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Last updated: June 08, 2022

4 Prep Steps For The Perfect Bleach & Tone Retouch

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Instagram via @hairbychrissydanielle

Bleach & Tone Retouch: 4 Prep Steps To Never Skip

Uneven lift, breakage and banding—OH MY! If you experience these issues during a bleach touch-up service, the problem could be with your prep process. So before you grab the lightener, check out these four crucial steps to set you (and your client) up for success.


Create the bleach + tone of you (& your client’s) dreams: Click here!


Step 1: Check the regrowth 

The less regrowth = the easier the bleach out. “My golden rule for retouches is 4-5 weeks, no more no less,” explains 2021 Platinum #ONESHOT Winner Chrissy Danielle (@hairbychrissydanielle). Why? “Too soon can cause breakage, too late can result in uneven lift and banding.” 


Pro Tip: Porosity plays a huge role in even saturation and deposit when toning (because theyWILL need a toner!) So if the client’s hair feels porous, apply the Color Essentials Hair Primer from Schwarzkopf Professional. It help equalize different porosity level and allows toners to process evenly from root to ends.


Watch the video for more bleach + tone pro tips

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A post shared by CHRISSY | CLEVELAND, OH (@hairbychrissydanielle)


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Step 2: Perform a strand test

A strand test is an essential step to avoid disaster and achieve the desired result. Not sure what over-processed hair looks like? We snagged this cheat sheet from BTC Team Member Carly Zanoni (@the.blonde.chronicles) to help you out.


After letting the strand process, wipe away excess product and tug on the hair: 


  • Healthy Hair:
    • Won’t stretch
    • Doesn’t break
    • Won’t come off in your hands


  • Over-processed hair: 
    • Will be very stretchy 
    • Will break at the weakest point or
    • Will shed completely in your hands


Yes, you always do a strand test during the consultation—but do you ever do a skin test? You should! Here’s why. Just because a client is already blonde doesn’t mean their hair (or scalp) can handle more lightener. This is KEY: Check your routine bleach retouch clients for skin irritation or sensitivity. If you spot dryness, redness or delicate skin and apply a protectant like Color Essentials Scalp Protect from Schwarzkopf Professional. This will create a gentle barrier that protects and strengthens the scalp without compromising color results.


Need a visual? Hit play to watch Carly’s strand test!

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A post shared by Carly • EDU for Hairstylists (@the.blonde.chronicles)


Related: Want more bleach touch-up tips? Click here!


Step 3: Remove old color buildup

Over time, old color can build up on the hair and create a dull, almost dirty-looking shade. Adding fresh color on top of this is not ideal—but you know that. What you might not know is removing old color can be EASY. 


To gently remove unwanted color without compromising the health of the hair, Vancouver-based salon owner Katie Zaharik (@bobbyhairstudio) uses Bond Enforcing Color Remover from Schwarzkopf Professional. This creates a clean, optimal canvas for fresh tones. 


Hit play to remove old, muddy tones FAST!

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A post shared by ✨Vancouver Hair & Lash Studio✨ (@bobbyhairstudio)


Step 4: Prep the hair and scalp

Uneven lift and scalp irritation are common roadblocks to achieving a perfect (and enjoyable) retouch service. That’s why Chicago-based hairstylist Sam Stahl (@hairbysamstahl) uses a two-step prep process to ensure the best result and keep her client comfortable: 


  • Step One: Balance porosity. To protect against breakage and splotchy results, Sam applies Color Essentials Hair Primer from Schwarzkopf Professional. “The Hair Primer also helps equalize the structure of the hair from scalp to ends, adding extra insurance for even lift,” she explains. 


  • Step Two: Protect against irritation. For clients that are more sensitive, Sam applies Color Essentials Scalp Protect from Schwarzkopf Professional to create a gentle barrier between the skin and product. “It has a nozzle that makes applying it directly to the scalp quick and easy,” Sam explains. “It’s also great for clients that are sensitive to hair color—not just lightener.” 


Watch Sam’s quick + easy prep below!

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A post shared by SAM STAHL/CHICAGO HAIRSTYLIST (@hairbysamstahl)


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