A good colorist knows color theory.
Color theory includes knowing the color wheel, complementary colors, and how colors interact to neutralize or enhance certain tones. For example, if a client’s hair has an unwanted brassy or orange hue, the colorist might need to use a blue-based toner to neutralize it.
Good color correction starts with checking the hair structure and assessing damage. A colorist will know if they need to improve the hair’s condition first, such as using conditioning treatments or bonding agents. They will also check the hair’s porosity. Hair is unique from person to person. It’s varying levels of porosity affect how it absorbs and holds onto color. Colorists need to consider the hair’s porosity and the pH level of the products they use. A ph-balancing product can help ensure even color uptake and minimize damage to hair.
In some cases, color correction involves removing existing color from the hair. This part of the correction process often requires the use of a color remover or a bleach-based product. Color removers work by reducing the dye molecules in the hair, making them easier to wash out. Bleach works by oxidizing the natural melanin in the hair, essentially “lightening” it to a pale yellow stage.
An experienced colorist understands the chemical processes involved in correcting hair color, including oxidation reactions, color removal, and toning. Oxidative dyes are used in most hair color products. These dyes require a developer, usually hydrogen peroxide, to initiate an oxidation reaction. During this process, the natural melanin in the hair is lightened or replaced with the new color. The strength of the developer and the processing time are critical factors that a colorist must understand, consider and watch with each client to correct or change the hair color effectively.
Toning is another part of the color correction process. After the hair is lightened or color is removed, the colorist may use toners to achieve the desired shade. Toners are semi-permanent or demi-permanent colors the colorist applies to neutralize unwanted undertones or enhance the desired color. For example, a purple-based toner can help counteract yellow tones in bleached hair.
As you can see, hair color correction is a complex process that requires a deep understanding of these chemical principles, an artist’s eye for color, and lots of practical experience. It’s essential to entrust this process to a skilled and experienced colorist who can navigate the science and art of color correction successfully.