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Things You Should Never Put in Your Hair—Even for Your Halloween Costume

Halloween is the one day out of the year when anything goes. From barely-there outfits to next-level makeup, there really are no rules. But, in some cases, there should be. We all want to get creative, but there are things you should never put in your hair under any circumstance. Sure, can applying particular items elevate your costume? Maybe. But trust us (and the experts) when we say one night of a show-stopping look isn’t worth a year or so of recovery.

Keep scrolling for a list of things you should never put in your hair, and why they’re so damaging. And just remember, for many of the things you’re tempted to use, there are usually less harmful alternatives. Do your research and forgo any regrets!

Girlfriends doing make-up for Halloween party - stock photo Girlfriends doing make-up for Halloween party.
(Image Source: Getty / SrdjanPav)


While paint is a vital addition to most peoples’ Halloween experience, it shouldn’t be one for your hair.

“Don’t put paint in your hair, even if it’s just watercolor,” celebrity hairstylist Kevin Murphy says. “It can snap your hair off if it’s left to dry, or if you use a heated appliance to style.”

Colored Hairspray

Colored hairspray has always seemed like an easy fix for when you want a temporary color that’ll wash out quicker than box dye. But, according to the pros, it’s actually one of the worst things you can apply to your strands.

“The hairsprays can damage your hair and too much will break it off, especially when trying to get the hairspray out,” explains Theadora Guzman, Maria Nila‘s National Educator and Brand Manager. “These are products you typically have to overuse in order to see the effects of the color pigments. DIY hair color is almost impossible to get out of the hair. Most of the time you’ll be left with damaged hair from trying to remove the color, or you’ll have to cut it out.”

Echoes Luis Pacheco, master hair expert, colorist, and founder of TO112: “Acetone is often the main ingredient in most of the costume or dollar store hair color sprays. If you’ve had any chemical smoothing treatments, keratin treatments, or have bonded hair extensions, do not use a spray with acetone. It’ll break up the keratin and undo your beautiful hair investment. Read your labels!”


Take note from TikTok!

“We all saw what happened to that poor Gorilla Glue girl, and no one needs that,” Pacheco says. “Don’t use super glues or really glue of any kind. Use a homemade sugar-water spray instead. Dissolve sugar in the water. Adding sugar until the water can’t dissolve anymore will give you a super firm, glass-like finish for costume styling. It can shellac your hair for a slick, glassy look when dry, and its tackiness can make it possible to hold extreme shapes.” 


Avoiding glitter seems like a given, but it tends to be the guilty pleasure that Halloween observers just can’t put down. It’s not that the contents of the glitter itself will damage your hair, but with everything you need to get it out, combined with the time it takes to get it out, it’s no smooth process. Any time you use glitter in your hair, you can anticipate your post-Halloween morning will be a very long one (a.k.a. don’t expect to get to work or school on time).

“I would avoid glitter in your hair,” Murphy says. “It’s really hard to get out and can haunt you for months after.”

Temporary Drugstore Color

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that box dye is almost never okay in our opinion. But on Halloween in particular, it extends past just how harmful it is for your hair.

“It may say three to five washes, but depending on the porosity of your hair it could be three to five months,” Pacheco says. “So unless you’re prepared to commit to that new color in the months beyond your Halloween costume, avoid them. These colors are staining and can often penetrate the cuticle layer, so if you have highly porous hair (if it’s been chemically processed or colored, it’s porous), it will be more easily stained, and you’ll have to invest in clarifying shampoos or salon treatments to get it out.”

If wigs won’t make the cut and you still want to go the temporary color route, Hally Hair and Good Dye Young offer safer alternatives to traditional DIY dyes. But like with everything, read your labels and chat with your colorist (or some kind of hair professional) first.

Once you’re done putting your Halloween hair through the wringer, HERE are the products you need to revitalize your hair back to health!

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