Here's How to Color Your Clip-In Human Hair Extensions

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Don't Like the Color? Change It!

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

If your clip-in hair extensions aren't quite the right color for you, just dye them a different shade! It's an easy at-home process, as long as you're making your extensions darker or altering the tone (for example, making them redder or cooler).

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

Before you begin, double-check that your hair extensions are true human hair. Artificial hair cannot be colored successfully.

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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. A 10-volume developer or a demi-permanent color is best. You can use 20-volume developer if necessary, but 30- and 40-volume can damage your hair extensions if you're not careful. 

Matrix SoColor Permanent Cream Hair Color and Matrix SoLite 10-Volume Developer are good choices; 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:

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Organize Your Workspace and Mix Color

Prepared workspace and 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 warm and well-lit. Spread sheets of tin foil across your work area to protect the workspace from the color.

Following the manufacturer's directions, prepare your color. Most color is mixed with equal parts color and developer. You'll need approximately 3–5 ounces of prepared color for your extensions. More color may be necessary for longer extensions.

You don't have to wash your extensions prior to coloring, but you need to comb them through to remove tangles. Then, lay them across the tin foil. Don't color your hair extensions while they are wet or damp.

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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. 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) downward to the ends, following the natural fall of the hair. Applying the color upside down could damage your extensions and will likely leave your extensions frizzy or disheveled.

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Process the Color

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

After you've applied color to each section of your extensions, loosely cover them with plastic wrap to prevent the color from drying out. Allow the color to process at room temperature according to 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. Be sure to 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 has been completed and the color of your extensions is satisfactory, it's time to rinse. Fold your tin foil in half for easy transportation to a sink.

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Photo © Kendra Aarhus

Rinse the color from your extensions using cool water at low pressure, using your fingers to gently work it out. It is very important that you allow the water to flow in the direction that the hair naturally falls, from the clipped portion of the extension to the ends.

A thorough rinsing should take a minimum of 15–20 minutes. Make sure you remove all the color; when in doubt, keep rinsing. Follow up by shampooing your extensions with a mild, sulfate-free, moisturizing or color-safe shampoo. 

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Comb and Allow to Dry

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

When 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.

Allow the extensions to air-dry thoroughly before using or styling them, especially if you use any kind of heat tools.