How to Blend the Line of Demarcation in Hair


head showing demarcation blonde
Source: Chernishev Maksim |

Everyone has seen a line of demarcation before — whether it’s in your hair or if you’re a stylist who has had a client come to you with a lot of grow out. Demarcation can happen when color-treated hair that starts at the root grows out as time goes on. And they can either be noticeable or more subtle depending on the coloring or lightening technique used.

If you’re looking for more ways to blend the line of demarcation for your clients or looking for more information on what your hairstylist may need to do to refresh your hairstyle, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we will show you various ways and techniques to blend the line of demarcation in the hair by using demi-permanent hair color and other methods to enhance your client’s look.

head showing dark demarcation
Source: Olena Yakobchuk |

What Is a Line of Demarcation?

A line of demarcation occurs when hair grows. The line of demarcation is usually the contrast between new hair growth and previously colored hair. The differentiation will usually appear if the roots are lighter or darker than the colored hair. The difference in hair colors can be pretty stark, but depending on the client’s base color, it’s possible that the difference could be more subtle.

The line of demarcation can show up a few weeks after hair has been colored or take more than a month. It all depends on how fast a client’s hair grows.

As hair grows, you can expect that clients will want to come in to get their hair blended or get their roots touched up.

How to Blend the Line of Demarcation in Hair

There are various ways to blend the line of demarcation in hair. Here are some of our favorite tried and true methods.

  1. Use Demi-Permanent Hair Color to Diffuse

If your client has a small amount of grow out and there is a stark difference between the colored hair and their roots, you can use demi-permanent hair color from trusted brands like Schwarzkopf Professional to diffuse the harsh demarcation. This is an excellent method to use if your client has a balayage or thin highlights that were started close to the root but wants a more lived-in look that’s less maintenance. When using this method, try sticking to a color close to your client’s roots. You will overlap the colored hair by a quarter of an inch.

  1. Blend with Balayage or Highlights

If your client has dark roots but had their hair lightened, their line of demarcation will probably be very apparent. If the client wants to maintain a lightened look that’s more natural, you can color correct to achieve the desired lightness and then paint in new highlights to blend the line of demarcation.

  1. Backcomb and Paint

To blur a harsh line of demarcation between naturally dark roots and previously-lightened hair, you can backcomb hair strands and then paint lightener onto the portion of the hair that hasn’t been backcombed.

  1. Root Smudge

If your client doesn’t have too much grow out, you can easily blur and soften that line of demarcation by applying a color close to the client’s natural base and smudging it into the line of demarcation. This diffuses the line and gives the hair a naturally lived-in look. When selecting a color, try to stay within two shades of the client’s natural color to avoid creating another line of demarcation when the hair eventually grows out.

long hair balayage
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  1. Dry Brushing

If you’re adding highlights to a client’s hair, you can diffuse the line of demarcation by using a dry brush to lightly move the lightener from the highlighted strands up a little higher. This technique will blur the line of demarcation and give highlights a painted and more natural look.


We hope you can add these techniques to your skillset to give your clients a more natural look when they experience grow out. Learning how to master the root smudge and other methods like it is a great skill because they can preserve a client’s hairstyle. If your client only wants to come in once a year for highlights or an all-over color, being able to diffuse and blend the line of demarcation can reduce the level of maintenance needed to keep the style looking fresh.


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