How to Dip-Dye Your Hair With the Kevin Murphy Color Bug

It's the best way to (temporarily) try this trend.

Hair colour risk-taking: it seems like a great idea in theory, but lots of people know that come Monday, their bosses and co-workers will NOT be down with the peek-a-boo strands that looked so good on Saturday night. Power suits and hot pink hair just don’t really go hand in hand. Which, fine, we get it—there's a time and a place for everything.

So what do you do if your lifestyle doesn't permit a radical hair colour change (or if you're simply not brave enough to commit to my Manic Panic dip-dye tutorial)?

The answer is eyeshadow. Actually, hair shadow, if you will. As you'll see in this vid from 2011, Australian hair pro Kevin Murphy was talking about this no-commitment colour technique long before he came out with his own product:

How genius is that? What the eyeshadow does is layer on some sweet, bright colour that is just as temporary as makeup. A one time, wipe on, wipe off sort of deal. So if you happen to have a jar of loose powder shadow hanging around, you could try this! (You could even use chalk—The Beauty Department has some great tips on that.)

Or? If you've got $20, you could just buy Kevin Murphy's Color Bug, which is specifically designed for temporary colouring—it's a big block of "hair shadow" in solid form. As of now, these are the three temporary shades:

But—breaking news!—as of December, they're introducing a white one:

Why the white is extra awesome:

  • You can use it as a base on dark hair to make the other colours pop even more.
  • You can use it as a blender with the other colours to create pastel hues.
  • It can help lighten blonde highlights.
  • It doubles as a pocket dry shampoo for blondes.

I haven't tried it yet, but since I love beauty experiments (and bright hair colours), I did give the other shades a whirl. Check it!

Here's another video showing how to use it:

After testing out the "bugs" a few times, here is what I learned:

1. It's messy!

These little bad boys are SO fun, but obscenely messy. They have the same consistency of chalk, so they crumble and create high-pigmented dust particles that WILL stain. I now have a pink-tinted stain on my carpet... oops!

So, whether you are using a Color Bug, eyeshadow or chalk, drape a towel over your shoulders or wear an old shirt before you start. Do your hair in a non-carpeted area that you can wipe clean afterward.

 2. Use those muscles.

I found it was easiest to get a strong colour by sandwiching a strand of hair between the Bug and one hand. As I pushed the Bug against my hair, I used my free hand to press and rub my hair into/against the Bug.

You can also try twisting the hair as you apply the colour; this gives it texture so that the pigment can grip.

3. Shake it off... not out.

Once you're happy with the amount and placement of colour, run your fingers through your hair just to even it out and get rid of any chalk clumps that may be hiding in there. However, don't go overboard or you'll just shake all the colour right out!

4. Check the weather.

Cuz my friend, you are so screwed if it rains. Your outfit will become a hot mess of tie dye.

5. Want more pigment?!

You're meant to apply powder colour on dry hair, but if you want more intensity, try putting it on when your hair is still slightly damp from the shower, or still a little moist with product. (Think regular chalk: when you draw on a wet chalkboard the colour is much more bold.)

NOTE: proceed with caution. It washed outjust the same when I applied it to dry and wet hair, but I'm a brunette. Blondes need to be more careful because on light hair, it can totally stain. (Although it will eventually wash out over time.)

The bottom line

If you want to try some wild hair colour that you won’t regret the next morning, hair shadow is the way to go. (And the Color Bug is the best way to do it. I dare someone to try and be more innovative. Not only is it totally temporary, but c'mon—it's way easier than trying a DIY with actual eyeshadow or chalk!)

Plus, if you test out this technique and then realize it's not your thing, just say "no." Literally. Shake your head back and forth and the colour will kinda breeze out. I know, I tried it.

Happy experimenting!

Have you tried hair shadow yet?

Have you used any other ways to get temp hair colour?

Ever dyed your hair a bright shade—using a more permanent type of product—and instantly regretted it?

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