H-Town How To

Hair Chalk: What is the Deal?

For bold, bright color, don't follow the directions.

By Erika Vazquez June 20, 2013

Before you could buy hair chalk at your local salon, trendsetters were rubbing pastel art store chalk into their hair in streaks. Then came the how-to tutorials all over the internet, and finally the inevitable jump from art kid fad to beauty supply store staple. Hair chalk comes in many shapes and colors but the essentials remain the same: an easy DIY way to apply very short term, bright color. Though hair chalk is no longer cutting edge, it still makes for a fun project at home and a different kind of hair day. One Houston rain storm will wash away the magic in minutes.

Kevin Murphy’s Color Bug Shimmer hair shadow in gold.

 I tried the Shimmer gold variety of Kevin Murphy’s Color Bug hair shadow, which Houstonia snagged from Therapy Hair Studio on Westheimer. The snitch-like container opened to reveal a glittering golden powder resembling normal eye shadow. I followed the provided instructions religiously, placing a towel around my shoulders to protect my clothes, and rubbing the chalk onto completely dry hair. I then massaged the powder into my hair, as instructed, and squinted in the mirror to see my results. I could see a difference, but barely. Maybe my medium reddish-brown hair is just too ambiguous a backdrop for shimmer gold, or perhaps shimmer gold is meant to add more of a subtle effect than its name suggests.

I ran through the process again, this time with a darker-haired friend as a model. The gold powder stood out more against her dark brown tresses, but I still wouldn’t call it the “intense colour” the package promises. On a whim, inspired by google-searching hair chalk application methods, we decided to completely disregard the previously misleading instructions and apply the product on wet hair. The results of this attempt were by far our best. After visiting the Kevin Murphy website and watching his tutorial for Color Bug application, I noticed that he suggets using styling product and then applying the color until the product has dried. Why the instructions on the Color Bug package are not consistent with Murphy’s words of advice remains a mystery.  

Kevin Murphy's Color Bug Shimmer hair shadow in gold applied on wet hair.

 Feeling disheartened and unsatisfied, I turned to Urban Outfitters Hair Chalk Rainbow Set, hoping it would fulfill my need for vibrant hair. Like a box of pastel paints, the set comes with a full range of colors and looks. My light-haired friend applied her chalk onto dry hair, with the fear that wetting it might cause more permanent color than desired, while I wet my strands and applied several colors for full effect. Her hair took nicely to the color, with subtle accents of light blue and soft pink. I got the long awaited intense color I had been hoping for. Whether the Urban Outfitters chalk is superior to Color Bug is hard to say. I think the reason for my success the second time around was due to the choice of color rather than brand. Color Bug also offers neon and bright colors, which would be worth a shot.  

If you plan on attending the upcoming Ke$ha concert, or just mixing things up for a night out, give hair chalk a go. I would suggest trying a brighter color, like pink or purple, if you want your color to really stand out. I would also advise ignoring Color Bug’s instructions and either working the color into wet hair or hair with product, but make sure to condition before hand.

Urban Outfitters Hair Chalk Rainbow Set on dry hair (left) and on wet hair (right).

Filed under
Show Comments