How to Dye Your Hair Extensions

Woman with long tied hair

Photo by Kristoffer Jensen on Unsplash

01 of 07

Don't Like the Color? Change It!

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

If your clip-in human hair extensions arrive and aren't quite the right color for you, it can be massively frustrating. But for the crafty out there, or anyone who wants to save some money, this doesn't have to be a problem. In fact, not unlike standard human hair, you can just dye them to your preferred shade. As long as you're making your extensions darker or altering the tone (for example, making them warmer or more ashy,) it's a simple at-home process. 

A word of caution, though: If you want to lighten or highlight your human-hair extensions, consider enlisting the help of a professional stylist. You can attempt it, but it's a trickier, more involved process—one that can be damaging to your already expensive investment if done wrong.

Before you begin, double- and triple-check that your hair extensions are true human hair. Artificial hair cannot be colored successfully, at least this way.

02 of 07

Choose a Color, and Gather Your Supplies

Select a color from a professional hair color and developer line. A boxed color from a drugstore doesn't give you the option to choose the developer that you will use on your hair extensions, and that's what you want. A 10-volume developer or a demi-permanent color is best. You can use 20-volume developer if necessary, but avoid 30- and 40-volume developers as they will damage your hair extensions if you're not careful. 

Joico's LumiShine is a good choice; the color comes in a variety of shades that are vibrant and long-lasting. 

After you've purchased your color and developer, gather a few more supplies:

03 of 07

Organize Your Workspace and Mix Color

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

If possible, set up your supplies on a large counter or table space with plenty of room to work comfortably. The room should be both warm and well-lit. Spread sheets of tin foil across your work area to prevent staining your workspace from the color.

Following the manufacturer's directions, prepare your color. Most color is made by mixing equal parts color and developer. You'll need approximately 3–5 ounces of prepared color for your extensions, but more color may be necessary depending on the length. You don't have to wash them prior to coloring, but you need to comb them through to remove tangles. Then, lay them across the tin foil and let them dry.

04 of 07

Apply the Color

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

Using gloved hands and a color brush, completely saturate each section of your hair extensions with the color solution. Be sure that the color completely coats both sides of your extensions, from their tops to the very ends. There's no room for error here, and it's far better to use too much color, rather than not enough. Start at the top of the extension (where the clips are located) moving downward to the ends, following the natural fall of the hair. Applying the color upwards could damage your extensions, and will absolutely leave them frizzy and disheveled.

05 of 07

Process the Color

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

After you've applied color to each section of your extensions, loosely cover them with plastic wrap in order to prevent the color from drying out before it soaks in. Allow the color to process at standard room temperature for the amount of time specified on the manufacturer's directions—typically anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

Check a small section of the hair extensions every five to 10 minutes during the processing time by gently rubbing the color off the extension with a paper towel. Reapply the color with your color brush after checking, and remember that hair color when wet appears darker than it does when dry. When the processing is complete and the color of your extensions is completely satisfactory (don't rush it), it's time to rinse out the hair. Fold your tin foil in half for simple transportation over to a sink.

06 of 07


Photo © Kendra Aarhus

Rinse the color from your extensions using cool (not cold) water at low pressure, using your fingers to gently work the excess dye out. It's important that you allow the water to flow in the direction that the hair naturally falls. A truly thorough rinsing should take an absolute minimum of 15–20 minutes. Make sure you remove all the color; if you're not sure, keep rinsing. Follow up by shampooing your extensions with a mild, sulfate-free, moisturizing or color-safe shampoo. You don't want to dull the extensions down before you can wear them!

07 of 07

Comb and Allow to Dry

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

After you're sure that your extensions are rinsed completely, lay a towel down on your workspace. Apply a leave-in conditioner to each section of your extensions and comb them gently with your wide-toothed comb. Finally, allow the extensions to air-dry thoroughly (don't use a blow-drier) before using or styling them, particularly if you use any kind of heat tools.

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