How long does temporary hair dye last?

If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with a fun, bold hair color without making a long-term commitment, temporary hair dye is a great option. But exactly how long can you expect it to last?

In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about the longevity and durability of temporary hair color.

What is temporary hair dye?

Temporary hair dye is a coloring product that washes out after several uses. It deposits pigment onto the hair strand without penetrating the cuticle or permanently altering your natural shade.

There are a few different types of temporary hair dyes:

  • Hair spray: These quick and easy-to-apply sprays temporarily coat the hair with colorful pigments. They wash out with one shampoo.
  • Hair chalk: chalk comes in twist-up sticks and creates a dusting of color that rubs directly onto the strands. It can last a few washes.
  • Hair mascara: mascara wands let you apply temporary color to certain sections as a highlight. They last around 3–4 shampoos.
  • Hair gels: These gels use bolder pigments to color the hair and may last up to 6 weeks with proper maintenance.
  • Hair rinses: rinses infuse color into the hair and require about 20 minutes of processing time. They can last 4-6 weeks.

No matter the formula, temporary dyes only deposit color on the surface of hair and will fade out over time. They cause no chemical changes or damage.

Factors that Influence Longevity

Temporary Hair Dye duration lasting time

How long your temporary hair color lasts depends on several factors:

Hair Type and Texture

  • Porosity – If your hair is porous and absorbs moisture easily, the color molecules will penetrate deeper and hold better.
  • Texture – Smooth, fine hair will hold temporary color longer than coarse, curly hair. The ridges and curves of textured hair cause faster fading.
  • Lightness – Temporary dye shows up better and longer on light blond or pre-lightened hair. Darker hair may require multiple applications.

Your Hair Care Routine

  • Washing frequency: The more often you shampoo, the faster temporary color washes away. Infrequent washing extends its life.
  • Shampoo type: sulfate-free shampoos preserve hair dye better than clarifying formulas. Conditioner-only washing also prolongs temporary color.
  • Heat styling: excessive heat from blow drying, curling, or straightening causes faster fading over time.

The Type and Quality of Dye

  • Application – Temporary sprays and rinses last longer than direct-apply sticks or gels.
  • Formula: Higher-quality dyes in conditioners and moisturizers will fade more gradually than cheap options.
  • Color choice: bold shades like blue, purple, and pink generally don’t last as long as natural copper and red hues.

How long do different temporary dyes last?

Now let’s break down the average duration for each type of temporary hair coloring:

  • Spray-on colors: Most temporary spray-in dyes last through 1 or 2 washes. They sit externally on the hair and wash away quickly. Reapply as needed.
  • Hair chalk: colored hair chalks often last around 3–5 washes, depending on your hair type. Re-chalk to refresh the tint.
  • Mascara wands: These colored mascaras can hold up for 3–4 shampoos before fading out. Touch up by wanding over the colored strands.
  • Hair gel: A temporary coloring gel maintains the shade for an average of 4-6 weeks when used properly. Roots will regrow after about 2 weeks.
  • Hair rinses: These will stick around the longest—4-6 weeks on average. Shampoo less often to make the color last.

I’ve had great results getting 5–6 weeks of wear from a temporary hair rinse in a rich red shade. The color stayed vibrant even after multiple washes. For a fun blue spray-on hair color, I got one evening of wear before it washed out in the shower, so reapplication is key for sprays.

Tips to Extend the Life of Temporary Dye

To get the maximum longevity out of any temporary hair color:

  • Use cool water. Rinse with the coolest temperature you can stand to wash out dye molecules slower.
  • Shampoo less often. Only lather up 1-2 times per week to keep the color locked in longer.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates strip dye quickly. Seek out gentler cleansers.
  • Avoid hot tools; heat fades temporary dye faster. Let your hair air dry instead.
  • Use glossing products. Clear glosses help seal in color and add shine for longer-lasting results.
  • Touch up roots: For whole-head application, re-apply dye just to the regrowth around weeks 2–3.

Pros and Cons of Temporary Hair Dye

What are the main upsides and potential downsides of using temporary hair color?

Benefits of Temporary Dye

  • Less commitment: You can experiment with trendy shades without years of maintenance.
  • Damage-free – With no developer or bleach, temporary dyes won’t dry out or ruin your hair.
  • Quick application: Most temporary options take just minutes to apply at home. No salon time is needed.
  • Fun pop of color: Add flair for holidays, festivals, costumes, or whenever you want a change.

Potential Downsides

  • Short longevity: Depending on the formula, temporary dye fades out in as little as 1-2 washes.
  • Can dry out hair: Heavy coats of temporary color may leave hair feeling drier over time, even without peroxide.
  • Messy application: With direct dyes like chalk or gel, the color can drip and stain if you’re not careful.
  • Spotty results: coverage tends to look uneven on thicker, textured, or shorter hair.


While individual results will vary based on your hair traits, maintenance, and dye choice, most temporary coloring options last between 1 wash and 6 weeks. To maximize the life of any temporary hair dye, shampoo infrequently, use glossing treatments, and touch up the roots every 2–3 weeks.

Temporary color is great for anyone who wants to experiment with trendy hues for events or photos without a more drastic permanent change. Just be mindful of potential drying effects or unevenness with some formulas. Overall, temporary hair dye offers an easy, damage-free way to switch up your look for a few days or weeks at a time.

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