26 June 2012

Rainbow Hair - Hair Chalking 101!

Hey everyone!

I'm so so excited to give you this post today. I can already tell it's going to be a little long-winded so bear with me as I ramble (or just scroll down and ignore me). And I'm gonna say this now so I don't have to repeat myself: All pictures are clickable, they're just little for the sake of saving space and my camera sucks and won't ever focus.

As you probably know, Pinterest (follow my personal account!) is a wonderful thing. One night several months ago, I was scrolling through and came across many pictures of hair with rainbow streaks. Anything multicolored really strikes me and I fell in love. Turned out that some of the pictures I was looking at weren't done with actual dye, but with CHALK! Soft chalk pastels, to be specific, and it's a really cute, temporary way to experiment with color, coordinate with an outfit, or try out a potential new color in your hair before you actually take the plunge (which is what I want to do...more in the P.S. at the end of the post!).

So here's what you need:

  • A box of pastels (these were lovingly stolen from my sister, but can be found at Michael's, any other craft store, or online) NOTE: products can be found online that are actually marketed as "hair chalk," but they are at least twice the price and I'm sure that these are basically the same thing! Don't be fooled.

  • Water (pretty much everywhere, fo' free)
  • Gloves (optional...I didn't use them)
  • A sheet of paper (optional...I didn't use this either)
  • ...Hair? ...Hands? (Those are the easy ones)

Okay, so there are two techniques to applying these chalks to your hair.

Step 1: Grab a strand of hair, be it part of your bangs, a small piece underneath, or a large piece running the entire length of your hair. If you're brunette, soak this strand thoroughly. If you're blonde, I've read that you may not need to wet it to get color to appear, and that doing so can even stain the hair. However, I did a strand of my mom's blonde-from-a-box hair (sorry, mom) and I needed to wet it to get any color to show up. Experiment with this.

Step 2a: This is the first technique I learned. Grab said wet strand of hair and put it into your hand or down flat onto a piece of paper. Grab the pastel in the color of your choice and, going in ONE direction only, from the top of the strand going downward, color onto the hair. Going in two directions will mat the hair. Channel your inner 3 year old for this step.

Step 2b: This is a second technique that I used, and it is a bit more messy than the first (though whichever you choose, you will get your hands - or gloves - dirty). Wet the chalk pastel of your choice and color into your hand in a circle, creating a "pool" of the color. Using one finger, dip into the concentrated color and then onto the strand, transferring the pigment. NOTE: this created a much wetter piece of hair and will cause a longer dry time.

Making the pool...the top of the pastel
blends right into the pool
Dipping in the pool

Step 3: Continue with whatever pieces or colors you choose, rinsing your hands or changing your gloves from time to time as to not mix colors. When you're done, your hair will look something like this:

If it looks like a clumpy mess, you're doing it right.
Here, I used teal, red, orange, green-yellow, pink, and indigo pastels, to give some variety. The majority of the colors were done using technique 'a' while the indigo and the one tinyy strand of red that's showing up pink were done using 'b'.

I'm using a 1" Argan Heat One 'n' Only iron.
Also, white balance fail.
Step 4: Turn on your curling or flat iron. Wait until the strands have dried and then comb them through slightly using your fingers if they look like a hot mess, like most of mine did. Use your appliance on the hair to lock in the color and style as you wish! NOTE: The chalk will start to come off on your hands and appliance, but you can get it off easily. Adding hairspray may lock in the color better, but I haven't tried it yet.

Here's the finished product and I absolutely love it:

Gorgeous, right? Or do I look like a clown?

Here are some bonus pictures of my first attempt at this! I followed procedure 'a' exclusively and didn't use heat at all.


Wear time: I've done this twice to my hair now and both times, I slept with it in and the color lasted overnight, but then washed out in the shower. So this is just meant to be temporary.

Other notes, 'cause I just don't have enough:

  • It may stain things it comes in contact with, so don't blame me! It also comes off on your hands and appliances as I said.
  • After you wash this out, be sure to add extra conditioner to the spots you colored, since the chalk is drying.
  • I've read not to use actual sidewalk or chalkboard chalk because it's even more drying and less pigmented, in case anyone was curious. To repeat, these are 'soft chalk pastels' that you would use in an art class.

So that's about it. Let me know if my tutorial was clear and if not, I can try and clear some things up for you. There are a bunch of written and video tutorials on this technique throughout the interwebz so you should find your way just fine.

Please let me know if you try this! I'd love to see a picture or read any comments you have.

P.S. I'm really loving the look of this bright color and have been wanting to do something more permanent for a few months now. I'm thinking about bleaching the very tips of just some strands of hair throughout my head and using some brand of semipermanent color on them in a bright-but-not-neon pink, a light orange, a deep teal, and a very true purple, kind of creating the look of my first attempt but with a real purple (though I am really liking the rainbow...). Sort of dip-dying some strands. The problem is, I'm completely at a loss about what brand I should use! So if you have any recommendations, please let me know. I was leaning toward Special Effects, but now Manic Panic seems a little more appealing because it is more widely available. I was also unsure of whether or not I should bleach. I just want something that lasts!

Thank you guys so so much for reading! And special thanks to my sister who was my photographer and proofreader. Are you going to give hair chalking a try? Any feedback is appreciated.



  1. Great tutorial and pics. I always wondered if this worked.

    I have been dying my hair multiple colors for about a year now. I have only used Manic Panic because it is easier to get a hold of but also because they have great online specials sometimes. For example, I got 3 bottles of electric mint for $10 bucks. When I received the bottles they looked purple but I was pleasantly surprised with the minty color.

    So my advice: make sure you use gloves
    Make sure you tape off around your ears. I use painters tape so it doesn't pull my hair. It seems easier than using Vaseline or conditioner.
    Use a shower cap and foils.
    Blow dry after your wrap in foils.
    Keep on your hair for hours. Overnight is better.
    Wash with cold water.

    Mine lasts for about 3 weeks. I have to wash my hair every night.

    Maybe we could work out a trade if you are interested in a bottle of electric mint.

    Hope this helps.


    1. hey Kim! Thanks so much for your comment! Your tips were very helpful. I don't think I'll be needing electric mint at the moment because I'm mostly interested in purple, pink, and blue but I really appreciate the offer! Thanks again =]

  2. Pretty cool and it turned out pretty. You made me laugh when you mentioned your mom's hair. Lol! :)

    1. Thanks Rhonda! I made her read it to gauge her reaction and she laughed too, so I guess it wasn't too mean! =P


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