How to dye hair with chalk (pastels)

Sam had a few little girlfriends over on Sunday night which proved for the perfect opportunity to try out ‘chalking’ their hair! (thank you so much to Angela who shared the chalking Pinterest link with me!!)

The results were HYSTERICAL.

The idea is you wet hair & ‘draw’ color on with chalk, you then heat seal it with a flat-iron & the color lasts until you wash their hair. I didn’t find it to be quite that simple but after a few botched attempts we did get it down pretty darn good. Here’s what I learned…

1- Use ARTIST chalk, otherwise known as pastels. I foolishly tried sidewalk chalk & it did nothing. There’s just not enough pigment. You can get a Chalk Pastels Set for about $10. (I ran to Michael’s & bought a set which cost a little more & seem to be the same thing. I was being impatient though and had to do it that minute)

2-Rather than soaking the hair I found it was good to have more of the moisture in my hand so I was almost making a little pile of ink to rub the hair in. Try and ‘draw’ in one direction of the hair as much as possible too or you might get knots if you’re overly ambitious with the ‘drawing’.

3- And this is a big one because TRUST ME, you do not want the guilt from giving a 3 year old a steam burn. Either stick to doing the tips of kid’s hair OR place a towel over their face/forehead when you use the flatiron. A flatiron on wet hair makes a puff of steam, that steam is effing hot. Poor little Kiki learned the hard way. It wasn’t enough to cause a blister but enough to make one pissed off little kid. (not that I blame her, I felt TERRIBLE)

4- The chalk tended to wear off after a few hours so if you want it to stay try applying some hairspray afterwards. It helped keep Sam’s pink for a good day.

5- You will fret that you have ruined your lovely flatiron forever. Don’t worry, let it cool and the chalk color comes right off with a baby wipe.

That’s about it! This was a super fun activity & honestly, I can’t wait to do my own tips a la this picture from Pinterest

And no, I’m so not too old for it.


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  1. Jen

    Brilliant! I can’t wait to try this on myself. By the way, this is the first comment I’ve ever left, but I’ve been following your blog for over a year now, and let me add, I do not have children. Is that weird? Am I the only one here without kiddies? haha I just love reading all the blogs and I do have a gorgeous little niece that I get to use ‘DIY’ projects on!

    • Lisa

      You are absolutely not the only one without kids! I’ve been a reader pretty much from the beginning of SamsterMommy and, although I don’t have my own kiddos (yet!), I still enjoy stopping by and reading!

      • well am just 12 years old and i came to my point were i wanna were make-up and die my hair all these color. my mom said not to die my hair with real hair die case it can damage my hair so then i went on youtube and found all these cool ides. i got the kool aid chalk and even markers and i have dark black hair becase i did my hair last year so am try to blech my hair the am going to do my hair pink with chalk sooo wish me luck!!!!:D

        • Natasha

          Good luck!! You’re so lucky you have so many temporary options, when I was 12 I wanted pink hair soooo bad but the only option was bleaching it and dying it so I was out of luck until I was 18. You have a cool mom!

  2. This is awesome! They looks great! I love Sophie’s blue fauxhawk!!!

    I’m actually going to do this for my friends wedding in May and am super excited about it! I don’t think anyone is ever too old to have fun! Go for it (and post pictures please! :))

  3. I pinned this. I’m sure it will come in handy someday soon since this tends to be a trend at school right now. I’ll be the coolest mom on the block!

  4. Love this idea! I will have to try with my nieces! I’ve always wanted to add a bright dye to my hair but didn’t want it to last forever. This will be perfect!

  5. BBB

    All the girls are so adorable, beautiful, and photogenic!! I also don’t have kids but I do have nieces and nephews. Hmmm, I actually think a colorful fauxhawk might also be a hit with the nephew (if only his father will let me chalk dye his son’s hair!) I google searched the subject and it seems that chalk dying works with all shades of hair color.

    • Natasha

      I think it’s perfect for a little boy fauxhawk! Also I didn’t have a blonde in the group (I assume it would work best on them though) but it worked great on the brunette hair! I’d say green & blue showed up the best and pink the least but as you can see it was still pretty darn visible.

  6. mandy

    Loves this! I wonder if my daughter will be Strawberry Shortcake again this Halloween so we can do awesome red hair instead of spray paint hair! MUST FIND MY FLAT IRON she just broke her arm and now I have a nice, no running involved activity for her to do! Any cast ideas or hints for a 5 year old in a cast from her armpit to her wrist? Any thoughts would be nice. Loves ya!

    • Natasha

      armpit to her waist??! That’s terrible! how the heck did she do that? Poor baby. ): maybe search on pinterest under ‘cast ideas’

    • Julie


      Check out! I had a cast on my arm for three months, and decorated mine with the cast tattoos. It was fun for me (my last one was pink with black zebra stripes, but also did tribal art on white, and hearts) and aggravated my boss — a definitely plus!
      They go on with a blowdryer.


  7. Heather

    I think I love you a little bit :). I’ve been a Kane show listener for years, but just subscribed to your blog recently. You have inspired me to join Pinterest, and I love seeing the adorable crafty things you make for the girls. They are just adorable, by the way :). Thank you for being you :)

  8. KAMIA

    I have also been a “creeper” to this site for some time now, and no kids here either! :) I actually discovered Pinterest from your site….how did I not know about this?? :) Great site and the girls are so cute! :)

  9. Wendy

    How necessary is the flat iron? Do you think a hairdryer would work? My little girl (a blondie!) has delicious curls that I would rather not take away…

    • Natasha

      Hmm, I think it’s really what seals the deal. (no pun intended) Maybe a curling iron? I don’t think a hairdryer would be hot enough. Try though?

  10. Olivia

    Hey! I have a question: I have a really nice, expensive flat iron, and I would really like to avoid messing it up. Did you notice the color coming off onto the flat iron, or getting the color on it in any way??

    (btw, I’m a huge fan, and no, I don’t have any kids either :D)

    • Natasha

      Yup, it got all over it. And I have a Chi so I was starting to freak out about it. But then I just waited until it cooled off and took a baby wipe to it, every single bit easily came right off. Once the flatiron cools the chaulk basically turns back into powder, it was very easy to wipe off.

      The only place it might stain a bit (although it didn’t on mine) is the velvet that’s on the outside top & bottom of some flatirons.

  11. KateMcKenzie

    The photo you have at the bottom isn’t done with chalks. That’s actual dip dye. There’s a whole tutorial for it including that girl floating around the web.

    • Natasha

      Yeah I know, but I wanted to replicate it with chalks as a super temporary option…like for a fun night out. Thanks though!

  12. Bazil

    Do you know if this would work on darker hair? Like, really, really dark brown? xD And is it any kind of pastels or…? Cause I think there’s different types.

  13. Rene

    Love this idea! I’m a hairdresser and just a heads up to all parents. Chalk is chalk and like it does when you use it on your hands when rock climbing or bowling it absorbs the oils…just don’t do it too often on the hair bc it will absorb the oils on the hair and if it’s done too much it can really dry out the hair. But it’s a great way to put a smile on that’s cute faced kido! :)

    • Natasha

      I’m not sure the brand, I think it’s Artist’s something…but I definitley bought them at Michael’s. It’s the same brand that sells their canvases

      • Cristy

        I just bought my set @ JoAnn…….Loew-Cornell SIMPLY ART……….48 chalks for $5.99 used a 40% coupon.They are located in the Fine art area. I read NOT to use the oil based or sidewalk chalk. I am going to do this with my grandaughters.

      • Juliet

        I wouldn’t do the oil pastels. I tried it, and it works, it stays in for about three days, and looks good, but it makes your hair crunchy. Also when you put it on, it pulls your hair really bad. It ripped out my hair, and then I couldn’t even get a brush through it. I’d stick with the dry chalk.

  14. Nate

    This is a great idea! I jsut tried it on my own hair, I have wanted to dye my hair for a very long time but didnt want to be stuck with a color that didnt look good once it was done. After trying all kinds of diffrent colors i found somthing i really like.( I wasreally surprised how well the colors showed up in black hair!). Thanks to your little tip i know what color i will be putting in my hair and will have no regrets. Thank you for the awesome idea. Oh and for al the moms who think this is jsut for little girls, include your boys! I am a 17 year old boy and trying this sure entertained me, I am sure it would make any boy my junior giddy. thanks again for the great idea.

    • Natasha

      Yay!! That’s great! I was shocked how well they showed up on dark hair too…it actually showed up better on my dark hair than Sam’s light brown hair. What color did you decide on??

  15. Michelle Barron

    This is very dangerous, as artist pastels are the most toxic form of “paint” available. Most artists who use them wear very sophisticated masks. Imagine freeable cadmium, lead, etc.

    • Mercedes

      haha chalk pastels are not dangerous, and i have never seen nor heard of an artist wearing a “sophisticated” mask to keep them safe. You don’t breath anything in so a mask would do no good even if there was a danger. I use chalk pastels on my own work all the time. I did try this idea on my own hair though, and it was killer on my hair! Dried it out so it felt like straw. I loved the colors and the way it washed out, but the moisture in my hair i had to get back with deep conditioning. Maybe it was because my hair is not the greatest anyway? Idk, but this is definitely safe to use on kids or adults health wise.

      • Marna

        Chalk and pastels are two different things. And an artist that knows what they’re doing does indeed take precautions! Most wear Liquid Gloves which you can’t see to create a barrier between their skin and the pastels. Artist grade pastels are highly toxic!!! You should not breath in the dust, or even get the higher pigments – red, yellow, green, blue – on your skin where it will be absorbed!!! Please research pastels before putting these on your children or even saturating your own hands with these!!! You can cause irreversible damage to your children and yourselves and even death. Is pretty colors on your kids’ hair really worth the risk?

      • Robyn

        I beg to differ.

        Many artist grade soft pastels contain cadmium, cobalt, titanium dioxide, and other heavy metals that are highly toxic. Not only is it dangerous to breathe in the dust, but these particles are so fine that they can also be absorbed into the skin. Soft pastels are my preferred medium, but when I am working with high grade materials that either contain these heavy metals or MAY contain these heavy metals I wear both a mask and gloves to limit my exposure.

        That said, there are plenty of student grade soft pastels that do NOT contain any harmful ingredients that are much safter to use if you want DIY “chalked” hair. Their pigments aren’t quite as nice as the artist grade pastels, but it’s better safe than sorry.

        I’d still recommend wearing gloves, though, simply because chalk is chalk and it will dry out your skin in a heartbeat.

  16. Rachel

    I’ve been wanting to try this forever! Now that I found out you use chalk pastels, I’m going to try this at my cousin’s house these next few weeks! What colors would you recommend using for blondes? I know you didn’t have any blondes in the group, but which colors showed up the best?

    Plus the kids are so cute! Looks great!

  17. Amandalynn

    I was horrified when I saw this on pinterest and while I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade I NEED to say something. No doubt it is adorable, however as an artist myself, the very FIRST thing they teach you about pastels is to NEVER get pastel dust near your face. It’s incredibly toxic to breathe! Don’t put this on your kid, no matter how cute it is. There are far safer alternatives!

  18. Christine

    From Wikipedia:
    “Pastels are a dry medium and produce a great deal of dust, which can cause respiratory irritation. More seriously, pastels use the same pigments as artists’ paints, many of which are toxic. For example, exposure to cadmium pigments, which are common and popular bright yellows, oranges, and reds, can lead to cadmium poisoning. Pastel artists, who use the pigments without a strong painting binder, are especially susceptible to such poisoning.”

    You should NOT put this anywhere NEAR a child, let alone in their hair. Some schools even forbid the use of pastels due to the health hazards or have very strict safety guidelines.

    • Natasha

      Thanks so much for letting me know, I’m going to look into this more & will definitely blog an update! Scary stuff! I had no idea…

    • Gramama42

      I recently graduated from college ( yes, I’m 44). One of the first things they taught us new students was about research. Wikipedia ( or any Wiki) is not a reputable source. Anyone can edit a Wiki page without the slightest care. Wiki sometimes takes days before new or editted topics are reviewed by the Wiki team. Think how many ppl see Wikipedia hourly!?!?!

      Never use Wiki as a good, honest source for information.

  19. ella

    so i have a question…… do you have to take a shower after you flatiron it or not? i have blond hair and have heard that it comes out on your clothes and bedding!

    • Natasha

      I haven’t had it come off on my clothes but I did see pink on the pillowcases after sleeping with it on…I’d wash your hair after if you’re worried about the sheets.

  20. Cassndra

    The ladies above are right, while it usually applies to denser, higher quality pastels, the pigment dust can be dangerous if inhaled. We were only allowed to use school provided pastels in high school for this reason.
    Typically with low quality pastels and well ventilated areas, you should be fine.

  21. Lola

    Thank you so much! This is really great! I wanted to dip dye my hair but my mom doesn’t want my hair to get damaged cause she says there’s a lot of bad products inside. But this is really great! Thank you!

  22. Marna

    Artist grade pastels are highly toxic!!! You should not breath in the dust, or even get the higher pigments – red, yellow, green, blue – on your skin where it will be absorbed!!! Please research pastels before putting these on your children or even saturating your own hands with these!!! You can cause irreversible damage to your children and yourselves and even death. Is pretty colors on your kids’ hair really worth the risk?

  23. Aura

    Hey! that’s a very cool idea… I think I’ll do it for the halloween parties! :)
    And, do you think it works on black hair too? Does it works for a “surfer” (a degraded lighter color from the bottom) look too?

  24. i’m a senior citizen with very, very short, almost white hair. i do this chalk technique on her blond hair and she does mine….i decided to play with it and i’ve started doing my hair to match whatever i’m wearing that day, even to church. because my hair is so short it is impossible to use a flatiron, but it works. washes out easily, either in the shower or the pool. it is fun….

  25. vale

    Im starving to worry about this hair chalk . i had some pastels at home and i try it. i notice that at first the color is well notice on hair but with hours the color start to disappear and where is going? well at the evening i leave my t shirt and on the shoulder was all colored of pastels pigments. . . more over i clean my noise putting a white tissue inside my nose and pink color came out! ! is not true the pastel fix on hairs with heat . i try and instead the pastel become more dry and fly away in the hair. why people launch this dangerous things without inform themselves before? i also suffer of asma and anosmia and i fell all irritated my nose today. . . .

  26. Janie

    I noticed a difference in what your doing and what SEVENTEEN magazine suggest, which is maybe why the color didn’t stay long, and might have avoid the HEAT boo boo. It states to use spray bottle, mist the hair, draw on the color THEN let the hair dry on its own. *After* it dries use the hot iron to set it in. I have not tried it yet, but when I get to the city to get the chalks I am definitely going to!!!!!

    • Natasha

      Hmm, that sounds like a good idea but the problem is that wet, colored hair is going to be incredibly staining. I guess if you’re a grown up and can just sit still & wait for it to dry that might work but doing that with a kid could be tough. Look away for a minute & your couch is going to have colored streaks instead of your kid’s hair! Lol! Thanks for the tip though and let me know if it works!!

    • Victoria

      Maybe try drying it with the hair dryer instead of the iron, it’s like a mix of the two if you can’t wait or don’t want it straight(my case with really curly hair)

  27. Hayley

    Hai..I’ve just got this from my mum. I love that you’ve posted the instructions but how long will it stay in your hair for? Is it permanent?

    • Natasha

      Nah, not permanent at all! Just wash it off that night & when you’re done it you’ll see it in the shampoo bubbles!

  28. Hailey

    I love it! I got the same exact pastels for Christmas :)
    I’m thinking about doing a streak of color in my hair for school tomorrow (a color that matches my outfit) and I was wondering,
    If I did this before I go to bed, will i wake up and it be gone / faded too much?
    If you know :b
    I’m not a morning person, or else i’d do it before school. :x

  29. Mona

    Hey, I just tried coloring my hair yesterday with pastel, but it seems like after the pastel is dried , my hair becomes harden. As in it becomes harder to comb and very rough, it is not like my normal hair at all. It’s yours like that too after you color it? or is it like that because I bought cheap pastel? Hope you can reply me. Thanks

    • Natasha

      No, mine is like that too, it’s kind of a bummer. The chalk is really dry so I’m not sure there’s a way to correct the hard, dryness while using such temporary color. Bummer, I know. I feel like people can’t tell by looking though, just touching

  30. JoJo♥

    Hey guys, is there ANY way 2 do this without using a flat/curling iron?? Cuz i dont want my hair to be damaged, and does it work on dark brown hair???

    • Natasha

      It works GREAT on dark hair, I’d dare to say even better than blonde… I personally don’t think it damages your hair, if you did it all the time then maybe but just once in awhile I think would be fine. I couldn’t tell any difference in my daughter’s hair…

  31. Concerned

    you know that pastels have a ton of chemicals in them and the red ones contain mercury.. probably shouldn’t put it in your kids hair very often

  32. Arionna

    I found while I was experimenting that if you take the chalk wet it then color on a comb and run it through your hair it works a lot faster and quicker. I also found that it has more pigment.

  33. Jamie

    Your site saved me today for Wacky Hair day at my 6-year-old daughter’s school. We couldn’t find anything to temporarily color her hair at the store. I had chalk pastels at home and I was able to follow your directions with no problem. Her hair was bright and colorful and it washed out easily tonight. Thank you!

    • Natasha

      Yay!! That’s so awesome, you have no idea how much knowing that my posts help other mommy’s out makes it worth all the work!

  34. Blanca

    I want to try this !!! I have bright red hair
    What color chalk do you think would go with
    My hair color ???
    Thanks ! :)

  35. I did this on my daughter’s and it worked really well…one blonde , one brown . The site I read said use white first on dark did bleed all over but we did the ombre look on long hair..washed out after 2 washes .. but the dust did get all over clothes ..

  36. Althaia

    Hey i’m 12 too! yeah i’m pretty much going into that phase where i want to do crazy things to my hair…. is it possible if i use two colors on one strand that they will blend where they meet? i just wanted to see if it would work the second time i did this…. btw, GREAT tutorial

  37. Mason

    For anyone and everyone who is blonde….DO NOT TRY THIS WITH WATER! It will stain your hair. Chalking is REALLY cool, but just make sure you don’t wet your hair before, just put it on dry. Btw to make the color stick more, twist the hair while rubbing it on…it will give it more to grab. If you have dark hair and can’t get it to show up, then first apply white chalk and THEN add the color you want. It will show up ALOT more! And also art stores try putting “soft” pastels and “chalk” pastels together since they are alot alike, but they aren’t when it comes to hair chalking. It’s super fun! Btw i’m a guy who luvs adding color. I find that this is a way to wear it on the weekend and by the time it’s school time I wash it out. Rebel hair coloring is a BIG TREND right now! :) I hope that blonde hair people read this because it’s possible that you won’t be able to get it out for awhile if you apply it with water! Good luck to everyone! :P

  38. Jenn

    You might want to watermark your kids’ photos…I’ve seen them being used all over the internet on sites that are selling hair chalk!

    PS – Maybe add a disclaimer to the post about the dangers of using pastels too. It’s highly toxic. I’ve done a lot of research after reading some of the above comments indicating concern and it’s true unfortunately. There are safer alternatives.

    • Natasha

      Hi Jenn, thanks so much for the head’s up. I’ve been alerted to the pictures & have tried very hard to get them taken down including contacting the government agencies regarding copyright infringement but it’s almost impossible. If I had any idea that post would’ve been so huge I definitely would’ve watermarked them, oh well, hind sight’s 20/20 right?

      Thanks for the tip about the disclaimer too, I’ve given it a lot of thought and I really don’t believe the children are inhaling any of the possible dust, perhaps the person doing their hair but not them. My kids use artits pastels in their kindergarten class too so I don’t think it’s too dangerous but I’m glad you did your research, you can never be too safe. Thanks again for the heads up!

  39. SARA

    I found your blog from looking up ways to do the chalking. i got some hair chalk and i been working with it. I been doing the wet hair with no product/draw chalk on hair/dry/flat iron method. however, maybe i am not doing enough of a large area because it doesn’t always seem to show all that well against my already dark hair and i been putting white first then the color i want to make it stand out more.My other issue is i may not be putting enough on the hair section? because it always seems to fade after i hot iron… And last but not least,i dry it i flat iron it and it seems that the chalk comes off on the flat iron and i have more on that then my own hair.

    So am i doing something wrong??

    • Natasha

      Hi Sara! Hmmm, it’s sounds like maybe you’re not necesarily doing anything wrong but perhaps you’re not using very good chalk? Are you sure you’re using artist pastels? Regular sidewalk type chalk won’t work. And yes, it does fade a bit when you hot iron, there’s not much you can do about that except perhaps go back and color the same strip again if it faded way too much for your liking. Also yes, a pencil’s width or slightly wider is what I usually do.

      Hope that helps, good luck!!

  40. SARA

    And natasha, when i say sections of hair, i read to take a pencil thickness section, so maybe bigger section of hair??

  41. Just leaving a note to say thanks for this page, and to share what I did. I used chalk pastels to color my 4-year-old daughter’s hair red for Halloween. The twist: her hair is curly, plus she was going as Merida from “Brave,” so no flat irons for us!

    I got a really simple set of pastels at Michaels for about $10. I rubbed the orange and red sticks together in my hands with some water, then just smoothed it on the surface of my daughter’s hair (which is naturally dark blonde/light brown) and let it air dry. She had a red towel wrapped around her shoulders (and pinned in front) for the application process. Her hair stayed red all day long, while she wore her Halloween costume at school. The color did rub off onto her clothes a little (but since it was a cheap Halloween costume, we didn’t really care), as well as onto her face a little bit. Maybe that’s because we applied a lot of it, and to her whole head rather than to one section.

    And it washed out with shampoo! Brilliant. Thanks for helping make our Halloween fun.

  42. Isabel

    Pastels pigments are poisonous, that’s the first thing you learn when using them. I think it would be less damaging for the little girl to actually dye her hair :c

  43. I have red thick hair and doing this experiment looked very promising. When I was finished with it I straightened it to seal in the colour. No luck. The hair straightener did nothing to it. I thought that I should probably brush it out and try again but the knots were never ending… at the end I just hoped in the shower and started to wash it out. ALOT of it came out but as I started to brush it when it was still wet out of the shower I kept seeing bug globs of pink rinse out. I used baby wipes ON my hair and even more appeared on the wipe. Finally I had an idea to put the wipe into the hairbrush brissels. It didn’t go in well but a lot of it came out. I found a old brush that u used when somebody had nits to take all the eggs out and i put the wipe over the brissels to secure them down. I brushed a lot and finally all of it is gone. Next time I’m just going to go to the shops


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