How to change hair color in Photoshop

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Beauty enhancement is one of the most demanded topics in Adobe Photoshop editing. From changing the background of a picture to removing blemishes and furthermore, how to achieve such adjustments like changing the hair color of a subject we took a photo. Today we are going to learn how to ace this effect in a very quick and efficient way, so I invite you to follow up this guide on how to change hair color in Photoshop.

Important things to consider prior adjusting hair color

First of all, you need to have some basic knowledge of Photoshop if you plan to succeed while applying this effect. There are no hidden magical tricks in here, just to know how to use the tools properly and most of all, how to create good selections.

Secondly, hair must vary within a preset range of values or the effect won’t look natural. Unless it’s your aim to change people’s hair to look like radioactive green, don’t go for such tints. Try to take a look at most common hair dye tonalities if your aim is to get a professional result with this adjustment.

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Highlights and shadows have different hues, which means that fully “painting” the hair with only one tint is really going to look nasty and completely unprofessional. Keep in mind what kind of effect the sun may apply to the color you want to dye the hair and you’ll get the tint for the Highlights as well as shadows.

Going from bright colors to dark tints is way easier than the opposite case, and even if you don’t believe it, skin color also plays a role within this theory. A proper balance of all these factors will establish how good you are into creating a catchy hair color change in Photoshop.

Effect procedure

Start by opening the image we want to edit in Photoshop.

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Instead of losing time making a selection with the Magic Wand tool, which may result in inaccurate selections for such complicated topic as hair let’s work with another method using the Hue/Saturation options.

After opening your image in Photoshop, click the Adjustment Layer icon and go for Hue/Saturation. Some users may say this work best with Selective Color; in my case, since I’m working with Photoshop CC 2015 certain updates in tool make quite frustrating to achieve the effect only with Selective Color, as it will affect the whole picture instead of just the hair. Better stick to this old but reliable method rather than losing time without achieving the effect.

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Switch from Master to Reds and with the first Dropper tool sample at the hair of this woman. Then, reduce the Saturation slider towards zero as well as reducing the Lightness slider. The result will be like this.

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Now we need to mask the areas where we don’t want the effect to be applied. Work your way with care masking everything but the hair, even the background.

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For areas where the hair meets with the skin as well as the eyebrows it’s best to zoom in, work with a tiny brush size and if you happen to work with a Wacom tablet (which is best), do activate the Pressure option of the brush to control with more ease the pressure applied to the brush affecting the brush stroke.

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Add a Curves adjustment layer and copy the layer mask by dragging it to the new adjustment layer while holding the Alt (Option on Mac) button. Work with an adjustment similar to the curve I did.

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Finally, add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer whilst applying the same layer mask and use these values to bring more life to the hair.

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Here is our final result. In my opinion looks pretty convincing if we compare it to the original file.

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In case you want to go to a good looking red hair, you can emulate the effect only by turning off the Hue/Saturation layer and voilà!

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Remember that you can always apply the Colorize box at the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer if your intent is to change the hue of the hair. Practice will make you ace this skill in only a few minutes.

Thanks for reading this guide and keep editing!

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