March 4, 2010

High-Lift Blond, Achieving Lightest Blond – Zero Bleach

Battle of High Lift Blond Brands

Killer2435 I believe the last big new technology we’ve had in hair color was the product MAGMA, which is a one-step bleach and tone. Before that the next newest technology was the introduction of the high-lift blonde. Whoever coined the term “high-lift blonde” – should win an award… its brilliant. I mean if you are going to either go to a Salon and ask for a “blond” or chose one to do to yourself, wouldn’t the “high-lift blond” be the one you wanted to use? As opposed to just the “blond”? I certainly would . . . I mean to use a “high-lift blond” as opposed to a “bleach”….well of course you are going to choose the “high-lift'’ I mean – who wouldn’t? Just trying to make you all well aware of the “WORDING” used in this world of hair color and how misguiding it can be and to watch out for it. There are so many other factors to consider before choosing a process just for the “name”….PLEASE PLEASE do your homework, before asking from a Colorist, or performing on yourself. The technique called, “Bleach & Tone” versus the technique “High-lift Blond” are the 2 most popular blonding techniques and each of them are wonderful applications. Just depends the hair you are performing them on and the result you are seeking.
Many of you probably think blond is blond. Well, as in any art - - - there are hundreds of degrees of blonding…. from the darkest
level 7 Blond badasshair417
to a
Level 8 Blond
hellforhair018to a
Level 9 Blond
Killer Re-crop1 to a
Level 10 Blond
to a
Level 11 Blond
hair pro set058 or to the famous Marilyn Monroe
Level 12 Platinum Blond
Look at the range in just those 5 levels of blondes. They are completely different. Its always been my feeling that the Level System is just way TO SMALL. I mean for 50 years it was level 1 through 10, then about 18 years ago they added level 11 & 12 when the HIGHLIFT Tints were introduced to the world of Hair Color. To me I see such a vast amount difference from one level to another that I feel, at the bare minimum - - - the System should have 20 Levels not 12…or 24 would be even better. That way there wouldn’t be such a radical difference between 2 levels. I mean Level 1-2-3 are so close you need a magnifying glass and a headlight to distinguish them all from each other, they are so damn dark. But between level 6 and 7 it is a huge difference… well as between Level 7 and 8. When people ask me for a level estimation I almost always use 2 numbers to distinguish which end of the Level I am talking( or thinking) about. I will say “ oh you are a 7-8 if its on the lighter end of a Level 7 or a 6-7 if its on the darker end of a 7 ! Which is why I feel we need a 20 Level System as opposed to a 12 level system.

Now with the recent experience with Renbow, I went on a mission to try to test all the high-lift blonds on the market. We used to do this annually ( every january) within the Salon, when I had multiple assistants…all my assistants were always students from Sassoon so they were schooled in the same strict standards I was . . . as goofy as some may think it to be . . . I saw many talented individuals come out of that school. This time I have been doing it, which is good for me to actually see for myself & that way I can write from first hand experience as well.

IMG_1277 I have been experimenting with processing times, on 2 different levels of virgin hair…. level 5-6 and on Level 7-8 with various brands of high-lifts . . going off of what other Colorists I know use and like. You know something else I discovered? There are a few lines that hav . So that is a definite winner and being added to the Store and my list of “loves” ! I am actually very excited about the entire move and change… I found at least 6 new high-lifts that I am proud to introduce to you and that I will be using myself…. I always restricted myself to using 100A exclusively…which was a pain in the ass, because “getting” it was a frickin’ nightmare….NOW I have so many options….something a busy colorist needs.. The high-lift blond kit is the number 1 selling hair color BY FAR on Killer Strands - - - of all the colors we carry, so that is why I have done this . . . I know this bores the brunettes . . . but have a heart for your fellow platinum-haired vixens! Apparently we have a lot of blonds out there, and I just thought it was here in California that people liked to adorn those golden locks . . . but I guess not.
Now with every single one of my strand tests I processed them for a minimum of 75-90 minutes, and I use a plastic cap over them to keep warmth “in” as I do on my clients. I know my Stylists who use hair dryers but that is where the hair receives its most damage… if you use the body’s own warmth and perform the process in a warm room - - the health of the hair stays INTACT.

The other 2 brands so far that I want to recommend are Schwarzkopf who’s 12.0 N which is a neutral . . and its /1 series is Lavender based Ash I was just thrilled to find out as well. Now Schwarzkopf was a brand we used way back at Sassoon but it was bought out by an American company so I lost interest in it - - quite a while ago. But, remembering back, yes, we all liked the high-lifts made by them a way back when……….. Something interesting to you . . . Schwarzkopf is the company that developed VANISH, a long long LOOOOOOOONG time ago when it was called modulat. So I was glued to this company via Modulat for years.. Then the owner sold Modulat off - the patent and the whole shebang for millions… But anyway…. what I have discovered is Schwatrzkopf’s 12.1 ASH is the single best HIGH-Lift on its own. No booster. So the replacement for Renbow’s 100A {our number 1 selling color ( by a LOT= btw) } is Schwarzkopf's 12.1. Now they also make a booster . . . which they call a Blonding “Extract” . . . which can be added. I haven’t even tried it yet, as I didn’t see a need to the 12.1 A …..maybe a tad with 12.0 N…and the 12.4 B (Beige) . . . they were all gorgeous without a booster. But for those of you with a need for more lift, I will definitely carry the Blonding EXTRACT – Schwatrzkopf.

Then the 3rd high lift that was yummy was MATRIX’s ( which surprised me) but then I remembered that all the girls that worked in the old Salon with me used this one particular High-lift

by Matrix called UL-PA . Ultra Lift Pearl Ash. . . . and it was sold out at both of the supply houses I tried to get it at. . . which now shows me that an awful lot of Colorists must use it. I did not notice a booster with Matrix, but again - - the color was so perfect I couldn’t think of why I would need one. . . . but will carry that as well. So watch for that in the near future. I truly cannot see why any of the boosters can’t be interchanged with any brand. I have not tested that theory, but will. . . .coming up. You know science formulas' and theories that are used with “hair color are plain and simple and just not that complicated so there is pretty much no reason it shouldn’t work. IMG_1292         
In addition to high-lifts and lighteners, with losing the Renbow toners ( which I have never found anything even remotely close) I plan to put together a base line of opaque toners course and then demonstrate to you how to change the colors of the toners in order to reach soft pastels. It really is not that hard. Just comes with experience….which luckily YOU don’t need. . . because I have it - - - for you!
Matrix brought back its line of 4 opaque toners for blond’s I used to use and love so that is a great start.. I will also demonstrate the fairly simple technique of making an apricot-rose toner ‘from’ these toners as a base provided there is some interest for them. Soft Silver, Soft Raspberry, Ice Blue – All coming up in the future days and weeks of the NEW HIGHLIFT series.

Please check out the store, I have completed all the lines of testing highlifts from some 20 lines of hair color.
The absolute 1st and best blonds without the use of bleach goes to the company FRAMESI, they actually blew both Schwartzkopf and the rest of them out of the water....just read the post on the page

31 comments on "High-Lift Blond, Achieving Lightest Blond – Zero Bleach"
  1. Love this post! Really great info for us blondies. I´m looking forward to learn about these toners! :)

  2. have you tried testing Redken? or Loreal?....i have heard great things about both redkens highlift and shades eq. i've always wanted to try redken it would be great to know if they are any good and i would love to get my hands on some.
    thank you for the great post!

  3. What developer did u use in these tests?

  4. This is just the beginning, I bought 31 brands. . . I like to be thorough and only do this once, for a couple years. The problem with Redken is they are really SUPER picky about their products being sold anywhere...which amazes me because every product I have ever tried of theirs has sucked (except their bleaches) I have never been sure of what they are paranoid of... The Shades EQ is a demi perm line that has a less than interesting color selection and in my experiences does nothing toward imparting shine and gentleness, as Color Touch does.
    So I will not being going near that line. I just completed Redken testing yesterday and was extremely pleased with 2 of their high lifts. Very nice outcome, one drawback is the roughness it left the hair in ( the one I did with GLEAM was perfect) so I will be carrying the 2 highlifts from Redken - under code names on the HIGHLIFT page.. Kenred (backwards).

    On ALL Highlifts, purchase a 2oz bottle of GLEAM, to apply to your hair prior to applying the color. The difference in the strength and shine of the hair is beyond belief.

    I'm puzzled by the question what developer did I use.???? The reason for these tests, is to find the best high lift blond. Which means an attempt to find the lightest blond without using bleach.

    The one and only way that can be done is with 40 Volume which lifts 3-4 levels. So always 40 volume. Always in a 80 degree room , always a 75 - 90 minute processing time.

    We've become so much busier, if your comments have not been answered on the Blog here, PLEASE join our Group . . . everything gets answered in there . . I just no longer have the time for both any longer...

    Just, Google: "Killer Strands Google Group" answer the 3 questions and you're inside the hub of Killer Strands and all your questions will be answered..



  5. Great article love the new blonde info. Igora is great.

  6. One last question: after I apply the colour to the lengths, do i mix up a new batch for the roots or use the leftover and how fast do I have to work / how much time do I have for the color to be even, since the colour oxidizes as soon as you mix it?

  7. I live in the country where most of the water out here has iron in it. A lot of my clients don't have filters on their wells. So, needless to say, when I lift their hair with bleach it turns this lovely shade of orange from the iron. I purify the hair before I color. I do all the steps yet I keep getting this brassy tone. I have toned them when I see the brassiness but it's not breaking thru. I use the BES color system. Any suggestions?

  8. Order cartons of Malibu 2000 (packets & shampoos - both, for strong problems as yours sound) it solves all water problems and is a gold mine...order it from our store in quantity and get discount. KC

  9. so i am a cosmo student and one of my teachers who isnt very nice ... but i trust her told me to use UL-A but i bought UL-AA which is double ash and whenever i use highlift my hair goes goldish orange but i want a very very ashy cool result so i choose that i was wondering if u swatches hair texture is course? because that plays a uge role with each highlift i use and i cant use baco, joico, Paul Mitchel cus they all leave me orange. the only highlift that has worked is aloxxi 11p and i realllly think you should try aloxxi with lightening boost because u will be amazed how well it lifts hair but because its so hard to get it around the area i live i wanna try this matrix because its like the only thing i havent tryed and i have heard great things lol if you could please post a level 6 but course hair realuts with UL-A or whatever matrix color u have lol i just wanna see the lift before i get my hopes up <333 thank you for making this fab blogg loves and kisses gaga

  10. Why do they say that 40 volume and powder bleach will ruin my hair destroy it catch on fire turn to gum and refuse to use it? I was pale yellow blonde and I'm sick of blonde cOppery highlights. If I leave this on for 30 mins should I be fine?

    Thank you!

  11. Whoa - whoa girl, slow down...
    1st rule of haircolor: Do not do anything to your hair when you are mad-sad-or upset...
    There is a time and a place for using Lighteners. If used incorrectly - it 'can' damage your hair. (while on the other hand - when they don't leave it on long enough the color stops at orange-/brass ). Calm down - sleep on it... and ask a good friend for their opinion or to help.

  12. Hi there kc
    I have a client that is a natural hair colour 4 - 5 and likes to be a light ask blonde. We use Schwarzkopf Professional IGORA Royal Colour & Care Developer with the 12.1 or 12.2 cream colour on a 2-1 ratio of 2 parts deveoper to 1 part colour cream, however it always comes out bright yellow at best and sometimes a warm gold. She is desperate not to use bleach as has a sensitive scalp but wants as light a cool blonde as possible (ash to platinum is her desired reach) do you have any suggestions on how to lighten this more? Any help is much appreciated, kind thanks

  13. As a hairstylist you have to be able to tell your clients the truth. Not just experiment on them. Most of my avid followers have had their hair destroyed by our community, when that happens so makes me not want to be a part of it. Ever.

    I am happy to help Stylists out, "IF" ...."IF" you will learn to tel them " Not all hair can be all colors."
    That is my line that I learned the first year of Academy many years ago...and it MUST be used at times, That is not to say you cannot do a color for them. But you MUST learn that sentence.

    You cannot get a level 4-5-6 to a nice blonde using a highlift in any brand.

    There was a brand but it was bought out by Paul Mitchell. However, don't run out and buy that line though. The Chemists were so mad that Mitchell came in there and fired everyone but them, they did not duplicate the formula correctly to piss him off and my fear is....... it will never be discovered again. But you know, even at that, you CANNOT take a level 4 to a nice blond period with highlift. She has too dark of hair, and you need to tell her that and ask her to go to plan B.
    Then come up with Plan B.

    Take charge but take charge the right way and tell her that is not possible with today's technology, in ANY brand, at any Salon.

    I am sorry for the bad news.


  14. Thank you so much for all the info you share with us.
    I coloured my hair using wella 12/61 and 40% peroxide with framesi booster...i feel so happy now! after being abroad for 5 month away from my hairdresser and after using store bought colour , my hair is not orange anymore:) thank you again..i knew i would get there in the end with your help!

  15. Hi KC,
    I get my toner done at a salon here in town and its super expensive! I have about a 4-5 level natural dark brown hair color that they are able to lift to a beautiful cool ash blonde color with toner. I've been dying to find out the formula so I can tone my hair at home in between highlights.
    My stylist was busy one day and a substitute stylist told me that my formula is Koleston 10/1 with a mix of Wella Color Touch 4% 13 vol developer at a 4 minute process time. I've tried this at home and I am still getting a very brassy color. Im curious if they may be adding something in the formula to make it more ashy. Would a blonde booster help?

  16. I would bet big money that is not what she used. Stylists never give out their formulas and to be be perfectly honest - I never did either....That is their lively hood. That is how they feed their children. So I understand that I just find lots of you who live where there are no decent Colorists and that is truly who I try to help here.

    we just got some of the best toners from Schwarzkopf....from the BLONDE ME collection purchase the lavender one that will get rid of your brass and make it a beautiful blonde use either 10 or 13 Volume developer. I bet this is exactly what you need.

  17. Hi I started off using Schwarzcoph years and years ago when it was 12-C + 40 vol and had great results but I must say they was a lot of overlapping going on, moving forward after I had kids I found it wouldn't lift my hair the same anymore so I started bleaching and it damaged my hair more then I liked so started back on Schwarzcoph again and found they changed their formula - I used 12-19 + E00 + 011 and even this isn't lifting or coming out as clean as I would like - i have used the matrix Ulpa as you suggested but have recently found they have a new range of high lifts - can you recommend any ? Even goldwell ones?

  18. Hi KC, so glad you did these swatches, extremely helpful, I generally love all colors loreal professional, but wanted to know what your opinion of majiblond was. I didn't see it listed here. Thank you.

  19. Hi I need some advice please. I dyed my hair in Igora royal shade 7-0 but the roots turned out slightly orange. How would I use the igora neutralizer in -0-22 (anti-orange) afterwards? Is it only used to be mixed in with developer/dyes or can it be used alone?

  20. I just bought this and will be testing it soon so watch out for it, I would love to find one that is similar to the old Renbow, nothing has ever been as beautiful. I wish I knew where those chemists were!

  21. Hairdressers have many times never gotten my color right, I am a level 5 golden red and would like a level 9-10 cool blonde~ any suggestions on which products to purchase? i have experience many many years ago in a salon~ but have stopped coloring last decade and tried my natural color~ would love to try blonde again~ THANK YOU!

  22. My suggestion is : DON'T DO IT ! There are not many but there are a few rules in hair coloring that have been in tact since the dark ages that everyone should abide by and speaking as a natural red-head I have tried myself and it was the most unsuccessful project of my life.
    I asked my mentor to turn me blond ( I am a Level 8 Copper - virgin) when I was in hair academy and she said she didn't think we should do it, but after much insistence from a belligerent 'me' - - - we did it, It took 12 hours and looked absolutely horrendous. I looked bald. So, if you are a natural redhead 85% of you should never be blond. There is that 15% and maybe that is you, but that isn't anything I whip off in a couple minutes, you would have to join the group.....for the proper instructions - and this would have to be you really looking at the situation and being 100% knowing you will like it, because I don't recommend it.

    What I do recommend for natural reds?
    Get blond ribbons or slices throughout, THAT is what looks beautiful!

  23. I'm a natural level 2. I usually will lighten my hair to a light brown, let the color settle and recoup for two weeks then lighten again to a blonde color. What are the absolute best lines of color products that concentrate on diminishing or eliminating brassiness that comes along lightening dark hair? I'm looking for both lighteners and toners to achieve a coolest blonde shade (violet undertone) and overall focus on counteracting orange and yellow undertones

  24. For Level 2 ( you are basically the darkest color there is) if you were in my chair .......I would use cream lightener. Why? Applications of cream or Oil Bleach are better than multiple with high-lifts. . . which I am assuming you are using because that is what this Post is talking about....

    That is the only way to get rid of warmth and keep hair healthy. Adding lipids when lightening is the only way to go,lipids are in Oil lightening and I swear by Oil bleach because the health of the hair is the most important factor when coloring hair !
    No goody ! ;) KC

  25. i am a level 3 dark brown and ive been going to salon for years getting blond highlights and dying my hair a brassy blond i tried the walmart loreal maxi blond that was bad i used wella high lift blond and did highlights over it with kaleidacolr blue one now it the blond i like but i have new growth i was wondering what highlift blond u recommend with out being brassy i was gonna try goldwell topchic with 12 pe4cent developer so its not brassy please help ty or do you reccomend something else

  26. Your hair is too dark for high-lift blonde ....
    Remember my # 1 Rule.............ALWAYS use the right tool for the right job.
    High-lift............ no matter how many times people ask me, will ever lighten very dark hair, it simply does not have the strength.
    Why do you want blond hair when you are that dark? There is a rule that recommends people at home: staying within 2 levels of your own color.
    Otherwise it is a big costly project. If you are willing to do the reading and buy all of the products, the information is here for you to be blonde, but purchasing one tube of hair color that is made to use a Level 7 and lighter - just won't work - I'm so sorry to report.

  27. Hi,
    Well this is 2016. I'm wondering if you're still answering question in the blog. My hair is naturally level 2/3. To achieve somewhere in level 6 with just very little warm, do I need bleach+tone or enough with high lift+tone?

  28. My natural color is an ashy dirty blonde brown (not dark at all) but I want it to be platinum. I usually go to an Aveda concept salon b/c they have a toner specific for blondes that lifts it to the light white blonde i love!!! What can I use on my own to achieve the same result on my own?? What would u recommend to tone once I get the hair up to the lightest possible shade I can which is always a yellow orange color?? I have purple shampoo but it doesn't do the job, I have 3 types too...I am willing to try anything to do this myself then I can do it on my clients...HELP PLEASE!?!?!!!!!

  29. you must use bleach and tone, use our Violet/Blue based Creamy Oil Bleach Kit, this is the most wonderful little oil lightening kit, your hair comes out shiny and you lighten it PAST the annoying DURP, then follow the newest Post as to which Toner to choose to tone DOWN that annoying DURP remaining.

  30. I have a client that has colored her hair black and is naturally a level 7 blonde, her hair has grown out about 3-4 inch and now wants to go back all blonde, what would you suggest I do!!!

  31. I would suggest you read this Blog from the beginning to end.

    If you are a trained Hair Colorist and don't know how to fix that....... you are the part of our community that are the reason this website and my information is so cherished / needed / wanted.... The clients of today are so frustrated by those of you who choose this occupation - yet will not put forth the effort into learning how to care for someone's hair who comes in for a routine service.
    Yes, my site is a place you CAN learn to do this....but it is not a question I can accurately answer in 1 paragraph,
    there are many points about her hair that need to be taken into account, so once you sent her on her merry way,
    you have NOT damaged her hair....
    you have NOT colored it the wrong color


    you HAVE made her your Client for life.

    So, now obviously she is not sitting in your chair or you would not be emailing me for advice. So, that gives you the time, to read through the Blog, there are approx. 30 Posts you should tread that could enlighten you enough to accomplishing this task correctly.

    So, I will teach you how to Search this Blog in my very next Post, that way you cannot use that as your excuse for not figuring it out yourself !

    If you were to read this Blog a couple times and then read it once a year - each & every year - you will be able to do hair like the top Colorists. Just pay attention and ask questions if you do not see the answers. Those are the questions I seek to answer.




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