December 4, 2007


I’m BACK FOR GOOD. So am ready to gear up for hair education for all. Yahoo!
Tones of Hair Colour

There is not an easy way to teach & explain tones of hair color and especially not through a computer screen, but it is a very important topic. One of the secrets to the success of my work was being a Tonal Fanatic. Truth be told, tones and hues are one in the same, I will use the term “tones” just know they are one in the same in the hair universe.


Neutral- Ash- Matt - Gold - Gold/Red- Red- Red/Violet- Violet - Brown - Brown/Red - Pearl >TONES
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(Hair Color Chart mock-up )


In all hair color charts from top to bottom are the Level’s we have gone over & over: Level 1 through 12. Across the top of the chart are the TONES, which have become very specific: natural, ash, matt, gold, gold-red, red, red-violet, violet, brown, brown-gold, auburn, brown-red-violet, & pearl. Each color line has different tones they think will sound fascinating to Colorists. Framesi has 17, Joico has gone with just the basic 5 tones while Wella has 21. 20 years ago the few companies that were making hair color just used the basics: Natural – Ash – Gold & Red –period!
Every single hair company has gone into making hair color because it is the most lucrative of all the hair products. It used to be a "hidden" process women would have done....on the "down-low". Now to have hair color is the mark of a well groomed woman.
There are close to one hundred different hair color manufacturers spread throughout the world. The “behind- the-scenes” look at how it is ultimately decided as to which Salon uses which color line goes somewhat like this...


I would ‘ballpark’ there to be approx 100 lines of hair color available to the Salon owner, and when opening a Salon,
Hair colour will be the biggest and most crucial decision and expense they have every single month. Its one thing to purchase hair color for one person, but when you are purchasing Color for a Salon with 20 Stylists and all 20 have a full clientele, your monthly color bill ( yep just “tubes of color” and Developer -the white stuff . . .) can easily be $5,000 - $10,000 - $20,000! yes!

Therefore ‘before’ the Salon has opened, the owner is ‘courted’ by all the hair color companies. They offer the owner >deals, bargains – offers of hair color educational classes throughout the year for Stylists, guarantees of shipping etc, all in an effort to try to become the Salons only “Color Line”. Color is the most expensive service available in a Salon which I am sure you are well aware of, also the most profitable.


When the Salon’s owner sits down finally to decide which line of color they will ultimately use

6 points need to be considered
  • Grey coverage
  • Tone
  • Variety
  • Shine & Conditioning
  • Vibrancy
  • Lasting
  • &Cost
Top quality Hair color costs between $ 5.00 & $18.00 per 2 or 3 ounce tube of color. To color one head of shoulder length, medium thickness hair doing the roots and lengths, takes about 1 ½ tubes of Colour. So that is $21.00 just for the hair color alone – plus the developer: plus the foils: plus the after treatment cream etc. I want to stick up a little for the “cost” of hair colour, I think many walk into a Salon and drop their shirt when they hear the prices. When I do a head of Slices when I am using 7 or 8 colors
I’m sure you all at one time or another have been shown that big book of hair swatches…which seems to some women like a big box of chocolates ! The bigger the swatch book – the more enticing the line, I say. For a dedicated Colourist, there is nothing more exciting than new tones and hues added to their favorite line of Colour. Personally, when a new color for my fav line is introduced I feel like its Christmas, I can’t wait to try it! Silly I know, but that is how into Hair Color I am. I mix custom colors all the time, because even with the 150 colors I have on hand I still feel like they are missing some tones. Like, I make a mean CORAL ROSE BEIGE….can you picture that? It is beautiful.

Every Stylist has their favorite brand based on their experiences with the 6 points above.. While at Sassoon, we had an advantage, Sassoon had access to nearly every brand ( as an Academy that trains hundreds of future Stylists – getting a brand in the hand would be “key” to brand loyalty for hundreds of careers… for years. ) Sassoon had one brand that was only used exclusively for grey coverage, one specific brand that was used for redheads. A brand for blonde’s, a brand for bleach, for crazy colors…they were extremely picky, which fit right into my neurosis about tones of colors. Brown was NEVER EVER just “brown” to me. I always looked at what tones of brown I could come up with that would be unique and flattering to a clients’ skin and eyes.

According to the dictionary the definition of TONE is : the comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area or …the warmth or coolness of a color. Reds, Oranges and yellows are all warm tones as are auburn, copper, gold, bronze, caramel or honey. The cool tones are blue, green and violet. Descriptive hair color names in the cool range include ash, drab, smoky, matte, or platinum.
These all matter why?
For multiple reasons that you will see come out as we go on, but mainly for getting that dynamite color that one will be able to achieve by using a tube of color as opposed to that kit. What those kits lack is tones, yes, the Photos on the front of the box have some model that has the color of hair the photo is supposed to be already. Yes, the PHOTO looks excellent, but you must know that the model they have used would never ever use that cheap crappy color, I promise you I did a lot of Hollywoods hair at one time.

Intensity refers to the strength of a color tone. Intensity is described as mild, medium or strong. Strawberry blonde, copper brown, and bright orange are various intensities of red shades.

Artificial hair colors are developed from the primary and secondary colors that form base colors. A base color is the predominant tonality of an existing color. The base color influences the final color result. For example, a violet-based color will deliver cool results and will help minimize unwanted yellow tones. why? We haven’t reviewed this yet but will when we begin formulating…this is where your COLOR WHEEL review comes in. To cancel any unwanted tones in the hair what you do is go across the color wheel to ‘cancel’ it out. Violet is across from yellow on the color wheel remember? This is a common cancellation in hair color, as is going Platinum’s biggest problem is what? Coming out to brassy - too yellow, which is why you see lavender or violet based toners for blondes, they cancel the yellow. Those are the very obvious ones. The tricky ones come when you are talking about Ash, drab, smoky, matte, etc.

The trickiest part of trying to get you to understand tones, is trying to do it over a computer screen. I feel the success of my career is largely based on my understanding of tones so I if I can relay that information to you…you will be a better home hair colorist because of it. The Colors on each of your monitors is going to be different…there are some of you with screens from the 90’s (archaic in the world of computers)and some of you with the newest – coolest monitors on the market. Each of those monitors is going to show the color of one picture completely different.
So there truly is no way to accomplish it, the differences are so slight.

To see what I consider the best array of tones in the hair color industry join Google Groups - Killerstrands

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