We’ve discussed haircolor tips for different hair textures and wave patterns, and dealt with the needs of various hair density levels when trying to color the hair, but these aren’t the only factors that govern what type
of haircoloring will look best or how the haircolor processing will work. Hair length can be a major player in any haircolor process – for a number of reasons. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s look at all-over color
and special-effects coloring separately.
First, the length of the hair can affect the processing time of all-over haircolor for very practical reasons. Long hair can present a challenge to get even color processing since the ends of the hair can be more porous than the portions of the hair nearer to the scalp and absorb the color more quickly allowing for faster development of the color. On the other hand, the portions at the scalp can process more rapidly as well
because of the warmth of the scalp. This leaves the middle lengths as the portion of the hair that takes longest to process. If not compensated for, the results can be haircolor that is darker
(or brighter) at the scalp and ends and less-so in the middle giving an uneven result.
To compensate for this, when coloring long hair, you should apply the haircolor to the hair starting about 2 inches from the scalp, and stopping about a third of the way from the end. Once the middle lengths are
covered, go back over the head and apply the color to the scalp (giving the mid-sections about 10 minutes head start to process) and to the ends. This should help to ensure an even color result.
As mentioned in the above paragraphs, short hair presents an issue in haircolor processing because very short lengths mean the hair is going to rest against the scalp, which can dramatically speed processing times,
which is significant when using high-lift color or a bleaching process. You want to make certain that all the hair lays flat against the scalp, when the color mix is applied, so that the temperature remains
consistent. You generally want to wrap the hair in plastic or use a cap.
Otherwise, if the hair is plied with color mix, and is standing away from the scalp as it processes, the ends of the hair will be cooler than the portions at the scalp, and will process more slowly. This means the
end result could be hair that is brighter (or darker) at the scalp than at the ends. It also means that in a lightening process, by the time the ends of the hair are properly lightened, the hair at the scalp could
be over-processed and damaged.
Special Effects Color Techniques
When doing special effects coloring, such as highlighting and low-lighting, the length of the hair is once again an important consideration. There are specific techniques that are best suited to certain lengths of
the hair, or layered versus blunt styles. The variations on these techniques are too numerous to make a comprehensive listing here, but there are some basics that can be adapted and should be mentioned.
Burnishing the Hair
When you want to add a hint of color to really short hair styles, most of the traditional effects techniques are unsuitable. When the hair drops below a certain length, the use of foils, or highlighting caps is
impractical, and yet, even those who prefer shorter hair would be served well by the application of color in some measure. That’s were a technique called burnishing comes in handy.
The dry, short hair is combed so that the hairs stand as straight as possible (perhaps blow-dried to create the desired configuration). Next, a haircolor mixture (or bleaching mix) is made and painted onto a sheet
of foil or waxed paper. The paper is then held so that the mixture-painted side can be rubbed along the tips of the hair in a back and forth motion. In many ways, the way you would buff a pair of shoes being shined.
The mix is allowed to process and the color results in a “halo” effect. The technique is great for giving a “sun-kissed” look to the hair, or to add a glow of color to the overall look of the hair.
When looking to add color effects to long, blunt-cut hairstyles, one option that can be useful is “peek-a-boo panels” of lightened hair or bold color. When the hair is styled to hang down normally, the color panels
are unnoticeable and may simply “peek” from beneath the surface as the hair moves.
The benefits of this is that the hair can be worn in a conservative fashion where appropriate, and still allow for styling to reveal the individuality that is desired. The technique involves taking the hair and
lifting the upper layers and securing them out of the way. Then “panels” are isolated in the lower sections of the hair and plied with the desired color mix. Once processed, the result is panels of color that are
concealed between layers of unaltered hair.