When it comes to hair extensions, colour matching is often an issue that crops up from time to time, whether that be from a newly qualified hair extension technician, or a highly experienced technician with a challenging client.
All qualified hair extension technicians undertake a level of training to teach the fundamental practices of safe hair extension application, contraindications, best practice for removals, and all that is involved in the art of hair extensions. There is one topic in particular, however, that seems to leave a lot of us confused, and this is the basic notion of colour matching. A fundamental part of any hair extension application, colour matching is a skill that is nurtured over time, however to a newly qualified technician who has only touched upon this in training, it can be quite a daunting prospect. As each and every client is different in their own way with different colour hair, colour distributions and requirements, there is a real art to colour matching which is of the utmost importance to providing your client with natural looking hair extensions.
To help newly qualified hair professionals or anyone looking for colour matching advice, we have put together a simple guide to matching a variety of different types of clients, and here we shall focus on our brunette lovelies.
Important things to note about brunettes
When consulting with a brunette client, one of the first things you will need to discuss with your client is whether or not this is their natural colour, or if they dye their hair. Both dyed and non dyed hair will pose different issues in colour matching, therefore it is important to establish this from the outset.
If your client is a natural brunette who has not applied any colour to her hair, this will make your task slightly easier as the colour is unlikely to change between the installation of the extensions and 4 months down the line. The real challenge comes with the depth of the colour. As hair extension hair is typically dyed, the colour is often very vivid and deep. With natural brown hair, the colour can often be slightly muted, and therefore finding a colour to match perfectly can sometimes be a challenge.
For the most part, brunette clients will match your colour ring with ease, however if you do come across a client who doesn't, there is no need to panic. There are 2 options available to you. Firstly, you will need to discuss with your client the limitations of naturally brown hair in terms of the depth of the colour so that your clients is on the same page as you. Honesty is the best policy and your client will appreciate your upfront attitude and knowledge of colour matching techniques. You will need to advise them that the shade you have selected is slightly deeper in colour than their natural hair, and therefore there may be a very subtle difference. Fortunately with this issue, once the hair extensions have been fitted this difference in colour is usually virtually undetectable as the colours are so similar, and it tends to create the illusion of a deeper colour which is reflected in the natural hair, lifting the colour for the client to a beautiful healthy brunette. See example below for a visual explanation.
Your other option is to advise your client that she may need to add a semi-permanent colour to her hair to add a slightly deeper tone in order to match the hair extensions perfectly, however this is only required in extreme circumstances, and is most likely to occur with clients who have a slightly ‘mousier’ colouring.
For clients with dyed brunette hair you will need to establish a number of things. You need to know their natural colour, how often they dye their hair, and finally when the last time they dyed their hair was.
The natural colour of the hair will determine how quickly the colour is likely to change. If they simply dye their hair for grey coverage and their natural colour is also brunette, it is unlikely that between the dyes the hair colour will change a great deal, however if they are naturally blonde the colour could change quite dramatically. With this information you can then discuss their colour routine, e.g. every 6 weeks, every 10 weeks etc. Finally you will need to establish the last time they dyed their hair.
We would recommend not colour matching any client with freshly dyed hair for around 1-2 weeks after application, as this is the period of time that the colour is likely to change most dramatically. The client will have needed to wash their hair at least 2-3 times before the colour matching can take place as freshly dyed hair is often darker for the first few days before the hair has been thoroughly washed through. If your client is desperate to have a colour match and has freshly dyed hair we would suggest that you purchase 2 colours, the colour the hair has matched with and a shade lighter, as there is a significant chance that depending on the time left between the colour match and the fitting that the colour will change.
Once the client has the hair extensions fitted, she will still be able to keep on top of her hair dye routine, she will simply need to section off the top of hair that does not contain any extensions and is most visible, and dye this as usual. If she is careful, she will also be able to dye the hair that frames the face as this would have also have been left free of hair extensions. All remaining hair should not be visible and therefore will not need to be dyed until the hair extensions have been removed. It is important to make your client aware that if embarking on dying her own hair from home that she must be extra vigilant not to apply the hair dye to the hair extensions.
Preparing your client for a colour match
Before the colour match takes place there are a few final elements to consider. Firstly, your clients hair must be recently washed and clean, worn down and preferably straightened so that you can get a good look at the colour. The client must also be assessed during daylight hours, under natural light, as poor lighting can alter the appearance of a client’s colour. Finally, when colour matching it is important to remember that whilst considering the colour of the hair as a whole, we should focus most specifically on the tips of the hair, as this is where the hair will meet the hair extensions.
Here we have a brunette client, Nicolle. Nicolle has naturally brown hair which has never been dyed.
As pictured, Nicolle has been colour matched under natural light, and the closest colour available to her hair is a colour 4 as shown in image 2 & 3. Colour #2 is far too dark for her hair whilst colour #6 is slightly too light, as seen in image 4. It is worth noting that although colour 4 is the closest match for Nicolle, if she were looking to add some additional colour to her hair, colours #2 and #6 would be a great choice, as they complement her natural colour well.
Nicolle has quite fine hair, but this can often be deceiving as there can be quite a high amount of it, therefore for clients with this hair type we would purchase between 7-8 packs of colour #4 for a full head. If Nicolle decided she would like to add another colour to her hair extensions, for example colour #2 to add some dark tones or colour #6 to lighten her look, we would purchase 6 packs of colour #4, and 2 packs or colours #2 or #6.