Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Hair Color Theory

Q: I am having difficulty with figuring out what else to use when I run out of a particular color. I am new in a salon and really need some advice. I'm not sure of when I can use a neutral, warm or cool. Is there anything I can get to figure this out so I'm not stumped in the back room?
A: Well, it sounds like you need some simple reminders of your color theory. The color palette runs to cool or warm colors. Colors that have a red, yellow and orange base pigmentation are considered warm, while those with blue, green, and violet bases are considered cool.
hair dye swatches If you run out of a particular color, you should look for colors that will correspond to the factors of the color you wish to match. Hair color has a base pigment and a lightness level. If you are using an ash blonde color that is a level 7 with a base pigment of green (or drab) and when you run out of the particular color, you should be able to use a level 7 color that has a blue base and a level 7 color that has a yellow (or gold) base in equal parts to create a color that will serve you well. Just remember that you combine the color in equal parts, THEN combine equal parts of the color mix with developer.
My advice is to get yourself some blank swatches from your beauty supply store (they can order them if they don't have them in stock - or you can shop online). These are hair swatches that have already been lifted of the natural color and are ready to have color applied so that you get an idea of how the color will look after such high-lift processing. They are necessary because they already have removed all traces of the hair's natural pigment.
After you get your swatches, get yourself a selection of haircolor of the same color level. Get one of each pigment base color that you can find, and bottle of 10-volume developer. Make sure to use the same brand of haircolor you use in the salon, as manufacturer's formulas can vary distinctly.
Then, you simply should do some testing to mix and match the appropriate pigment bases and try to match the one of the other colors. For instance: do a swatch with a color that has base orange, and try to duplicate the color by mixing red and gold bases.
The thing to remember is that while there is a scientific theory and formula involved, color work is an ART, and as such requires some instinct. What you will do with these tests is to hone your instinct. Then, once you feel comfortable with your blending base pigments, you can try working on your lightness-level matching.
In lightness level matching, you should remember that you can combine different lightness levels and divide by the number of parts. For example: if you need a level 5 color, but only have level 4 and level 7 color of the right pigment base, you can use two parts of level 4, plus one part of level 7 and get a level 5. {4+4+7= 15, divided by 3 parts = 5).
I hope this helps you to understand things better.
Related posts:
How to color hair
Cool and warm hair colors explained
The 10 hair color levels