It never fails. Every time I teach one of my color correction seminars, I’m bombarded with questions from people having problems with getting good coverage on resistant gray hair.
In this blog I’ll give you 6 Golden Secret Rules on how to handle gray coverage situations. But first, let’s look at some interesting facts about gray hair.
There’s No Such Thing as Gray Hair!
First of all, there’s no such thing as real gray hair. There is only pigmented hair (brown, red & blonde) and non-pigmented hair (white).
What we perceive as being “gray hair” is actually a combination of pigmented hair mixed with white hair.
The less white a person has, the grayer he/she tends to look. The more white a person has, the less gray he/she tends to look, but the more white his/her hair looks.
This phenomenon is best explained with something called the “Gray Scale”.
This is a tool used in Black & White photography & film, which allows our eyes to actually see different tones of color, which are only made up of the colors black and white intermixed into verging degrees.
Back in the days of Black & White TV, we all knew that Lucille Ball had bright red hair even though no one had a color television :-)
Secret Rule #1
Never use a straight ash blonde tint on gray (non-pigmented) hair
even if you want an ash blonde finished result.
Gray (non-pigmented) hair is ash by nature; therefore, if you use a straight ash tint on it, you will get very drab results.
Ash Hair + Ash Tint = More Ash/Drab Color
The hair could look smoky, gunmetal green, lavender, or steel gray.
Secret Rule #2
To get total gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will need to use a level 8 blonde or darker. (If the hair is a fine texture, level 9 may work).
Most manufacturers will tell you that, in order to get good gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair, you need to use a level 8 or darker. This is because in most cases, there is not enough dye load into levels 9 or 10 to obtain adequate gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair.
Secret Rule #3
Never put a straight cool red tint on gray (non-pigmented) hair.
Gray (non-pigmented) hair lacks warmth (contributing color pigment/golden & red), so it will always show the full impact of the base in a tint.
Cool red colors such as RV’s (red violet) and PR’s (purple reds) will look pink in the lighter shades and lavender or mauve in the darker shades. This is because the hair itself has no gold (warmth) to compensate for the tint which would balance out the color.
The Secret Rule #4
Gray (non-pigmented) hair will always turn yellow when lightened because of the pheomelanin (red-yellow) pigment which is still in the hair.
The reason I am emphasizing this is to make sure you realize that, before lightening gray (non-pigmented) hair, be prepared to tone if necessary.
Sometimes you'll get lucky and not have to use a toner at all, but in most cases, the yellow bleached-up gray (non-pigmented) hair will look raw or straw-like so just be ready to tone if needed.
Secret Rule #5
All gray (non-pigmented) hair is not created equal and, therefore,
will not react the same to tinting, bleaching or toning.
Coarse textured gray (non-pigmented) hair will always react slower and be more stubborn when tinting, bleaching or toning. Finer textured gray (non-pigmented) hair will always react quicker to tinting, bleaching and toning.
Keep in mind that on the same head of hair, you will have a mixture of fine, medium and coarse gray (non-pigmented) hair. And in some cases, you may have to treat these different parts of the head with separate hair color formulas.
Secret Rule #6
In most cases, when covering 75% to 100% gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will have to mix the desired shade with either a gold base tint or a neutral/natural base tint in order to make up for the lack of warmth in the hair.
Most tints are made to be put on pigmented hair, which will give a contributing color pigment of red or gold. Therefore, if working on 100% gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will have to mix in the missing tone (gold/red), or both, in order to make up for the lack of this warmth in the gray (non-pigmented) hair.
If you would like to learn how to handle every gray Coverage problem you will ever encounter behind the chair, check out my book: Trade Secrets of Great Gray Coverage Click Here
Have a Great Week,
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