New hair trends are always being developed and taking society by storm. Balayage was once a brand-new coloring technique and is now a favorite among many women around the world.
One new hair coloring technique increasing in popularity is stretched roots, also called shadow roots.
Stretched roots are when the roots of your hair are intentionally darker than the rest of your hair, but the two colors are blended to create a natural, soft transition.
They’re beloved thanks to the low maintenance involved with touch-ups. Since the roots are left darker, it’s not as obvious when your hair starts to grow out, making it easier to go 6-8 weeks between hair appointments – or even longer!
To learn more about this growing hair trend, check out our complete guide below.
What is root stretching?
Root stretching is when the hair is painted with a dark and light color, where the dark color is applied to the roots and the lighter color is applied to the rest of the hair. These colors are then blended in sections to create a smooth, natural look.
Even if your roots are naturally dark, your stylist will still add a color to them. It’s the blending of the root color and rest of your hair color that creates the stretched root look.
The color on your roots should be slightly darker than your natural root color, which will then be blended with the bleach or lighter hair color that gets applied to the rest of your hair.
The hair is sectioned off and blended at different lengths, similar to how balayage is done, to give a natural look and move away from the harsh demarcation line of the dark and light colors.
Around the face, the root is blended at a higher length to give more brightness and highlights to frame your face. The colors are often blended at a diagonal angle on the front sections of hair so the color is sweeping away from the face.
This technique is always done by hand, meaning the stylist paints your hair by hand and blends everything by hand. This takes specific training, so it may cost more money, but the results are worth it.
How long does a root stretch take?
You can expect a root stretch to take about as long as a balayage would. You’ll have to sit through the same type of hair painting and blending, as well as wait for the color to finish working on your hair before it can be rinsed out.
Depending on how much hair you have, you can expect a root stretch appointment to last anywhere between 2-4 hours.
If you have thick hair, you should expect it to be on the higher end. Your stylist will need more time to work their way through sectioning your hair then painting and blending each small section by hand.
The duration of the appointment will also depend on whether this is a maintenance appointment or first time getting stretched roots.
An initial appointment will likely take longer than a maintenance appointment because at the first appointment, your stylist will have to lay down the groundwork.
At your maintenance appointment, the foundation is already there and your stylist is just touching it up.
How long does it last?
Stretched roots can last around 6-8 weeks depending on a few different factors.
The first thing to consider is how long your hair naturally grows. If your hair grows faster than average, you may have to touch yours up every 4-6 weeks to maintain the same look.
On the other hand, if your hair grows more slowly, you and truly stretch it to that 8-week mark (or longer, depending on your rate of growth).
It can also be good to note your hair’s growth rate depending on the weather. Many women report that their hair grows slower in the winter than it does in the summer.
Another factor to consider for how long your stretched roots will last is the colors you chose for your hair.
If you have a natural root color that’s very different from the color applied, then you’ll have to go back more often for touch-ups.
This isn’t very common since the goal of stretched roots is to choose colors that closely match your natural root hair and help you wait longer between maintenance appointments.
However, it all depends on the colors you and your stylist decide on.
The time between appointments will also depend on you and your personal preference.
After several weeks, if you start to notice a difference as your natural hair grows out, consider how noticeable it is. Does the fresh growth bother you, or does it blend in enough that you know you can wait longer?
Like we said, the goal of stretched roots is to prolong the time between appointments. It’s an easy way to give women who dye their hair blonde from a naturally dark color a low-maintenance color treatment.
If the new growth bothers you after only 4-5 weeks, then you’ll have to go more often. However, if you think the new growth blends well with your stretched roots and the extra length isn’t bothering you, then try and wait the full 6-8 weeks for your next appointment.
How do you stretch the roots of blonde hair?
Stretching the roots of blonde hair uses the same basic principle as the rest of stretched roots.
If you have naturally blonde hair but you want a stretched root look, you can lighten the body of your hair while maintaining your roots at the natural color.
For example, you can take hair that’s originally a honey golden color and lighten it to be brighter with some natural looking highlights. With those highlights, you can blend them into a color close to your natural honey gold.
If you have naturally dark hair that you want to dye blonde with stretched roots, then you can use the same basic principle of finding a dark root color and blending it with the lighter blonde.
The basic idea of stretched roots is keeping your roots darker than the rest of your hair, but blending the colors together.
This can be done with a super dark, dramatic look like having chocolate brown roots and light blonde hair, or a simple, subtle look such as the blonde example we gave above with honey gold hair.
The same rule applies to other hair colors. If you want stretched roots with your brown hair, but you want to keep everything brown, try lightening the rest of your hair to a lighter shade of brown or just darkening your roots to a deeper shade of brown.
For red hair, you can do the same thing! Use a darker shade on your roots that flows naturally, thanks to your stylist’s blending, into the lighter red of the rest of your hair.
Be sure to consult your stylist on the right color choices for you. It’s good to go in with an idea of what you want in mind, but remember to be open to what your stylist suggests.
Professional hair stylists are trained in matching colors and helping clients know what colors would look good with their skin tone or work well with the natural color.
Even if your stylist suggests something you’re unsure of, take a chance and trust their results. They have your best interest at heart and want to help create the look you envision in your mind.
Is a root stretch the same as balayage?
Although a root stretch uses similar techniques to balayage, it’s considered a different style.
Stretched roots are done, as you might imagine, at the roots. The color blending is done close to the roots and it’s designed to give new style specifically to the roots of your hair.
Stretched roots are also done with the goal of prolonging time between your maintenance appointments if you’re someone who dyes their hair regularly.
Balayage is usually done lower down on the length of the hair, usually about halfway down.
Balayage isn’t done with the goal of prolonging appointments, but rather as a general hair highlight style to add a little brightness to the bottom of your hair.
Both techniques section off the hair and blend the colors at different lengths to give a natural, smooth look.
Rather than seeing a stark line between the two different colors, you’ll see beautifully blended colors that work well together and fade into each other.