How to dye hair extensions to suit your hair colour

A guest post from Elise Wright, former beauty writer and owner of fine hair.

I have always had limp, boring hair. Possibly the most dull intro ever to a beauty story, but it’s true. My hair is brown, straight, and on the finer side. Blah.

Over my years as a beauty writer and general hair care enthusiast I have probably tested every thickening product on the market (these days I swear by Fekkai Blowout Texturizer). Dry shampoo is my friend, and I love a ponytail and top knot. But when I try to wear my hair out and look all cute…well…it’s not cute.

I found one of the best ways to counter this was balayage. I have been rocking this look for years (me? stuck in a hair rut?) because putting lighter brown and blonde bits at the end definitely gives the hair texture and body when I want to wear it out. Problem solved? Kind of. I had toyed with extensions, but assumed they would be a non-starter because of my balayage, and I wasn’t going to shell out for pricey permanent extensions that needed time and maintenance.

When Irresistible Me offered me Silky Touch clip in extensions, I was like ‘oh hell yes, girlfriend’, then I realised that they probably wouldn’t have a shade that would match the many varying browns and dark blondes and reds in my hair. And they didn’t. But you can dye extensions. Which is great, because I always do my own hair colour. Always have. I love experimenting with tones and shades, and I can get it just how I like it (side note: I have been a beauty writer on and off for almost a decade so I can DIY with some degree of confidence, but it’s not for everyone).

After much back and forth and an inordinate amount of time looking at myself in the mirror, I decided, yes, that I would add some more light brown and blonde bits to my own hair, and use the very same technique on my newly acquired extensions. The medium brown shade matched my roots perfectly, but my roots are only a couple of inches long, so this was going to require some magic and a home highlight kit.

If you have ever used a home highlight kit, like L’Oreal Preference Glam Lights and Revlon Colour Effect Highlights (not available in Australia), you know it’s all about strategic placement. I laid the extensions flat on a piece of cardboard and started at the ends, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then started going up the hair from the ends to about halfway. This gives that beautiful graduated effect, going from dark to light without looking dip dyed.

The Irresistible Me hair is all human hair so it takes colour really well and looks incredibly natural. I treated the extensions as if they were my own hair (that’s kind of the point, no?) and after I washed the dye out, I conditioned the hair with the conditioner provided in the kit. (Side note: the conditioner that comes with the Garnier Olia dye is probably the best deep conditioner in the world). Once I clipped them in and styled the hair, it all blended seamlessly. You could probably also clip the extensions in to do the dye job, but I don’t have the arm muscles for that.

If you want to try extensions but you have multi-tone hair like I do, custom dyeing your extensions is a great way to get the exact look you want. And when you finally decide to change your hair colour, you can just dye your extensions to match. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to admire my full, gorgeous hair in the mirror.


Things to keep in mind when you dye hair extensions:

  • Make sure they can be dyed. I was lucky enough that the Irresistible Me hair extensions are made from human hair, so they allowed me to dye it like normal hair. Make sure any synthetic hair extensions you can have be dyed before you go through with the whole process and waste a box of hair dye. If you are unsure, do a patch test on the underside of the extensions.
  • Don’t dye it with just any old hair dye, colour match and get the right product. The L’Oreal and Revlon packs come with their own tools to make at home dying easy.
  • Think about placements of highlights – if you have 4 strips of hair extensions like I did, focus more of the highlights around the edges that will be closest to your face, so it stays in line with the existing highlights that already frame your face.