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RICH BLONDE - How to create a STUNNING tone for blondes

RICH BLONDE - How to create a STUNNING tone for blondes

Have you ever finished coloring a blonde and you were not thrilled with the tone or brightness? Maybe the ends still looked a little dingy or there could even be a green hue that was unexpected. 

It’s safe to say, we have all done a color that made us go, “eh”. 

These moments in our career are actually super important. You don’t learn from doing things right all the time. The moments where something goes wrong or is off, are the ones that actually teach us.

Let’s talk about the consultation first. A consultation is always important, but especially with a blonde client. We know that at this level of lift, the hair is especially more fragile, which in return makes it more porous. 

Why is this good to know?

Porous hair will absorb SO much more of the elements outside, in water and really just in general. If the cuticle is not elevated properly on the ends to accept a gloss, it will never accept it. This is when you end up with a dingy looking bottom and a perfect tone on the new lift. 

Does your client use purple shampoo? 

This is a great question to ask or observe during the consultation. Although purple shampoo can shift some of the brass in blondes, it eventually builds up causing a pretty big issue. It is also super drying to the hair. Once that tone of purple shampoo is on the ends, it looks dark. There is no amount of warmth that will shift those darker ends, it has to be lifted out. This does not mean bring the lightener all the way through, this means be aware of it when you are working and have a plan to address those ends in your finish work.

Some things we love to lift out purple shampoo:

  • Malibu crystal gel in salon service packets ( process 25-45 minutes under heat before service)
  • Bleach wash ( shampoo, lightener, developer + water) applied to the ends on damp hair, processing 5-7 minutes 
  • Balayage the ends with the lowest developer for a quick 5-7 minute processing time at the end of the service 
  • At the sink, perform a quick balayage on damp hair before glossing or smudging 

Any of the above services will help to not only remove purple shampoo, but also will remove build up and help swell the cuticle so the chosen gloss absorbs properly. 

During your consultation it’s important to address if there is a mineral issue as this can greatly affect the results of your color.

Signs of mineral build up: 

  • Green or blue tinge on the hair
  • A greasy root with dry ends
  • A very limp lackluster hair texture 
  • A sense of zero movement, almost feeling stiff
  • Excessive scalp and hair dryness 
  • A test strand often turns super hot or makes the lightener runny 

There are many mineral removal products that can assist you in getting the hair back to normal. We love Malibu and Loreal metal detox for different reasons. Malibu is more aggressive and a before service treatment that does not use chemicals. Loreal is a before service spray that saves time, and protects the hair. 

Once the hair is prepped properly, choose the best technique for the amount of lift you need. Teasylights will provide the most lift and balayage will provide the most coverage. Sometimes a combination of the two are necessary and beautiful accessory to each other! 

The lift is IMPERATIVE. If your lift is not there, the blonde will never look bright enough. Sometimes lowlights are actually needed to create depth against the blonde. When someone is constantly saying, “ I don't feel bright enough” they either need lowlights or more warmth in their gloss. Using a gloss that is too cool can make someone feel darker. 

Depth is important for blondes as nothing will really seem light unless it’s against dark. Choosing the right lowlight for a blonde can be challenging. You want something dark enough, but not so dark it creates harsh lines in the hair. Generally for blondes, we suggest a translucent color line in 1 level darker than the natural, while keeping it warm. The warmth will help with porosity and create shine within the lowlight for a blonde. By warmth, we are talking a smidge of copper or red. This will ensure during processing time that the lowlight does not “ grab dark”. Some hair might even require a spray bottle filled with water and conditioner on the section before applying the color. 

Remember that gold generally has a base that includes brown and what does that mean? Brown has blue in it. Blue mixed with the raw lift ( yellow) can appear green in results. This is why sometimes you’ve probably used gold and thought, why does this look so strange? There is a green hue. Adding a copper to help with porosity will help avoid this situation. 

We always suggest low lighting blondes with thicker more purposeful sections rather than small weaves. Small weaves can actually make your blonde feel darker. As the hair expands, it creates an overall darker appearance as opposed to a panel of depth. 

When choosing the gloss for a bright blonde, there are many ways you can formulate for this. The main difference with them all is generally the amount of pigment needed. We rarely recommend glossing with a level 10, as the longevity at this level is not great. Your client might get 1-2 washes out of this tone. Level 10 is great for people who have a very clean lift and don’t need much tone. 

Every level of color has a different level of pigment. The darker the tone, the more pigment is present. So, it’s safe to say if you used a level 8 with clear, that gloss would be more potent than a level 9 or 10. The pigment would stay the same level, but clear adds a cushion component. It allows for a more gentle delivery of pigment. You are never making a level 9 when mixing clear with a level 8.

Remember in order to keep things bright, you need a strong warmth. Most stylists view warmth as a little something gold added to the gloss, but when you get aggressive with warmth is when you see your formulas truly change for the better. 

The color below was formulated with strong golds and coppers only. The result is STUNNING. This type of formulation takes time to get used to and your eye needs to be trained to what  oxidation looks like. On the left is the way the tone looked while glossing, and in the finish you can see it resembles nothing of the processing tone. 


This was a natural level 6/7 with some previous lightened areas. Balayage with clay lightener and 20 volume was used to achieve her lift during this lightening session. 

The raw lift was a pale level 9 and the chosen gloss: Redken Shades EQ 09G (Gold) , 09GB (Gold/Beige), 09AA ( auburn/auburn) equal parts. The developer chosen was Wella color touch 13 volume (check out the blog on our page about 13 volume). 

There was purposely no cool tones used in this gloss as her hair was extremely porous. If a cooler result was desired, a drop to a level 8 with clear would have knocked out some of the warmth. We really enjoyed the brightness and finish of this color!!

Want to learn how to formulate better for this type of scenario? Join our Formulation Foundation Classroom below! OR check out our 6 part online course, The Confidence Behind Formulation, found under “online tutorials”.