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What Are the Different Types of Temporary Hair Coloring?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are a few types of temporary hair coloring that vary in terms of the way that they are applied and the length of time that it takes to wash them completely out of the hair. The types of temporary coloring that last the shortest amount of time are applied by via spray, paste, or gel. These coloring products simply coat the hair follicles in a colored substance that can usually be rinsed completely out of the hair with just one shampoo. Instead of saturating the hair with color as with semi-permanent hair coloring products, these products are completely superficial in terms of the way in which they change the color of the hair.

This kind of very temporary hair color is usually used for an occasion or a costume. In fact, many stores and companies that supply shoppers with costumes and costume accessories also carry lines of colored hair spray that include a dozen or more colors. Green hair spray, for example, may be used for a person who is dressing up as a sea monster. White hair coloring might be used on a person who is dressing up as a ghost. Sometimes this spray version of temporary color is also used for fashion purposes and may be used as a part of an outfit.

Unlike permanent hair color, temporary hair color does not use a chemical reaction to strip color from the hair, or permanently stain or tint the hair. Temporary hair color can also include products like demi-permanent hair coloring, semi-permanent hair coloring, and hair glazes. These products are all hair coloring products that change the color of the hair for a specific period of time but are intended to eventually rinse away so that the natural hair color will return. Each product is slightly different, but it is common for the product label to indicate approximately how many shampoos are required to completely remove the color from the hair.

Some people prefer to use temporary color instead of permanent hair coloring because it causes less damage to the hair. Because permanent hair color uses a chemical reaction that permanently changes the color — and, in some cases, the texture — of the hair, it usually damages the hair as well. Temporary hair coloring, on the other hand, is much less likely to damage the hair. However, the results of permanent hair color are often more vibrant and consistent.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel , Former Writer
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"

Discussion Comments

By indigomoth — On Mar 14, 2012

I quite like using temporary color in my hair. I have a few friends who change their hair color every few weeks and they always do it in a permanent way. But, if you do that, you have to bleach your hair to get all the previous color out of it.

I know my sister bleached her hair one too many times when we were kids and she ended up with hair so brittle it would snap off in clumps if she brushed it too hard.

I like the look of having day glo hair, but I don't want to risk damaging it like that, and to be honest I like being able to look somewhat respectable at work, no matter how wild I am over the weekend.

So, temporary hair coloring products are really fun to play with. My method is to get a white one, as a bottom layer to simulate having bleached my hair and then spray whatever color I fancy over the top.

You have to get a fairly good quality and follow the instructions or you end up with a solid clump of hair, but when done right it's fantastic.

By croydon — On Mar 13, 2012

@Mor - You might want to buy your mother a pink wig instead of her using the spray. Pink is a pretty popular color for wigs, so she should be able to find all kinds of different types, and it would probably be cheaper than using a temporary hair color dye.

Another thing she might want to consider is using a permanent dye in her own color. This isn't just to cover grey hairs, if it is the right kind of dye it can also fill out the hair follicle so that they aren't quite so absorbent.

Then, when she puts the temporary stuff over the top it won't stick quite so well.

It might also help to make her hair look like it's in better condition. Older hair can often become more damaged and more difficult to keep smooth.

By Mor — On Mar 13, 2012

My mother has red hair that is turning white at the moment and she's a teacher at a local high school. She often uses temporary hair spray when sporting competitions are run at her school, as all the teachers and students are organized into groups and each of the groups is competing against each other (like the houses in Harry Potter).

She is in the group which has the color pink, I believe.

The first time she did it, she bought the cheapest temporary hair color spray she could find and used that, but she regretted it quickly.

It looked great on the day, but when she went to wash it out, it had stained her hair. I think she has quite absorbent hair, perhaps because of its color, or perhaps because of her age.

The bottle said that she should be able to wash it out after only one wash, but she thought the pink tinge lasted almost a month.

After that, she found a more expensive spray and did a spot check before using it to make sure it wasn't going to cause that kind of problem. As a teacher, it wasn't great to have to go to school with pink hair every day.

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

Former Writer

"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
Learn more
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