10 Tips for Better Lowlights
It’s 3 p.m. and you have a heavily highlighted client coming in at 5. And get this—she wants a chestnut brown all-over color—not too dark, but dark! Sound familiar? BTC Member Tracey Holmes found herself in this situation, and wanted advice: “I believe I need to fill her hair first with Redken Shades EQ 06AA, 07C, 08WG and then apply 06N over that…or would it be better to use gels? She has long, thick blonde hair with partial highlights. She hated it the last time we went “dark,” so I really want to nail it this time! What would you suggest?” We polled our loyal BTC stylists and friends and here are the top responses we received when it comes to lowlighting.
1. Heavily lowlight your client with fine to medium weaves. Use Redken Shades EQ, use equal parts 6nb (brandy) and 4nb (maple), it will fade gradually and it will mix well with her blonde highlights. Never use 5n or 6n, as this will make the hair ashy, almost like a green cast. If you use permanent color, it will wash out in a week.
2. If she hated the color the last time she went “dark,” I wouldn’t do an all-over color. Try heavy foils or lowlights and throw a few extra highlights in there for dimension. That way it’s not a drastic change and it can actually be “dark, but not too dark.”
3. She didn’t like being dark before, she probably won’t like it again. I would do a heavy lowlight with 2 to 3 different shades, keeping some blonde around the face. Try using 6 mocha, 7 brown/copper and an 8 warm blonde.
4. What about heavy lowlights? Add a few highlights around her face, then glaze it all in the end. I would do 6 beige as a lowlight, bleach at the roots with a few face framing highlights and then a Level 8 glaze at the end. I would choose a tone that matches your client’s skin tone.
5. My client and I just did this! I took her from a partial highlight Level 9 to a warm beautiful Level 6. I used a demi-permanent 6g and 5n. I didn’t fill her because the g was putting in the missing warmth. I applied it roots to ends and the result is beautiful. Not too dark and her highlights still peak through!
6. If they want “dark” but not “too dark,” always fill with a shade lighter than your target color. Always warm, never fill with ash. You could also suggest lowlights, which I think she would like more than a darker solid color. I also liked a previous posters idea about doing a warm 7, perhaps demi-permanent so that it gives off a darker effect without going brown.
7. I would suggest lowlights, often when a client is really blonde and you go solid dark, it’s such a drastic change, they’re often unsure about how they feel about it. If you do end up going for a solid brown, I would defiantly fill so that it won’t fade to an ugly shade once she starts washing it. Once you have your target color you’ll want to fill the hair with the missing pigments, often something with gold in it. I usually go with a straight gold, Level 7 or 8. I also sometimes go a level in between what she’s at and the desire level…so, for example, let’s say she’s a Level 10 and want’s a Level 6, I would fill with a Level 8.
8. Try slicing some lowlights into her existing blonde (touch-up regrowth with the same blonde color).
9. Do lowlights! I prefer doing a lot of highlights and fine weaving instead of fewer, chunky highlights (but do whatever you prefer). Leave some of the lighter pieces so she feels she is not too “dark”. Plus it gives the hair a beautiful contrast and dimension. It won’t look dull, boring or dark.
10. Never do a corrective with a permanent color. Why lift and then deposit when all you need is to deposit? Since she hated being dark last time and she’s heavily highlighted, why not do a lowlight with a Level 6 being your target and fill with the 07C? Bouncing from one end of the spectrum to the other is psychologically daunting for most clients.
Shout-out to all our BTC friends who contributed to this article: Wendy Mitchell-Weinheimer; Ashley Bachman; Shelly Hausfeld Snyder; Heather Carlstrom Meyer; Victoria Robles Radloff; Melissa Baxter; Samantha Shepherd; Kaitlyn Koop; Nadia Arcieri; and Megan McDermott.