Subtle Lightening on Dark Hair Color

by | Feb 5, 2016 | Salon, Style, Style Video, tips, Uncategorized, Video

If your client wants to lighten her dark, artificially colored hair, talk to her about highlights.  They might be thinking they want an all-over color and/or have had disastrous results in the past.  If they haven’t had a nice subtle highlight before they might think you are talking about putting blonde stripes in their dark hair.  Assure them you won’t give her really light highlights and because of that they will blend nicely with her dark hair to give an overall softer look.  AND you can do it without it looking brassy.

What she had:

She had a level 2 neutral (almost black) artificially colored hair with 3/4 inch of natural outgrowth (natural 2.5 with 5% gray)

What she wanted:

Something lighter and softer without brassiness.

What I did:

  • Retouched her outgrowth all over at the roots with permanent level 3 neutral to cover her level 2.5 (2 1/2)natural blended with 5% gray with a slightly lighter color than she had on mid-shaft.  (this only works if you are going to blend with highlights).
  • Then highlighted right over the retouched color and all the way out to the ends.  I weaved a LOT of fine pieces with 35volume with bleach as quickly as possible.  I remixed more bleach for the back when I got to that.
  • Put her under a little heat for about 5 min around the 20 minute mark (after the entire head was woven) and then rinsed.
  • Toned her all over with semi-permanent ashy level 7.5 (7 1/2) for 25 minutes.
  • Round brush styled her for luxe finish.

Common mistakes:

Stylists don’t take time to really consult with clients about past experiences and what they are wanting.  You will often hear clues to what problems might have happened in the past or why they believe something that you know may not be true.  Magazines and stylists have passed along a lot of misinformation.  Also educating your client about what you know you can do and why it will be better.  But don’t use absolutes like, “always” or “never”.  Every head of hair is different and will react differently in every different condition.  Explain it’s a “process” and that you will work together through it.  Making them feel comfortable about you and what you are doing.  They are usually scared.  It’s understandable.  Let them know you know that, it’s ok and you’re on their team.

For this look you need to weave fine pieces to help you lift lighter.  Chunkier pieces are resistant to lifting because there will be hair in the middle of the chunky pieces that don’t lift.  Also, chunky can end up looking like stripes.  Fine pieces help you lift lighter than the target color you will eventually be toning to.  Doing this will help you eliminate the remaining warmth (brass).

A lot of stylists rinse toner off very quickly.  I believe if you are rinsing it quickly then you are using the wrong toner.  I understand time is money but if you don’t use the right color (and level) and processes it at least 15 to 20 minutes minimum, it’s going to fade out too fast.  I also think you will get a truer tone for a better looking color.  Plus it’s easier to duplicate when they come back in.

ALWAYS finish (style) your clients so they walk out looking and feeling amazing (even if they’re going home to do laundry.  Doing the laundry isn’t as bad when you look great.

This was the first time I met her or did her hair.  She posted this on social media later that week.  Happy clients are priceless!

and the right clients 🙂


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