According to Brittany Johnstun, president and founder of Racoon International's West Coast USA Division, coloring extensions is different from coloring natural hair. For example, usually color on extension hair (quality extension hair) usually dives a full tone/shade deeper than natural hair, so stylists unfamiliar with these rulls can really damage someone's extensions if they don't know how to color them.
The following coloring tips and steps offered by Johnstun will help you when working with color and hair extensions.
When applying color to high quality extension hair, it usually tends to end up a ½ to 1 shade darker than the color you are depositing. To reach the desired color level, follow these simple steps:
Formulate color 1 shade lighter than your target level.
Example: Desired Level 7 = Formulate Level 8
Use a 15 volume instead of a 10.
If you use a color line that offers a clear color, formulate ¼th of the mixture with clear color to make the extensions’ color more reflective and add shine. This will also prevent the color from diving too dark.
"After working with extension hair for over 10 years, I would only recommend using up to a 20-volume on high quality extension hair," says Johnstun. "Generally, I try to avoid lightening extension hair all together, but when I absolutely have to do it, I try to only use a 10-volume bleach so that I can preserve the integrity of the hair. Again, 20-volume bleach would be the absolute max that I would recommend. Because quality extension hair can be healthier and stronger than a client’s natural hair, bleach won't damage it as much as natural hair, but I still try to avoid it when I can, because I always want to keep my client's hair extensions looking fabulously healthy!"
Even though you can color and lighten extension hair, Johnstun always asks her clients if they are planning on staying with their current color, and then she explains to them that they will get the best, most natural-looking results by matching their hair extensions to the color they ultimately want to have for the next 3–6 months. "I recommend that you do this too because you will achieve the most natural results by matching the extension hair to the client's hair color," she says. "And after all, we all know that coloring can be unpredictable!"