Originally Posted on April 27, 2013 by Heather Hershey
Updated on August 11, 2016 by Heather Hershey
Tips? Frost? Highlights???
Wig hair colors and combinations can be even more complicated than the options at a salon! Here’s a handy crash-course in some of the terms you may see in our color listings. I’ve listed everything in progression from least fancy to the most complicated.
(Shown: Obsession in Burgundy – a discontinued costume wig)
This is an easy one to spot. You’ll usually see it on less expensive wigs, like costume wigs. lower end “hi fashion” wigs, or value styles. The color is the same throughout the wig with little to no variation or blend in tone. These do not look particularly realistic to most people due to the uniformity of the color.
Most of the colors you’ll come across in our wigs are blended tones, meaning that multiple variations of color are blended together in the same wig to give the hair a more natural and nuanced color profile. Some wig brands blend in a more dramatic fashion than others. Envy, for example, generally blends two tones that are one level apart, like what you can see in their Dark Blonde color. This accomplishes an expensive straight-from-the-salon look. Other companies blend in a more subdued fashion. For example, Ariel by Estetica (above) is being shown in a three tone blend. The colors are blended very close together and in small sections, giving the hair a more natural variation of color.
Blended colors are usually indicated in the color code with a slash or period between the colors. The R30/28/26 above, for example, is a blend that is mostly a #30 (a medium auburn), with some #28 (Irish copper) blended in, and a little #26 (butterscotch blonde) thrown into the mix for flavor. Usually the order they are presented indicated which tones are most prominent, with the first color listed usually comprising the majority of the blend.
(Shown: Emma by Estetica in color RH1488)
Highlights come in many varieties, and we’ll discuss some of those here. Most of the regular highlights you’ll come across are subtle, with the color variations only being a shade or two off from the base color. Most basic highlighted shades are a base tone with a highlight tone about one level lighter.
Like blended shades, highlighted shades usually have a slash or periods in the color code…but not always!You may also see the letter “H” in the code. There is no universal convention for naming highlighted wig colors. This makes it tricky, for sure!
Each brand does this a little differently. In the case of the RH1488, this is a #14 (honey blonde) base with #88 (soft gold blonde) highlight. The “H” in the color code tells us it’s highlighted and the order they are presented gives us the base and highlight shade.
Most wigs with traditional highlights will place the bulk of the highlighted coloration in the front of the wig to “frame the face” or on the top layer of hair to add dynamics to the overall appearance of the hair. Only certain specific kinds of highlight distribution schemes (such as Jon Renau’s “Syrup Shades”) will result in highlights all throughout the wig.
(Tori by René of Paris Hi Fashion in Chocolate Frost)
Frosting and Highlighting are not necessarily two different things although they are thought of as two different things.
Frost is another kind of highlight. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. A frost tone is always lighter than the base shade, and is often many levels lighter than the rest of the hair – which is why it’s called frost. The highlights also tend to be slightly smaller pieces all over the hair.
Chunking is just like highlighting, except large sections of hair (IE: “chunks”) are used to create a bold, youthful, salon-fresh kind of color scheme.
Low-lights are a bit like basic highlights in reverse, with the lighter tone providing the base and the darker tone adding depth via slightly darker coloring throughout. Christina, above, is a great example of this. R613/20H has a light French vanilla blonde base with dark golden blonde lowlights.
ROOTED & SHADED COLORS:
A rooted wig color is often highlighted and will have darker roots than the rest of the hair. The roots can be a little darker (like the color on Orchid, above) or can be dramatically darker than the surrounding hairs (like the color on Ignite).
This does two things for you:
1) It obscures the hairline of non-monofilament wigs so it’s harder to tell you’re wearing a hair piece
2) It gives wigs the appearance of new hair growth, like you need to get a touch up at a salon in a couple of weeks. Both effects enhance the realism of your wig.
Gradient roots are just like “shaded” roots, except the rooting is often a medium or dark brown and slightly longer and more dramatic than a traditional rooted color.
LONG ROOT (“LR”) COLORS:
These are a hybrid between dramatic gradient roots and ombré colors. Rooting is usually quite dark compared to the base shade and very long, with the roots usually ending somewhere near the mid-face. The color gently fades into the base shade where the root ends, similar to ombré coloration.
OMBRÉ AND BALAYAGE COLORS:
Ombré colors usually start darker at the top and gradually transition into one or more other colors as they progress down the length of the hair shaft. These can be subtle and approximate natural hair lightening in the sun (balayage), or they can be more dramatic with more pronounced colors to look like you spent serious time in the salon achieving the color. Ombré colors can be rooted or unrooted.
Syrup Shades have a lot more highlights than regular highlighted colors and these highlights tend to be wider than normal, but not quite a chunk. The highlights go all through out the cap, crown to nape, with the highlight shade(s) making up about 1/3 – 1/4 of the overall color of the hair.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about color, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.