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Everything You Need to Know About Gloss Smudging

Gloss smudging is something you may have heard of but aren’t sure if it’s for you. We personally think this hair coloring method is for anyone who gets highlights and wants a lived-in, beachy, natural, and low-maintenance hair color.

As far as trendy hairstyles go, we’ve witnessed the chunky highlights of the 90s and early 2000s, the high contrast ombre of the 2010s, and the pastel hues that dominated the 2020s. These may have been styles you adored at the time, but looking back you wish you had gone for something simpler.

Natural and low-maintenance highlights are trends that have truly stood the test of time. But how do we achieve this highly coveted lived-in hair color that also gives us fewer trips to the salon?

Gloss smudging will be the key to getting that classic, timeless blonde, caramel, or bronde you’ve been after, and we want you to know all about it.

We’re here to fill you in on the ins and outs of gloss smudging. What it is, how it’s done, and how long it will last you.

What is Gloss Smudging?

gloss smudged hair
Gloss Smudged Hair

Gloss smudging, often referred to as color melting or root smudging, is a hair coloring technique used primarily to blend the harsh lines between the root color and the highlighted or colored hair.

In the process, a semi-permanent color or gloss is applied to the root area and then ‘smudged’ or blended down into the rest of the hair.

The procedure involves applying a semi-permanent color or gloss to the root area, which is then ‘smudged’ or blended down into the rest of the hair.

This technique helps create a seamless, natural-looking transition between the different shades in your hair. It’s particularly popular for creating a lived-in, balayage effect or softening the contrast between highlights and natural hair color.

First off, it only works when lightening the hair with highlights. This doesn’t mean it can only be done on blondes, it can also be done on our brunette gals who are going caramel or bronde using highlights. 

Basically, gloss smudging is a toner that blurs the line at the root where the highlights were just done. It’s going to diffuse and soften any lines that the foils created in the hair, taking the highlights you just got from looking a little too intentional to looking like it’s your natural hair color that grew out of your head.

Smudging also helps with having a better grow out and can lengthen the time between highlight appointments. 

How is Gloss Smudging Done? 

How to do gloss smudging

After your hairstylist completes the foil process and allows it to set, they will guide you to the shampoo bowl to rinse out the color. As per routine, they’ll tone your highlights, and finally, they’ll apply the gloss smudge. 

The gloss smudge is done with a demi-permanent toner that’s the same shade as your natural hair color or a shade darker. It will be applied with a color brush right at the root. Your stylist will work in horizontal sections, starting in the back of your hair and working up to the front.

While your stylist applies the gloss, they’ll use their color brush to gently feather down about a half inch from the root creating that natural-looking smudged effect.

It will process for about 10–15 minutes and then be rinsed out. You’ll be amazed how adding a gloss to the end of your highlighting service can make such a massive difference in the outcome of your hair color. The smudging technique transforms your tresses from obvious highlights into classic, lived-in hair colors.

How Often Do You Get Gloss Smudging?

The gloss smudge itself will last you for about 6–8 weeks, but one of our favorite parts about the process is that when it rinses out you’ll be left with a softened, natural root that you can rock for a couple more months!

In order to maintain your lived-in locks, ask for a root smudge with every highlight appointment so about every 3–4 months.

You can extend the life of your root smudge at home by using color-safe shampoo and conditioner, washing less, and using a heat protectant when you style your hair.

Now that you’ve learned all about gloss smudging, try it out at your next highlighting appointment. It’s a quick and easy process that can make a huge difference in your hair.

A glossy smudge will give you the kind of hair color that’ll bring back memories. When you look back at your pictures 10 years from now, you’ll see gorgeous, timeless hair color that never gets old!

Things to Remember:

  • A gloss smudge will help you achieve the lived-in, classic hair color you love
  • Gloss smudges are a quick toning service done at the end of your highlighting appointment
  • The toner for a gloss smudge is the same color as your natural or a bit darker and diffuses the lines the foils created in the hair
  • Gloss smudges give your highlights a soft, natural appearance that allows you to go longer between salon appointments