Glossing, Part 1: Correcting Undesirable Tones


Maintaining the perfect tone and shine requires consistent care, plus just the right amount of TLC. One such way to keep color beautiful is with glossing services. Though they are less permanent than other forms of color, they’re considered more gentle overall – and can easily be marketed as the perfect solution for maintenance, plus hair health and color-longevity. Applying a gloss can help to fill the hair, close down open cuticles and create a sleek, smooth surface – perfect for reflecting just the right amount of color and shine. But do you know how – and when – to apply gloss to your client’s hair? Glosses are perfect for neutralizing undesirable tones. Find out how you can choose the very best gloss, in order to achieve the perfect hue.   

Correcting Oversaturated Tones

Before I color a head of hair, I follow a simple checklist:

  • What do I want to see in the hair?
  • What do I want to keep?
  • What do I want to eliminate?

The answer to these questions helps to guide me in choosing the base for my gloss. For example, during our color formulation, we know to add blue tones to neutralize orange tones; this give a cool, icy finish. But I’ve had blonde and brunette clients, alike, take on an ashy hue – and I know that I’ve added too much of the blue-based color to the formula, which has left my clients strands with an oversaturated tone. This oversaturation can be the result of working on a porous pallet, particularly, when it comes to blond clients. Learn how you can effectively adjust porosity issues, here

Simple color theory tells us:

Blue (pure tone)
+ Yellow (NRP)

We also know that we can use red to cancel out green. However, adding red to a formula that should have a cool, blue reflection can be devastating – and will most likely result in a warm reflection.

We know that, in order to make green, we need blue and yellow. We want to keep the blue for the cool, reflective tone – and ultimately loose the yellow. If we use our knowledge of basic color theory, we’ll realize that yellow is neutralized by violet, leaving the blue alone. So, in order to banish the yellow, we need a violet hue – and for that – we have a very powerful tool on our color lab: A violet based toner.

Simply apply the glossing treatment (toner) to the hair, and watch the green cast disappear.

Formulation examples are as follows:

If I see: Green
If I want to keep: Blue (Cool)
If I want to eliminate: Yellow
I’ll use: A violet base

If I see: Green
If I want to keep: Yellow (Gold)
If I want to eliminate: Blue
I’ll use: An orange or orange-yellow base

If I see: Violet
If I want to keep: Blue (Cool)
If I want to eliminate: Red
I’ll use: A green or green-blue base

Using the right glossing technique, you can effectively fill porosity, correct unwanted tones, plus maintain the vibrancy of your client’s color. So for the perfect shade, every time, keep your eye out for Part 2 of my Glossing Series: Reds, Brunettes and Blondes – and shine on!

Get the Look: Icy Blonde Locks with Lupe Voss

Master Colorist Lupe Voss is known for both her timeless and on-trend color transformations – and today – she’s sharing her tips and tricks for creating this gorgeous, icy blonde hue. Lupe, who promotes maintaining the health and vitality of client’s strands, shares her ultra-nourishing techniques, here.

Get the Look

The method for achieving this look will vary slightly, depending on the pre-existing condition of your client’s hair: virgin or retouch. Additionally, to get the perfect shade, you’ll want to take the natural remaining pigments (or contributing pigments) into consideration. Find out how, here.

  • On virgin hair. Apply lightening formula ½ inch from the scalp, down to the mid-lengths and ends. Make sure to evenly distribute the lifting formula for even opaqueness, which will help to lift the hair, evenly. Once the mid-lengths and ends have lifted to 50% of your desired level, mix a new bowl of lightener and apply to the scalp.
  • Re-touch. Apply lightening formula to the new growth and process. When shampooing, pull some of the lightening formula through to the ends to encourage a shift of the previous toner.
  • Notes on processing time. Let your product process to the desired level. To accomplish this, refer to the natural remaining pigment chart, which will help to indicate the level reached. For example: Level 10 = Pale Yellow, level 9 = yellow, and level 8 = orange yellow.

“Once you’ve finished processing the bleach, make sure to shampoo the hair three times, well,” advises Lupe. “Once the product is completely removed, make sure to condition strands. This will help to ensure even toning. And when it comes to toning,” adds Lupe, “make sure to choose the correct base to neutralize the natural remaining pigment. Also, you can mix two toners together, which will combine to create a reflective tone.”

Level Natural Remaining Pigment      Compliment

10                              Pale Yellow                              Violet

9                                    Yellow                                  Violet

8                                Orange Yellow                    Blue Violet 

“As stylists, it’s our job to lift our client’s hair safely – and get it toned to perfection,” says Lupe. “Keeping the hair healthy during the service is the key to doing this, and I find that using conditioners that deeply nurture and nourish strands can help to stave off damage. Also, make sure to inform clients about the best at-home care for their color. Proper products can help to keep hair in its best condition – which will work to your advantage when it comes time to perform their next service. Beautiful, healthy hair makes for shiny and dimensional color,” concludes Lupe.

Image Credits:

Cut: @tristinmorrison
Color: @lupevoss
Image by: @emanueljayv

Exploring: Design Lines, Weight Lines and Disconnection with Lupe Voss and Peter Gray

When crafting the perfect hue, I determine my placement by following the lines (corners and edges) of a haircut. This technique helps me to create ‘complimentary color,’ which maximizes the impact of both the cut and the color. I call this ‘reading a haircut.’

But recently, I educated at a salon where cut-specialists were taught that edges – the edges that I so diligently work to assess and accentuate – are a negative thing. As a result, the colorists find themselves stuck, creatively. Their finished looks are often ‘soft and uninspiring;’ they’re lackluster. The stylists asked me to work with them with them in learning: how can we create dimensional color, when there are no corners? They asked. Though I provided them with an answer, it wasn’t an answer wholly to my liking, and I continued to ponder their dilemma.

So, to provide top-notch color solutions to all manners of hair cutting – both cornered and corner less – I consulted with Peter Gray, cut-expert and session stylist. Read on to discover the meaning of design lines, weight lines and disconnection – plus learn real-life, behind the chair color solutions for each.

Design lines. “A design line is generally referred to as where the edge or corner is retained, rather than blended through,” says Peter. “Contrast and dimension are what make haircuts and color interesting!”

Colorists: When applying color to a design line, aim to enhance the line, making it the focal point of the cut.

Weight line. “A weight line isn’t necessarily a corner,” says Peter. “Rather it’s an area of transition between short and long hair.”

Colorists: When working with a weight line, deepen or shadow any recessed areas and highlight or accentuate longer strands.

Disconnection. “Disconnection is the line created between areas of differing length. Generally, there is limited blending or no blending,” Peter explains.

Colorists: Working with disconnection will automatically create a subsection to work in. 

When working collaboratively to create complementary cuts and colors, it’s important to keep both of the crucial elements in mind: the cut and the color. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can successfully elevate your end results, and produce striking and dimensional hues, that flatter and accentuate the design lines, weight lines and disconnection of any cut – corners or not.

Redlands, CA·Posted Nov 19

Mad Scientist: Caustic Color Combinations

Platinum locks are a style staple, and the look is consistently among my most-requested of color services. To achieve these shimmering hues – whether snowy white, gray or champagne – I’ve been known to push the limits and test my boundaries. But as I’m experimenting, I take care to abide by one simple rule: do no harm. This includes ‘no harm’ to myself but also ‘no harm’ to my client. Though ‘throwing caution to the wind’ can be a treat, when it comes to the color lab, I make sure to dot my I’s and cross my T’s. Read on to find out how experimental color combinations can become caustic, plus learn how you can prevent serious reactions.

Stylists as Scientists

Social media has generated a wave of ‘unknowing experts:’ As a result, stylists around the globe are trying new – and often times untested – color techniques, without understanding the potential consequences of their concoctions. One such example is the unethical blending of high-lifting products with bleach. This combination, which is gaining popularity at a rapid rate, is hailed for its ability to quickly change the hair’s hue. But did you know that this combination could cause chemical instability, plus unpredictable reactions? Here’s why.     

  • Ammonia: (NH3). Ammonia is an alkaline compound of hydrogen and oxygen, which is both naturally occurring in nature and man-made. Ammonia in hair color is very efficient at opening the cuticle, which allows hair color to penetrate more efficiently into the hair’s cortex. Ammonia in hair color is not fundamentally bad for the hair. When both ammonia (catalyst) and peroxide (oxidation) are used with hair color, tiny molecules carry dye all the way into the cortex, where they react to remove natural pigment and expand artificial pigment, to a size that cannot be washed out. This creates a permanent color change.
  • Bleach. Bleach is a powder substance, that when mixed with hydrogen peroxide, works to decolorize the hair. The two active lifting ingredients are: Sodium Met Silicate and Potassium Persulfate. Sodium Meta Silicate lifts the cuticle layer, while the Potassium Persulfate works on the melanin.

When ammonia and bleach are mixed together, the bleach’s activity is reduced. Additionally, the bleach increases the alkalinizing activity of the high lift tint. When this combination of products is used directly on the scalp, irritation and/or burns can occur.  When used in a foil or in ‘off the scalp applications,’ uncontrolled swelling of the hair and potential damage can occur.  Mixing these products together creates chemical instability. The mix ratio and the volume of your developer will also play a role in the chemical reaction that occurs. Ultimately, heat is created, that could burn the scalp and/or damage the hair.

Safety Testing: Why it Matters

Hair color companies subject their products to extensive testing before offering them to stylists. This process is beneficial to all parties involved – the Color Company, salon owners, stylists and client’s alike – and works to guarantee the safety of each interested person. Through rigorous safety testing, product manufacturers formulate ‘recommended uses’ for each of their formulas. As a stylist, if you choose to forgo these recommendations and create a rogue concoction, you (and the salon that you work for) will be held responsible for any adverse reactions. Reactions can vary, but those that are serious may result in a lawsuit. So, to protect yourself and your client, you should forgo mixing chemicals – especially if you don’t have a full understanding of how they work.

Though mixing products can create striking results, plus can speed up processing times, doing so can cause unsafe conditions for both you and your client. So while manufacturer approved mixing can result in beautiful, dimensional hues, using products that aren’t designed to play together – and don’t play nicely with one another – isn’t worth the potential fallout. Think outside the box – but be sure to remember my one simple rule: do no harm.

Stay healthy and safe!