Color How-To: Avoid Hot Roots

Photo by Alex_Doubovitsky/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

You’ve seen it happen, lighter brighter roots than the rest of the hair emerge post-color application. And while commonly seen in redheads, hot roots can be found in blondes and brunettes alike. “There are many reasons why it occurs—time control, peroxide control, using the same color level or timing from roots to end, and heat from the scalp causing hair at the roots to respond more quickly to the formula,” says Mai, Bumble and Bumble colorist. But what do you do when it happens to you? Read on for our experts’ tips for handling hot roots.

Q: How do you fix a client’s color that has developed hot roots?

A: “The best way is to apply a deposit-only tint. A tint with very low volume peroxide usually does the trick. But if the client has highlights, glossing the base can help blend everything together,” says Vanessa Spaeth, color specialist at Andy Lecompte Salon.

Q: What should colorists look out for?

A: “Stylists who struggle with hot roots should keep a few things in mind before every color job. First, take heat zones into account. Developer choice plays a big role when applied at the heat zone and natural body heat adds a secondary reaction. Scaling back on your developer allows for proper color development. Second, properly determine the underlying pigment. Know the color wheel and underlying pigment chart. These two invaluable tools go hand in hand. When you know what color neutralizes orange, it makes formulating for your clients’ hair much easier. Third, determining the natural starting level is crucial. If the natural level falls to an in-between color, always formulate to the darker shade. For example, if your client’s natural level is a 5.5, formulate your color to a level 5,” says Lissette Cruz, Pravana Artistic Regional Trainer.

Q: Is there a way to prevent hot roots from happening?

A: “Never apply color from root to end. The timing, color level or peroxide strength at the roots needs to be controlled differently from the rest of the hair. Apply color from mid-shaft to ends, then work on the roots,” says Mai.