Color Me Pretty: 4 Ways to Get Temporary, Vivid Highlights

I was sitting at a chorus rehearsal the other day and noticed that the woman in front of me was sporting a new ‘do. But it wasn’t just your standard trim. In addition to a new cropped cut, she had vibrant colors weaved throughout her brunette coiffure. There was magenta pink and deep blue, a bit of purple and some teal. It looked downright fab, but I thought to myself, “Nope, not for me — could never commit.”

The whole vibrantly colored highlights trend has always been a look I’ve loved. Still, committing to such a bold hair move requires a serious set of ovaries. I guess I just don’t have the guts to go permanent. Which brings me to my point of discussion: temporary bold hair color.

All the following hair tricks allow you to put on a fresh new hue (or two) and take it off at the end of the day.

Temporary High Octane Highlights

Whether you’re light haired or sport a mane darker than a raven, this little trick will work for you. It’s brought to you by Jill Russell at BeautyLish — one of my favorite contributor-based beauty sites, actually — and is surprisingly simple to pull off. You’ll find detail instructions and accompanying pictures on the site, but basically all you need to do is rub eyeshadow on your hair and seal it in with a little hair spray. Quite brilliant, really!

temporary highlights hair chalking temporary highlight temporary spray hair color

Yarned Up Fishtail Braid

So yarn isn’t exactly a conventional hair accessory, but I am seriously in love with this look. It’s inspired me to run to the craft store and buy up the prettiest pastels I can get my hands on. The idea comes from Elsie and Emma’s blog, A Beautiful Mess. (Sidebar: I just realized I follow Elsie on Instagram — her stream is awesome!) To create the look, divide hair into multiple sections and tie each section with a piece of long yarn at the top. Then, weave a fishtail braid (or similar) and snip the excess yarn off.

yarn braid temporary highlights

Hair Chalking

If you don’t want to muss up your expensive eyeshadow pots, perhaps hair chalk is the best option for you. I came across hair chalk on Etsy (very inexpensively) a while back and was instantly intrigued by it. The highlighted colors always look so vibrant!

Anyway, YouTube user MadeByMarzipan actually used craft chalk, but “official hair chalk” and craft chalk will both work for the method she demonstrates in her video. I’ve actually seen quite a few different hair chalking methods, so check out the various videos on YouTube and check out the myriad tutorials floating around the blogosphere. I also like this tutorial from YouTube user HeyKayli.

Kool-Aid Dip Dye/Ombre

Warning: This one isn’t as temporary as the above options, so proceed with caution. I wanted to include a temporary hair color that did last longer than a few hours, though. According to blogger Cristina at The Fuji Files, this method will fade slowly and eventually wash out completely after a few weeks. Essentially, you boil water, add five packets your choice Kool-Aid color/flavor and mix together in a bowl. Dip your ends for roughly 30 minutes, blow dry and style! You can also try food coloring in place of Kool-Aid, which may fade/rinse out faster.

kool aid highlights

For another temporary hair color idea, you can read about hair shadowing here.