"As I begin every class, I tell students that I am aware most of them are successful professionals," Beth says. "If they are completely happy with the results they currently obtain, or if they are committed to methods they enjoy using, I applaud their situation. I share information and formulas I use successfully as a colorist and as a color teacher. Like any good colorist, I have very strong opinions regarding what works and what doesn't. It's critical to know what works best because every good business person knows that client 'adjustments' are inconvenient, frustrating and profit-reducing."
Formulate With Care
One of Beth's "golden rules" regards formulation. She says, "While color application is not technically difficult, proper formulation to produce the desired result is not always a snap." Professional blonding, notes Beth, is an art form…one that can bring you great artistic and financial reward!
So how do you perfect the art of blonding? "Good colorists are critical thinkers…and critical shoppers," says Beth. "We should make every attempt to carefully consider manufacturer claims like 'lifts four levels in a single process' or 'this lightener safe for use on permed, relaxed and chemically-treated hair.' A sophisticated colorist knows the refined difference between hair that is blonde and hair that is 'yellow.' For light hair to be beautiful, it must reflect a 'finished' tone that complements the wearer's skin and eye colors."
Double Process Dos and Don'ts
Beth regrets that the art of two process blonding is becoming lost. Why? "Because few of us were properly trained to do this time-consuming, precise and artistic form of hair coloring," she says. "Many colorists think 'two-process' blonde means that the hair is first colored with a blonde shade of permanent color. Next the resulting 'blonde' base is highlighted with a lightener."
In actuality, Beth defines "double process" as the following two steps:
1. Pre-lightening of brown hair to a yellow or pale yellow stage.
2. Toning the pre-lightened hair to a final blonde shade.
Beth is adamant about the fact that double process blonding is the only guaranteed method to achieving a balanced, rich, blonde result on Level 4 (light brown) color or deeper. "Although many colorists use a high lift 'single process' permanent haircolor formula to create blonde results," she notes, "this ineffective method often results in an unattractive, 'school bus yellow,' golden-orange brassy result. Why? Because even the most effective high-lift blonde formulas do not thoroughly remove the underlying warm (orange and gold) pigment present in most natural darker hair. Some colorists think that use of a 40-volume developer and a high-lift shade equal that of a lightener -- and this is a mistake."
Regarding the first step-pre-lightening-Beth returns to the beauty basics. She explains, "Traditional oil-based hair lighteners have been successfully used for 50 years by blonding artists who want maximum control when lightening darker/warmer
natural hair color. Let's face it. Professional lighteners were created to do one thing: lift dark hair to light by diffusing natural melanin present in the hair's cortex. Oil-based lighteners are generally intermixed with 20-volume developer and one or more lightening activators -- many of which contain ammonium persulfate. It is the ammonium persulfate that works with the peroxide and lightener to remove (rather than minimize) the unwanted orange and canary yellow pigment in the hair. Although most oil-based lighteners continue lightening the hair over a two hour period, most work effectively during the first hour. After one hour, the lightening action continues -- but at a much less rapid rate.
"Very dark hair sometimes requires reapplication of the lightener to assure sufficient decolorization. This careful reapplication separates the superior colorist from the ordinary."
Another key to success is meticulous application. "Modern blonding artists agree that meticulous application of lightener insures uniform, consistent lightening of the hair," Beth explains. "As our beauty school textbooks advised, section the hair into one-eighth-inch sections as the lightener is applied. This fine sectioning permits each strand to be completely coated with the lightening formula. This procedure is time consuming. It requires persistence, patience, professional pride and concentration.
"To create the most luscious pastel blonde tones, the hair must be prelightened to yellow or pale yellow…never to white, which removes the cuticle from the hair and causes hair to fall off of the head! And rarely to gold, which can result in a phone call several days after the appointment requesting a 'redo' because the hair is 'brassy!'"
After the hair has been sufficiently and evenly lightened, rinse completely. Then shampoo and condition. Modern technology makes gentle cleansing and conditioning easier than ever. "Today's moisturizing and strengthening treatments are fabulous additions to any dispensary," notes Beth. "They do wonders for blonded hair and should be used after each and every blonding service."
Once prelightened hair has been shampooed and conditioned, dry it completely and prepare to apply the final toner. This step is essential because sheer toners infuse balanced, "finished-looking" blonde hue into the hair.
What's the best toning choice? "At Minardi Salon, we use only lower-pH, non-ammonia demi-permanent products as toners on pre-lightened hair," says Beth. "These wonderful products provide great color. Because they are acidic, they close the cuticle, keep the hair strong and maximize combability and silky texture.
"I like to apply toners to the scalp area first, then I spread the formula up the hair shaft about one-third of the way and process for anywhere from five to 12 minutes. Next, I work the remaining toner formula evenly through the remainder of the hair shaft, and process from four to 10 more minutes at room temp. Shampoo and condition and…tah, dah! Another successful blonding story!"