The Halloween Hair Debate: Should You Wig It or Dye It?

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Harley's cake – thank you squad!

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In our humble opinion, you never really need an excuse to experiment with a new hair color. But Halloween presents us with a particularly unique opportunity to try an out-of-the-box hair hue we might not typically attempt—and we might then be convinced to keep it in real life.

Sometimes, though, we’re not quite sure whether it’s better to use actual color—be it chalk, highlights, or permanent—or to opt for a wig, especially when it comes to putting our precious strands at risk. To save our hair (and, OK, maybe our dignity too) from Halloween hair dye mishaps, we turned to Maddison Cave, colorist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, to figure out how to approach our mane moves for this Halloween.

If you want a few little bright streaks of color or highlights …
Sometimes all you need is a slight streak of color to make your hair stand out against your killer Halloween costume (i.e. to fully become Harley Quinn), and if a touch of brightness is all you need, Cave suggests trying semipermanent hair color like Manic Panic. Just consider the fact that you might have to keep the color for a while.

“If you already have highlights, Manic Panic will show up more on the lightened pieces, and keep in mind that it takes longer to fade out and may take a couple clarifying shampoos to get out,” she says.

If you want a full head of red hair …
Toying with the idea of going as Ariel or the Red Queen this Halloween? Then a full head of red hair is in order. But you don’t necessarily need to run to your colorist to make that happen, Cave says: “Unless you want a more permanent change, go with a wig. Reds can be finicky and also difficult to get out of your hair.” Might we suggest this snazzy red wig ($39.45) for a temporary take?

Granted, if you’ve always felt like your parents’ genetic makeup denied you the opportunity to live life as a ginger, then by all means go the hair dye route. But there’s really no need to make any drastic hair changes (be they red or otherwise) in the name of a costume.

If you want crazy rainbow detail or a random patch of color …
Ombré hair has been going strong for a few years now, so for Halloween you might want to take the trend to the next level and go all kinds of crazy with rainbow ombré detail. Or maybe you just want a badass patch of color somewhere on your head. Either way, you can achieve the look you desire with temporary hair color.

“Try using a spray color like Rita Hazan’s Pop Color ($18). Separate the pieces you don’t want to color with clips, and put paper behind the pieces you are ready to spray,” Cave suggests.

If you want colored bangs for the night …
Switching up your bangs is one of the most fun parts of hair care in our opinion, and colored bangs are definitely a rad way to fete the spookiest of nights. But whether you’re rocking bangs or not, it’s not exactly worth coloring your front-and-center fringe for one single night of fun.

Instead, opt for a temporary piece that you can clip in at your leisure. “Most beauty supply stores have clip-in bangs that you can separately dye with something like Manic Panic or the Rita Hazan Pop Color,” Cave says.

The bottom line? Whether you opt for hair color or a wig of some sort, Halloween is supposed to be fun, so don’t fret over the color process. Get a little crazy with temporary chalk, a wig, or semipermanent dye.

MORE: 20 Genius Pop Culture Halloween Ideas