There are a lot of us colorists who believe that rules were meant for breaking. (uhm, me,lol)
I will say this, if you are the rule bender or rule breaker type of colorist, I am super OK with it, because I am the same way.
Here's a mantra that I live by when it comes to breaking some rules...
"you gotta KNOW the rules before you can BREAK the rules"
It's kind of like...jazz music.
Jazz breaks all of the traditional rules of music, but to be a great jazz player, you MUST know the rules so that you can break them masterfully and artfully.
I want to go over a few UNIVERSAL rules when it comes to hair color, and my "opinion" of said rules.
I have a feeling I will make a part 2 in the near future, but lets start with these for now:
1. COLOR DOESN'T LIFT COLOR.
How many times have you heard this before?
But have you tried it?
Here's the thing..color won't LIFT color, but it sure as hell will shift it. The results are often unpredictable which is why this is a "token word of advice" in the industry.
When you understand the roles of alkalinity and developer, it makes sense that color (in high levels) along with higher developers CAN in fact shift color.
Ends are muddy? Use color to shift it.
Blondes looking dingy from too much purple shampoo or toner? Color can shift it.
Have a stubborn direct dye? Try highlight color to shift it.
So, CAN color lift color?
I suppose that's up for debate.
My advice is this: try it. Don't assume you are going to get a predictable result but if you are looking to shift some pigment out, you may find some success.
2. DAMAGED HAIR WILL ALWAYS HOLD ON TO ASH.
Damaged hair is typically very porous and porous hair does not like to hold onto warmth. The structure of the hair just doesn't support artificial warmth from the tube or a bottle. Be mindful when working on damaged hair, no matter what, KNOW that it will reject yellow and red dyes and hold on to blue and violet. When formulating for porous hair, especially with an ASH based color, always always add warmth if you want the color to be shiny and reflective. If you don't, you're likely going to end up with drab and matte results.
3. ALL HAIR LIFTS WARM.
It is actually impossible for hair to lift cool. All hair will always lift warm. The degree of warmth will vary based on natural level and texture of the hair. Knowing which type of melanin they have more of will also help you in knowing the degree of warmth that is to be expected. But always always always expect warmth!
4. WHEN DARKENING HAIR MORE THAN 2 LEVELS, FILLING IS A MUST.
This is a non negotiable for me. If you're dropping down 2 levels, fill the hair at least once. If you're dropping down 3-4 levels, you may need to fill twice. You MUST replace what the hair lost during the lightening process. There are a lot of color companies that state that you don't have to fill with their lines. I personally wouldn't risk it. What can happen if you don't fill? The results will be hollow and drab. The color will fade very rapidly. Think of your filler as an ANCHOR for your final color result to attach to. By filling the hair, you're ensuring that the color will be vibrant and rich AND ensuring that it will last.
5. LIGHTEN MORE THAN 2 LEVELS AND YOU WILL LOSE CONTROL OF THE WARMTH.
Hear me loud and clear: There is NO way to get a truly ASH tone when you're lightening hair more than 2 levels. A warm- neutral AT best is what you can expect. If you're lightening 4 levels or more, it will ALWAYS always be warm. I don't care how much ash, drab, green, blue, blue green or whatever you put in your formula. IT CAN ONLY BE WARM. This is a fundamental LAW of hair.
To create a TRUE ash color, especially when working on natural levels 1-4, you have to double process. Pre lighten past orange, and tone down to ASH.
6. ASH COLORS PLAY TRICKS ON YOUR EYES
Ash colors will always APPEAR darker in levels 5 and below. They will also appear LIGHTER in levels 6 and above. WHY? Well, typically ash colors in levels 5 and below are formulated with more BLUE (to counteract undertones in level 1-5). Ash colors in levels 6 and above are formulated with more GREEN. Green has YELLOW (along with blue) and yellow tends to be more reflective and appear lighter.
7. HIGH LIFT BLONDES WILL ALWAYS BE WARM
Remember point #5? Lighten hair more than 2 levels and you lose control of warmth. High lifts expose a ton of undertone and usually don't have enough of a dye load in them to refine the warmth. The only exception to this is if you apply a high lift on a natural level 8+, fine hair client. MAYBE then could you achieve a neutral result..but never ashy.
Like I said, I will be making a part 2 of this in the future, I am sure of it. The purpose of this post was to cover some of the major rules and laws when it comes to hair and hair color...remember, we can only do what the hair will allow.
Here's to pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules....AFTER we've mastered them, of course!
Until next time,
Happy Hair Coloring