How Long Does Food Color Stay In Your Hair?

For the coming Halloween, my 12 years boy decided to be a mimic monster. He collects different poster colors to paint his face. When he requested me to change his hair color. I started researching various ways to dye his hair color without making it permanent.

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Finally, I chose the food color because of its bright, bold, crazy look, and another good thing about food colors is that they fade out easily without damaging your hair.

But it also creates a question in mind, How long does food color stay in your hair?

Most of the food colors stay in the hair for 1-3 wash but synthetic food colors last 4-6 weeks. Some tones such as blue, green, and brown have more retention power than red. The longevity of color also depends on the type and color of your hair and washing routine.

Temperature affects the stability of color. Warm water increases the rate of diffusion, the food color dissolves in water and rapidly fades out. Cool water gives the opposite result. Before we proceed further it is necessary to know about the basics of food color.

What is Food Color

Food color is obtained from natural resources. Pigments produced by plants,(carrot beetroot, flowers) are the principal source of natural food colors.

Food  colors are basically of three types

1-Natural food colors such as:

Betaine is a magenta dye from beet, Beta carotene is yellow to orange

2-Natural identical colorant:

These are prepared in industries but comes from natural resources

3-Artificial or Synthetic food colors are obtained from petroleum products

For example Indigo carmine blue, Quinoline yellow

These colors are found in different physical states like liquid, paste, gel, or powder form.

Stability of Food Color

Research shows that Red (Amaranth) is less stable than yellow (Sunset Yellow). Whereas the addition of different groups such as sulphonic acid to other food colors decreases the stability of color. These colors are Carmoisine, Sunset Yellow, erythrosine, and Indigo Carmoisine.

The stability of colors is directly affected by temperature. All synthetic colors are more stable such as Ponceau, Allura red, sunset Yellow Tartrazine, chocolate brown, Greenland brilliant blue

At very high temperatures some carbonization may occur which will cause color loss and change of shade. Thus temperature at which the actual shade of color is not changed is called its shelf-life

Is Food Color Permanent or Semi-permanent?

Semi-Permanent colors do not contain any developer(hydrogen peroxide)or ammonia and are less damaging for hair.

All food colors are temporary or semi-permanent dyes. Food color simply coats the color on the surface of hair strands thus it gives an easy-on and easy-off way.

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How long does food color stay in your hair?

Usually, the food color stays 1-2 weeks in your hair. Perhaps you think this time duration is too short to choose it but don’t worry all the colors are not washed away at the same rate, More thermostable colors stay longer than less stable colors. Temperature directly affects the color that remains in the hair.

How Long Should Food Color Stay in Hair

There are several reasons which decide the time of stay. The environment does not affect the color but it is a type of hair, color, and washing process that holds color in your lock.

The longevity of color to stay in hair  depends on the following factors;

1-Type of hair

Thin and silky hair adopt color for a slightly longer time as compared to thick strong strands of hair. Coating bulky hair is difficult and proves to be a hard task. To solve this issue prepare a thick paste and leave the color for a longer time.

2-Type of color

All synthetic colors are more strong, impart the best and bold hue to hair that lasts long. But natural colors have many positive points like the presence of vitamins, no chemical ingredient, and beautiful scent.

Brown and yellow colors show more retention power and last up to 6-8 weeks.

However red take the top to fade the fastest, Intense red shades fade pretty fast in comparison to auburn, titian red, and more red-brown shades. Because brown hair dye stays longer.

Blue and green colors also stay longer, and gradually fade out with each wash. It may last for 4 to 8 weeks. Sometimes great loss of color occurs during the first wash so it is better to use little water to rinse and avoid shampooing right after dying your hair.

3-Original color of hair

The Virgin color of hair counts much in the stability of color. Different food colors appear differently because outcomes depend upon the original hair color

Food color on a blond or lighter shade

If you are blond or have a light shade you are lucky because food color leaves a visible tint on such hair thus staying longer. Blue changes into green in blond.Red and pink stay in blond for longer than usual. It is hard to remove it but depends on how long you let sit it in your hair

Food Color on Dark Hair

Without lightening the dark hair it is difficult to get desired color shade. For getting an even tone of dark or black hair use green food coloring to counteract red tones or a combo of blue and green to neutralize a reddish-orange hue.

4-How many times do you wash your hair

Food colors are usually washed out in four or five attempts. You should try to wash your hair only once a week. The amount of water also counts, less the amount of water losing less color, the more you flow water to rinse more color washed out.

5-Time to leave dye in

When you are ready to color your hair read the instructions about the time. It may be 30 to 50 minutes. The longevity of color also depends on the time you leave the color paste in your hair. If you could not get the desired shade you may repeat the process the next day.

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Method of coloring hair in 7steps to retain maximum color

Be ready now we discuss all things which are necessary for food color to apply. These steps not only give the best color to hair but also increase the longevity of color to stay.

  • Choice of best quality food color. the best brand shows more stable behavior
  • Apply olive oil or any baby oil on the margin of your hair, hairline neck shoulder, and forehead
  • A quantity of color depends upon the thickness of your hair and also what shade of color you want. For lighter shade use the less quantity of food color.
  • Mixing the conditioner in a 1:3 ratio softens the effects of bright color. also, increase the life of color.
  • Now apply the color with a brush. . Leave for 5 to 10 In the dark and heavy hair time should be 30 minutes. The more your hair gets absorbed in the color, the more it will take time to leave.
  • Heating or the use of a hairdryer help in absorbing color in the best way.
  • Rinse the hair and apply conditioner. Do not wash it with a large amount of water because it washes away all your color.

Can Heat Seal The Color

Heat changes the structure of hair just like bleach. It opens the cuticle of the hair. When color is applied it should dry with a hairdryer as it sets the color in the hair properly. But after washing all heat styling gadgets are harmful as they lose color.  The treatment of cool water seals the color and color that remain in the hair for a longer time.

How long food color will stay in your hair

11 striking ways to prolong the hue of food color in the hair.

1-Not swim in chlorinated water for a few days. The dye will fade away soon.

2-If you want the color to remain in good form, soak your hair in vinegar for 30 seconds. Let it dry, then rinse it with the food coloring

3-Avoid Washing Daily.

4-As the use of food color is very easy to do at home so apply it at home. It will give you more freedom to choose a color.

5-After dying hair avoid direct use of dryer, straightener, and heating gadget.

6-Use “Color-Treated” Hair Products, which suit you.

7-Use Sunscreen on your dyed hair.

8-Always use color-protecting Conditioners

9-Using leave-in treatment with ultraviolet absorbent.

10-Use of sulfate-free shampoo

11-You may get deep conditioning treatment to smooth the hair texture and add luster

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dye my hair with food coloring and vinegar?

Yes, vinegar increases the retention of hair. Soak the hair in vinegar for 30 minutes and then use food color. This method increases the ability of color to adhere to the hair. It also counteracts the unwanted yellow in blond hair

Which color stay for the longest time?

All brown shades in food colors have strong staying power. Their molecule strongly adheres to the hair strand and does not wash away easily.


After a long discussion, I hope you will come on natural dye and reduce the risk of hair damage. Timing of food color to stay in hair should not frighten you. You may have fun changing your color and have so many chances to change your hair color. Finally, a day comes when you get your desired color. Please share your experiment with me.