DIY Temporary Hair Color

How to do all manner of extensions, plus rope twists and colored hairspray, at home.

Ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve loved colorful hair. My love of anime, comic books, and Gaia Online, all of which featured characters with super-bright hairstyles, grew into a desire for a new self-image—one that included blue hair. By the time I got to high school, I was utterly set on Crayola hair of my own, but after talking to my mother about it, I learned that hair dyes were simply not an option for my very dark, very relaxed hair. However, that was not the end! I know that many other people have run into similar obstacles as well, but whether you have chemically treated hair, dress codes, apprehensive parents, or simply don’t want to make a long-term commitment to any one color, this tutorial includes just a few alternative ways to achieve even the the craziest colors you could possibly dream up!

Depending on what you use, most of these materials are pretty easy to find. Wig clips should be available at beauty supply stores or online for less than two dollars. They come in a variety of lengths. Wefted hair extensions (tracks) might be kind of difficult to find if you are not familiar with locally owned beauty supply stores, since the internet is mostly only reliable when looking for very high quality, expensive hair. A hundred-dollar bundle of hair shipped from Brazil or Malaysia is not something I would recommend for your crafty clip-in project or a glue-in that you’re going to wear for a week or two and then throw out, so check out in-person options in your neighborhood! And buy real hair—synthetic hair is cheap, but I don’t recommend it. You may have trouble blending it, and if you’re making a clip-in, the hair will begin to fray and tangle much sooner than human hair will. When I’m buying hair, I look for blonde, 100% human hair sold at 15-35 dollars a pack, which is more than enough for these tutorials.

The first two criteria are important to me because I don’t care for pre-dyed hair and I can get multiple colors out of a single purchase of hair by spending a little bit on hair dye (Adore is my preferred brand); the hair has to be real because hair dyes will not color synthetic hair. Hair extensions are sold in different lengths, the shortest being eight inches and the longest, usually 22-24 inches, but it can sometimes be available at up to 30 inches. The longer the hair, the more expensive it is. If you have long hair and are not interested in spending an additional 10-30 dollars, you can buy a shorter length to go with your bangs (if you have them) or, you can opt for the rope twist extensions, color sprays or hair chalks. Special thanks to Lizelle and Selena for modeling!

I. Clip-in Extensions

Clip-in hair extensions are a great way to add color and dimension to your hair. One advantage of clip-in color is that you can position the pieces wherever you want, and add as few or as many as you are feeling on a particular day. They are definitely the way to go if you are looking for something very temporary (but not water soluble!) for the day.

What you’ll need:


  • Wefts of hair in the color and length of your choice, like these.
  • Two wig clips. I like Diane brand.
  • Regular sewing thread.
  • A needle (a sewing needle will do just fine; this curved one was all I had on hand).

How to do it:

Step One:


Sew your tracks and clips together. This is how it’s going to look when you’re done: The first track of hair is sewn onto the bottom holes of each clip and the second track is sewn onto the top holes of each clip.


Start by making sure the grip, or base, of the clip is facing up and the comb is facing down, then, with a threaded needle, pierce the woven part of the weft (aka the stitched part of the extension) and begin to fasten it to the hole in the bottom left corner.

Step Two:


Once you have your first row sewn together, repeat the first step for all the holes on the bottom of both clips. There’s no fancy technique to this—you’re just running the needle through the hole and the weft a few times until you feel it’s tight enough, then making a knot and cutting your thread, just like regular sewing.

Step Three:


Part your hair just a little higher than you normally would in order to get ready for the clip-ins. It’s best to put the clip-in right underneath where you normally like to wear your hair parted: the less hair covering your clip-in, the more the color will show.

Step Four:


Use the combs to grab onto the hair nearest its roots and press the combs closed.

Step Five:


Smooth your real hair over the clips to blend them in, making sure to cover the wefts.


Repeat for as much of your head as you’d like. Ta-da!

II. Glue-in Extensions

There are special hair glues/bonds made for attaching wefts to your natural hair that will help them stay in for longer periods of time. How long it lasts all depends on how much glue you apply and how often you wash your hair.

Some general notes on care before we begin:

  • While these are in your hair, avoid using oil-based products and applying heat (like hot water or hot air from a blow dryer), because they loosen up the bond.
  • Washing your hair less frequently and handling it gently allows you to keep your extensions longer.
  • Any place that sells the glue will also sell a solvent/bond remover. These are not entirely necessary to purchase; many people often just wait for these to loosen up on its own, carefully slide them out of their hair, and comb out any remaining glue using conditioner or oils. I normally do this, but last time I think I used the wrong oil and it turned the glue into gunk and coated my hair (yuck). So I went out and got a solvent (which cost me only a couple of dollars), which worked just fine and washed out with another shampoo. The glue isn’t going to ruin your hair: It’s made for it, and is totally and completely removable. So don’t freak out and cut it out of your hair!

    Now let’s begin!

What you’ll need:

  • Wefts of hair in the color(s) and texture of your choice. Here are some good ones.
  • Hair glue. I use Salon Pro.
  • Scissors.
  • A comb.

How to do it:

Step One:


In the same way as you would with clip-ins, part your hair above where you’re going to place the wefts, and tie up the hair above to get it out of the way. 

Step Two:


Cut your wefts to fit the length of your part.

Step Three:


Apply your hair glue to the weft. Let it dry for about 15 seconds before applying the track to your hair.

Step Four:


Carefully line up your track with the roots of your parted hair. Press the track onto the section you’re glueing it to and hold it down for 30 seconds while patting along the weft until the hair glue is mostly dry. This is to ensure the weft is securely bonded to your hair and won’t slip out as soon as you let go.

Step Five:


As with the clip-ins, camouflage the weft of the hair by parting your own hair over it. That’s it!

III. Rope Twists

This method is generally used on the entire head to create a style, but you can do as few or as many as you would like, wherever you like. Hair for braiding, like wefted extensions, can be found in locally owned beauty supply stores, but unlike the other hair, it is generally sold in synthetic fibers (like kanekalon and toyokalon), comes in an amazing variety of colors (and textures), is very cheap, and is easily found online. Rope twists, like any other African braiding technique, work well on all textures, especially kinky/Afro styles.

What you’ll need:

  • Braiding hair in color and texture of your choice. You can find plenty of options here.
  • A comb.
  • Hair pins, clips, or ties.

How to do it:

Step One:


Cut the hair to the same length or longer than your natural hair. Blunt ends will unravel, so you have to taper the ends! Firmly hold the hair in the middle and tug the hairs on each side to make the hair more uneven and layered. This is to ensure that your twist gets thinner towards the end so it won’t unravel.

Step Two:


Part and separate a small section of hair, then take a portion of your braiding hair and find the center. Align both ends of the hair with each section of your own hair.

Step Three:


Tightly wrap the extensions and the hair together to the left, while crossing your strands over to the right, like in a braid. As you do this more and more, you will begin to feel that this is a natural movement.


Always wrap in the opposite direction of your twist! In this image, I wrapped the hair in opposite directions instead of the same direction. As soon as I did a tug test, the hair slipped right out, and I was like “what the frick-frack!?” Make sure you wrap in the same direction and cross the strands over (twist) in the opposite direction, just like a rope!

Step Four:


Seal the end with a hair tie and admire your handiwork!

IV. Colored Hair Spray

Lately, hair chalks have been getting a lot of attention, but color sprays are just as simple and effective. Out of these four methods of hair coloration, this is the most temporary, so you can change it up as often as you want—they wash right out with regular shampoo!

What you’ll need:

  • Temporary spray-on hair color, like any of these.

How to do it:

Step One:


Hold the can about 12 inches from your hair and spray on the color.

Step Two:


Be totally cute. And there you have it—four ways to change up your color without getting your parents mad at you! Enjoy. ♦


  • ghostgurl March 6th, 2014 7:25 PM

    Great Tutorial! It’s really coincidental, because I was looking for alternatives to dyeing my hair only yesterday! Thanks!

  • CharmingKitty March 7th, 2014 4:04 AM

    For ages, I’ve been interested in dying my hair but have been put off because I’ve found it almost impossible to come across a temporary dye. Could anyone tell me whether these dyes are natural? I’m pretty prone to getting reactions if any products contain nasty chemicals.

    • Indigo March 7th, 2014 11:22 AM

      If you want to be all natural or simply avoid applying any chemicals directly to your hair, the clip-in or rope twists are great! For the clip-in, the process of buying the hair blonde and dyeing it whatever color should be alright with any brand of dye, since none of the product is being applied directly to your own hair. But, if you’d like to go the extra mile, red-staining henna is a completely natural dye.
      The rope twists are done with synthetic hair, so they are technically not “all natural” but the up side is that they also don’t require you to put any glues, dyes or sprays in your own hair. You can cleanse the hair in cool water with dish detergent and shampoo, rinse, and allow the hair to air dry as an extra precaution, and you’re good to go!

  • vatfp March 7th, 2014 4:44 PM

    I have been thinking about dyeing my dark and very damaged hair temporarily for ageeees and I don’t know how I’d never considered spray until now. Rookie is always on point. And great eyeliner game BTW!

  • Ella W March 8th, 2014 12:26 PM

    Hey, does anyone know where the hair for real human hair extensions comes from? I’ve been wondering that for a while now, and just thought I’d ask!

  • LightskinComplex March 8th, 2014 3:11 PM

    This tutorial is perfect. Before I was allowed to bleach my hair I’d wear blonde and orange glue-in extensions. I actually wish I would’ve kept doing that instead of bleaching and damaging my hair. Anyhow, for the twist I’d like to give a few tips: braids last longer than twist, I recommend Kanekalon hair (DO NOT USE ‘SILKY BRAID’ UNLESS YOU’RE ONLY WEARING IT FOR A FEW DAYS), and if your gonna do braids or twist all over or in multiple spots, for a longer period of time, you can seal the ends with boiling water (as frequently as needed or desired) instead of a rubber band or hair tie if you prefer. I no longer use chemicals in my hair and wear braids to protect my natural hair; these are just some key things I do to make them last. Good luck!

  • dessertstealer March 10th, 2014 6:14 PM

    cool tutorial

  • julalondon March 23rd, 2014 7:21 AM

    Your henna tattoo. <3

  • lovebronze April 20th, 2014 2:36 PM

    I love love love that bluish greenish tint in your hair. My hair is dark too and relaxed too and I really want to know how you did it. How?