Cut & Color by Erika @ RKA Paul Mitchell

Not all temporary hair color is actually temporary.

Shocking, I know.

If the box says “temporary” or “washes out within 30 days”, the odds are worse than 50:50 if you’re hoping that the hair color will actually wash out.

Most of these products just fade over time, and few of them are truly temporary.


*The photo to the left is of a block color technique, or “peek-a-boos”. I used Inkworks by Paul Mitchell for the violet splashes, and Paul Mitchell The Color for the overall base.

For example…

This is the most common message or comment that I get about “temporary” hair color:

“I dyed my hair with a blonde box dye that said it would wash out, and it didn’t.”

Temporary Hair Color


Here’s the reality of the situation…

1. If your hair was darker than the color that you chose then it absolutely will not wash out. It’s just not chemically possible to go lighter without peroxide. The box is lying.

2. If you had previously colored hair before you used the lighter box of hair color…it probably did not turn out well.

3. If a color is TRULY temporary then you must choose a shade that is equivalent or darker than your natural or artificial level. Even then…there are many factors that play in how the color will turn out.


Actual temporary hair color…

Will wash out.

But, if your hair is very blonde and you choose a bright blue or vibrant violet, for example, there will probably be some pigment lingering after 30 days.

shampoo-three-paul-mitchellThat’s because temporary color is somewhat of a “stain”.

It’s possible to get rid of the lingering pigment by using a clarifying shampoo(like Shampoo Three by Paul Mitchell or Hair Cleansing Cream by Redken).

This will not work in some situations, so please contact me if your situation is a little more complicated that what I’ve explained.


How can you tell if it’s really temporary?

Some demi-permanent hair color boxes(not professional) may claim to be “temporary” or to “wash out”, but they aren’t. There is still a little bit of oxidation involved(from the peroxide) and that’s why the color never really goes away.

There’s one sure way to know if a hair color is truly temporary…

You will not have to mix it with a peroxide product before applying the color. It can be applied straight from the bottle to your hair.


One exception…sort of…

If you have medium brown hair, about a level 6(like mine), and you use a demi-permanent hair color product that’s very close to your natural color then you may not notice a huge change after 30 days.

I’ve used a demi-permanent on my own hair to slightly change the hues or to add a little warmth. I can tell where my new growth is because it’s “demi-permanent”.


Here are a few great temporary hair color products to try:



Lasts 30 days or less:

Lasts until you wash your hair:

About The Author


Professional Hairstylist | American Board Certified Haircolorist | Makeup Artist | Beauty Blogger

One Response to Temporary Hair Color

  1. Hilary says:

    I am curious about overtone, I have heard mixed information from temporary to basically permemnant. I used it as a conditioner on salon dyed copper hair twice for maintenance and am nervous that it will affect the salon dye application now when I go in for a touch up. Do you have a perspective on that brand or the risk/complication with professional dye?

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