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How to Chalk Your Hair

Pastel hair is super trendy right now, but it also seems like a pretty big commitment to streak your hair with crazy colors — that is unless you’re doing it with hair chalk. Hair chalking is an awesomely easy and inexpensive way to throw some fun color in your hair, and the cherry on top is that it’s totally temporary. It’s perfect for festival season and adding a little more personality to your summer style.

David John, master stylist and colorist at the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in Los Angeles, offers these hair chalking tips.

Step 1: Buy your chalk

John says that you can buy inexpensive non-oil-based pastels at Michael’s for $5 or spend $60 if you really want to splurge. All you need other than the chalk is a water bottle, protective gloves, towels and a flat iron.

More: This 2-Ingredient DIY Will Give You the Shiniest Hair of Your Life

Step 2: Prep your hair

Make sure to wet the hair first so the color will attach to it. However if you’re blonde, do not wet the hair before chalking unless you want the color to stay in longer.

Step 3: Add the color

Apply to the chalk to the strand of hair in a downward motion, twist the hair as you chalk. You can try for a fun ombre look, or just do a couple strands.

Step 4: Let it dry

While John says that you can blowdry your hair, others recommend air drying so that you don’t blow off the chalk.

Step 5: Set the color

Seal the color in with a flat iron or a curling iron to add waves. Apply hair spray as a final step.

Step 6: Wash it out when you are ready

The color generally will only last one shampoo; however, if the hair is more porous, such as color-treated blonde hair, it can last a couple shampoos. You can use a clarifying shampoo or dish soap to remove the color more quickly — both have more detergent. Don’t use dish soap on your whole head, just on the strands that have been colored.

Tip: If you want something brighter, you can apply white chalk first and then go over it with the color you want to make pop.

Hair chalking don’ts

John also offers these cautions when hair chalking.

  • Don’t apply the chalk with any wax or product in your hair.
  • Don’t use water on blonde hair if you don’t want the color to last.
  • Wear protective clothing when applying and sleep on an old pillow case as the color will transfer.
  • Don’t try this near the water/beach or on a rainy day.

Hair chalking tips for your hair color

  • Blonde: Blondes can have a lot of fun with hair chalk, but they shouldn’t wet their hair first. Read these tips on how to chalk blonde hair.
  • Brown: Brunettes can use any color hair chalk. With lighter brown hair, the color will be more intense. Read these tips on how to chalk brown hair.
  • Red; Redheads can chalk their hair, too. They just need to pick the right colors of chalk. Read these tips on how to chalk red hair.
  • Black: Those women with black hair need to pick bright, vibrant shades of chalk. Read these tips on how to chalk black hair.

Originally published June 2012. Updated April 2017.

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