Bug A Boo: Kevin Murphy Color Bug Hair Shadow

The fashion and beauty industry's love affair with unnaturally coloured hair shows little sign of fizzling out: at Chanel's Cruise 2013 show last week, models sported pastel-hued blunt bobs and Charlotte Free, the poster girl for dip-dyed pink ends, was recently unveiled as the new face of Maybelline.

No-one will ever convince me that outré colour is a hair don't but there's no denying that the look requires a massive commitment: while it might be amazing for a music festival or night out, it's unlikely to be suitable for the office (unless, of course, your desk does double duty as the dining room table and your boss is a small white dog called Boris.)

This is the problematic dichotomy that Kevin Murphy hopes to address with his Color Bug solid hair shadows. Pressed pots of powder pigment available in pink, purple or orange, they're inspired by the Hindu tradition of throwing coloured powders during the celebration of the religious festival Holi and are the consumer-friendly version of the loose pigment that Murphy imported from India to create Abbey Lee Kershaw's much Pinned Vogue Australia cover in March 2010.

Temporary colour for hair that simply rubs on for a night out and then washes out sounds right up my street (and less messy than coloured hairspray) so I bought myself a pair of Color Bugs and broke out the pink one over the weekend. The packaging is as cute as the name but ultimately these are quite awkward to use. The colour is housed in a domed half-bubble of rigid plastic and the powder sits below the lip of the container, which makes it difficult to actually get the colour onto hair. Pressing hair into the top of the powder and then dragging the pod along the length to distribute the colour turned out to be easier then rubbing it onto my fingers and then onto hair, but it still took a bit of effort to build colour and apply it evenly.

Oh, and it still temporarily turned my fingers bright pink.

It has a texturising effect similar to dry shampoo, which I didn't have a problem with – my limp locks will take any bit of volume they can get – and I was impressed that the initial colour payoff was as bright and visible as a baboon's scaldy arse.


I was less than impressed with the fact that the colour transferred onto everything that came within a country mile of it, despite my setting it with plenty of hairspray as recommended. Given that Color Bug is basically powdered make-up for hair, I had expected some transfer but I wasn't prepared for the severity of what I experienced. My throat, my collarbones, and the back of my neck, all of which were covered while the actual application and set were going on, wound up with warpaint-alike daubs of bright pink from the ends of my hair. My top bore the brunt of the fallout, though, and within a matter of minutes was covered in powdery pink streaks. They wiped clean... and were immediately replaced by identical powdery pink streaks.

It's little wonder that the original vibrant hue dies down to a more pastel incarnation after a couple of hours.

In the end, I had to sling my hair up into a bun to keep the Color Bug infused ends away from my dry clean only coat – this definitely isn't a product you're going to want to use around delicate fabrics, light colours, or anything that can't be chucked in the washing machine to be cleaned.

I haven't found my dream temporary colour fix here, but at least getting the stuff out of my hair was fairly fuss-free (it did take four doses of shampoo for the water to rinse clean.)

If you think Color Bug is the answer to your prayers for weekend bright hair that can be put to rights before work on Monday morning, here are a couple of additional tips on use from Kevin Murphy himself:

  • Avoid staining bleached or over-processed hair by applying a leave-in conditioner before using Color Bug. This will act as a barrier for porous hair
  • To achieve the most intense colour, apply Color Bug to damp hair that has a finishing product worked through it
  • Blowdry or brush hair after application to remove excess for a pastel effect

Kevin Murphy Color Bug is available from Kevin Murphy salons nationwide and online from Shampoo.ie (€15.95 + shipping.)

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