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I Tried To Temporarily Color My Natural Hair And Here's What Happened

This was all because I'm too chicken to actually dye my hair.

Jenny Chang / Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Hey, I'm Anjali. I really want to dye my hair, but I'm terrified of bleaching my curls.

Purple, blue, pink, green, highlights, full head, or just the tips — you name it, I've thought about it, tumbled down a long Pinterest hole, then talked myself out of it.
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Purple, blue, pink, green, highlights, full head, or just the tips — you name it, I've thought about it, tumbled down a long Pinterest hole, then talked myself out of it.

As someone with dark hair, I thought I'd need to use bleach to make funky colors look really vibrant — and as someone with curls, I know that my hair is really susceptible to the damage that bleaching and other chemical processing can cause.

Which is my main source of fear when it comes to lightening my hair in order to then dye it. I love my curls, and after spending years growing out a relaxer, I don't want to do anything that could potentially change my texture again.

Of course, I'm not willing to give up that easily. It's 2016, so there have to be tons of ways to switch up your hair color without bleaching and permanently dyeing it, right? Well, I set out to try four temporary hair-coloring products to see if this was true. Here's what I tried out:

1. L'Oréal Liquid Hair Chalk in Bronze Baby and Blue Hue ($7.99 each)2. Splat Hair Chalk in Sugar Plum and Mint Candy ($5.99 each)3. Jerome Russell Bwild Temporary Hair Spray in Panther Purple and (not pictured) Dark Brown ($6.00 each)4. Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo in Painted Purple, Bold Gold, and Tenacious Teal ($6.99 each)
Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

1. L'Oréal Liquid Hair Chalk in Bronze Baby and Blue Hue ($7.99 each)

2. Splat Hair Chalk in Sugar Plum and Mint Candy ($5.99 each)

3. Jerome Russell Bwild Temporary Hair Spray in Panther Purple and (not pictured) Dark Brown ($6.00 each)

4. Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo in Painted Purple, Bold Gold, and Tenacious Teal ($6.99 each)

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

What I tried: Splat Hair Chalk in Sugar Plum and Mint Candy ($5.99 each).

How it went: This was the first method I tried, so I really wanted to love it. I fumbled around for a bit trying to find a good way to apply it, but I ended up going no-frills by directly rubbing the applicator on my hair. At first, I tried to use hairspray with it because I read online that it would make the application easier. However, whatever I used diluted the chalk so much that I couldn't even see it. Once I ditched the spray, the process was surprisingly quick, and though in the moment I'd thought the chalk made my hair frizzy, it actually gave me a nice bit of volume!

The blue was neat, but I fell in love with the maroon color. If I were to dye my hair for real, I think this would be the shade. The major problem with the hair chalk is that it got EVERYWHERE. My desk, my clothes, my shoulders — someone even asked me if I had gotten in a fight because one side of my face was so red! Until I can find a way to keep the hair chalk on my hair and off the rest of my body, I don’t think I’ll use it again. The verdict: 4/10. Loved the color, not the flaking.
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

The blue was neat, but I fell in love with the maroon color. If I were to dye my hair for real, I think this would be the shade. The major problem with the hair chalk is that it got EVERYWHERE. My desk, my clothes, my shoulders — someone even asked me if I had gotten in a fight because one side of my face was so red! Until I can find a way to keep the hair chalk on my hair and off the rest of my body, I don’t think I’ll use it again.

The verdict: 4/10. Loved the color, not the flaking.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller

What I tried: L'Oréal Liquid Hair Chalk in Bronze Baby and Blue Hue ($7.99 each).

How it went: I actually tried L'Oréal Liquid Hair Chalk years ago in purple when it first came out. I was kind of bummed that it didn't show up in my hair then, but I was willing to give it another go with some different colors. After trying the powder hair chalk, I really appreciated the liquid for not making my hair frizzy, and as an added bonus, it stayed in my hair and didn't leak all over everything I touched.

I applied the hair chalk by pouring it on those thin cotton balls and running it through each strand of hair (don't worry, none of the cotton got caught in my curls). At first I was disappointed that it didn't seem to show up. But looking at this photo, I actually really like how subtle it is. I was also pleasantly surprised by how natural the gold looked, and like the maroon, I could see myself dyeing my hair this color. However, the application took way too long for me to ever want to do it again, especially since it washed out right away. This seems like it would work perfectly for temporary highlights or just the ends of my hair. But again, I'm lazy, and I don't see myself putting in all that work just for a day.The verdict: 5/10. Would use for highlights if I'm feeling ambitious!
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

I applied the hair chalk by pouring it on those thin cotton balls and running it through each strand of hair (don't worry, none of the cotton got caught in my curls). At first I was disappointed that it didn't seem to show up. But looking at this photo, I actually really like how subtle it is. I was also pleasantly surprised by how natural the gold looked, and like the maroon, I could see myself dyeing my hair this color.

However, the application took way too long for me to ever want to do it again, especially since it washed out right away. This seems like it would work perfectly for temporary highlights or just the ends of my hair. But again, I'm lazy, and I don't see myself putting in all that work just for a day.

The verdict: 5/10. Would use for highlights if I'm feeling ambitious!

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

What I tried: Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo in Painted Purple, Bold Gold, and Tenacious Teal ($6.99 each).

How it went: Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise, but trying to color my hair with eyeshadow did NOT go that well for me. I went with Maybelline Color Tattoo because I saw it used in tutorials such as this one by Chime(HairCrush). Unlike the chalk, the eyeshadow texture was really creamy, and while I thought that it would work in my favor, it ended up gelling my hair straight in some sections. Ick.

(I know, I know, DO NOT MIND MY CLOWN HAIR. I am clearly not a hairstylist, I just like playing with color.) The only way I could get this eyeshadow to stick to my hair was by scooping it out of the container and just rubbing it on directly. Basically, it would have been VERY messy without gloves. Though the blue and purple looked kind of neat, the gold must have been old because it clumped together in my hair in a really unflattering way. But surprisingly, it was the gold that got me the most compliments! The eyeshadow did make my hair feel a little dry, and I thought out of all of the methods, it was the hardest to wash out. The verdict: 2/10. Nope. Naw. Never again.
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

(I know, I know, DO NOT MIND MY CLOWN HAIR. I am clearly not a hairstylist, I just like playing with color.)

The only way I could get this eyeshadow to stick to my hair was by scooping it out of the container and just rubbing it on directly. Basically, it would have been VERY messy without gloves. Though the blue and purple looked kind of neat, the gold must have been old because it clumped together in my hair in a really unflattering way. But surprisingly, it was the gold that got me the most compliments! The eyeshadow did make my hair feel a little dry, and I thought out of all of the methods, it was the hardest to wash out.

The verdict: 2/10. Nope. Naw. Never again.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

What I tried: Jerome Russell Bwild Temporary Hair Spray in Panther Purple and (not pictured) Dark Brown ($6 each).

How it went: This is the one I had been looking forward to the most, especially after I saw this tutorial by ItsMyRayeRaye. It seemed like it would be quick and easy while still giving me that pop of color I've been longing for. As it turns out, a lot of what I hoped for came true! It took just a couple minutes to apply, and I didn't have to worry about frizzing up my hair. Plus, I'm not going to lie: It was pretty fun to just spray color all over my hair.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

But like the other methods, it still had its downsides. The odor was really strong, so I walked around the rest of the day self-conscious about smelling like a chemical factory. While I loved the purple, the brown hairspray (unsurprisingly) didn't show up at all. This is because when I thought I had grabbed red hairspray from our local Ricky's beauty supply store, I'd actually picked up brown hair color thickener. OOPS. At least you get to see what that looks like on my hair, if you were by some chance curious. Always read the bottle, kids.

After the photos were taken, I tried to use the purple on the rest of my hair to cover up the brown, but it had run out. So if you have thick hair like mine, you might need more than one can for your whole head. I would definitely do this again on a day when I'm free to frolic outside and not put everyone in my vicinity at the mercy of a chemical-y smell.The verdict: 6/10. Would use again, but only for outdoor romping.
Victoria Chen / BuzzFeed

After the photos were taken, I tried to use the purple on the rest of my hair to cover up the brown, but it had run out. So if you have thick hair like mine, you might need more than one can for your whole head. I would definitely do this again on a day when I'm free to frolic outside and not put everyone in my vicinity at the mercy of a chemical-y smell.

The verdict: 6/10. Would use again, but only for outdoor romping.

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to temporarily color my hair that I didn't try here. Maybe they would have worked better than the other gunk I threw on my head, or maybe the results would have been similar. Either way, I had a lot of fun playing around with different products, and I did find a few ways to satiate my need for funky color without breaking the bank (or my curls!) at a salon. As an added bonus, this turned out to be a great way to test out different colors in my hair without committing to them! Sure, I'm a little bummed that I didn't find the miracle product I was looking for. But each time I washed the color out of my hair, I was so excited to see my black curls re-emerge from the layers of blue, purple, and gold I alternatively layered on each week. Maybe I'll finally bleach my hair one day; maybe I won't. Either way, I'm fine with it, because I love my hair dark just as much as I love it Dragon Princess Purple.
Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to temporarily color my hair that I didn't try here. Maybe they would have worked better than the other gunk I threw on my head, or maybe the results would have been similar. Either way, I had a lot of fun playing around with different products, and I did find a few ways to satiate my need for funky color without breaking the bank (or my curls!) at a salon. As an added bonus, this turned out to be a great way to test out different colors in my hair without committing to them!

Sure, I'm a little bummed that I didn't find the miracle product I was looking for. But each time I washed the color out of my hair, I was so excited to see my black curls re-emerge from the layers of blue, purple, and gold I alternatively layered on each week. Maybe I'll finally bleach my hair one day; maybe I won't. Either way, I'm fine with it, because I love my hair dark just as much as I love it Dragon Princess Purple.

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