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Get wiggy with it

Casey ColemanPAINTER and founder of CHAIR Salons in Cardiff – shares his hard-earned insight on colouring wigs and wefts. Cling film at the ready, people…

Music: Supracid by Ketsa

Everyone wants something that they haven’t got. Curly-headed clients wish their hair was straight; short-haired clients wish their hair was long; and even virgin-haired clients wish they could have something wilder for the weekend… just as long as they can be back to their natural colour by Monday! And expectations have never been higher or harder with people like the Kardashians changing their hair at the drop of a hat.

We are technicians, not magicians. But there is a way we can colour hair creatively without compromising our clients’ hair. Wigs and extensions have become quite the trend in recent years, especially with celebrities and bloggers as well as us hairdressers using them when working on shows and shoots. Personally, I think in most instances, wigs allow us to be extra creative without drastically changing models’ or clients’ hair, which is perfect when we want to showcase creativity or allow clients to express themselves differently.

But when I first started using extensions and wigs, I wish I’d had a few tips on how to approach colouring them instead of buggering it up on several occasions! So, instead of you guys possibly wasting any products or mucking up when colouring added hair, here are a few lessons I’ve learnt along the way on how to approach colouring wigs and extensions.

And if anyone else has any tips regarding colouring additional hair, don’t hesitate to hit me up on Instagram (@CaseyC_Hair) –  I love a good old learn!

What to buy

I always tend to buy blonde (colour 613) when buying additional hair. This is purely because I have complete control over the end colour result. I find that if I buy real hair wigs that aren’t a light blonde, they look synthetic because of the process they go through. Whereas when buying blonde wigs and extensions, you have the choice to colour them whatever colour you like and they tend to look real after putting them through additional chemical processes.

Also, when it comes to wefts, I’d always be sure to buy at least a middle-of-the-road quality pack. From personal experience, when buying cheap wefts, they are mixed with yak hair and don’t tend to colour as well.

Pre-tone

When prepping additional hair, regardless of what end result I want, I always pre-tone. The easiest way to pre-tone is by filling a bowl with boiled water, putting about five pumps of a violet shampoo into it and giving it a stir. Once the shampoo has dissolved, dip the wig/weft in and swill it around for about five minutes. Now, please bear in mind that the water is probably piping hot, so use kitchen gloves and stir with a spoon or something to avoid possibly scolding your hand… again, something I learned the hard way!

The result will be a super-clean blonde, which is a perfect base to colour on top of. You can also use this technique to clean out blonde wefts. But, if the wefts aren’t good quality, they’ll end up being more grey/violet, so be sure they’re going to be okay by doing a test strand.

Preparation

If you think you don’t require toning, I would always wash, condition and dry the hair before colouring it. This is just to make sure that you’re evening out porosity so that your colour result is even. It’s also to make sure that the cuticle has been opened before applying your colour, giving it a better chance of an even result.

Your station

So, now we’re ready to colour. I would always make sure you’ve created a station to colour wefts/wigs. I would normally do this by using plastic capes/cling film on surfaces to protect them and to also create a space where you can lay down your additional hair to apply. If you have a spare practise head, shave the hair off and put your wig on there – this will just make the application process easier.

Saturation

Because wefts and wigs have gone through additional processes to create their shade, you need to almost over-saturate small sections of the hair in colour. If you’re not using enough product or are taking thick sections, you’ll be left with a super patchy result and will end up having to reapply your colour. But, even if you have to reapply, the hair will still be slightly patchy because of its uneven under colour, so avoiding all of this frustration by using plenty of product with ensure a great result.

Rinsing

Once the additional hair has finished developing, if you’re colouring a wig and it’s on a practise head, get someone to help you when rinsing to thoroughly wash away the colour. If colouring wefts, rinsing them alone should be pretty straight forward. I normally only do one thorough shampoo to preserve as much of the colour as possible, followed by an intense treatment. I would then just let them dry overnight and smooth them through the next day on a cool setting to create shine and avoid any colour removal.

Then, you’re free to go nuts and do what you intended! Whether the additional hair is for a client or a creative project, you know that you’ve done everything in your power to ensure great results! God, it sounds so forma… just colourfully kick ass!

See more from our PAINTER Casey >