Donna Bella’s Color Takeover initiative is bringing you all the resources and education you need to start incorporating cutting-edge color science into your hair extension services. But if you need a snapshot, a sneak peek, or a cheat sheet, look no further. We’ve got all the tips for mixing and matching extension colors right here.

Focus on the consultation.
This is where the coloring magic happens, because it’s where your vision and your client’s vision come into alignment. During the consultation, you and your client should hammer out all the details of the coloring and installation appointments, essentially writing a script that will be enacted later. Make sure that you:
- understand what your client wants in the way of length, volume, permanence, and color change
- know the extent to which the color will be applied (highlights, ombre, overall color, etc.)
- decide upon a coloring method (blending vs. coloring)
- choose the appropriate extension colors and pigments to achieve the desired look
- explain the steps of the procedure—including preparation and aftercare requirements—so your client knows what to expect
- schedule the coloring and installation appointments separately, and order the hair and pigments promptly.

Know your color theory.
There are three distinct color frameworks that hair extension colorists should understand:
1. Donna Bella’s hair extension color classifications
2. the color pigmentation scales of human hair and skin
3. basic color theory (for mixing colors and blending extension strands)

Some key things to remember:
- All colors are derived from the three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—and these primary colors blend to brown.
- White and black are shades that modify the lightness or darkness of a color.
- Complementary colors (purple + yellow, red + green, orange + blue) have a darkening effect when blended together.
- The temperature or “tone” of a color is described on a scale of warm (yellow, red, orange) to cool (blue, green, purple), and is used as a secondary classification, making “cool red” or “warm blue” sensible descriptions, in that cool red is cooler—or duller—than true red, and warm blue warmer—or brighter—than true blue.
- Human hair and skin color is determined by the relative amounts of two different pigments—eumelanin and pheomelanin—which dictate the lightness or darkness and redness or yellow-ness of the color, respectively.
- The pheomelanin pigmentation (redness or yellow-ness) of a person’s hair generally correlates with that of the person’s skin.
- Blue color particles exist in the superficial layer of the hair shaft, whereas red and yellow color particles exist deeper within the hair shaft, which is why bleached hair tends to appear brassy.

Know when to blend and when to color.
Blending involves dispersing hair extensions of different colors throughout the hair to produce the effect of a particular hue. Coloring involves processing the hair extensions to the desired hue. Blending is ideal for adding dimension (highlights and lowlights) to a client’s hair, or for simulating a match to the client’s natural hair color when an exact match is not available. Coloring is ideal for fashion or fantasy color transformations, or for non-standard color jobs (splashlights, hair art, etc.).

Know your ten cardinal rules for coloring.
These are:
1. Use professional (semi or demi permanent) colors only.
2. Do not lighten or bleach (only darken).
3. Perform a strand test first.
4. Color extensions off of the client’s head (not when installed).
5. Stay within two shades of the original extension color, when possible.
6. Pre-wash extensions with sulfate-free shampoo before coloring them.
7. Always flip extensions to color both sides.
8. When brushing color onto the hair, go in the direction of the hair's cuticle.
9. Remove all Tape from Tape-In extensions before coloring them.
10. Use only sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and conditioner on colored hair extensions.

Be aware that extension hair and natural hair process color differently.
There are many factors that contribute to the color processing of a formula. For example, hair health (whether the cuticle layer is intact), hair pigmentation (light vs. dark and red vs. yellow hair), the presence of other particles (chemicals, oil, dirt), etc. Donna Bella extensions are already pre-colored, so the formula may react to the existing pigments and chemicals in unexpected ways. Generally, hair extensions process color more quickly than natural hair.

The fewer steps, the better.
Try to be accurate with your decisions and your color work the first time around so that you don’t need to backpedal and change the hair once you’ve already colored it. Overprocessing hair is the quickest way to destroy it, and the only way to fully protect your client’s investment and your own labor is to follow these tips and just take your time.

For more hair extension coloring resources—including the full articles from which these tips were pulled—visit the Color Takeover Portal today!