A common question asked when someone starts to get into hair extensions is, “Can I dye synthetic extensions?” It’s a commonly held belief that synthetic hair can’t be dyed. But after 20 years of dying my hair, what I’ve found is the opposite.
My name is Lori and I have been wearing wigs and hair extensions for over six years. I love dying my hair. Including my synthetic hairs. Over the years, I’ve tried a couple of techniques that have been successful.
In this article, I will work with my team member Alexis, a cosmetologist to provide you with three methods that you can use to dye synthetic extensions. I’ll be going through how to use fabric dye, food coloring, and acrylic paint.
Keep reading to learn more!
3 Best Ways To Dye Synthetic Extensions
Here are our most recommended methods to dye synthetic extensions.
Method 1: Fabric Dye
Synthetic hair is not naturally porous like natural hair, these man-made extensions will not absorb regular hair dye like natural hair. I have found that fabric dye is pretty effective. Try to find a dye specifically for polyester/synthetic material. I like Rit Dye More Synthetic.
Step 1: Heat a pot of water to a boil. This is no exact science, but a good rule of thumb is about 3 tsp of dye for every cup of water. Use more dye for a more vibrant color or more water for a more muted or pastel color.
Once the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and mix in the dye.
Step 2: When the dye is ready, add in your extensions. Swish them around and make sure every strand of hair is wet and coated.
Step 3: Let the hair soak in the dye until it reaches the desired hue. Depending on the color and desired vibrancy, this can be anywhere from 5-45 minutes.
Step 4: Once you have reached the desired color, rinse the extensions with cold water until the water runs clear. If you use warm or hot water, you’ll rinse out all the colors.
Step 5: After rinsing, condition the extensions with some gentle fabric softener and rinse clean.
Step 6: Hang or drape the extensions and allow them to dry thoroughly. You may use a blow dryer on cool and low to expedite the process.
Style the extensions as you normally would and enjoy! If you use heat on the extensions, you can curl or straighten them. Just make sure to use a low heat setting.
Method 2: Food Coloring
This next method tends to be a little more temporary, usually only lasting a couple of washes. Still it is possible to use food coloring to dye synthetic extensions with materials most people have lying around their house.
You can find basic McCormick Food Coloring online or at any grocery store You’ll need food coloring in your desired color and hair mousse.
Step 1: Place a small amount of mousse in a bowl and add a couple of drops of food coloring. Mix the mousse and food coloring thoroughly until it is one smooth color. Make sure to prepare enough mousse mixture to coat all of the hair.
Step 2: Using a brush (or your hands), evenly coat the hair with the mousse mixture. Ensure you are thorough when coating the hair; if there are sections where the dye is sparse or missing , the color will turn out patchy.
Step 3: Leave the dye on the extensions for 30-60 minutes, depending on how bright you want the color.
Step 4: Rinse the hair with cold water until the water runs clear.
Step 5: You can let the extensions air dry or use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting. Then style as usual!
Method 3: Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint is another effective method of dying extensions, and the paint won’t damage your hair. For this method, you’ll need acrylic paint in the color of your choice, rubbing alcohol, and a spray bottle. Apple Barrel Acrylic Craft Paint works well.
Step 1: Depending on how much hair you’re planning on dying, mix ¼ to ½ tsp paint with 2-4 tbsp of rubbing alcohol in the spray bottle. Shake the bottle well until thoroughly mixed. Less alcohol will result in a darker color, while more alcohol will result in a lighter color.
Step 2: Spray the section of hair you want to start with until it is saturated. Comb the dye through the hair with your fingers, ensuring all strands are coated evenly. Repeat as needed until all sections of hair have been coated with dye.
Step 3: Let the extensions dry entirely. This may take 1-2 hours.
Step 4: Once the extensions are completely dry, rinse them with cold water until the water runs clear.
Step 5:Dry and style!
Important Notes and Tips
Any of the mentioned methods can be repeated multiple times until you reach the desired color. Just be aware the hair texture may change over time with numerous dyes.
Regardless of which method you use, there are some other everyday things to consider. Make sure you are choosing heat-resistant hair. This is especially important when using fabric dye because you use hot water.
Keep in mind that these are messy. Wear gloves to avoid staining your skin when handling the hair and dye, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little dye on. I also suggest putting newspaper or plastic down in the area you’re working in so you don’t dye your furniture or floor.
Don’t be surprised when the seam comes out brighter than the hair. The thread used will typically take up much more dye than the actual extension. Depending on the color used, this can make blending it into your natural hair a little tricky.
The dye will cause damages to your hair, no matter it’s human hair or synthetic hair, so be prepared to spend more time repairing your hair extensions after you dyed them.
And finally, you can’t lighten synthetic hair. You can’t bleach it like you can with natural hair. You can only dye it darker. Therefore, I recommend starting with a white or light blonde wig.
Can You Dye Synthetic Hair Extensions with Normal Hair Dye?
No, do not use normal hair dye to dye synthetic hair extensions because the structure of synthetic hair fibers is differ than natural hair fibers, synthetic fibers are less penetrating and have no natural pigments.
Only use dyes for artificial fibers on your synthetic hair. Or else, the chemical in normal hair dye will damage the fibers.
Can I Dye a Synthetic Wig Darker?
Yes, you can dye a light color wig to a darker color, such as from blonde to dark brown, but you cannot dye a dark color wig to lighter color because it will bring more harm to your hair, causing the fiber to become bitter and dry.
Many people still say you can’t or shouldn’t dye synthetic hair extensions. There are, however, multiple effective methods if you’re willing to get a little messy. My favorites are fabric dye, food coloring & mousse, and acrylic paint.
Leave a comment below about which method you’re excited to try!