Last winter, while Allure‘s deputy editor Kara McGrath was bored at home with grown-out roots, she cracked open a tub of pastel-pink color-depositing conditioner. About 40 minutes later, she had cheery, rosy hair and 58 selfies to mark the start of what has become a long-term relationship with temporary hair color.
As it turns out, the past year has been good for DIY beauty transformations — even DayGlo ones. Most home offices don’t have a dress code that precludes hair with a wash of pink, green, purple, or any other color of the rainbow. Hence, bright new hair makeovers.
When determining which hue is right for you (and your hair), colorist Matt Rez says warm shades like peaches, reds, and pinks will “always grab more evenly and are more forgiving,” so they’re probably your best option for a first foray into at-home color. Colorist Rachel Bodt advises that you test dyes on wet or damp hair first, so you can see how your hair will grab the color. (Use an inconspicuous strand, perhaps by the nape of your neck, for your test run.)
Unfortunately, hair dyeing is an area where blondes really do have more fun: While some brands make a brunette option, you’ll get the most vibrant results from bright hair colors on bleached hair. Bodt strongly advises against using at-home dye kits, however. “You can do more damage than good,” she says. Instead, if you can’t make it to a colorist first, Kener suggests trying colorful clip-in extensions instead.
We gathered up a few of the best color hair dye to try at home, including the products that McGrath put to the test. All of the choices below span the color spectrum for root touch-ups or full-on fantasy switches. They’re all temporary or semi-permanent, but Nine Zero One stylist Sierra Kener says you can extend their life by adding a couple of drops of the color to your conditioner. That way you’ll get a light refresh every washday.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.