A variety of techniques and services have been increasingly requested by clients over the years. Balayage which is a free handpainting technique that results in sun kissed, natural look with no harsh lines of demarcation is a great example of something that was not available a decade ago but is now a popular service for many clients.

It can be argued that the popularity of shadow root and root smudge arose from the same trends as balayage’s dominance. Both services can be used to “finish off” other treatments such as foilyage and balayage because they work well together.

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What is the difference between a Shadow Root and a Root Smudge (or Root Stretch)? We take a closer look at each term to help client understand them better and be able to communicate well about the hair goals.

What is a Root Smudge?

Root smudging is a technique that blurs demarcation lines. This involves applying a colour near to the roots of the client and “smudging” it into their hair shaft. This allows for a smoother soft transition between the roots and the hair that is lightened. This is used to blur the lines and create a seamless blending and it is frequent employed after the foil technique.

There are many great tips for root smudging. A translucent colour line with no lifting ability is the best choice. It is easy to lift through at the following appointment because it fades beautifully. The colourist is able to use a variety root smudging techniques to have the confidence to succeed.

How to Do A Root Smudge?

Root smudging is most suitable for clients who want to create a blended root after foiling or simply desire a seamless blending. This technique can be used to enhance the depth or change the tone of client who isn’t happy with their natural tone. This can be used on some clients, particularly blondes, to blend and cover grays and make them a little more soft.

What is a Shadow Root?

Shadow root is a technique used for colour customization and create a perfect blend of lightening and shadow.

The shadow root, which is similar to a root smudge reduces the harsh line of demarcation between root and lightened hair. However, the key difference is that the levels of the natural and the lightened areas are often very different. The shadow root is usually much darker than the smudge root.

Shadow root is a great technique to use to make the transition easier. This helps to ease the root growing out process and makes maintenance easier and smooth.

Note: The shadow root service should always be done on shampoo, rinse and slight wet hair. This will ensure that there are no residues of lightener, which could cause a shift in your base.

How to do a Shadow Root?

In the end, a shadow root can be used in many of the same situations that a root smudge. A shadow root is a great option for clients with darker hair like brunettes who want their hair to be lighter but still retain some depth. Moreover, most of such clients also prefer an easier grow out with less maintenance or those who want a lived-in colour.

So, what’s the difference between a Root Smudge and Shadow Root?

You’ll be able to tell the difference between these two techniques by your good observation. This is because a root smudge or a shadow root are basically the same technique. However, they are just used in varying ways to achieve different results.

Both methods involve blending the client’s roots with their hair shaft to soften the demarcation line. This is usually done by tapping the colour formula on the root. A shadow root has a more dramatic “root and shaft shade”  difference than a root smudge. The shadow root may also be lower than the standard root smudge. This gives it more depth.

It’s important to realize that colourists can express the same technique in many different ways. This includes both the execution and the wording. It’s a good idea for clients to have a hair consultation before they sit down in the chair. This will allow clients to clarify any misunderstandings and give the colourists a clear idea of their goals. It is good practice for colourist to show their clients pictures of both a shadow root and a root smudge to help them decide which result they want, even if they use the wrong term.