If you’re in need of a refresh then coloring your hair extensions could be a fun way to change up your look. Extensions are a great way to bring some length and dimension to your hair, but they are also an investment and dying them at home can be a little tricky. If you’re not confident in your coloring skills then we recommend you take them to a hair salon to avoid damage. If you are feeling brave and want to save the money then keep on reading.
Going darker and going lighter are not the same. If you are going darker or changing the tone, it’s a simple process you can do from the comfort of your own home. But, if you are looking to go lighter, that is not something we recommend doing with hair extensions. You should avoid any kind of bleaching, lightening, or highlighting as it is quite a complicated process that can potentially damage your extensions. If you are looking to go lighter we recommend bleaching virgin hair (hair that hasn’t been dyed before), but always consult the brand you are using for their dyeing instructions as well as get input from your stylist.
Before you start, make sure that the extensions are made of human hair. Artificial hair has been chemically treated and will usually not withstand the dyeing process. Once you’ve determined if you can dye your extensions or not, there is a world of fun coloring opportunities to consider.
Select your perfect shade. It is best to use color from a professional hair color developer line. Boxed color will not let you choose a developer for your extensions. A 10-volume developer or demi-permanent color is generally recommended.
Gather your supplies. Along with hair color and developer, you’ll also need some hair color gloves, a color bowl and brush, tin foil, plastic wrap, wide-tooth comb, and towel. If you are dyeing using the watercolor method, you will need a deep container like a sink, mixing bowl or plastic bucket/storage container. Once you have all of your supplies, you’re ready to set up your work space. Since dyeing hair can get messy, spread sheets of tin foil over surfaces to protect from unwanted color stains.
Prep your hair. Fill your sink with lukewarm water and add 2-3 dollops of shampoo into the water and swish it around until its nice and soapy. Taking one weft at a time, hold it at the top and submerge it into the water. Then gently wash the hair. Avoid rubbing and be very careful to not tangle the hair. Once you are done allow to air dry. Continue onto the next weft until you are done. Make sure that all of the hair is completely dry before you begin to color. Gently comb out the extensions to remove any tangles and lay them across the tin foil.
Mix the color. Prepare your color by the manufacturer’s instructions. Most hair dyes are composed of equal parts color and developer and you’ll need 3-5 ounces of color for your extensions. Make sure you have plenty of dye on hand before you start coloring to avoid running out. It’s always better to have too much rather than too little.
If you are planning on dyeing your blonde extensions a fashion or bright color (pink, blue, grey, etc), you can opt to do the watercolor method which means you won’t be applying the dye directly to each weft but rather submerging the extensions in a mixture of water and dye. We recommend having 2 bottles of dye to ensure you have enough for the full set. To do this you will need a deep container or your sink (kindly note that bright colors can stain your white or porcelain sink so we suggest doing this only if your sink is stainless steel). Fill your container of choice using hot water (it shouldn’t be scalding, boiling hot water) and add in a quarter size amount of dye and mix the water thoroughly making sure all of the dye is dissolved and that there aren’t small chunks floating around. From there, keep adding enough dye so that the water is a bright vibrant color.
Applying the color. Always do a strand test first before applying all over. If you’re doing the watercolor method dip the weft into the water completely, letting it soak for a couple of seconds to a minute. Then, take it out and gently squeeze the remaining water out (starting at the base of the weft and slowly squeezing down towards the ends) into the sink/deep bowl. After doing this once, you can see how much of the color the weft has soaked up. If you still feel that the weft could be more vibrant, we recommend repeating this process of putting the weft in water and squeezing the remaining water out several times. The more you do this, the more color the hair will soak up. Depending on how that turns out, you may want to dilute more dye into the water or let the weft completely soak in the water for several minutes. Also, keep in mind that that color can look lighter once it dries.
Then, just like you would do with natural hair, let it sit for as long as the box says, then rinse, shampoo, and dry. For the watercolor method, skip the shampoo as this can fade the semi-permanent dye. While it might sound like a lot of work, this test will help you make sure that the hair will achieve the right color before you dye all of it.
If you’re happy with the end results, put on your gloves and use a color brush to coat each weft one by one with the dye. Move the color brush from the top of extensions and move downwards to the very end. Applying color in an upward motion could damage hair and leave them looking frizzy. The color should completely saturate strands on both sides, from top to bottom. For the water color method, repeat the same process for the remainder of the wefts and set them aside once done. You’ll notice that as you continue with the rest of the wefts, the color of the water will lighten up or you may end up with less water as each weft will soak up the color. When you notice this, simply add more dye/water, dilute it again and then continue on. Once all the wefts are done, you can skip to step 7.
Process the color. After you have applied color to all of your extensions, cover them loosely in plastic wrap. This will prevent the color from drying out as it is soaked into the hair. While the extensions are processing, you can check the color by gently rubbing a paper towel over a small piece of hair. Reapply the color with the color brush after these checks.
Rinse your extensions. When processing is complete and you are happy with the color of your extensions it’s time to give hair a good rinse. Use cool water at a low pressure to rinse extensions, running fingers through hair to work out any excess dye. Make sure to let water run through hair in the way it naturally falls, from top of extensions to bottom. Keep rinsing for at least 15 to 20 minutes to make sure all of the color is gone.
Afterwards, shampoo your extensions with a sulfate-free moisturizing or color-friendly formula (skip the shampoo if you are doing the watercolor method as the shampoo can fade the semi-permanent dye). Then a sulfate-free deep conditioning treatment to add back in any lost moisture in the hair during the dyeing process.
Comb and let extensions dry. Lay a towel down over your work space and apply a leave-in conditioner to your extensions, gently brush your hair with a wide-tooth comb once it’s mostly dry to limit the amount of shedding. The last step is to let the hair extensions air-dry (avoid your blow dryer) before you wear or style them. If you want to use a heat tool like a curling iron, it’s especially important to make sure extensions are thoroughly dry and you use a heat protectant spray.
Style your extensions. Once dry, your extensions are ready to be styled. There are plenty of different ways to wear extensions, from classic long waves to ultra-high ponytails. No matter which style you choose, it’s best to start with your natural hair first. Adding waves and curls to your hair will help blend the hair extensions.
For beautiful natural-looking waves, we recommend using a curling iron on one-inch sections of hair, wrapping your hair around the barrel away from your head. Once your hair is curled, brush it out for smoothness.
The next step is to curl extensions before you clip them in, as the wefts can get pulled out of place. You can then clip them into your already-styled hair for a perfect blend. Start at the nape of your neck by clipping in a three-inch weft, then section hair an inch or two above that to clip in a four-inch weft.
Keep working your way up, using larger wefts for the widest part of your head. Finish by using the one- and two-inch weft around your face for a boost of length and volume. And finally give your mane glossy-looking shine by applying a coat of lightweight hair spray and adding hair oil on your ends and any frizzy spots.