last a bit longer.

Iroiro Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Not only do Iroiro's Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Colors come in 19 primary, neon, and pastel shades, but all of the dyes are laced with moisturizing coconut oil and quinoa protein to simultaneously strengthen hair and help the color last anywhere from six to 12 washes, depending on how often you shampoo your hair. The formulas are ammonia- and peroxide-free, too, so you don't have to worry about dry-out or damage.