Getting the right hue for your hair can be difficult and I should know after some of the dreadful colours I have endured. Understanding the colour wheel and knowing some of the rules can help you avoid a disaster.
The primary colours are red, yellow and blue. Hair is made up of different amounts of these shades. When the primary colours are combined they create shades known as secondary colours. Mix a secondary and a primary together and you get tertiary colours. For example red mixed with blue makes purple. Mix purple with blue and violet is the result. Purple combined with red makes a reddish purple. The three primary shades mixed together make brown.
The colour process
“During a colour process you can either go darker where you deposit depth and tone for a darker, richer result or you can go lighter which in some cases, if you are trying to lighten a previous old colour, you might experience a slightly warmer effect as when lightening you expose a warm hue,” says Christel Lundqvist, current British colour technician of the year and creative colour director for HOB Salons.
What happens when hair is lightened?
Bruno Elorrioroz, advanced technical director at the Aveda Institute Salon and Spa explains: “Products containing hydrogen peroxide lighten the hair. The hair goes through various processes. Blue breaks down first. What you are left with is the underlying pigment which is red, orange or yellow dependent on your hair colour.
“For example a base 3 (dark brown) has red underlying pigment. When you oxidise the hair, red will come through. Putting ash into it will neutralise it. It is important that the colourist knows how to neutralise and counteract unwanted tones to achieve the colour that the client wants.”
Bruno points out that colours may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. “To produce the perfect colour you have to work with three elements: lighting, products and the natural hair pigment.
“Hair looks different dependent on the lighting because the colour we actually see is the light reflected off the coloured pigments in the hair. [Technically black is said not to be a colour as it absorbs all the shades and reflects none.] When having a consultation always make sure the colourist looks at your hair in the daylight.”
Christel adds: “If you are going from a very dark colour such as black to blonde, you would often have to do this in stages as there are only so many levels of lift that can happen in one service. The condition of the hair is always a priority.”
If you are going to colour your hair at home, especially if you are intending to use a permanent colour (which lightens the original colour while bonding a new hue to the hair), seek professional advice. It’s easy to see how it can all go so wrong.
By Daralyn Danns