Tips for Fixing and Avoiding Hot Roots

Sharing an oldie but goodie from the American Salon archives!

You’ve seen it happen, warm roots emerge post-color application and there's a noticeable difference between your client's root color and their mids and ends. And while commonly seen in redheads, hot roots can be found in blondes and brunettes alike. But what do you do when it happens to you? Read on for our experts’ tips for handling hot roots. 

Q. What causes hot roots?

A. "Hot roots are caused by the heat of the scalp acting as a catalyst for color to lift the natural hair, making the first 1/2 inch of hair look a level lighter and/or brighter than the rest of the hair," says L'Oreal Professionnel Artist, Jackie Epperson. But, Ian Michael Black, global artistic director for Aveda, says heat from the scalp isn't the only reason that the root area lifts more or shows more warmth. "Since the hair near the root is the newest, it's also the easiest to lift," he says. 

Q. How do you fix hot roots?

A. "I can re-color the first 1/2 inch of the hair to a deeper tone using a gold or a neutral—depending on how bright the roots are—and attempt to match the hair to the ends," Epperson says. "Another option, if the client prefers a lighter tone at the scalp, is to cleanse the remaining hair with L'Oréal Professionel Blond Studio Sunkissed Lightening Oil to remove tone and up to one level of color on the mids and ends. Then, I can rinse, power dry and apply a lighter and brighter color to match the roots," she adds. 

Q. Is there a way to prevent hot roots?

A. "Consider using a lower developer for the natural hair around the root," Black says. "Make sure your formula takes into account the exposure of the natural warmth that shows through and how that will contribute to the final result. Cooling down your formula will account for this extra warmth." Additionally, some hairstylists prefer to opt for a darker root to prevent the possibility of hot roots. Ryan Pearl, a colorist at Cutler SoHo, makes sure his root formula is a shade darker to ensure a natural, easy grow out. 

Aura Friedman, colorist at New York's Sally Hershberger salon, has her own method of madness for avoiding hot roots. "I always use double 10-volume developer instead of 20-volume developer," she says. "It drives the tone in the cortex and doesn't expose as much of the natural undertones like 20-volume developer does." 

Another standard method of prevention is to apply color to the mids and ends first. "I apply the ends for ten minutes, and then I go back in and apply color to the roots for the remaining twenty or twenty five," says Kyle White, a celebrity colorist at Oscar Blandi salon. "The timing will vary depending on how many levels I'm lifting and what product I'm using."

Do you have your own set of tricks for avoiding hot roots? Share them with us on Instagram or Facebook