Because Donna Bella extensions are 100% Remy Human, they can be custom colored in the same way as your clients’ natural hair (within reason). But what is the life expectancy of custom colored hair extensions compared to custom colored natural hair? We spoke with Donna Bella expert stylist and colorist Lindsay Feldt (@my_lavish_looks) of My Lavish Looks salon about the A to Zs of coloring extensions, including what clients should expect in terms of wear and tear.

Donna Bella Mermaid Color Transformation by @ashleyrockshair

A mermaid color transformation performed by Ashley Rocks (@ashleyrockshair). Watch the how-to video here!

First off, let’s talk about the benefits. Including coloring services in your hair extensions salon package can make even the most extreme transformations feasible, as well as add a sleek final touch to more natural-looking makeovers. “Custom coloring changes the hair extension by making an even more seamless blend,” comments Lindsay. “Every one of my clients say people are shocked when they tell them they have extensions.” In this sense, color jobs are among the most effective customization techniques, making a client feel that their hair extensions were personalized just for them. They’re also a welcome boost to the stylist’s bottom line.

That being said, you need to be cautious when incorporating custom color into your hair extension practice. Donna Bella extensions come pre-colored, so any salon color job will present an additional process that can wear out the hair. This can be overcome, of course, by using protective or reinforcing products like Olaplex, keratin, or--Lindsay’s choice--Brazilian bond builder. The other difficulty, though, is preparing your client to take on the additional aftercare steps required for double-processed hair. Let your client know that, even though the custom colored extensions will feel soft, silky, and healthy, they may be more porous or brittle on the particle level, and will require consistent care. This is important, because lack of appropriate aftercare will result in loss of color saturation and potential deterioration of the hair extensions themselves.

Donna Bella Custom Colored Hair Extensions - Lightening Products

Ashley Rocks’ products of choice for lightening her client’s natural hair (do not attempt to lighten hair extensions).

Recommended: Aftercare Guide for Colored Hair Extensions

There are steps you can take in the salon to nip these potential problems before they even start. Lindsay shares her experience here: “One big lesson I have personally learned is to over-mix color for the extensions. They will suck up the color, and it’s so important to check them again and again to confirm full saturation. If not you will end up with not so pretty blotch spots that you will waste time redoing.” This lesson applies doubly for fashion colors. “Honestly, with fashion color extensions direct dyes are resting on the top layer of the hair, so it can fade faster. I will really manipulate the color into the extension for full saturation and better long term wear.” On the maintenance side of things, you can also prepare an FAQ sheet for your custom color extension clients, listing out all the dos, don’ts, and tips they’ll need to make their color last as long as possible.

Donna Bella Custom Colored Hair Extensions - @ashleyrockshair

Ashley Rocks manipulating color into Tape-In hair extension wefts.

Related: 6 Dos and Don’ts of Coloring Hair Extensions

What should you include in this sheet to help manage client expectations? Read on to find out.

1. Your color will fade if you do not wash with cool water. Lindsay cites this as the number 1 tip she’ll offer clients who come to her for a color job: “I always let my clients know the importance of washing in cool water first and foremost.” This is because washing colored hair in warm or hot water is the fastest way to undo the work--literally sending the color down the drain.

  • 2. If you don’t actively hydrate your hair, it will get dry and brittle. This is true of custom colored and straight-out-of-the-package extensions, but it’s extra true for custom colored hair. Extensions are prone to drying, and porous hair (a.k.a. colored hair) is unable to effectively hold onto moisture. For this reason, Lindsay makes sure to send her client home with a deep conditioner. “Keeping [the hair extensions] hydrated is so important.” 

  • 3. Adding unnecessary heat to your hair will dry out the extensions.Again, true for all hair extensions, custom colored or no. This is for the same reason listed above--applied heat will cause for any moisture in the hair to evaporate, and it will gradually burn the hair. To stay on the safe side, opt for heatless styling whenever possible.

  • 4. Using sulfate hair products (like run-of-the-mill shampoos) will strip your hair of color and moisture. Sulfates are basically a double-whammy. They strip your hair of its protective oils, meaning less moisture and more vulnerability to color seepage. The fix for this is simple. “[I] always make sure [clients] leave with a sulfate-free shampoo,” says Lindsay. Try our Remy Care variety for maximum compatibility with Donna Bella locks.

  • 5. The color on your natural hair will fade at a different rate than the color on your extensions. Lindsay explains it this way: “Color on extensions stays way better than on [the client’s] own hair. Saturation is key with this. Naturally, all color fades, the extensions just fade a little slower.” This may come as a surprise to some clients, but 100% Human Remy extension hair is of higher quality than most natural hair. Even though custom colored hair extensions have been colored twice, each time they were processed to the highest industry standard using protective treatments and protocols--first by Donna Bella manufacturers and then by a certified Donna Bella stylist. Natural hair is too often subjected to much harsher, less regulated treatments, and as a result exhibits a greater degree of wear and tear. In the end, this translates to quicker color fade from natural hair. Go figure!

  • If you want to learn more about mixing hair extensions and color in your salon, check out our Color Takeover Portal. There you will find countless blogs, videos, and other resources to guide you through everything from color selection, mixing, tools, application, installation, and maintenance for custom colored hair (including formulas for specific looks!).

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    Big thanks to Lindsay for providing her insight on extensions and color! You can learn more about her salon practice via the links below, and look into current openings on her team!

    Lindsay Feldt