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Custom colour-matching extensions

Colour-matching extensions for natural hair is difficult enough – but throw in some creative colour work and you have yourself a real headache. We asked a couple of colour experts for their top tips on how to create a seamless blend even when working with funky colours.

Extensions inevitably react differently to colour than your clients’ hair – either the extensions play up a bit, or it’s hard to mimic the same perfected results due to your clients’ existing colour work and texture.

“Custom colouring extensions can always be scary as they never come out the way you expect,” agrees Lloyd Court, colour director at Skyler London. “All hair extensions can go ashy when colouring, they also absorb a lot of colour.” It’s important to pre-test and practice with your chosen brand of extensions, to learn how they absorb and react to brighter shades.

“You need to make sure you’re saturating the hair all the way otherwise they will end up looking patchy. If we are creating a custom pastel coloured extension we regularly use our Silk Bath service,” Lloyd explains. “It is absolutely perfect for dying extensions as you can watch the colour change immediately, and remove as soon as it’s ready.”

Alternatively, flip your approach on its head, à la Robert Eaton – “It isn’t always about matching extensions but rather working the other way around,” he explains. Working with a base that you know, that you have the history for (provided your client hasn’t been playing away with box dyes…) means it’s often easier to try and match your client’s colour to the shade of extension that they’ve fallen in love with, rather than trying to make the extension colour behave correctly. “Clients love the instant colour results they see with colour-matched extensions. In an era of high client expectations and instant result driven consumers, it is such an easy way to offer colour to our clients,” Robert adds.

Rather than directly colour-matching, you can also use extensions to add shade and tones to a look, particularly for over-processed hair that needs to recover its texture. “When working with a range of different shades I often approach it as if I were highlighting hair with baby lights, by working with very fine bonds and building the colour placement where needed” Robert explains. “This may mean using the extensions to create the colour placement itself, or it could involve pre-colouring a darker root into the hair before application to make the service more bespoke.”

As with any colouring technique, knowing your tools and your colour products inside-out can make all the difference, so keep calm and colour on.