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Using Hair Color Sticks

Shannon Boyce
Woman with multicolored hair

Your hair is your number one accessory, so it is important for it to look good, even between salon visits. From keeping grays at bay to adding in brightly colored streaks, hair color sticks are versatile and easy to use. Just a quick touch up and you'll be ready for anything.

How to Use Hair Color Sticks

Hair color sticks make it possible to add temporary hair color whenever it is needed. The right shade can conceal roots that are growing in, as well as gray hairs. In recent years, they have also become a way for people to have fun with vibrant colors. They come in different styles, including crayons, markers, and soft-tip brush applicators.

Available at pharmacies, beauty counters, and online, these sticks are easy to use and provide noticeable results. To use a hair color stick, start by:

  1. Selecting an appropriate color.It doesn't matter if you choose a marker, crayon, or brush-tip applicator. The most important thing to focus on is finding the best color match possible.
  2. Hair should be clean, dry, and unstyled prior to application. This is essential as oil and leftover styling products can make the color appear less intense or cause the product to apply unevenly.
  3. Take your color stick and apply it to the desired section (either your roots, areas with gray, or sections where you want to add color). Start with small one inch sections to avoid applying too much or too little product to an area.
  4. If you are trying to conceal roots, start at the hairline and work your way out, blending the color into the rest of your hair. Continue until it looks even. For those dealing with grays, dab the stick directly onto the area and build up the product until grays are completely covered. When adding in temporary streaks, begin at the root of each section and work down using small strokes.
  5. Depending on your natural hair color and what you are using the stick for, you may need to run the product over the same section multiple times. That is okay! Build up the color slowly until you are fully satisfied with the results.

Dealing With Grays and Roots

If your main concern is tackling unwanted gray hairs or covering up grown in roots, there are many products to choose from. Some examples include:

Cover That Gray Touch-Up Color Stick

Cover That Gray is a twist up, crayon-style touch up stick that sells for around $6 and comes in shades from brown/blonde to black. It's easy to apply, and men will likely find it just as convenient to use as women do. This stick is useful for covering up roots quickly and extending time between salon visits. This product will cover the gray until for about one day and can be removed by shampooing.

The color stick can also be used for:

  • Covering gray along the hairline
  • Coloring temples and sideburns
  • Hiding gray in mustaches and beards

To apply:

  1. Find the color that matches your own.
  2. Apply the stick directly to your hair, using gentle strokes until you achieve the desired amount of coverage.

TouchBack Touch-Up Marker

TouchBack uses a marker-like tip to distribute a liquid color that dries almost instantly, with the color remaining until you shampoo.

TouchBack is available in Pro and Quix versions.

  • TouchBack Pro delivers about 60 applications and comes in eight colors, including rich black, golden blonde, and dark auburn. It costs about $25.
  • TouchBack Quix delivers about 30 applications and comes in six colors, including dark brown, medium blonde, and auburn. It retails for around $15.

Use this marker to:

  • Cover gray roots
  • Hide gray at the temples and hairline

To apply:

  1. Select the color that matches your hair.
  2. Use the small comb that comes with the marker to pull up the hair you need to color.
  3. Dab the marker against the hair to get the color flowing and draw it over the hair just like you're using a marker.

Color Your Gray Root Touch-Up Brush

Cover your gray uses a soft applicator to gently brush color into your hair. The color lasts a couple days, but it can be shampooed out at any time. This product sells for around $6. Choose from six shades, including medium brown, light brown/blonde, and jet black.

Use it to:

  • Cover up your roots in between colorings
  • Hide gray around the entire hairline

To apply:

  1. Choose color closest to your own color

  2. Use the soft-tip applicator to brush temporary color directly onto your hair.

Brightly Colored Sticks to Try

Hair color sticks can do more than camouflage grays and grown out roots. They can also be used to incorporate bright colors. Add in temporary streaks or give yourself a pop of color on the bottom layer for a head-turning hairstyle everyone will notice.

Bumble and Bumble Bb. Color Stick in Statement Shades

Maybe you want to do something different. Or, perhaps you have a concert, special night out, or themed party coming up. Whatever the reason, adding bold color to your hair can be quick and easy with the Bumble and Bumble Bb. Color Stick in Statement Shades. This dry fiber color stick is available in shades like Flamingo, Ballet, Lilac, and Pacific. (The brand also has a line with more natural color sticks.) For about $25, you can achieve vibrant color instantly.

To apply:

  1. Decide where you want to place your color
  2. Stroke the stick along the hair in small sections
  3. Blend in with your fingers
  4. Wash out the next time you shampoo

Brite Liquid Hair Chalk

Another type to consider comes from Brite. Their Liquid Hair Chalk costs around $12 and comes in a variety of exciting shades. That includes softer colors like pastel blue, green, purple, and pink as well as brighter pink, purple, or red. This product uses a pen format - and starts out as a liquid before drying to a bold pigment.

To apply:

  1. Depress the pen nib until the liquid begins to flow
  2. Apply the color directly to the hair and glide down the length
  3. Shampoo to remove

Ohico Hair Color Stick

For a subtle and affordable way to test the waters, consider this purple hair color stick, sold on Amazon. It is less than $2 for a tube, is quick to use, and does not leave a residue on the hair. The product resembles a lipstick but is far more pigmented and is designed for use on the hair. Though there are shades like brown, black, and coffee available as well, this bold purple is the perfect way to make a splash.

To apply:

  1. Put a small amount of the product on the hair.
  2. Let it dry completely (a hair dryer can be used to speed up the process).
  3. Comb through gently.
  4. Wash the hair to remove color.

Getting the Best Results

There's an art to using color sticks, and you may need to practice a bit before you get your technique down pat. Lightly apply whichever product you use under very good light so you can see what you're doing. If you still see some gray, roots, or want a more intense shade, apply a little more. That way you can avoid putting on too much all at once. Why is this essential? You can avoid unsightly clumps that flake off your hair during the day or when you brush it.

Your Best Hair

Hair color sticks come at a reasonable price and can help you save money. Try experimenting with crayons, markers and brush applicators to see which one delivers the coverage you desire and is easiest to use. Once you find a color stick in a shade you love, you'll never have to worry about grays, roots, or bland looking hair again.

Using Hair Color Sticks