Here's What You Need to Know About "Color Smudging" Your Hair

These days, you have endless options for coloring your hair, from balayage to ombre. Your choices go far beyond the single process and highlight options we were previously limited to. All these options makes coloring more fun and give amazing results with depth and subtlety.

If you haven’t yet, you need to try the coloring sensation of smudging, which started on the West Coast and has now spread everywhere else. What exactly is color smudging and how is it different from other types of coloring? Let’s talk about what you need to know.

Color Smudging Blonde Highlights.JPEG

What Does Color Smudging Do?

Color smudging helps blend the natural color at your roots with highlights so the highlights are less intense and more natural. It creates a softer look without it being noticeable where the roots end and the highlight line begins. You get blending and softening rather than harsh streaks of color and demarcation lines like we used to expect from highlights. Not only does smudging create a natural effect when you get it, it will grow out in a beautiful way that's not so apparent as highlights.

Differences in Smudging Techniques

There are different ways to go about the color smudging process. The techniques include regular smudging, oil smudging and shading. They’re similar but have subtly different finished looks. Also, they differ by the process the stylist uses. In general, your stylist will use a permanent dye for regular smudging, while she would instead use a demi-permanent dye for oil smudging or shading. But you'll also see differences in technique from one stylist to the next. 

color smudging shading highlights.JPG

Types of Color Smudging

Which one is right for you?

Smudging: The technique that’s simply called smudging – or your stylist might call it base softening or breaking the base – is where your stylist will use a permanent dye to create a soft, natural look at the base (roots) of your hair. The transition from color at the base to the highlights happens quickly (instead of being a gradual transition) and creates a brighter, softer look that is very natural. 

Oil Smudging: Oil smudging is also called glaze or gloss smudging. This technique uses a gloss or toner on the roots that helps naturally transition from roots to color. Gloss smudging gives a look that's darker at the roots and becomes gradually lighter all the way to the tips, which is an ultra-natural and beautifully sun-kissed look. This is perfect for when you had highlights that are in that awkward stage of growing out or when you simply want to extend the life of your highlights without going to the salon so often. 

Shading: Then you have shading or shadowing, which adds depth to fresh highlights, helping their color blend with your natural hair color. This technique uses a demi-permanent gloss or toner to blend.