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Hair Color > Articles > Ask BETH! All About Lightening

All About Lightening

Lifting is hard work—just ask body builders and Wonderbras.  But without a doubt, the toughest lifting jobs fall to colorists.  Bleach or high-lift?  Regrowth vs. tinted hair.  The perils of brassy results. The wrong decisions can lead to hair heartbreak—the right choices earn you solid color cred. This month, Beth Minardi leads us to the light with some smart advice on the subject that every color pro must master. 

Dear Beth:
When highlighting Level 6 and higher, when do you use a high lift color and when do you use bleach? I understand that color doesn’t lift color, but what about lifting virgin hair and touching up regrowth?—Light Source

Dear Light:
If hair is Level 6 (dark blonde) or lighter, and if the eyes are blue, cool green or grey, the client will probably make a very good single process blonde, provided she has less than 20% grey hair. In this case, you may use a permanent hair color formula of Level 8 or lighter.  Remember, high lift shades were not intended for use as products for grey coverage. If the client is Level 5 (lightest brown) or darker and/or, if she has orange-toned freckles, brown eyes, hazel eyes or warm green eyes, she will probably lift well, but appear brassy.  In this case, I would recommend pre-lightening and then toning the hair.

Dear Beth
My client is a natural Level 5 with full bleached highlights. She decided she wanted to be honey brown with blonde highlights around her face. I used Matrix SoColor 7W + 20-Volume at her base and Color Sync 8WN on her ends. The color is pretty but she hates it!  She says it looks bright red!  What can I do to give her the color she wants?—Not Seeing Red

Dear Not Seeing:
I’m sure the color is very pretty and I’m sure it is not red.  But if there was a haircolor “Bible” it would be written:  “Thou shall be careful when warming up a blonde because the client will think her hair is bright red." The fact is that applying color "all over" and
at one time when doing a color conversion on a blonde usually results in client dissatisfaction.
You will have to re-highlight this hair. First, I think you should apply a stain minimizer like Get Pure by L'Avant Garde, Liquid Uncolor by Clairol or Pre-Art by Redken. Then, shampoo, condition and dry the hair. Using lightener, begin highlighting the entire head of hair. To keep hair in good condition, apply my Minardi Pre-Wash Treatment for color-treated hair to all of the hair in between the foils. This will restore water, protein, and lipids to the hair, keeping it strong and shiny. When the foils reach a golden-yellow stage, rinse, shampoo and condition the hair.  Do not attempt to lighten this hair to white. If you do, you will have breakage issues.
This is all you should do during the first appointment. The client will see far less warmth (red), and she will feel blonde again. 

Dear Beth:
My client is a natural Level 7. I foil her with Redken Blonde Dimensions and I color her roots with Redken Color Fusion ½-oz 10N + ½-oz 10AB + ½-oz 8T + 20-Volume. I feel her roots are too gold. What would you use to achieve a cooler, more natural-looking blonde? –Too Many Goldi-locks

Dear Goldi-locks:

If your client is Level 5 or deeper, the formula you are using is providing too much lift and the natural golden/orange undertones of the hair are being exposed.
If this client came to Minardi Salon, I'd try mixing equal parts of Redken Color Fusion 7NN with 8T and 20-Volume Pro-Oxide. Apply this to the root area in tiny sections. Do not bring this lifting formula onto the previously colored hair shaft. Process at room temperature for 45 minutes. I think you will like the slightly deeper, yet remarkably cooler and more balanced color results.

Dear Beth:
My new client is a natural Level 7. She is now a Level 8 with highlights throughout the crown area. Her hair is very gold, which she does not want, and she does not want to keep getting “all-over” color. She has asked for a beige blonde with some darker tones and would like her color to look very natural. How should I proceed?—First Impressions

Dear First:
If this client came to Minardi Salon, I would stop lifting her roots. Instead, I would turn her into a very heavily highlighted client. Natural blonde hair almost always lifts to a golden tone. So, I would introduce some deeper, creamy/beige lowlights into her hair to start blending away the brassy color. Additionally, I would weave new highlights around the face and part lines and throughout the crown area. This should look terrific and allow the client to come in a bit less frequently, and it won’t produce an unwanted, brassy base color.

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