Color drama du jour

February 14, 2008

Today is Valentine’s Day and, coincidentally, the salon’s 17th anniversary. We always celebrate with champagne and chocolates. (Did you know you can live on champagne and chocolate for a day?) Today we also had a little corrective color drama.

Corrective color is the most difficult thing a professional haircolorist does. It requires a combination of skill, knowledge, critical thinking and sometimes luck. I like to think that my success in this arena is due more to my critical thinking than to any other aspect. Sometimes you have to spend a few minutes thinking through your options before jumping into the project.

Here was the problem:


before 2

(I am bummed that the ashy-green doesn’t show in this photo. You will just have to take my word for it.)

The client had been getting highlights for many years. She was a blonde child. She asked the hairdresser to make her a little blonder. There are a number of ways the hairdresser could have done this. I can’t really tell you what happened (I am still racking my brain trying to figure it out!) but I can tell you the result.

Some of the hair was pale blonde. Some of the hair was ashy-green-muddy. Some of the hair was a soft tangerine. A few spots were her natural color. This was after the hairdresser tried to fix whatever had gone awry. I think (maybe) the hairdresser put in some lowlights and they turned out too dark, then panicked and tried to remove some of the dark in the shampoo bowl with a bleach wash and the solution got on the other (uncolored) hair.

For the record: I am not trashing the hairdresser or the salon. I believe they did their best and wanted the best for the client. The hairdresser was young and perhaps had not experienced very many mis-steps with color so when one occurred, she didn’t have a knowledge base to draw from for a solution.

What we did today did not solve the problem long-term, but it created a head of hair that the client could wear.

Here is what we did:

I knew we couldn’t use any more persulfate lightener on this hair and expect it to still be hair. We applied a sulfur based color remover (a very specialized product that is often tough to use and often does not produce the results we might like) to pull the ashy-green.

After completing the color remover process, we used a true semi-permanent color (direct dyes only, no developer) in a pale violet to even out the canvas. After applying this, we could more clearly see what areas were still too warm. We applied a demi-permanent (a mix of direct and indirect dyes with an activator) in a smoky tone to the orange-ish puddles and the same type of color in beige to the ends of the hair.

Because of the way the sulfur-based remover works, we knew that any developer might re-activate the color that we had attempted to remove, so there was much hovering and baby-sitting of this process. Some bits started to get too cool, so some beige was smushed onto those areas.

This process was followed by a deep conditioner and the client was sent home with some at-home deep treatment to use a couple of times a week. She was instructed that what we had done today was just the beginning of her journey back to her highlighted self. (She will need some serious high and low lights at a future date.)

Tonight she can go home and look in the mirror without tears.

after 1


Happy Valentine’s Day.


5 Responses to “Color drama du jour”

  1. Abby Says:

    Hi Aura,

    How come there are a bunch of large gray rectangles in the middle of your blog posts?

  2. Aura Mae Says:

    Is anyone except Abby having trouble? I assume the large grey rectangles she refers to are the photos. Let me know if you have trouble seeing them, too.

  3. Kjersti Says:

    No gray rectangles showing up here. I see the photos just fine.

  4. jessee Says:

    nice very nice. Very well played while respecting the hair. Do you mind my asking what is your sulphur haircolor remover of choice? The finished result looks great an nice mix of warmth, champagne and neutral blondes.

  5. Aura Mae Says:

    jessee, my friend, I was happy her hair was still attached to her head and not on the floor. This is certainly not the best example of miraculous color correction, but it is a great example of “enough.” We made it good enough that she could be seen in public and good enough to tide her over until she got some regrowth and we could have another go at it. I am a firm believer in “Slow and steady wins the race.” I would always rather be the tortise than the hare. Taking time to stop and thinknthings through decreses the chances of having to fix something later. I am also a HUGE FAN of test strands. I hate surprises!

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