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How to Formulate Your Root Smudge [Plus 10 Hot Formulas]

Root smudging is a great technique that you can use to soften lines of demarcation in your client’s hair, helping to reflect depth into the root of the hair and giving them a natural, understated look.

In order to achieve the best results from your smudge for your client, most stylists can’t just rely on out-of-the-bottle product. Simply put, the best results will come from creating a custom, unique formula that takes into account your guests current hair and the beautiful look that they’re trying to achieve.

Are your smudge formulas leaving something to be desired? Check out these root formulation tips and formulas to up your game.

Lacking confidence in your formulations?
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You’ll often hear people say that formulating is an art (we totally agree!) and that the best teacher is trial and error. But like everything hair related, there’s also a fair amount of science involved, too. Understanding the science behind the art can help you avoid much of the “error”—and who doesn’t love that?

Below are some root smudge formulation tips that we swear by, which can help you really up your smudging and toning game like nobody’s business.

Tips for Formulating Your Smudge

1. Understand your product.

Specific products have different properties, which you need to be aware of prior to formulating your smudge. If you don’t know the product, it’s difficult to predict how it’ll act on your guest’s hair—which can lead to some awkward scenarios if the smudge goes wrong.

Root Smudging Formula and Product

For example, if you’re using a translucent product like Redken Shades EQ in your smudge, you should keep in mind that it’ll likely give you a sheer result. For that reason, when using a translucent product, we’d typically advise formulating 2 shades below their natural color.

Other types of product will give you different results. You need to know how the product that you use works if you’re going to give your clients the look that they want.

2. Understand your canvas.

Understanding the products that you’re going to use as a part of your smudge is a give in. But just as important as understanding  this is, so is knowing the canvas that you’re going to be working on. So before you do any kind of color work on a client, you should aim to have a full picture of their hair history going back at least two years.

how to root smudge

Knowing your guests hair history is important because it’ll help you understand the tones that you’re working with below the surface. This information may influence which product and technique you use, so it’s critical.

3. Understand your process.

Just like you need to understand the product you use, you need to understand your own process to truly create the best smudge for your client.

Everyone does things a little bit differently, and though minor tweaks in process might seem, well, minor, they can have a major impact on the end result.

Root Smudging Process

For example, we recommend that stylists smudge on damp hair due to it creating proper porosity, color mobility, and helps keep away color splotches. Keep in mind, damp hair dilutes the product, which can change your final result. If you’re using a translucent product on damp hair, it’s imperative that you drop your gloss level to have appropriate coverage.

But not everyone smudges on damp hair. We get it—you have your reasons, and that’s fine! But if you don’t typically smudge on damp hair, you wouldn’t necessarily use the same formula for your smudge as someone who does smudge on damp hair. It seems like a small detail, but it’s actually a really big deal.

Hot Formulas to Try

Need some inspiration that you can use when formulating ? Below are some of our favorite toner formulas that are perfect to use during a root smudging session and adding a customized tone for you guests. Bear in mind that you may need to adjust these formulas depending on your client’s hair and your exact process.

If you want to neutralize an orange tone on a level 6 use equal parts Redken Shades EQ 6VB  + 6N Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want a Champagne Blonde Tone use equal parts Redken Shades EQ 9N + 9V + 9RB + Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want a Sandy Blonde Tone use equal parts RedKen Shades EQ 9N + 9NB + 9V + Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want a Butter Blonde Tone use equal parts Redken Shades EQ 9GB + 9NB +Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want an Icy Blonde Tone use 1 part Redken Shades EQ 9V + 1 part 9P + 1 part Shades EQ 9T +  a splash of 8GG + 3 parts Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want an Icy Shadow Root use Redken Shades EQ 1 part 8V + ½ part 8N +Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want a Neutral Shadow Root use Redken Shades EQ 7N + Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want a Rich Shadow Root use Redken Shades 1 part 4WG+ 1 part 3NB + 2 parts Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want to neutralize deep orange pigments in a level 5  use Redken Shades EQ 1 part 5NA + 1 part Shades EQ Processing Solution.

If you want to fill a platinum blonde use Redken Shades EQ 1 part 7c + 1 part 8GG + 2 parts Redken Shades EQ Processing Solution.

Have you been struggling with your confidence when it comes to formulation? Building confidence in this area is the key to becoming a better stylist, empowering you to deliver the results that your clients are looking for. Sign up for the new Salt Lab with Christine, where you'll learn the fundamentals of color theory and real, tactical skills that will allow you to formulate with the confidence that you need!

Confidence Behind Formulation Course

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