We learn every day! During my Free ZOOM color learning session yesterday, I noted
very animated concern regarding POOR GRAY COVERAGE. I find this issue to be
rather shocking, and I am aware of the often incorrect information people share as
they desperately attempt to help a fellow colorist or to solve the situation themselves!
Gray coverage in a given brand was not expected when shades lighter than level 8
were applied to the hair; as very light blonde shades were developed to LIFT Pigment
from the hair and to deposit a very sheer, light "tone" to the hair, rather than
coverage of gray.
Provided here are a few of the basics I learned watching color chemists whose mission
it is to create shades which perform precisely as the manufacture requires.
FIRST: Every lab I have worked in, observing how chemists create shades: Permanent
hair color formulas were intermixed ONLY with TWENTY VOLUME DEVELOPER
NEXT" Color was applied properly to swatches 100% white (gray.. not bleached!!) virgin hair.
AND: Color was processed at room temperature for 45 minutes
FINALLY: Swatch was rinsed, shampooed and dried 100%, then examined under full-spectrum lighting in a room with white walls and ceiling.
MORE: If a shade defined as being level 6, covered this gray (white) hair to a level 6, the shade was
named level 6.. BECAUSE the color produced the defining level when applied to pure white
"gray) hair. When a shade defined as level 4 covered the white hair to level 4, it was approved as being a level four. ..... and so on.
And: These swatches were NOT "pre-softened". No one used higher or lower volume developer. and no one 'pre-pigmented the hair. Additionally No coverage improving
"drops" or Gray Cover Additives were added to the color formula. Shades needed to perform
as they were defined and directed to be used for gray coverage. And, the swatch was
not placed under heat to process. The color was EVENLY and THOROUGHLY applied
to the swatch.. with no spots left uncovered... Every hair was enveloped in the very evenly
and completely mixed hair color formula.
Finally, Let's discuss what happens when we apply a level 7 formula to hair which is 50%
white (gray) and 50% level 3. The gray hair will develop to a level 7 and the brown, level
3 hair will develop to a level 5 (and probably brassy in tone). So the hair will be 50% level 7 and 50% level 5... and the colorist might say that this appears to be POOR GRAY COVERAGE.... I understand. Experience has taught me that when covering gray. and wanting to be Very Sure of perfect coverage, the color formula should be the same level
as the "still pigmented" hair, or only one or two levels lighter than that hair. Of COURSE
we can become more creative... BUT. that discussion is for another time.
REMEMBER: Most manufacturers have created N or NN shades. intended to help colorists
cover gray BETTER! Remember to use 20 volume developer when covering gray roots with a shade of permanent hair color. Long ago, colorists covered gray beautifully.. BEFORE N
shades existed. When choosing shades at the same or similar level:
Mixing a blue shade with an orange shade.. creates a neutral shade. Mixng
a green shade with a red shade creates a Neutral shade. Mixing a yellow (gold) shade with a
violet shade, creates a Neutral shade.
Use 20 volume developer. Apply in 14 inch sections, taking care to cover every hair.
Process for 45 minutes at room temperature. Use a formula level 8 or deeper.
If YOU are successfully assuring gray coverage, doing as you prefer to do, let your own
professional talent and experience be your guide. As usual, I respect your professional
I think everything will now cover beautifully, and be "OK". Beth
See me in Naples, Fla, July 24. Flanders, NJ. August 14. Bend, Oregon, September 11th
and Pittsburgh, Pa. October 16th. B