How to Protect Your Hair at a Color Run

Updated 05/16/19

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Color Run

Whether you're an ultramarathoner or the absolute opposite of a runner, it's kind of hard not to love a Color Run. This untimed five-kilometer marathon is more like a celebration of joy than a race. It involves getting doused with poofs of colored powders as you run through each kilometer mark. By the end, you look like a veritable technicolor dream.

Sounds fun, but your hair may beg to differ. If your tresses are fine, light, or chemically processed, there's a chance that the powders may stain them. People with darker and thicker hair don't need to worry too much about this issue. Here's how to keep your hair protected—and what to do in case you do end up with rainbow locks. 

Prevent the Color From Staining Your Hair

The powders used at a Color Run are mostly cornstarch infused with food-grade dyes in bright hues like blue, pink, orange, green, purple, and yellow.

To help prevent your hair from absorbing the dyes, do a deep conditioning treatment before the race. You can also apply a heavy conditioner or oil right before to create a barrier between your hair and the dye; olive oil or coconut oil work marvelously. Apply liberally to wet hair and brush it through to make sure it's evenly distributed. Yes, your hair will look greasy. If you want to look a bit polished (hello, photos) pull your hair back into a ponytail or bun.

The best way to protect your hair from staining is to wear a hat or a bandana that covers it completely. A wig could also be fun—not to mention very appropriate for a color run.

After the race, rinse your hair very well with cool water until the water runs clear. Then shampoo, condition, and rinse. This all seems like a bit of work, but it's worth it—you'll have super soft hair in the end.

How to Get Color Stains Out of Your Hair

If your hair does become stained after the Color Run, don't panic. The staining generally isn't permanent. If you can live with it, it should eventually fade within a week or two. To help speed up the process, try a clarifying shampoo like Pureology Purify Shampoo ($30).

If the staining is significant or you need it out ASAP (and shampoo didn't do the trick), Dawn dish soap is obviously a beast when it comes to cutting through dirt and grime. Try using it once, just as you would shampoo. Of course, use it sparingly, as it can strip the natural oils from your hair. If you go this route, you may want to follow up with a deep conditioner to replenish moisture to your hair.

Avoid any outlandish remedies to remove the color, as you may do way more harm than good. If you happen to have a staining problem that you can't seem to fix with these simple tips, give your trusty hairstylist a call.

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