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Last updated: March 04, 2021

5 Tips For Shadow Roots + Lowlights On Extensions


How To Apply A Custom Shadow Root + Lowlights To Hair Extensions

We get it. The idea of coloring extensions might bring on worries or uneasiness—but not anymore! This advanced color placement tutorial from Hotheads® Hair Extensions Master Educator Natalie Ruzgis (@natalieruzgis) will take the fear out of coloring tape-in and weft extensions! Watch the full video above and keep scrollin’ for five genius tips on formulation, root shadows, lowlights and more.


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1. Use Hand-Tied Wefts For Root Shadows & Customized Blends

Yes, you CAN color Hotheads Originals and Machine Wefts, but Natalie suggests using Hand-Tied Wefts to achieve a seamless color blend by customizing or applying a root shadow/stretch. Here’s why: The thread isn’t visible on Hand-Tied Wefts because it’s designed with individual hair strands tied onto a piece of thread. All of those fine strands of hair will pick up the pigment for a nicely blended root area.   


Tap the beaker for the formulas Natalie used to root tap/stretch #8 (base color) extensions!

How To Apply Shadow Roots and Lowlights On Hand Tied Machine Weft and Tape In Hair Extensions
open color formula
close formula
  • Formula A (root tap)

    equal parts Redken Shades EQ 5N + 6AB + Shades EQ Processing Solution

  • Formula B (root stretch)

    Redken Shades EQ Clear + Shades EQ Processing Solution


2. Always Do A Test Strand

This is KEY. Wash the extensions twice to remove any impurities to start from a clean canvas—just like you would wash the hair before toning in the salon. Let the hair air-dry on a towel overnight, then do a strand test.


Pro Tip: Mix 2 to 3 different formulas for the strand test: cool, warm and neutral. Sometimes, your strand test won’t go as planned. For example: If there are underlying warm pigments, you might need to adjust and formulate drastically cooler.


3. How To Formulate For Lowlights

A general rule of thumb: stay within two levels of the base color. You can always go darker (remember, do not lighten extensions!). Instead, add dimension with lowlights with a semi or demi. If you go too dark, it will be difficult to remove so take your time and mix a darker formula if needed.


4. Leave The Ends For Last

Extensions hair has been through multiple processes, so just like longer hair, the porous ends will pick up color more quickly. When pulling a lowlight or toner all the way through, leave the ends for last. If the hair is porous during the test strand, mist with water to fill in those gaps.


5. When To Use A Purple Shampoo Bath

Custom toning an icy platinum blonde? For example, if you use Hotheads shade #613 (mimics a raw, lightened Level 10), do not apply purple shampoo directly to the hair. Instead, add 2 to 4 ounces of water to a color bowl and 1 pump of purple shampoo. Emulsify, dunk the hair in, allow it to process and rinse for cool-toned results.


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