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Hair Color > Articles > Ask Beth!
A Q&A For Color Pros
Lowlights, wimpy reds and hot roots. Any of these color conundrums ring a bell? If so, read on. Because BETH MINARDI, color pro and co-owner of MINARDI SALON in New York City, offers sensible, workable,

successful solutions-like always! Got more color questions on your mind? Send them to Beth c/o

And be sure to visit the BTC Bookstore to buy Beth's two great training products:


Dear Beth:
Can you recommend a great formula to produce beautiful, rich lowlights on a Level 6-7 without filling and without too much warmth? We use Shades EQ, Color Touch and Richesse.
On the Low Down

Dear Low Down:
Wella Color Touch offers wonderful options for lowlighting! You can simultaneously "fill" and "color" when using a non-ammonia, opaque, "no-lift" product like this. The new SEMI colors by Keune (although they are called semi-permanent they are indeed, demi-permanent colors), are also effective.
In order to fill and color at the same time, I often intermix a warm (golden-orange or gold - beige ) shade with a neutral blonde or neutral brown shade.
For example, when using Wella Color Touch, one of my favorite rich brown lowlighting formulas is 1 1/2-oz. 4/77 mixed with 1/2-oz. 5/4 and the 1.9% Emulsion. A wonderful deep blonde formula for lowlights consists of 1 3/4-oz. 6/77 mixed with 1/4-oz. 7/43 and 1.9% Emulsion.
When working with the Keune SEMI colors, I like to use equal parts of the 4.0 and 5.3. These are mixed with Keune SEMI Developer.
Lowlights, in my opinion, should be done with a creamy "no-lift" formula-opaque, not translucent -- and should include a brown-based or neutral-based color with a warm (usually golden-orange) shade. As a rule of thumb: The more porous the hair, the higher the percentage of warm shade you should use when formulating. That's because porous hair nearly always develops dark and drab. Do yourself a favor by preventing these undesirable results by intermixing the warm -- and the neutral -- or brown-based colors.

Dear Beth:

I have two questions. First, please explain to me why the color red fades more quickly than other shades. Also, can you tell me how to explain to my clients why professional salon shampoos and conditioners are better than what they purchase in a drugstore?
Two for One

Dear Two:
First, while reds may be a bit more fragile than other shades , I feel the old "red fades fastest" complaint is not as valid today as it was in the past.
That's because we have wonderful new red shades to work with -- both in the permanent and demi-permanent categories. We no longer have to lift the hair many levels in order to create visible red tones because we now work with richer, better red dyes.
I do, however, find that many colorists mis-formulate or mis-apply their color formulas. For red retouches on the scalp area, I tell my students to use 20-volume developer when working with permanent hair color formulas. Apply the color formula using very fine,
even partings, and apply the color evenly and thoroughly to the scalp area.
You may want to employ my "apply then brush-in" technique to assure proper product penetration. Process the color at the regrowth for the full time recommended by the manufacturer, at room temperature, unless the color manufacturer recommends differently. Then refresh the red hair shaft with an acidic, no-lift formula for the last 10 or 15 minutes of development time.
Be sure to use the proper "after color" shampoo and conditioner at the sink in your salon and take care to recommend the correct at-home hair care regime. I usually recommend a moisturizing shampoo, and I also custom-blend an effective color-refreshing shampoo in a red shade for use every third or fourth time the client washes her hair. Of course the client should apply a lightweight, finishing-rinse type of conditioner after each and every shampoo.
Should your salon-created redhead be permed or relaxed, you may also want to recommend additional, between-appointment color boosters like color enhancing moisturizers.
It goes without saying that sun worshippers -- or clients living where water is "hard" or treated with numerous chemicals -- will have more difficulty maintaining great red (or any color!) hair. Recommend that they purchase a water clarifying appliance which they can attach to the shower. Or, tell them they need to move!
Now, regarding salon hair care products! The very best reason a client should consider them is because they come with YOUR PROFESSIONAL RECOMMENDATION! Your knowledge of their specific performance is what makes them so important. And, let's face it; our industry now has terrific hair care formulas which will keep color treated hair looking better, longer than it ever has. Keep in mind that well-cared-for redheads fade slower. Guarantee your clients that your reds will look wonderful for four weeks, and "almost" wonderful for the next two weeks, for a total of six weeks, No color looks salon-fresh after six weeks. That's when it's time for a professional retouch.

Dear Beth:
How do I obtain a rich Level 4-5 auburn without " hot" roots when my client has white hair? My salon uses Schwarzkopf color.
Hot Stuff

Dear Hot:
Creating a great auburn on white hair isn't difficult. It is, however, time consuming and
labor-intensive. The product which creates a wonderful Level 4 or 5 auburn on pigmented (not grey) hair, can often create a "Ronald McDonald" effect on clients with white, or predominantly white hair.
Here's what to do. Think of the white regrowth as one situation. Think of refreshing the faded auburn ends as a completely different situation.
Let's first address the white roots. Just last week, I was presented with the exact same
situation at my salon. I first prepared the white hair to accept a Level 5 auburn shade by
pre-treating it with a permanent haircolor formula consisting of 1 ?-oz. 7N mixed with ?-oz. 5GO(gold-orange) and 2-oz. 20 volume developer.
I placed the formula into an applicator bottle, mixed thoroughly and applied it to the white regrowth area. I took very fine, even sections; making certain that every hair was covered. During the next 25 minutes, the hair was left in contact with the product, without heat. About every l0 minutes, we "cross-checked' the hair -- parting it off with the tip of the tint brush and making sure every inch of the scalp area was completely covered with the color formula. If we saw "dry spots," we used the brush to bring product in contact with the uncovered hair. After 30 minutes, we had a nice warm/neutral shade at the regrowth area. We thoroughly rinsed the hair and dried it.
Next I applied the following permanent auburn formula: 1-oz. 4GR mixed with 1-oz. 5GB and 2-oz. 20-volume developer. Again, we applied the formula to the regrowth, which was no longer white, but a neutral/warm tan. In my experience, I have observed that this second formula develops to a wonderful auburn in about 30 minutes.
After 20 minutes had elapsed, I applied a sheer, acidic demi-permanent formula to the
faded hair shaft. I used a Level 8 warm golden mixed in equal proportion with a Level 7 copper. These shades are mixed with their own very low volume developer. After 10 minutes, this acidic formula effectively restored the faded ends to a rich, believable auburn.
I am sure that this "pre-treat before you color" approach will be a big success for you. When you become proficient using this strategy, there may be times when you can blend some of the neutral pre-treatment shade into your final formula -- thus omitting one step. But be aware that this works best on hair that has lower percentages of white pigment and/or is finer than

On Paper Keyword: minardi


Beth Minardi's new DVD is called ADVANCED COLOR CONCEPTS WITH BETH MINARDI -($149.95)
It demonstrates five diverse color techniques, including dimensional coloring on relaxed hair, pre-bleaching and toning, removing black dye, conversion from single process blonde to tone-on-tone blonde and color corrections!


Learn exactly how Beth Minardi achieves her extremely red results. The book includes 11 of her favorite red formulas, including: infusing all over red into natural brown; transforming blonde into red; and vibrant red hair color on virgin black, dark brown & previously colored hair.

For more information on Beth's classes and special educational opportunities go to the

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