Beauty School 101- Hair Coloring Laws

by MakeupByKaylena on 1:40 PM

Hey Chicas,
Today I thought I'd share some of the knowledge I have about coloring hair. I know some of you would probably like to lighten up your mane for the summer, but before you do please read my tips tick and laws of haircoloring!

Hair Coloring Tips:
Understanding Laws Of Haircolor

Most unwanted hair color disasters are often due to the lack of knowledge and understanding about the basics of hair coloring "laws" and how they apply to coloring hair.

This blog post is not meant to be a thorough education in hair coloring, but a first step in helping home users of hair color to understand the basics.

I will try shy away from getting too technical, so follow along carefully and re-read any area that you are not sure about until you understand it thoroughly.

I myself am not a Hairstylist, Colorist or Cosmetologist, but my mother is. What I know about makeup, hair and beauty I learned from her. She used to teach classes, and has done hair for years and passed the love of cosmetology down to me.

Warning: This information is presented for your own judgment of suitability and use at the user's risk. No liability is assumed whatsoever by the author of this article. I just would like to help you guys out, that’s all! ^_^

First Rule Of Color - Hair Color Is Not Paint

Color, as we perceive it, is actually the reflection of light off of the colored pigments in the hair shaft. This "reflection of light" is what we see as "color".

Shades of color are made up of the different combinations of reflections of light off of the colored pigments.

This is why hair color appears different shades, tones, and hues under fluorescent lights than in natural sunlight - regardless of if it’s color from nature or a chemical coloring.

Levels: What They Are & How They Effect Hair Color

Levels are the degree of "lightness or darkness" of a color that is "reflected or seen" by the eye. Hair color is assigned a Level number from1 to 10 with 1 being darkest level of black and 10 lightest level of blonde.

In other words, black reflects very little light and lightest blonde reflects the greatest amount of light. A level 10 blonde would be 'two steps lighter' than a level 8 blonde. This system of levels applies to all colors and almost all brands commonly found.

There are several different types of hair color. Be sure to read this section carefully to know what types of color you are buying.

Permanent Haircolor

Permanent is just what it says. This type of color makes a 'permanent' change in the pigment of the hair shaft, and it doesn’t wash out!

It will fade in time, but this type of color can’t be simply removed to bring back your original natural color. All hair that has been colored in this way has the natural color pigments irreversibly chemically altered.

It can be removed, leaving the altered hair shaft pigments, which can be corrective colored back to closely resemble the original color.

A corrective coloring should be left to the pros. It can be one visit or many visits to the salon to try to correct a bad color job, it is expensive and is hard on the hair to varying degrees.

Single Process Color

Single process is a permanent coloring that means that the color is lifted and deposited in one step. This is the one that you will most likely do at home.


Semi-Permanent color is what it says it is, it can cover gray and go darker, but can not lighten. It lasts varying lengths of time depending on the product. This is also another coloring that can be easily done at home.

Warning: Double Process (a process of bleaching and toning to the desired color) should never be attempted by a home hair colorist, and this is definitely a pro-only process.

Deposit Only Color

Deposit Only color can only "deposit" color into the hair, there are many varieties on the market for the home user. These are very "User Friendly'' and usually condition and color in one step.

The very popular color "glazes or translucent" colors are among the easiest to start with to enhance your color. Most use a very low 3% peroxide to activate the color on the hair. Some are capable of lifting or lightening one level.

Also, I never use box hair color from the drugstore. I always go to a beauty supply store buy the color(s) I need and the developer myself. It’s better to do it this way if you have a little more experience with hair coloring because you will have to mix the developer and powder, crème or dye coloring the right way. Usually you want about a 30 to 40 volume developer and mix it 50/50 with the color. Sometimes I add more developer to brighten, lighten or make my color go further, but I don’t recommend doing this unless you are familiar with coloring, the brand your using and the color you want to achieve.

Selecting The Designed Color That You Want

First you must select the desired color that you want to be, say a medium warm blonde level 8.

Now that you have determined where you want to be color wise, you have to find out where you are now. By "now" I mean first the 'level' (there's that level word again) and the tone of your hair, whether it has reddish or blonde undertones considered "warm" colors or ashen "cool" undertones.

Lets say that you are a light ash brown level 6. Being a level 6 "ash" light brown means that you have an "absence of 'warm' undertones" in your hair now; but; you want to both "lighten and warm up"' the color to the desired level of an 8 warm blonde color.

Doing The Math For Haircoloring

Don't panic when I say reddish or blonde undertones. Remember, I said that the color you "see" is a combination of colors reflecting off of the hair.

You must use a swatch book or ring to compare your hair color as it is now to match levels and tones in natural light if at all possible. Not what you perceive, or think.

Now that you know where you are now and where you are going, let's look at the following example of how to get there!

Desired color-Warm Blonde Level = Level 8

Target color level X 2 = 16

Natural color-Light Ash Brown = Level 6

subtract this from target color level of 16 16-6=10

This gives you the number of levels to lift (= 2) and the level of color to use (=10).

Note: If the total number for the level of color is 13 or larger, pre-lightening is required to achieve the desired color. You need to go off to a professional for double process coloring.

How Hair Is Lightened

Since it has been established that the 'new' color is a combination of your old color level and tone (referred to as our 'base' color) and the new color that is deposited into the hair, you must take into account what happens when you lighten or lift the base color to another level and deposit the new pigments into the hair shaft.

When hair is lightened it goes through several stages of lightening from the darkest to the lightest from a base of blue in the case of natural black to pale blonde with the palest of yellow as its base color.

This lightening process fractures the color pigment creating undertones that are unwanted.

To correct this, the opposite color is added to the formula to "cancel" out the unwanted tones or other secondary colors are added in varying amounts to add special effects or customize the color to an individual's desire.

Remember the color prism? It fractured light into distinct visible colors you could see. This is what you are doing with hair color except you are adding or subtracting colors to "correct or change from one color to another and change the undertones".

Warning: Avoid Orange Hair

When hair is lightened it produces warm or red and yellow undertones. When red and yellow are mixed they produce orange. Referring to the color wheel and color theory, you know that you will want to cancel out some of the red/orange undertones to prevent the orange head of hair, but yet leave enough to keep the warm tones, if you want warm undertones.

Since your natural color has a 'cool' base it will not turn as red/orange when lightened as a ' warm color' of the same level would.

This is because that as the hair lightens on a ' warm' color it adds to the reds and yellows that are already present. When lightening the same level of 'cool' hair, it adds the 'missing' reds and yellows to warm up the end resulting color. This can only be checked by doing a strand test!

Always Do A Strand Test

A strand test is the only reliable way to "preview" the new color. At this time adjustments can be made to the hair color formula to either add or subtract colors to enhance or cancel different undertones in the test strands.

Do not be afraid of doing more than one test strand before doing overall color and always do it on uncolored hair.

The length of time that the color mixture is left on can also be varied to change results. Always thoroughly dry the test strand to check for proper color and breakage/damage.

Warning: Do not attempt to color hair that has had henna or metallic dyes used on it.

Tips Before Coloring

Step 1: Before coloring it is best to practice parting off thin parts of hair 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width depending on the density of the hair. Apply conditioner to your hair a few days before doing the actual coloring to get the hang of handling a hair color applicator bottle.

Step 2: In the case of thick long hair, get a friend to help. A clarifying treatment to remove buildup in the hair should always be done before coloring. Use a clarifying shampoo. I use Rusk Clarifying Shampoo, and it works very well!

Step 3: Always comb out the ends of your hair before you color, try to stay away from the scalp and root area. And never shower or wash your hair before you color!

Step 4: For beginners use Vaseline all over hair line, ears, and neck to prevent staining. This way when you are done coloring, the fall out color will just wipe away and your face, neck, and ears wont be stained with excess color!

Step 5: Always wear gloves! Nobody looks good with black, brown or burnt red hands. Bleach can burn the delicate skin on your hands ladies, and dark color on the hands and nails isn’t attractive!

Step 6: On long hair, the ends are always more porous than the rest. Apply color to the mid lengths from about 1 inch from the scalp and then the ends.

Step 7: Follow this procedure because the scalp will process faster due to the heat of the body and the insulating effect of long hair on the scalp. Placing a coloring cap or even a plastic bag can help the heat stay on your head and help the color to intensify.

Step 8: Even just doing the test strands or working on your friends will teach an amateur colorist a lot. Patients is a Virtue!

Step 9: Very thick, long hair, may have to be colored in sections, rinsed and the uncolored hair dried to allow color to be applied to the rest.

Step 10: Be sure not to re-color already colored hair and observe timing exactly.

I don't expect the beginner colorists to soak up all of this information in one session. However, you should read this article carefully and use it as a guide to understanding the relationship between cool and warm colors.

You can also use this article as a guide to learn how to determine color levels in the products you use as well as tonal families to use to accent or suppress unwanted tones.

Thanks for stopping by & happy hair coloring!

2 Response to 'Beauty School 101- Hair Coloring Laws'
  1. lovelyviolet5'> May 18, 2010 at 3:51 PM
    * [Reply to comment] *

    Hi doll!!I havent dye my hair for long time!Well my haidresser does that but anyway I have a question!!When I dye them I feel that I'm loosing more hair!Maybe cause I have very thin hair!Is it that or something else!!Thanks!


  2. Nymphette'> May 19, 2010 at 3:43 PM
    * [Reply to comment] *

    Great tips love!!


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