Allure September 22, 2021



The Best Color Hair Dyes for Temporary Tinting at Home


Easily switch between a bold primary color or soft pastel with these fun, semi-permanent, and spray-on shades.

Last winter, 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.

As it turns out, the past year has been good for DIY beauty transformations — even DayGlo ones. Most home offices don't have a dress code that precludes hair with a wash of pink, green, purple, or any other color of the rainbow. Hence, bright new hair makeovers.

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 a 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.

We gathered up a few of the best color hair dye to try at home, including the products that McGrath put to the test. All of the choices below span the color spectrum for root touch-ups or full-on fantasy switches. They're all temporary or semi-permanent, but 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.

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. 

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.

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 you had as a kid) to play with while you wait.

Overtone Coloring Conditioner

Overtone Coloring Conditioner has quickly become a beloved choice for allover 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.

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. 

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. 

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.