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Hot Roots!

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

You all know the wash your client out and you realize, oh shit..their roots are on fire!

*cue...the anxiety* 😥

I want to shed a little light on hot roots today because it is a SUPER avoidable problem, especially when you know not only WHY you're getting hot roots, but more importantly what needs to be done to correct and avoid it in the future.

When it comes to hot roots, and more importantly WHY you're getting hot roots, there are 3 main components that you have to fundamentally understand:

1- The canvas and what it is going to contribute

2- The levels, tones and strengths of the chemicals you are choosing

3- The fundamentals of hair color theory

So, what causes hot roots?


This is an issue of not understanding the chemicals you are choosing for the canvas you are applying to.

Every single tube of oxidative color typically has background + tone..

If you ASSUME you know how much of each is in there, based on the color book and/or what manufacturers tell you, you're going to be in some trouble.

If your formula has too much tone- aka- is too vibrant FOR THE HAIR YOU ARE USING IT ON, you are going to create hot roots.

Solution: Make sure to add some brown or neutral in your formula if your color is too vibrant.


This is a very common mistake a lot of us make, ESPECIALLY when we are transitioning from one color line to another.

Likely, your level 6 in X brand is NOT THE SAME as your level 6 inY brand.

Levels are there as a GUIDE for us, but so many of us use them like they are LAW.

If your level is too light (especially "next to" your old formula), even if the tone is correct, it will look like hot roots.

Solution: Swatch out your colors BEFORE using on clients so that you know exactly what you're working with.


Notice the YOU in the above sentence. If you're not fully grounded in the fundamentals of hair and hair color, 99% of the time, when your formulas or results aren't what you expected, it's on you. And I know most of us don't want to hear that.

So when I say the undertone you created was too strong, there's 2 reasons for that.

1- The level of color you chose was TOO light, too much alkalinity and not enough deposit. The additional alkalinity in combination with the developer fractured too much melanin making the undertone too bright, and there wasn't enough tone in your color to refine that undertone, leaving it very...HOT.

2- The developer you chose was too strong. The higher the developer, the more melanin and undertone that gets created. ALSO, the higher the developer, the more the dye molecules in your bowl get lightened, too. So, a 40 volume will not only create more undertone in the hair but it will also degrade more of the dyes in your bowl sheering out your deposit. Too strong of a developer, and you're left with LOTS of undertone that is created, especially with a lighter level of color.

Solution: Understand, fully, the hair you are working on AND the chemicals and their roles before your formulate. I have a free masterclass here, sign up!


*cue ME losing my shit when I see this*

Ok so I get it, a lot of us were taught to apply the roots and the last 15 minutes to pull that same color through the ends to refresh it, right?

Why is this a bad idea?

Glad you asked.

1- The dye molecules in that bowl after a certain amount of time have already formed and not much deposit is going to be happening.

2- The formula and what the hair needs for fresh, virgin hair is VERY DIFFERENT from what the previous, colored ends need.

3- You don't need a color with alkalinity to refresh the ends. This will just cause more structural damage in the long run.

So if you use the same brown of color with a brown and a copper on the roots, you do not need a brown and a copper on the ends, especially at the same level. These are 2 different hair types we are dealing with and you need to address each, differently.

What can happen is the ends are likely dry and porous, so if you use the same formula from roots to ends, the ends WILL appear darker and more browned out next the the freshly colored, vibrant roots giving it the appearance of hot roots, when in fact its a "dull-ends" situation.

Solution: Use 2 different formulas.

Hope this was helpful!

Until next time,

Happy Hair Coloring!


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