Hair Color That Will Wash Out

The only way a bright, funky shade will show is if you have blonde hair (or you've bleached it first).

Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Ready for a change, minus the commitment? Electrify your tresses with semi-permanent or temporary hair color. These types of dye simply cover up your natural color and wash out after several washes. Their permanent cousins, on the other hand, change your hair’s chemistry and can weaken your hair and damage your scalp over time. Plus, if you tend to change your look on the regular, wash-out hair color is a great way to express yourself without subjecting your hair to trauma.

Dye Profiles

Semi- and demi-permanent dyes coat the hair shaft in color, and wash out gradually; usually they don’t last longer than eight weeks or so. These dyes work well on light hair, but they may not do much to change the color of dark hair. They’re also safe to use on chemically-treated hair. Vegetable dyes are similar to semi-permanent dyes: They also mask your natural color and wash out after several shampoos. Finally, if you need a quick fix for Halloween or a special event, opt for temporary hair color. Temporary color usually comes in a spray can and washes out in just one or two shampoos.

When to Go Permanent

Wash-out hair dye doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re trying to lighten your hair, even by one shade, you probably won’t have much luck with semi-permanent dye. Because hair lightening literally strips color out of your hair, it’s essential to use a product containing peroxide to blondify your strands. Also, even though semi-permanent dyes are gentler than their permanent counterparts, some people are allergic to ingredients -- even “natural” ones -- in wash-out dyes.

Home Haircolor

Dyeing your hair at home is the ultimate DIY beauty experience. Read the instructions on the dye of your choice before starting, and then clear off plenty of space. Cover countertops and valuables with newspaper or plastic — semi-permanent dye may wash out of your hair, but it doesn’t come off other things so easily! Wear gloves and coat your hairline and ears with petroleum jelly to protect your skin from staining. Test a hidden strand of hair with your dye before slathering it on your entire mane: Better to find out earlier than later about a surprise allergy!

Removing Wash-Out Dye

If that lustrous red dye turned your locks bright orange instead, don’t panic. Wash-out hair color is easy to remove if you act quickly after dyeing it. First, wash your hair in hot water with a strong clarifying shampoo. Then, rinse your hair in either lemon juice or diet cola — both of these are effective at lifting excess color. If you’d rather fix than rinse out your wrecked ‘do, use a complementary colored hair toner to balance your shade -- purple toner to lift yellow hues or green toner to lift red hues.

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