Looking for the best hair color rinse? Check out the 5 absolute best color rinses to give you vibrant, temporary color that won’t stain or damage your strands!
What Is a Hair Color Rinse?
- Temporary or semi-permanent color applied to wet or damp hair
- Offers sheer, buildable coverage that’s most vibrant on light hair
- Healthier option for hair with no ammonia or alkaline developers
Before we look at the best hair color rinse options, let’s talk about what a hair color rinse is – and what it isn’t. Color rinses have become really popular as of late because they offer a way to switch up your color without damaging your hair or committing to a new color long-term.
A hair color rinse is a temporary or semi-permanent color that is applied to wet or damp hair. You “rinse” the color in, which is where the name comes from. People use color rinses in shades from natural (blonde, red, brown, and black) to bold, bright fantasy colors.
With these colors, the dye sits on top of the hair instead of partially or deeply penetrating it (like with demi-permanent or permanent colors). They work similarly to color depositing shampoo and leave behind temporary color that can be intensified with repeated use.
Most color rinses offer sheer, buildable coverage that show up best on light hair. Others are more opaque and designed to help cover grays or give better color payoff on darker hair.
Since these colors are meant to be temporary, you can easily wash them out with shampoo. Note that it may take multiple washes to fully remove a color rinse from your hair, especially if your hair is very light or has been bleached.
How Long Does a Color Rinse Last?
A color rinse lasts anywhere from 1-12 shampoos depending on the brand and type of rinse you use. Temporary color rinses last through 1-3 shampoos while semi-permanent rinses last up to 12 shampoos. Washing your hair less often can help color rinses last even longer!
Since color rinses don’t contain the ammonia of permanent hair color, they’re easy to wash out with shampoo (or a few shampoos). And because color rinses don’t require the use of an alkaline peroxide developer like permanent hair color, they don’t damage hair in the process.
What Should You Use a Hair Color Rinse For?
You can use a hair color rinse for a few different reasons. You can use it to temporarily change your color and try out a new shade you’ve been eyeing – no matter how wild or natural it may be. Try a color rinse to subtly tint your current color without committing long-term.
A color rinse can also be used to cover gray roots (between salon visits) or tone grays when it’s opaque enough. You can even use a color rinse to tone down or tweak an existing permanent color for a new look!
The key factor to keep in mind if you’re considering a hair color rinse is that it’s always going to be temporary and short-lived. Don’t expect lasting color with these products – they’re all about giving you quick, vibrant and non-damaging color that can be washed out.
The Best Hair Color Rinse Products for Every Goal
Think a temporary color rinse might be a good option for you? Then you need to check out the best hair color rinse options for your specific hair goals.
Are you trying a totally new shade? Going for a soft tint to add a glow? Covering up grays? Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve found an awesome color rinse to suit your needs below.
1. Best Overall: Roux Fanci-Full Instant Hair Color Rinse
Roux Fanci-Full Instant Hair Color Rinse is the OG. It might be associated with grandmas, but this is hard-hitting instant color and the overall best hair color rinse we’ve found. Period.
This liquid formula is a little runny, but the flip cap style makes application a lot easier and helps you saturate every strand without spilling a drop. Apply it to your damp hair after shampooing and conditioning, comb it through, and you’re done. That’s seriously it!
The formula contains styling lotion so it acts like a lightweight mousse in your hair after application. Blow dry and style it right away to revel in your new color – and you have 13 pretty shades to choose from!
2. For Shine and Color Boost: dpHUE Gloss+ Semi Permanent Hair Color
- Deep conditioning formula
- Semi-permanent color boost
- Available in 12 shades
- Does not cover grays
- Not ideal for dramatic color changes
- Pricier than other options
dpHUE Gloss+ Semi Permanent Hair Color is a little pricey compared to other options on our list, but it’s the best hair color rinse in terms of glossy shine. If your strands have been looking a little dull lately, this rinse is the ultimate antidote!
You can use it in the shower for easy application and cleanup. Apply it to cleansed hair for 10-15 minutes for a deep conditioning treatment, gloss, and color boost all in one. It won’t dramatically change your color – like going brown to blonde – but it tones existing color really well and delivers an amazing, glossy shine.
Try a highly-pigmented color like red to intensify or change up your current color. Or use it as a toner and give blonde or brown shades a new tint! You won’t believe how instantly shiny and healthy it makes your hair look.
3. For Damaged Hair: Moroccanoil Color Depositing Hair Mask
The Moroccanoil Color Depositing Hair Mask is one of the best hair color rinse options around if your strands are in need of a little deep conditioning. General damage, split ends, dry texture – all of it makes you a prime candidate to use this Moroccanoil color mask.
You apply it to damp hair after shampooing and conditioning as normal. Leave the color-depositing mask on for 5-7 minutes (depending on how intense you want the color) and rinse completely to reveal your new color!
We love that this hair color rinse is thick and nourishing with easy control as you apply it. It’s available in 10 shades so you can choose the one you like best. Or get creative and mix two or more shades together to build your custom, temporary color!
4. For Longer Lasting Color: Glaze Super Color Conditioning Gloss Hair Mask
- Get 2-3 treatments per bottle
- Only 10 minutes for vibrant color
- Color lasts up to 10 washes
- Can stain bleached hair
- Users say bottle is hard to squeeze
Glaze Super Color Conditioning Gloss Hair Mask is a great color rinse if you’re looking for color that lasts a little longer. You can get up to 10 washes out of your new shade with this rinse! Users rave about the prismatic, dimensional shades it comes in.
Glaze comes in 9 shades so you can find the one that suits your hair goals. Use it to deepen your color, try something new, or blend out grays for a younger look. This is a super conditioning formula, so you won’t need to condition before use – just shampoo.
Apply it to damp hair and comb it through. Leave it for 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly to reveal your new color with glossy shine that gives you that fresh from the salon look!
5. For Quickest Color: eSalon Tint Hair Color Rinse
It happens – you’ve only got a few minutes before you need to be out the door and your hair is in serious need of a refresh. eSalon Tint Hair Color Rinse is the best hair color rinse when you need fast color – like, 2-3 minutes fast.
After shampooing your hair, apply this rinse to your hair like you would shampoo and massage it in until it foams up. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes (that’s it!) and rinse thoroughly. You can use different shades and depths to either tone, refresh, or totally change your hair color.
It won’t cover grays because it’s a little too sheer. But it does a great job boosting any existing color, knocking out warm, brassy tones, and tinting light to medium shades with a new color. It’ll wash out within a few shampoos, so keep using if you want to keep your new color.
Even better? We did a full-on eSalon hair product review. Make sure to check it out — we’re sure you’ll love their products.
Things to Consider
You’ve learned about the best hair color rinse options, what they do, and the different ways you can use them to tweak your color. We have a few more things for you to keep in mind so you can decide if this low-damage color method is going to work well for your hair!
- More expensive doesn’t always = better. We’ve reviewed dozens of hair color rinse products in our quest to find the best, so trust us: More expensive options aren’t always better. We managed to find a few of the most reasonably priced color rinses that get rave reviews from customers and won’t break the bank. Our overall best pick, Fanci-Full by Roux, only costs around $11 and contains enough color for multiple treatments!
- Don’t expect dramatic results. It’s smart to manage your expectations here and know what you’ll get with a hair color rinse. You won’t get jaw-droppingly dramatic results from using any of these temporary dyes unless your hair is light blonde. Even then, most of the quality color rinses are quite sheer in color and don’t work well to transform super-light hair into very dark shades. Use rinses for color boosts, refreshes, and toning for the best results.
- Staining is a possibility. The lighter your hair is – whether it’s bleached all-over, naturally light blonde, gray, or highlighted – the higher the potential for hair staining is. Temporary and semi-permanent dyes won’t penetrate your hair deeply, but the pigments can stain lighter hair colors and appear to hang around beyond the usual 1-12 shampoo range. Clarifying shampoo can help, but it’s something to consider before you use these products.
- Read reviews for gray coverage. Some of the best hair color rinse products on our list are clear about the fact that they don’t cover grays. While some are simply too sheer to adequately cover grays, we found that a few options offer pretty good gray coverage when the rinse is left on the hair a bit longer than directed. It’s a good idea to talk to a colorist before trying this, but many reviewers said a few minutes longer made a huge difference in gray coverage! Read the reviews for your favorite product to see if longer processing time can offer better gray coverage.
- Use a few times to intensify the color. It’s a good thing the best hair color rinse options come in larger bottles with enough product for multiple uses! You may love the results you get after just one rinse, but if it’s too sheer or subtle for you, try using it again in a day or two. Building your color by applying again will give you a more intense, vibrant shade. And if you really love the results, using once or twice a week can help you maintain the new color.
Which Hair Color Rinse Is Right for You?
Whether you’re looking for natural or bold temporary hair color, a color rinse can get you there with minimal damage and tons of shine and softness. It can be your saving grace between salon visits, a great way to experiment with fun and funky colors, or a quick method to tone and boost your current color.
As great as a good hair color rinse can be, it’s also important to know what it’s not. These products are intended to temporarily refresh, tone, and boost color primarily. They aren’t supposed to deliver intense color, 100% gray coverage, or long-lasting color.
Some of the better options on our list can blend or lightly cover grays and enable you to do a more drastic color change (hello, magenta!). But overall, you’re better off using a hair color rinse for a more subtle added saturation boost to your current color.
When it comes to hair color options that won’t damage your hair, won’t break the bank, and won’t leave you committed to a long-term color you’re not sure you’ll love, you really can’t beat a good hair color rinse.
If you’re curious about this color method, pick one of the products on our list in a shade similar to your current color and give it a try! You might find it becomes your new secret weapon for gorgeous, dimensional color that always looks fresh – even if it’s been a while since you’ve sat in the salon chair. We won’t tell!