Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

High-Lift Color

Q: I am a Cosmetologist but I just graduated and I'm having to learn things the hard way. I have a client that is naturally between level 4 and 5 but she has been a blonde for a very long time. I was told by her previous hairstylist to use an 8AA to lift her new growth but everytime I do, it comes out orange... light but still orangish. (I've tried all volume developers and still the same ugly color). I normally just come with a lot of highlights to blend it in but it's getting to be too much work when I know there is a way I can get it to the blonde we are looking for.
I was wondering if a high-lift color would be better than the 8AA or what kind of toners can I use. ( I am not farmiliar with toners so referring brand would be good). Everytime I go to the supply house they never have a cosmetologist on site to tell me what can I do or inform me of what kind of toners I can use. Also, after about 2 weeks, her hair looks really brassy and dull... What can I do about that? One more thing... Should I be putting her under the dryer while proccesing? Will that make it blonder? Thanks so much.

A: Your problem is a common one. The problem stems from a high amount of red/orange contributing pigment in the natural haircolor. Hair bleaches and high-lift developers can vary the speed at which the hair lightens, but generally the problem of brassiness or “orange tones” must be treated by using a toner to counter the unwanted color results.
Both Matrix and ISO use ‘8AA’ as color indicators (codes indicating a particular shade of haircolor), specifically Light Soft Ash Blonde in this case. Ash tones are generally good for red based haircolors. (Which your client’s haircolor seems to be.) However, given that your haircolor results from lightening seem to be more orange than red, there may not be enough “ash” to counter the brassy results.
Let’s step back to basic hair color theory and look at the problem at hand. Starting from the level 4-5 color your client naturally has, I presume you are attempting to lighten the color to at least a level 8. This can be done with a high-lift color and developer combination, but is often easier using a two-stage bleaching and toning process. Combine the bleach with a developer, apply it to the new growth and process it until the hair is as light as you want it to be. Then, use a haircolor of the level you want with a blue or blue-violet base color to counteract the orange tones in the lightened hair.
Given that you don’t seem to be having a problem with the hair in the lightening stage, you should consider a second application of a blue-based color using a 10-volume developer to counter the orange tone. And for the problem of brassiness as the color wears on, two things come to mind:
One: Be sure to remind the client to use a gentle shampoo and a moisture-rich conditioner and to rinse the conditioner using cool water to help keep the cuticle layer closed and the color sealed in. This will help reduce the fading that occurs and results in the brassiness.
Two: You might recommend that your client use an after-color hair care product such as “brilliant blonde” by John Freida, or Clairol’s “Golden Lights” to counter the brass that can occur as color fades. Both these products are intended to keep blonde hair shiny and glorious.
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