A Foolproof Way To Dye Dark Hair Cool Colors

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Update: Shadowing your hair is having a major moment, thanks to Instagram. We tried this ridiculously simple trend on three raven-haired ladies to show you how it's done. Click through the slideshow, pick your favorite shadow, and give this look a go.

This story was originally published on July 17, 2014.

When you've got dark hair, and you want to try unicorn hair color in a non-committal way (read: no bleach), you're not really left with a ton of options. Most temporary chalks and dyes on the market don't really work on your strands because they don't make enough of an impact to actually show up. At best, that pretty aqua will just look like a blackened blue on your strands. Bummertown, am I right?
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So, when we started hearing buzz about using eyeshadows in your hair to sub as full-on color, we were immediately interested. Apparently, the shades inject your hair with a visible pop of color that shows up on even the inkiest of black strands. And, with a few crafty tricks, it will supposedly actually stay put for more than five minutes. Best of all, no bleach or dyes of any type to futz with.
To test that theory, we grabbed three of our raven-haired coworkers — all with distinct hair types — to see if this was the real deal. Each one tried a different technique with varying results. Click through to see what happened. This may be the final push you need to test drive a rainbow mane.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Samantha Yu, Brand Experiences Manager

Samm was no stranger to temporary hair color. "I went through a quick phase of dying my hair when I was younger — I had one streak that changed from purple to red to orange," she said. "I was really excited about testing out some colors without having to worry about bleach or damage."
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
This method involves using the pressed powder pods that come in makeup palettes. So, remember that huge shadow palette your aunt got you for the holidays last year, that has hues you would never wear on your eyes? Pull it out and then pop out the individual pots of color.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
"The application was a bit tricky at first, but once I figured it out, the color went on really smoothly," Samm said. The trick is to take a section of hair and then press the pigment directly from the pot onto your tress. Work in sections, and feel free to mix up colors. But, it's that pressing motion that will really help the hair catch the color.

"Ideally, the pods would have been a little larger," Samm said. That said, the process works fairly quickly, and has the added benefit of not getting your hands as dirty as loose pigment.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
To seal the color in, use a few healthy spritzes of hairspray.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
"The color did show up well," Samm said. "The blue and green contrasted against my really dark hair nicely." As for whether or not it stayed, Samm said the hues did fade after a few hours. "My shoot took place just before lunch, and there was definitely a little bit of color left when I arrived home from work. I did play with my hair a bit throughout the day, which I think shook the color out a bit," she admits.

Once it was time for the color to get gone, Samm said she had zero issues. "One shower and all the color was removed," she said. "I would definitely try this again. Now that I think about it, I don't have many blue or green eyeshadow palettes at home — perhaps this will be cause for a mini beauty shopping spree!" We're always supportive of that...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Lilac Perez, Casting and Photo Editor

Lilac pulled the easiest application of the bunch: colored pigment without anything to keep it in place. We'd seen this method achieved on a few YouTube videos and wondered just how transfer-resistant and fade-proof it really is.

Lilac shared our apprehension. "Initially, I was a bit skeptical that I would be able to pull off the temporary color with such dark hair," she said. Did it stick? Read on, friends.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
The process is simple. Take some Maybelline Color Tattoo, shake it out, and brush it onto your hair with your fingers. "Once I started to apply the product, I saw the vibrant pigment show immediately," Lilac said. In fact, we'd argue that her color showed up the best out of all of the techniques.

"The application was very easy, but I would suggest a set of gloves if you do not want the pigment to get all over your hands," she said. Apply the pigment to dry hair — no damp strands needed.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Lilac's color may have popped the best, but did it stand the test of time? "The color didn't stay for more than a few hours since it's powder-based and doesn't require heat or anything to set it," Lilac explains. That said, she'd definitely throw her shadow into her hair for another go. "It's great for something very temporary — like a night out with friends — to switch up your look. I would definitely try this again!"

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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Zoe DeJesus, Former Living Intern

We gave poor Zoe the most involved technique of the bunch, but it was also one we'd heard straight from the source. Urban Decay's founder Wende Zomnir spilled this tip to our beauty director on a recent press trip. It involves using the brand's new Electric Palette, along with two of UD's old standbys, to stick pigment into your hair — and keep it there.

"I was excited to try the temporary hair color, especially since it was eyeshadow," Zoe says. "It just seems super cool." You know what they say about famous last words...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
According to Zomnir, you're first supposed to saturate the hair that you want colored with Urban Decay's Primer Potion. Since you're applying shadow, and this is a shadow primer, it's supposed to help everything stick together.

Zoe squeezed a bit of the primer into her hair, but soon realized she had to apply more in order for the hair to feel totally saturated. "It felt a little sticky," Zoe confessed.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Next, pick your color! The electric palette has a ton of bright shades that are clutch for darker hair. Zoe went with a fluorescent pink to accent her bob.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
"The application was a tad messy, because I had to use my fingers," Zoe says. The pigment wound up caking to her fingers because of the primer, but that's nothing a little soap and water can't fix. "The hot pink color showed up brighter than I expected on my dark brown hair," she says.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
To seal in the shade, spritz on some of the brand's makeup setting spray. Hey, it works on your face — why not your hair?
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
So, did it work? "It lasted 10 hours! The color ultimately faded into a more purple hue as the day went on," Zoe says. While this color may have lasted the longest out of all three, does that mean it won't come out in the shower?

Not so, according to Zoe. "After a quick shampoo, it was totally gone," she says. "I'd definitely try this again for a music festival or a theme party."
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