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Which hair colour does not stick to skin?

Hair colour that does not stick to skin is semi-permanent or temporary hair colour. Unlike permanent hair dyes, semi-permanent or temporary hair colours coat the hair shaft and wash out over time without penetrating the cortex of the hair. This allows the colour to fade evenly and avoid staining the scalp or skin.

Why Temporary Hair Colours Don’t Stain Skin

There are a few reasons why temporary hair colours don’t stick to the skin:

  • They don’t contain harsh chemicals like ammonia or peroxide which open up the hair cuticle to allow dye to penetrate.
  • They are deposited only on the outer hair shaft and don’t penetrate deeply into the hair.
  • They are made up of large pigment molecules that can’t pass through the tiny openings of the hair cuticle.
  • They are easily rinsed out with shampooing whereas permanent dyes are oxidized and bonded inside the hair.

This makes temporary colours a great way to experiment with different hair colours without the long-term commitment or risk of skin staining that comes with permanent dyes. They safely coat the hair until they gradually fade or wash out.

Types of Temporary Hair Colours

There are a few main types of temporary hair colours that don’t stick to the skin:

Semi-Permanent Hair Colours

  • Last 4-8 shampoos or 4-6 weeks
  • No peroxide or ammonia
  • Subtly enhance natural colour
  • Examples: Manic Panic, Arctic Fox

Temporary Hair Chalk

  • Last 1-2 shampoos or a few days
  • Coloured chalk applied to dry hair
  • Fun, bright colours for festivals etc.
  • Can get messy so best for short term wear

Hair Mascara

  • Last until washed out with shampoo
  • Colored mascara-like wands applied to hair
  • Good for quick touch ups
  • Available in natural and bright shades

Hair Crayons

  • Last 1-3 shampoos
  • Colored crayons applied to dry hair
  • Fun for adding streaks of color
  • Easy to apply and wash out

How to Keep Temporary Colour off Skin

To avoid any transfer of temporary colour onto the skin, here are some tips:

  • Apply petroleum jelly or thick cream around hairline to create a barrier.
  • Use an old towel around shoulders to prevent colour transfer onto skin or clothing.
  • Rinse with cool water and gently blot hair with towel immediately after application.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo regularly to help remove any leftover traces of colour.
  • Avoid letting wet dyed hair touch the skin before rinsing out colour.

Permanent Hair Colours That Stain

Unlike semi-permanent and temporary colours, permanent and demi-permanent hair dyes contain chemicals that allow them to penetrate the hair shaft and remain until the hair grows out. This means they can come into contact with and stain the scalp or skin if not applied carefully. Examples include:

  • Permanent (oxidative) hair colour – contains ammonia & peroxide
  • Demi-permanent (non-oxidative) – no peroxide
  • Lighteners and bleaches

To limit skin staining, permanent dyes should only be applied by a skilled professional hair colourist. They’ll take precautions like:

  • Carefully apply colour only to hair using applicator bottle/brush.
  • Use petroleum jelly as barrier around hairline.
  • Rinse thoroughly over basin when processing time is complete.
  • Avoid letting hair sit wet against skin after rinsing.


In summary, temporary and semi-permanent hair colours are the best bet for avoiding colour that stains the skin. Their large pigment molecules cannot penetrate the hair shaft or scalp. Permanent dyes should only be used by trained professionals to minimize the risks of skin staining around the hairline. With proper precautions, even temporary colours can be kept from transferring onto the skin.