What Is the Best Temporary Hair Color for Kids?
Your little Katy Perry is begging for pink streaks or blue tips, but you’re worried about whether or not it’s safe to dye her hair at all. The good news? There are plenty of temporary options you can try that won’t damage your child’s strands.
As Brian O’Connor, a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Good Dye Young explains, “If you’re looking for quick and easy color, there are pastes, sprays and chalks that you can wear and wash out easily in one shampoo. The next level up would be a semi-permanent dye, which will last anywhere between four to eight weeks before gradually fading."
Once you’ve decided on the color, you’ll want to take a few precautionary measures to ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable experience possible (and by that we mean, one that requires the least amount of clean-up afterward).
For starters, you want to set up a well-ventilated workstation. Sitting outside is your best bet, but if you’re indoors, make sure to crack open any windows and cover your floors and countertops with newspapers to protect against stains. You’ll also want to have a pair of plastic or rubber gloves on hand, a comb and something to drape over your kid’s shoulders (like an old towel or a garbage bag with a hole cut out up top so it serves as a makeshift poncho).
OK, ready to color? We’ve found eight options for you, at varying levels of permanence.
Best for Glitter Hair: Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Star Mist
This spray-on sparkle is pure magic in a can. Packed with the finest flecks of glitter, it will make strands glimmer whenever it hits the light. Just make sure you give the can a good shake before every use as glitter tends to settle to the bottom. Treat this like you would a hairspray and use it as a finishing touch on dry hair. The mist comes in four shades (though we’ve taken a shine to rosé, which is a rose gold glitter) and washes out when you shampoo.
Best For Ombré Highlights: IGK Amaro Highlight Spray
For sun-kissed strands without any bleach or sunburn, try this subtle highlight spray. The warm shade is equal parts golden and copper and brightens hair in a matter of spritzes. As with any spray-on formula, we recommend that you protect your child’s eyes and mouth by covering their face with a shield or towel while you quickly spray each section. Then, hold the can at an arm’s length from the hair and spray in small bursts to get an even application. The no-commitment color dries down quickly, doesn’t make strands sticky or crunchy and washes out easily with shampoo.
Best For Colorful Tips: Mofajang Hair Coloring Wax
Though it’s labeled as “hair coloring material,” users describe this temporary color as having a wax- or pomade-like texture. Apply it to slightly damp hair (you want it to be at least 80 percent dry) and start with a finger’s worth of wax on each section of hair you want to color. (The more wax you use, the firmer it will dry.) The highly pigmented color (it comes in shades like purple and red) and spreadable texture wins bonus points for its compatibility with curly and natural hair.
Best For Colored Highlights: Jerome Russell B Wild Color Spray
Prefer a more hands-off approach? This saturated spray adds colorful streaks wherever you direct them. Choose from eight hues including white, neon pink, blue, orange and green. Tip: Apply some mousse or gel to each section you want to color before spraying if you want it to look even more pronounced.
Best For Indecisive Children: Hawkko Colored Clip-In Hair Extensions
Changing hair color doesn’t get any easier than this. Each extension is about 20-inches long and is attached to a small comb-like barrette that you just clip in and out of your kid’s hair. The synthetic strands are surprisingly soft and heat-resistant so you can curl or flat iron them on a lower heat setting. Pick from solid shades like blue or red—or go for the multi-color pack for variety.
Best For Chunky Streaks: Got2B Playful Temporary Hair Chalk
Hair chalk is great because it’s more precise and you can really target each section you want to color. Simply separate one-inch sections of your child’s hair and brush through them to make sure there aren’t any tangles before you run the chalk over them. Start at the top of the head and work your way down to the tips before coating the undersides of each section. Set the color with a fine mist of hairspray to finish.
Best For Dark Hair: L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup
For dark brown or black hair, we like this highly saturated, squeeze-on color. Place an old towel over your kid’s shoulders to start. Then, using your fingertips apply a dime-sized amount onto a thin, dry strand of hair. The color will be slightly wet-to-the-touch when first applied but will dry on its own after a few minutes (though you can speed things up with a hairdryer). Repeat as needed and simply shampoo to remove the tint.
Best For a Lasting Look: Good Dye Young Semi-Permanent Dye
If you’re OK with using a slightly more permanent color, we like this peroxide- and ammonia- free option from Good Dye Young. It’s a semi-permanent formula that lasts between four to six weeks and has a creamy, conditioning base that’s less drying. Still, we’d recommend doing a patch test before plopping this all over your kid’s head to make sure they don’t have any reaction to it. If they’re in the clear, proceed with an ointment (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) around their hairline and the tops of their ears to prevent the dye from touching the skin directly in those areas.
“If you’re using a semi-permanent dye, you may have to lighten your child’s hair first for the true color to shine bright. Not into bleaching? Pick a bolder color like blue or purple that will show up on darker, unbleached hair,” says O’Connor.