How to dye hair extensions at home
I recently dyed my hair a delicious chocolate brown using the L'Oréal Paris Casting Creme Gloss in the colour 400 Brown. It then dawned on my I needed to match my blonde extensions to my newly fabu hair. I've never owned extensions before my Lush Double Weft Hair Extensions, let alone know how to dye them but after this serious experiment I have learned from my mistakes and I'm ready to share my secrets.
My hair colour was pretty cool as the dirty blonde ends grew out and my natural brown hair grew in, I was sporting a cute balayage-coloured angled bob (You can read how I got this colour at home here or how I do the balayage technique at home here). However, I still wanted to dye my extensions to match my new brunette barnet. You can read all about my Lush Hair Extensions and the secret tip I have to blending them but to fill you in quick they're 20" remy hair in an ashy blonde. So here is how I transformed my extensions!
HOW TO DYE HAIR EXTENSIONS AT HOME
CHOOSE YOUR DYE
Remy extensions have gone through a lot of treatment to get them to the colour they are. The experts all recommend you use a semi-permanent hair dye instead of a permanent one. This is because they don't contain any harsh chemicals like ammonia and also give a more natural colour and glossier shine. I would recommend using the same dye you used on yourself so that it's the exact match but if your going permanent then find the closest match in a semi-permanent for your extensions. I'd highly recommend L'oréal Paris Casting Creme Gloss (I used the shade 400 Brown) for a really glossy finish.
WASH YOUR HAIR EXTENSIONS FIRST
This is something a lot of people don't know but hair extensions come coated in a seal that make them all smooth and shiny. If your like me and you've never washed your extensions before then this coating will be on it! Run your extensions under luke warm water and gentle massage a little shampoo into them. Be careful not to scrub the hair together too much because this will brake and split hair. Check if your dye is applied to wet or dry hair. If it's wet then fly on ahead and start dying, if not let your extensions air dry, flat or hanging up (see the section Hang and Air Dry below) .
SET UP YOUR STATION
Woah that sounds a little professional! But srsly though; you have to protect your clothes and surfaces from the dye. Lay down clingfilm/saran wrap over the table or counter (where ever your dying your extensions). Next, layer over some tinfoil on top. Cut a few extra sheets of it to cover over the extensions once they're coloured. Leave lay out the contents of the box dye, mix it up in the wee squirty tube applicator it comes with and get your ass dressed in old stainable gear. Okay I just mean make sure your in clothes that you don't care about getting dye on. I know, I know, you think it will never happen but It. Always. Does. Make sure you have your gloves on too and some good tunes because this will take a while! P.S. Mixing the dye in the applicator it comes with is a lot easier and cleaner than trying to juggle a bowl and a brush, but hey that's just my opinion!
START APPLYING DYE SELECTIVELY
You might want to just jump right on in but hoooold your horses. Separate out your extensions into wee piles. I started out with the 4 clip wefts and squeezed some dye on to the bottom 2/3 of the hair and gently massaged it in. When I dyed my extensions the first time I actually almost ran out of dye to finish the last few single wefts so I would definitely recommend just covering the hair with the dye and then use the remainder of the dye to really saturate any wefts looking a little miserable. Also, remember to go around all the clips as well as the band at the top where all the hair is attached.
COVER AND DEVELOP THE COLOUR
Most semi-permanent glosses only need about 20 to 30 minutes to develop, any time after that the dye pretty much stops working so don't go leaving it on an hour thinking it'll improve the results 'cuz it won't! I covered my little bundles of hair with tinfoil and more clingfilm and let them sit for about 30 mins while I tidied up my kitchen. The second time I did this I did sit for a half an hour holding the hairdryer on them but I'll explain why later (in the Q&A below).
LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT
When it comes to rinsing them out, I held a weft under the water to loosen up the stiffened hair and rubbed gently to get a lather going (most DIY dyes do this). Then I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until the water was clear (trust me, it gets there!) and loaded the hair up with some conditioner. I bundled the hair up again and let that sit on the hair for 5-10 mins. Normally, from the time I applied the conditioner to the first weft to the time I applied the conditioner to the last weft about 5-10 mins had passed so I was able to rinse the first weft again in like a wee cycle.
HANG AND AIR DRY
To dry your newly dyed extensions I would definitely recommend hanging them up. Of course if you can't, you can lay them all flat on a towel. As tempting as it my be DON'T BRUSH OUT THE WET HAIR. Hair is fragile when it's wet and extensions are even more fragile. You can lay your extensions along the edge of the bath if you can spare your tub for a few hours. If (like me) you can't, use a clothes hanger with clips on for trousers and skirts etc to clip the wefts up. I draped mine over a standard hanger and it was a nightmare to style because of the kink at the top. ugh. Let your hair dry on their own and away from a direct heat source like a radiator. This is healthier for the hair and will prevent frizzyness I.E. something I didn't do.
STYLE AND ROCK THOSE BAD BOYS
To my horror, my Lush Hair Extension's natural texture was a really thick, tight, curl. The hair separated up into clumps similar to dreadlocks. Once my extensions were totally dry I applied a little smoothing, shine serum to the hair and combed them out gently. It was a real pain to try and smooth out. I also tried to wedge my extensions between my thighs to brush and straighten them but oh my word that was a new level of difficult. Thankfully my semi-long haired boyf sat and played Xbox while I used his head as an anchor for each weft as I straightened them. Thank goodness this worked a helluva lot better and I had silky hair in no time. I highly recommend using a brush as you straighten to really smooth the hair out. Also a head-anchor works wonders!
Q: It's really difficult to spread the dye on my hair extensions!
A: Have you de-tangled prior to washing and colouring the hair? Start by squeezing an "S" shape down the hair and smoothing it in. Work from the bottom up!
Q: How to I leave the hair to develop once it's got dye on?
A: You can lay them out flat on top of one another or leave each weft curled into a little pile. The little piles makes it easier to check the wefts and reapply if needed.
Q: The water wont run clear! I can't get the dye out!
A: You can dilute a little apple cider vinegar with some water (ratio of 1:1) and swirl the wet hair around a few times. Rinse the hair again until it runs clear. Make sure you're using lukewarm water.
Q: The dye turned out patchy!
A: This happened to me! I had really carefully saturated all the wefts but patches looked like they never seen dye before! Rewash your hair with some shampoo and pick up a second box of dye and start again!
Q: Should I use heat to develop the colour?
A: I used head the second time I coloured the hair and I think it made a difference. When you dye your own hair, the heat from your scalp keeps the hair cuticles ope and allows the dye to really penetrate. Extensions don't have that so I covered the hair with tinfoil and used my hairdryer to heat the hair. 15 mins on the front, 15 mins on the back. My dye stated 30 mins developing time so you heat yours according to your recommended developing time.
I hope this guide was able to help you in some way and may you learn from my mistakes. Don't forget, you can always contact your extension company for advice on colouring the hair. You can always darken lighter extensions but it's not recommended to attempt to lighten dark shades of Remy hair. Fell free to ask any questions in the comments below! If you think I've missed something, let me know so others will know too.