What Are the Best Tips for Using Color Hair Spray?

Megan Shoop

Color hair spray can be an effective way to quickly and temporarily color hair with festive and funky colors. Those that enjoy giving their evening look a bit of an edge can typically use colored hair spray and wash it away with a single shampoo, returning their hair to its natural color for work or school. Others may have thinning hair that they want to disguise with a color hair spray that matches their natural color. Either way, it is best to spray color onto clean hair, wear old clothes for the process, and have combs and clips at the ready for fast styling.

Most hair spray dyes can be completely washed out of hair in a single wash.
Most hair spray dyes can be completely washed out of hair in a single wash.

Most color hair spray products stick better to clean hair because it is free of oils and dirt that may prevent the color from coming into contact with the surface of the strands. It is also best used on dry hair. Washing hair and drying it with a towel or blow-dryer before using the hair spray is generally a good way to start.

Spray should be held about 3 inches and applied in short bursts.
Spray should be held about 3 inches and applied in short bursts.

Users should always put on old clothes or carefully cover their clothing with an old towel before using color hair spray. These products often spray in relatively wide streams and contain large amounts of dye, meaning they can stain clothing very easily. Those planning to use color hair spray often may want to designate a certain T-shirt or towel for use during styling. This usually eliminates the risk of ruining clothing.

When getting ready to spray hair, users should typically have several large hair clips, a comb, and a shower cap nearby. The user should then use the tines of the comb to separate his or her hair into sections for coloring. This is especially important when using funky colors, like green or purple. Proper sectioning generally prevents the spray from bleeding onto parts of the hair that the user wants to leave uncolored. Spray should be held about 3 inches (about 6 cm) from these sections and applied in short bursts.

A shower cap can be particularly useful if the user wants to color stripes at the front or the back of the head. The cap can cover the rest of the hair, allowing the user to put on as much color as he or she likes. Some users snip holes into the shower cap and pull sections of hair through the holes to create asymmetrical stripes all over their heads.

Those using colored hair spray to make hair look thicker or cover thinning spots don’t generally need to use most of the above steps. These users may simply hold their colored hair spray about 6 inches (about 12 cm) from the thinning spot and spray, moving the bottle constantly. Movement helps apply the color evenly. The spray should cling to colorless and very fine hairs to make hair appear thicker.

Color hair spray may be one method of hiding thinning hair.
Color hair spray may be one method of hiding thinning hair.

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Discussion Comments


What is a good leave in color hairspray I can buy that won't rub off?


@pleonasm-- I agree. My cousin used a temporary color hair spray once and it did not wash out as the product claimed. She was stuck with blue hair for a few weeks. That was not fun for her.

I got a color hair spray for Halloween but I tested it first on a tiny piece of hair in the back of my head. If the color didn't wash off, I would have easily hid it. But it came off with one wash so I went ahead and used the spray on all of my hair for my Halloween costume. Thankfully, I had no problems washing it out later that night and my hair looked perfectly fine afterward.


@SarahGen-- If you randomly pull out a section of hair through the shower cap, it might not look good. So separate the section of hair you want to color before putting the cap on. Pull only that piece through the cap and then color it with the spray. If you have long hair, roll the hair to make it smaller. This makes it much easier to color and it's less messy.

You will have to throw away the shower cap later so get a cheap one.


How do I color just a small section of hair with color hair spray? I tried the shower cap method but it didn't come out right.


@irontoenail - Not everyone can use that stuff. I certainly wouldn't since it would probably stain my hair (which is fairly brittle). There are better options, and they usually look much better as well, even if they are more expensive.

If I'm just going somewhere and don't want to pay that much to look good, I'd wear a wig, rather than putting cheap stuff in my hair. I'm too worried about chemicals.


@pleonasm - It depends on what you want to do. I don't usually wear color hair spray unless it's for something like a sports game or a trashy costume party, since it usually makes my hair quite tacky. I wouldn't try to do too much with it, particularly if it's just a can of cheap stuff from the dollar store.

Just spray it on, have fun with it and then wash it out. No muss, no fuss.


My advice, if you are trying to do something specific, is to make sure you do a test run before you need to get it right. This is particularly true if you've never used hair spray before. It looks easy and it's not that hard to master, but you might not get it right the first time, particularly if you want to do something complicated.

It's always a lot easier and more fun if you can get someone to help you out with it as well. Trying to apply a pattern evenly in the mirror can be very tricky and everyone loves playing with fun colors and hair, so your friends probably won't mind helping.

I would also make absolutely sure that the hair dye isn't going to rub off on your clothes, particularly if they are expensive, or if you need to return them in the morning!

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