Use chalk pastels to temporarily add color to your hair

June 12 |
Photo by Joanna Goddard.

If you've ever wanted rainbow colored hair but didn't want to submit yourself to hours of bleaching and dye, get ready to squeal: you can use chalk pastels to put rainbow streaks in your tresses. YES. This is real!

1. Get yourself some chalk pastels. You can find them at any art or craft store or on Amazon. Make sure they are CHALK pastels and not OIL pastels; otherwise you'll make even more of a mess!

2. Pick your favorite color of chalk, and wet the tip of the chalk you have chosen. Then rub the end of the chalk up and down the tips of your hair, re-wetting when necessary. (You can also wet your hair instead of the chalk, but I find it easier to just re-wet the chalk when needed. You don't want your waterlog your hair, since then it will become a mushy mess.)

3. Switch colors if you want. Just go crazy. Experiment. This type of hair is meant to be fun and carefree! (For my hair, I used a combo of four colors: magenta, peach, royal blue, and turquoise.)

4. Wait for your newly colored hair to dry a little before you get dressed. You don't want to get colored dye on your party outfit. Also, don't forget to wash your hands after, you're going to get a bit messy. Don't worry, it comes off with soap and water!

Unfortunately this won't work on super dark hair (the post does mention blue and purple may show up) but if your hair can handle it… happy hair chalking!

  1. I love this so much…I miss my pink and purple hair and now it can live once more!

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    • Yay! I'm actually going to a craft store today and going to pick up chalk pastels to try this out. We'll see how it works on half brown, half henna hair. :)

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    • Hey, do you know if you can get into chlorine with this

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  2. My hair is a darker brown than the colour pictured, and red showed up awesomely.
    The more textury your hair is, the better this will work–girls with naturally smooth hair will want to add a texturizer or braid their hair to get the colour to rub off better.
    ALSO cap off the experiment with hairspray for added staying power.

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  3. I've been doing this for a while – since my cousin showed me – I find it works best if you twist your hair (and hold the twist in) before you run the chalk pastel over, I seem to get a better deposit of colour that way. Also don't forget to shake the section or lightly comb it through after chalking or else you'll be running the risk of people thinking you've got super funky dandruff! (Espec. on black t-shirts!! Lesson learnt the hard way with that one!)

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    • The idea of having rainbow colored dandruff made me giggle. Awesome.

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  4. Thank you for this. I was debating how serious I wanted to be about rainbow streaks in my hair for Pride and now I can do them just Weekend of and be a serious worker bee again Monday morning.

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  5. I am an artist and art teacher. I would not recommend doing this with artist quality pastels.
    Like most colored fine art materials (paint, etc), chalk pastels can contain toxic pigments, such as cadmium, chrome, lead, and manganese. You should never breathe the dust, and if pregnant, I would absolutely NOT DO THIS.
    Cheaper chalk, like the type schools use, may have lower toxicity. It will not be as soft or as bright, but probably is safer because it is approved for use with kids. I think they also make comb-in temporary dyes, and I have also heard that jello or kool aid powder will work but have not tried it.

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    • Cheaper chalk may be safer, but it really dries out your hair. I like the suggestion of Kool-Aid. How lovely would grape Kool-Aid be in very dark hair? Someone try this!

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      • Just be aware Kool Aid does NOT wash out!! It gradually fades over time, but it is definitely still there after the first wash. It seems like the lighter your hair is, or the more processed/dried out it is, the longer it takes to wash out. I went to school with a blond kid who did this for St Patricks day, and it was still there in early May, we were worried he was going to have green hair at graduation (he didn't but still..)

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  6. I've also had luck doing this with washable markers (Crayola or something). They're about as non-toxic as you can get. But this does work better on lighter hair.

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    • Does it really come out with washable markers? And does it stay in all day?

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      • Like anything with pigment of any sort whatsoever, be careful with blonde. Even the most "washable" of color can stain blonde strands.
        Best bet: test with a piece of hair that's underneath so if you need to cut it off, no one will know. OUR LITTLE SECRET.

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        • also true of any processed hair (straightened, permed, or even if you swim in a chlorinated pool on a regular basis!)

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  7. Also works with crepe paper – wrap or fold some around your hair and then wet, you'll find the ink runs quite easily! we used to do that at school, darker paper colours work especially well ;)

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  8. I did this with cheep eyeshadow last weekend. Bright blue streaks. It worked very well, though it made a big mess in the bathroom. As someone with dark brown hair its awesome to get to play with color without bleaching first.

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  9. I was so excited to try this. I bought a pack of pastels just for this purpose. My sister helped me put it in my hair, which is long and dark brown. We tried for streaks of all different colors; most did not show up very much, but there was a turquoise color that worked quite well. We read that it goes on better wet; so we experimented with wetting strands of hair, and it did seem to help. However, rubbing the chalk up and down the strand made my hair ratty and dried it out like woah! We made a giant rainbow mess of the bathroom sink, but the good news is that it rinsed away very easily.

    The downside was that the chalk never stopped feeling, well, chalky. Once it dried, chalk dust started flaking off right away. I wore it just long enough to take a walk with my dog around the neighborhood to show it off, and then took a shower and rinsed it all out. And conditioned a lot, due to the chalk being very drying. Chalk had gotten all over the shoulders of my t-shirt and sweatshirt, but it did wash out just fine in the laundry.

    It was a fun experiment, but not the easy temporary hair color solution I was looking for.

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