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Articles > Hair Color > 3 Ways To Make Brunettes Look “Expensive”
February 28, 2022

3 Ways To Make Brunettes Look “Expensive”

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
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Pro Tip: Utilize brightness from your starting canvas for a face-framing effect.

How To Boost Your Ticket With Brunettes

We’ve seen “expensive brunettes” just about everywhere this year. Luxe, glossy tones with a rich dark brown base—the term was coined, and almost immediately, an influx of blonde clients rushed into our chairs requesting to go darker. But, what actually makes a brunette expensive?

 

Think about it like this: To clients, expensive brunette is a trend. To stylists, it’s an opportunity to maximize color services like filling the hair, or using lowlights and high-shine glosses to enhance dark brunettes. Keep scrollin’ for what makes brunettes look rich and cost more! 

 

 

1. Properly Repigmenting The Hair

Well, let’s start with what makes brunettes look inexpensive: Not repigmenting or “filling” the hair correctly. Skipping this step can cause the hair to look uneven and fade to green (yikes!). Before you transition hair from blonde to brunette—dropping several levels darker—you must replace the tones that were lost in the lightening process first. 

 

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
open color formula
close formula
  • Formula A (lightener)

    Alfaparf Milano BB Bleach High Lift + 20-volume developer

  • Formula B (lowlight)

    Alfaparf Milano Color Wear 6.32 + 5-volume developer

  • Formula C (melt)

    Color Wear 6.32 + 5 + 5-volume developer

  • Formula D (ends)

    Color Wear 7 + 6.32 + 5-volume developer

 

How To Transition From Blonde To Brunette

What if you didn’t need an extra step to fill—wait, what?! Here’s a trick: If you’re dropping down three levels or less, colorist Ashley Smith (@paintedbyashleymarie) says to formulate with Color Wear by Alfaparf Milano. Why? There’s no need to fill the hair!

 

Here are some of her go-to formulation rules:

 

  • Three levels or less: Skip the filling step and formulate with Color Wear. This will prevent lowlights from turning muddy or hollow. 

 

  • More than three levels: Fill the hair and add warmth to the formula, even if warmth is not the end goal, says Ashley. A few grams of warmth will keep the dark lowlights rich. 

 

  • Adding pigments: Ashley prefers to use warm or neutral tones for brunettes, especially if she is transitioning a client from blonde to dark. Blondes are lacking pigment and warmth, so replacing these tones will help create darker richness. 

 

Next, Ashley tones with Color Wear Gloss Toners.

The best brunettes have dimensional highs and lows, requiring bright (or subtle) ribbons of light. “Color Wear Gloss Toners only go as low as a Level 8,” says Ashley. “I love 8N for slight pops of brightness in brunettes. It’s very muted and soft, next to the dark rich tones of a brunette.”  

 

Try Color Wear Gloss Toners yourself—click here to see the shades!

 

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
open color formula
close formula
  • Formula A (lightener)

    Alfaparf Milano BB Bleach High Lift + 10-volume developer

  • Formula B (lowlight)

    Alfaparf Milano Color Wear 6.23 + 6 + 10-volume developer (1:1.5)

  • Formula C (melt)

    Color Wear 6.23 + 5.1 + 5-volume developer (1:1.5)

  • Formula D (gloss)

    Color Wear Gloss Toner 8.23 + 9N

 

2. Detail Work: Lowlights, Glossing + Placement

“There might not be foils or bleach when taking your blondes dark,” says Ashley. “However, there is a lot of product involved. Product costs MONEY! So charge accordingly!”

 

What does the cost look like? Here’s an example ⤵️

  • Fill: $35
  • All Over Color: $95
  • Top Gloss: $35
  • Treatment: $40
  • Cut & Style: $55
  • Total Cost: $260 

 

How to use reverse foilayage for brunette transformations

Let’s say you’re utilizing lowlights and a gloss to transition a client darker while maintaining brightness around the face frame. “Reverse foil work” can be just as complicated and detailed as going blonde, so make sure to charge for EVERY step along the way. Check out Ashley’s go-to formulas and top tips for lowlights below. 

 

Tap the beaker for the color formulas!

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
open color formula
close formula
  • Formula A (weave & tease foils)

    Alfaparf Milano BB Bleach High Lift + 20-volume developer

  • Formula B (chunky lowlight weaves)

    Alfaparf Milano Color Wear 6 + 7 + 7.21 + 10-volume developer (1:1.5)

  • Formula C (melt)

    Color Wear 6.23 + 5.1 + 5-volume developer (1:1.5)

  • Formula D (gloss)

    Alfaparf Milano Color Wear Gloss Toner 9.1 + 9.2 + splash of 9N + Clear

 

 

Watch the video tutorial for a visual breakdown and get the steps!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ashley | Balayage Edu | Albany (@paintedbyashleymarie)

 

Get The Steps:

  • Reverse foilayage placement – lowlights:
    • Chunky weave with a baby-fine weave on top 
    • Large ribbons with a weave layered on top 
    • Create a bricklay pattern
  • Pivot highlights around the hairline
  • After the second highlight, rotate in a fine-weave lowlight
  • Tone with Color Wear Gloss 8.21 + 9N 
 

3. Routine Toner Touch-Ups

“A lived-in brunette can go months without needing a highlight refresh,” says Ashley. “However, I do strongly encourage my guests to pop in for toners and treatments every 8 to 10 weeks.” Here’s why. Warmth lives naturally in a brunette—and that can easily start to look like brass. 

 

Keeping brunette clients coming back for touch-up services will help maintain their tones, get them on a schedule and keep your books (and pockets!) filled. Check out Ashley’s typical schedule below. 

 

  • 8 to 10 weeks: gloss, treatment and blow-dry
    • For example: 
      • Gloss: $35
      • Blow-dry: $40
      • Treatment: $40 
      • Total touch-up cost: $105
  • 16 to 20+ weeks: highlight, treatment and haircut 

 

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
open color formula
close formula
  • Formula A (melt)

    Alfaparf Milano Color Wear 5.32 + 3 + 10-volume developer (1:1)

  • Formula B (gloss)

    Color Wear 6.32 + 6.35 + squirt of 5 + 2 pumps of Ash Gold pigment + 10-volume developer (1:1)

 

 

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