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Hair Color > Articles > Back to Blonde: Tips for Going Toward the Light

Back to Blonde:
Tips for Going Toward the Light

By: Angie Manson

Amy Winehouse may have gone “Back to Black” but in the world of salon haircolor, it’s far more typical to go back to blonde!  Sure your client might toy with a deeper brunette or brighter red hue, but if she’s a fair-haired gal at heart, the day will come when she asks her to restore her high-level hue.  And as most colorists know, that process can be tough on strands…and on your patience!  Here are some tips to help you get the job done…without compromising hair integrity. 

NAHA winner and Goldwell North American Guest Artist John Simpson cites Scarlett Johansson as an example.  The former bombshell’s hair is currently a crisp, sexy dark brown, he says, but without a doubt, she’ll be blonde again.  His advise for similar clients?  “Think about the color before grabbing for the bleach!” 

First, here’s Simpson’s suggested brunette formula:
Step 1: Apply Goldwell colorglow[IQ] Structure Equalizer Spray to a clean canvas.
Step 2: Use the Goldwell Pre-Pigmentation System with two parts water and one part mixture of copper and red. (When applying the pre pigmentation, the hair should be dry to the touch to ensure proper penetration of base color).
Step 3: Apply detail slices through the interior of the hair to add dimensional effect using Goldwell Topchic 15 mls 5BG + 10 mls 6SB + 5 mls 4G, with 30 mls 10-volume developer.
Step 4: To the new hair growth and midshaft, apply Goldwell Topchic 30 mls 5BG + 5 mls 5MB + 5 mls 5K with 40 mls 20-volume developer. Then apply the same formula with 10-volume developer to the ends.
Step 5: Process and shampoo with colorglow[IQ] Post Color Shampoo . Apply a glaze of Goldwell Colorance 40 mls Colorance Lotion + 15mls 7SB + 5 mls 7GB to seal and enhance reflection. Process for 15 minutes, then rinse and apply Goldwell colorglow[IQ] Color Serum.

Now, go “back to blonde” with this formula:
Step 1: Prepare hair with Goldwell colorglow[IQ] Pre-Color Shampoo and place under moderate heat while you prepare your decolorizer. 
Step 2: Apply Goldwell System Color Remover for 20-30 minutes, then massage the oxidative pigments with your fingers and shampoo, towel dry hair and apply a gentle blonding wash with 20 mls 20-volume + 10 mls Deep Cleansing Shampoo +10 mls distilled water and one scoop of Oxycur Platin Ultra.
Step 3: Massage the formula through the midshafts and ends until you achieve the preferred lightness and the pigments have been reduced.
Step 4:  Apply a standard highlight pattern, using the following formula: Goldwell Silk Lift 35mls Silk Lift 20-volume + 1 scoop Silk Lift Gentle +1 Silk Lift ampule.  Apply the base shade to the hair between the foils: Goldwell Topchic 40 mls 30-volume developer +15 mls 11A + 5 mls 8GB. 
Step 5: Process, shampoo with Goldwell Goldwell colorglow[IQ] Post Color Shampoo and glaze with Goldwell Colorance 40mls Colorance Lotion + 20mls 10GN.
Step 6: Rinse, then apply Goldwell colorglow[IQ] Full Blond Serum.

Beth Minardi, BTC Education Director and owner of Minardi Salon in NYC, fields questions constantly from colorists around the country. In this case, she explains how you can take a client who’s been darkened to a Level 5 with permanent color back to a Level 7 medium blonde. First off, she recommends using a no-lift, demi-permanent color when darkening natural hair color rather than using a permanent color. If the hair is deepened with permanent color, removing the dark color as you return your client to blonde will place the hair under undue stress.  Plus, the previously colored portions of the hair will not lighten effectively to blonde.  Instead, they will probably lighten to a golden-orange before becoming very dry, damaged and brittle.

Here’s Beth’s “back to blonde” how-to:
Appointment 1
Step 1: Use a clarifying shampoo like Get Pure, Clairol Liquid Uncolor, Malibu 2000 or Redken Pre-Art. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and rinse the hair thoroughly. 
Step 2: Apply Minardi Hydrating After-Wash for Color-Treated Hair and process for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry the hair. At this point, you may see that the hair is slightly lighter and more reflective and that it feels great.
Step 3: Begin sectioning the hair into tiny sections of highlights. Start at the face frame and crown, and wrap the foils very close together.  Check the foils periodically to see how the hair is lifting.
Note: During the first, "transition" appointment, only wrap the face frame areas and the crown.  Then process the hair to a yellow/pale yellow stage and shampoo and condition.  As a final strengthener for lightened hair, use Kerastase Vita Ciment.

Appointment 2 (four weeks later)
Begin wrapping the blonde strands through the back of the head, then retouch the face frame area, attempting to pick up new strands of hair which were not previously lightened. 
Note: Repeat this every four weeks until a very high percentage of the hair lengths are lightened to blonde. 

After a few months, apply a shade of permanent blonde hair color to the hair near the scalp.  On hair which is a natural Level 5, (lightest brown), use Redken Color Fusion: 1-oz. 8Ab + 1-oz. 10N + 2-oz. 20-volume developer.  Apply this formula to the regrowth area and process at room temperature for a full 45 minutes. Re-apply this formula to the regrowth area every four or five weeks and omit the hair shaft. 
This is where things get tough. Even though celebs like Lindsay Lohan seem to transition easily from red to platinum blonde in a matter of hours, it simply cannot be done in a single process, or even several processes, says Minardi. “Going from red to blonde is very, very tough,” she warns. “Usually, the blonde strands in the hair we see on celebrities like Lindsay Lohan are placed via application of extensions. This is not ‘bleached’ hair and only the tiny sections around the face are blonded via application of bleach.” She says that Lohan’s red hair color was likely minimized with a light, non-ammonia ash toner and her face-framing pieces were highlighted. “Her hair would’ve been deeply conditioned and flat ironed and she probably sat for about six hours to have blonde extensions applied to her hair.”

If your client comes to the salon wanting to transition from a deep red to a platinum blonde a la LiLo, advise her that it simply cannot be achieved in one sitting. Red hair can only be minimized and blonde 'bits' can be applied little by little. “Haircolor can do a lot, but it has its limits, and that’s the unfortunate truth,” Minardi says.


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