The Secret of a Root Smudge With Toner Can Change Your Life (or Your Highlights)

ٍHoliday parties are approaching and your highlights are growing out. There’s nothing quite like two or three inches of virgin roots standing out over… highlights? Hide your head in shame.

Highlights with dark virgin roots.
Here’s how you look today. Dark virgin roots on top that fade into a lighter color with highlights. Need a solution before you get to the salon? Bun it, girl!

Of course, you can go into the salon and have more highlights put in. It will give a three-dimensional look and added volume for sure, but what happens when your hair falls out? Put bleach over bleach and that’s what will probably happen. Just in time for the holidays.

Instead of asking for more highlights, here’s what to request instead: a root smudge with toner. Huh?

What is a root smudge with toner?

Well, normally, a root smudge uses the same dye as your original color treatment to blend over the line of demarcation a bit. But how does that work when you have highlights? Well, you can root smudge your part, but if you’re lifting the color, you run a risk of damaging your hair when you put the same chemical mix over your highlights. The result? Short hairs standing up at the top of your head.

Okay, enough scary stuff. When you paint toner onto your hair to smudge the roots instead of using the original color treatment, you create warm or cool highlights at the root that extend into the rest of the hair. This can remove the line of demarcation in some areas while adding a third color in a non-damaging way.

Virgin roots with a warm toner.
Virgin roots with a warm toner applied at the roots and the lengths.

Break: what is a toner? Toner corrects your color. A purple shampoo is a toner because it helps keep platinum blonde bright so that it doesn’t get yellow. Purple shampoo is a cool toner. There are warm toners, too, and you can work with your stylist to choose the colors and overall effect you’re after.

The woman in the second picture has three or four inches of virgin growth, like the one in the first picture. But a warm toner has been painted over her hair. The toner disguised her roots and added more depth and volume. This is a multidimensional party look that doesn’t sacrifice the health of her hair.

What to ask for?

  • Ask your stylist for a root smudge with toner. 
  • Then show the stylist pictures of the color you would like, so she can choose the toner.
  • Remember, though, the toner won’t necessarily be the color you expect (remember purple shampoo). It’s the result that counts.

Want to do this at home?

If you want to try your hand at home:

  • Find a hair glaze in a color that compliments your current hair color.

  • Use the glaze to smudge your roots.

  • Then paint it vertically along one of your locks in the front and diagonally in other areas of your hair.

The result? Hair that’s ready for the holidays.