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Last updated: October 17, 2018

How To Create A Seamless Shadow Root—Without Developer

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What You Need To Know About The Concentrated Shadow Root Technique

As Bob Ross once said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” And a happy little accident of forgetting to formulate with developer is exactly how CHI Lead Global Artist Cynthia Diersen (@cynthiadiersen) discovered her concentrated shadow root technique. Yep, you read that right. Cynthia’s secret to creating deeper pigment + a seamless blend at the roots requires a formula without any developer.


Want to know more about this unconventional shadow root technique? Keep reading to find out everything from how it works and who the ideal client would be to Cynthia’s go-to formula!

Products Used


What Is A Concentrated Shadow Root?

It’s a technique that allows you to create deeper/richer pigmentation directly at the root by overlaying two formulas. The first formula is typically a glaze that’s applied throughout the hair. The second formula, the concentrated formula, is either permanent, demi- or semi-permanent color (without developer) and is applied directly over the glaze at the roots only.


How It Works

Because the first formula that’s applied already has developer in it, it’ll activate the concentrated pigment you lay over it and result in a shadow root that is soft, seamlessly blended and richer in color.


When To Use This Technique

You can use this technique pretty much anytime you glaze. Processing the glaze, rinsing it out, blow-drying the hair and then going back in with the shadow root formula takes too much time. Instead, Cynthia will apply the glaze and then follow right after with the concentrated formula and let the two formulas blend and process together. 


Note: You could also dip her ends into the concentrated formula or you can apply it as lowlights to create more depth throughout other areas in the hair.


During her Facebook live, Cynthia applied CHI Ionic Shine Shades 9CG + 7CG + 10-volume developer first and then applied Ionic Shine Shades 6N + 4RB over that as the shadow root.


Which Clients Can Rock This (And Which Can’t)

This technique won’t work on fashion colors because it’s super low-maintenance, making it ideal for natural shades like blondes, brunettes and reds. The important thing to remember is that the concentrated formula should only be about two to three levels darker than the first formula.


Cynthia’s Go-To Formula

Formulas will depend on your client’s haircolor, but here is Cynthia’s go-to pairing:

  • Formula A (glaze): CHI Ionic Shine Shades 11A + 10-volume developer
  • Formula B (concentrated pigment): CHI Ionic Shine Shades 6N + 8N OR Chi Ionic Shine Shades 7N + 9N


This overlay will get your client’s shadow root to the ideal Level 8/9.


How To Take Sections

Cynthia recommends sticking to vertical or diagonal sections because both will ensure your blends are soft and have movement while horizontal sections could result in lines of demarcation.


Peep how seamlessly a concentrated shadow root blends with the rest of the hair below!

That blend though 😍


Want to see how this technique works? Click here to watch Cynthia paint a concentrated shadow root! 

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Farouk Systems, Inc.