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What are the coloring procedures used on human hair wigs?

Human hair wigs are made from real human hair that has been donated or sold by individuals. Since the hair is 100% natural, human hair wigs can be dyed, colored, permed, curled, flat ironed and styled just like your own hair. There are several coloring procedures that can be used on human hair wigs to achieve different looks.

Preparing the Wig for Coloring

Before coloring a human hair wig, it is important to properly prepare the hair to achieve the best results. Here are some tips for prepping a wig for coloring:

  • Wash the wig with a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup.
  • Detangle the hair thoroughly using a wide-tooth comb or fingers.
  • Allow the wig to air dry completely so it is not damp for coloring.
  • Cover the lace front hairline with petroleum jelly or a foundation that matches the lace. This prevents it from getting stained.
  • Separate the hair into multiple sections using clips. This allows for easier application of color.

Prepping the wig properly before coloring will help the hair better absorb the color and lead to a more even, saturated result.

Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Semi-permanent hair color is one of the most common ways to color human hair wigs. Semi-permanent color coats the outside of the hair shaft and washes out over time. Here is the process for using semi-permanent color on a wig:

  1. Select a semi-permanent hair color that is no more than 2 shades lighter or darker than the wig’s natural color. Going too light or dark can damage the hair.
  2. Mix the color according to the instructions, wearing gloves to protect your hands.
  3. Section the wig and use a tint brush to apply the color evenly from root to tip.
  4. Allow the color to process for 25-35 minutes checking frequently.
  5. Rinse the color thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  6. Shampoo and condition the wig using sulfate-free products.
  7. Allow the wig to air dry fully before styling as desired.

The color results from semi-permanent hair dye will last 4-6 weeks before fading. To maintain the color, use a sulfate-free shampoo and refresh the color as needed.

Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair color makes a lasting change to the hair shaft. Here is how to permanently color a human hair wig:

  1. Choose a permanent color that is no more than 2 shades different from the wig’s natural color.
  2. Mix the permanent color according to directions and apply petroleum jelly to protect hairline.
  3. Section the hair and use a tint brush to apply color from roots to ends.
  4. Allow the permanent color to process for 35-45 minutes.
  5. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear.
  6. Shampoo and condition with sulfate-free products.
  7. Allow wig to fully air dry before styling.

Permanent color will remain until the hair grows out or is re-colored. Use a weekly conditioning treatment to keep the colored hair healthy and shiny.


Highlighting helps add dimension and brightness to human hair wigs. Here is how to highlight a wig:

  • Choose highlighting kit appropriate for type of hair (synthetic vs human hair).
  • Separate wig into sections and use petroleum jelly to protect hairline.
  • Apply lightener quickly to narrow subsections following instructions.
  • Process for 20-30 minutes checking frequently.
  • Rinse thoroughly and apply toner if desired.
  • Shampoo, condition, and air dry before styling.

When highlighting wigs, working in subsections produces the most natural look. Use toner to neutralize brassiness and deep condition weekly.


Lowlights add depth and dimension by making pieces of hair darker. Here is how to add lowlights:

  1. Choose a semi-permanent color 1-2 shades darker than the wig’s natural color.
  2. Separate the hair into subsections and brush darker color where lowlights are desired.
  3. Allow to process for 20 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
  4. Shampoo, condition, and let air dry before styling.

Focus lowlights around the perimeter and under layers of the wig. Adding strategic lowlights gives a more polished, dimensional look. Refresh lowlights as needed.

Ombre Coloring

Ombre coloring gradually blends from dark to light. Here is how to achieve ombre color on a wig:

  • Choose two semi-permanent shades that are 2-3 levels apart in lightness.
  • Section clean, dry hair from roots to ends.
  • Apply the darker shade from mid-shaft to ends using a tint brush.
  • Apply lighter shade from mid-shaft up towards roots.
  • Blend the two shades using a wide-tooth comb.
  • Process 25-35 mins, rinse, then shampoo and condition.

When done correctly, ombre coloring looks soft, blended, and dimensional. Use a color-protecting shampoo to keep the hue vibrant.

Dyeing Lace Frontals

Lace frontals on wigs provide a realistic hairline but must be dyed to match the wig’s color. Use these steps:

  1. Choose a semi-permanent color closest to the wig’s shade.
  2. Apply petroleum jelly along the hairline to protect the skin.
  3. Use a small brush to apply the dye only to the lace frontal.
  4. Allow to process 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse until the water runs clear.
  6. Apply a second coat if needed to achieve desired color.

Be very precise when dyeing lace frontal to avoid getting color on the skin. Matching the lace color prevents demarcation lines along the hairline.

Touch-Up Coloring Roots

As real hair grows, the roots begin to show. Touch up the color with these steps:

  • Choose a semi-permanent color closest to the original shade.
  • Section the hair and apply color only to new growth using a slim brush.
  • Process for 10-15 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
  • Shampoo and condition as normal.
  • Blow dry and style as desired.

Focus only on the regrowth area when touching up color. Avoid overprocessing by using a timer and checking frequently.

Color Removal

Color removal strips out artificial dye to restore the natural hair color. Here is how to remove color:

  1. Wash the wig with clarifying shampoo to prep for removal.
  2. Apply color removal product following instructions.
  3. Process for 20-30 minutes checking frequently.
  4. Rinse with warm water until water runs clear.
  5. Shampoo again and apply a deep conditioner.
  6. Rinse, air dry, and style.

Color removal can be damaging so always use a quality conditioning treatment after the process. Avoid overprocessing during removal.


Bleaching lightens hair to very pale blonde shades. Follow these steps:

  • Wash and detangle the wig thoroughly before lightening.
  • Choose a bleaching kit appropriate for the hair type.
  • Section the hair and apply lightener quickly from roots to ends.
  • Process for 30-45 minutes checking frequently.
  • Rinse until water runs clear and tone if desired.
  • Deep condition and air dry before styling.

Monitor bleaching carefully to avoid damage from overprocessing. Use a violet toner to neutralize brassiness. Condition extensively after lightening.

Dual-Tone Coloring

Dual-tone coloring provides a striking contrast between the root and length. Use these steps:

  1. Color the roots a darker shade according to the above procedures.
  2. Color the mid-shaft to ends a lighter contrasting shade.
  3. Overlap the shades and use a comb to softly blend together.
  4. Rinse, shampoo, and condition once processing is complete.
  5. Blow dry and style as desired.

Choose shades that are 2-3 levels apart for the most dramatic dual-tone effect. Refresh regularly as the contrast grows out.

Unnatural Colors

Vibrant fashion shades are trendy on human hair wigs. Here are application tips:

  • Prep the hair well by clarifying and detangling.
  • Opt for a demi- or semi-permanent dye in the desired shade.
  • Section the hair and apply the vivid dye using a tint brush.
  • Process for 25-35 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
  • Shampoo until the water runs clear.
  • Condition well and allow to fully air dry.

Vibrant colors require more frequent touch-ups. Use sulfate-free shampoo and limit washing to make unnatural colors last longer.

Coloring Synthetic Hair Wigs

While synthetic wigs cannot be dyed like human hair, you can refresh the color with these steps:

  1. Wash the wig with cool water and mild shampoo.
  2. Use petroleum jelly to coat the lace front and hairline.
  3. Apply a wig-safe spray color to refresh the hue.
  4. Allow to dry fully then brush out and style.

Avoid harsh chemicals or hot water when coloring synthetic wigs. Work in a ventilated area and apply spray color carefully for best results.


Human hair wigs can be colored and styled just like natural hair when proper techniques are used. Prepare the hair, choose an appropriate color and application method, follow all processing directions, and care for the wig afterward. With the right coloring skills, you can achieve beautiful results and keep wigs looking fabulous.