Can you dye hair extensions? We’ll tell you how!

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People often ask, ‘Can you dye hair extensions?’ The short answer is yes – but there are lots of things you need to think about before you breakout the rubber gloves!


In this blog, I’ll give you all the information you need to decide if you should go ahead and dye your hair extensions. Hopefully, we’ll help you avoid some of the things that can go wrong. I’ve added some “top tips” at the end of the blog to make the process as stress free as possible.


Before asking the question, “can you dye hair extensions?” you need to know the type of hair you have, the type of hair extensions, and whether you want to go lighter or darker.


Is your hair human?


The first thing to look at is whether the hair extensions you want to dye are actually human hair. If they’re synthetic hair, you won’t be able to colour them because synthetic hair is made from plastic. If you’re not sure if your hair extensions are human or synthetic, you can do a burn test.


Take a small cutting of hair that’s at least 3″ long. Hold one end of the hair and place the other end in a flame – a candle or match will do. If the hair catches light (be careful when it does, it can go up in no time), and produces that unpleasant burnt hair smell (you’ll recognise it, we’ve all singed our hair at some point!), it’s human. If it melts, it’s plastic. Please be careful, and take precautions not to get burnt or burn any furnishings, etc. We’d recommend doing the test over a sink filled with water, so you  can drop the burning hair into it once it catches light.


Darker or lighter?


Right at the start of this blog, I said the answer to “can you dye hair extensions” is yes.  I need to be more specific – you can darken your hair extensions but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lighten them. Almost all hair extensions are coloured. This means that if you want to lighten them, you’d need to use bleach. Most hair extensions have been through some aggressive processing, meaning their cuticle (protective) layer is already in pretty bad shape. If you don’t mind taking a risk, and don’t want to lighten your hair extensions more than a shade or two, you might get away with it. But only try to lighten your hair extensions on the understanding that when you’re finished there’s a good chance they’ll end up in the bin! 


Going darker? That’s a lot more straightforward than trying to lighten your hair extensions but there are a few things to consider. Most hair extensions will grab the colour faster than your natural hair would, so you might not need to leave the tint on as long as instructed. Check the colour every few minutes but do remember that wet hair is darker than dry hair. In other words, hold your nerve and wait for the colour to develop to a slightly darker shade than the result you’re looking for. 


What type of hair extensions do you want to colour?





If you have tape hair extensions and you want to know “can you dye hair extensions”, the answer is yes! You’ll need to avoid the tape area though – the dye could damage the attachment. And, because of this you’ll also need to think about how many shades darker you go. If the attachment is more than a shade or two lighter than the hair, it’ll be a lot less discreet and might be visible, especially if your hair is fine.



Clip in’s, weaves and wefts


These types of hair extensions are probably the easiest to colour but again, follow the advice given for tapes. Also, if you tint over the top part of your weave/weft extensions, any glue holding the stitches together could be broken down and your hair extensions might shed. If you’re dying hand-tied wefts be super careful not to get tint on the knotted area. Hand-tied wefts are a lot more delicate than machine wefts, and will almost certainly be ruined if you tint over the knots.





It’s really important that you don’t get tint on the bonded area of your hair extensions – it’ll break the keratin down and cause shedding. This is especially important for tailor-made hair extensions – the bonds are a lot less durable for the first 4 weeks or so after fitting. If you get tint on them during this time, they will completely break down and your hair extensions will be ruined. 


Can you dye hair extensions that are already fitted?


It’s a lot easier to colour hair extensions before they’re fitted. Remember what I said earlier about hair extensions processing more quickly than natural hair. If you apply dye to your own hair at the same time as your hair extensions, your hair extensions could process more quickly and you could end up with a patchy, mis-matched mess!


If you’re wearing nano, bond or micro ring hair extensions, be super careful not to get dye on the keratin. When you’ve rinsed the dye out, make sure you give your bonds a couple of good shampoos. If get dye on the keratin attachments, rings can slip, bonds and nanos will shed, or even break down completely.


Can you dye hair extensions? Our top tips!


  • Keep the hair as tidy as possible.
  • Give your hair extensions a good brush through before you apply any colour.
  • Make sure you have plenty of dye, you’ll probably need more than you think.
  • Work from root to tip. When applying colour start at the top and work down. When you’re rinsing, hold the top of the hair extensions and rinse down. If you work up from the ends, you’ll end up with a matted mess!
  • To dry, squeeze and pat – don’t rub wet hair with a towel. Place your hair extensions on a towel in a warm place, e.g. on a radiator, in an airing cupboard. When the hair is damp/nearly dry, comb through, starting at the ends. You can finish off with a hairdryer but blow downwards, in the direction of roots to tips.
  • Dye stains, so protect any surfaces by covering them with cling film.

This “Can you dye hair extensions?”, blog is for information only and NuTress are not liable for any losses you might incur. Dying hair is a professional skill, and you must be prepared to risk your hair extensions being damaged if you dye them yourself. If you aren’t prepared to take this risk, we recommend that you seek professional help.


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