Q: I am a stylist and have been coloring a client's dark brown hair every 4 weeks a level 3. She is a natural level 3 and is
really getting a lot more gray-white hair that is difficult to cover. She wants to gradually go lighter with highlights but I feel it
is too stark of a contrast. Usually you cannot get past an orange stage with just a few levels of lift on a natural Level 3, and
going too far will end up too light and the gray will not cover anyway at that level. What do you recommend I do?
A: Well, it is usually a good idea for a client to go lighter with their haircolor as they get older. Doing so helps to lessen the
appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, giving a softer, younger appearance.
As for the use of highlights, this is always a plus in trying to make a gradual color change.
However, since her base color is a dark (level 3) brown you want to keep the highlights fairly dark as well (around level 5-6). This
will allow you to gradually bring the hair color up to a lighter shade as you re-highlight the hair on a schedule, or you can
maintain the current base color and lighten according to the client’s wishes.
The client’s hard-to-color gray is a separate issue. You may find that you need to “pre-soften”
the gray hair before coloring it (use a clarifying shampoo, followed by application of 10-volume peroxide for 10-15 minutes, rinse
thoroughly, then color as desired). Or, you can contact your beauty supply shop/company and ask about a product called “Gray Magic”
which is an additive you put into your haircolor mixture before applying it to gray hair to help the color penetrate hard-to-color
gray. I have used this with much success.
And if you have any “orange” results in lightening the hair for the highlighting process, you
can always use a toner with a blue color base to neutralize the orange tones. For best results, use a color at least 2-3 levels
lighter than the color you are toning and one which has a blue base color. If you know that the highlight color is likely to cause
orange results, use a blue-based color from the start.