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Last updated: December 07, 2017

6 Dos and Don’ts of Cool Results

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How to say buh-bye to brass and hello to modern, milky and metallic tones


There’s a hot new trend in haircolor and it’s really cool. Literally. Cool, milky and metallic shades that eschew any trace of obvious yellow, red or orange are in hot demand from brunette clients who are plowing through Pinterest and Instagram, uncovering the work of cool-meisters like social media superstar Guy Tang, and the cool blonde and tawny shades sported by beauties like Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez. Suddenly—thanks to new formulations and new techniques—it’s possible to control even the darkest levels that always pull warmth, and offer clients flattering, wearable, brass-free results.



The Character of Modern Cool
Today, there are many ways to achieve a cool color result. Blue/violet formulas control warmth and produce icy or ashy results, and now can be refined in tones of blue silver, blue pearl or blue green for nuanced, sophisticated results. Metallic finishes are also new—think pewter-y violet tones à la Kelly Osbourne. “Our Silver Metallic Series is really versatile,” comments Kenra Professional Senior Artistic Director, Robb Dubré. “The silver blue tones become more blue violet as they lighten. They have a true, silver violet reflection, and they can also be mixed with our B series to create cooler brown results. If you’re covering gray, the Silver Metallics will control the underlying pigment on the pigmented hair and create a metallic finish on the gray.”


Goldwell Lead Art Director, North American Artistic Team, John Simpson sees modern, fresh, cool tones shifting from traditional blue and purple hues, into sandy beige shades, designed for a tone-on-tone effect. “Tone-on-tone doesn’t have to look dull,” he explains. “Light, medium and dark tones evoke the look of natural hair, but with the right placement, the results can be very high fashion.”  


Dos and Don’ts of Color Results

1. Do
…lift haircolor high enough before toning. If there is remaining underlying warm pigment, it will gradually be revealed as the toner starts to fade. Robb Dubré agrees, and offers this advice: “If you lift to Level 7 and you tone with Level 7, the warmth will show,” he says. “If you lift to Level 8 and tone with Level 7, you will get a much cooler end result.”



2. Don’t…think that cool hair contains absolutely no warmth. “You still have to embrace some of the warmth in the hair,” explains John Simpson, “otherwise the color will appear drab and flat.” Using modern gold violets and gold beiges are great ways to produce that nuanced look. To create Jennifer Lopez’s milky-white, caramel effect, for example, John would apply Goldwell Colorance 8BA + 9GB after lightening the hair, explaining, “The 8BA is cool and the 9GB provides a beautiful, reflective quality.” For Matrix Artistic Designer, Michael Albor, Matrix Gloss Sync 10VG is a go-to when toning. “It’s cool with a little bit of gloss,” he explains. “It gives the hair depth and makes it super shiny. And the Matrix COLORINSIDER GB range is color for dummies!” he adds. “Mix up 10GB + 30-volume and you don’t even have to think. You get a cool beige with a little bit of gold and enough light reflection to make the hair brilliant and shiny.”


3. Do…have patience. “When lifting the base color, I truly do follow the manufacturer’s recommended processing time,” comments Guy Tang. “If you don’t, you won’t get enough lift to remove warmth. I’ve tried all types of accelerators, but I’ve learned that heat causes hot roots and really, you can’t bake a cake in five minutes. If the instructions say process for 35 minutes, process for 35 minutes—you’ll get the results and the longevity you want.”


4. Don’t…think you have to do it all in one step. Michael Albor “grew up” coloring hair among the heavily Latina population in Miami. Today he works in Boston, where he keeps winning Boston Magazine’s “Best of Brunette” Award. “The most important advice I can give to avoid warmth when lifting dark hair,” says the brunette expert, “is not to lift the base too much to begin with so that you aren’t fighting the underlying pigment. So when I’m taking someone with a dark natural level to a lighter shade, I explain that it will be necessary to use highlights to lighten and brighten their hair, rather than try to achieve the result in a single process.”


5. Don’t…over-lift. The flip side of under-lifting is removing too much pigment from the hair, says Guy. “If you over-lift, the hair will appear gray or green because there isn’t enough underlying pigment. You need enough warmth in the lighter hair to harmonize with a dark base, otherwise you’ll get a black and white skunk effect. So even if you’re creating a natural, light ash blonde, you need to leave some gold in the hair to neutralize—otherwise you’ll get gray hair.”


6. Don’t…over-promise. Instagram is great for sharing ideas and inspiration, but it can also be a hairdresser’s worst nightmare when clients crave online hues that may not be doable on their natural levels. “They see my work and put so much pressure on other hairdressers,” Guy admits. “What if the model is a Level 4 and the client in your chair is a Level 1? After I did Michelle Phan, every girl brought in her picture, and I had to explain to many of them that they had a different base color, and Michelle’s result wasn’t possible. So under-promise and let them know the reality of the situation. I always tell my clients, ‘I will make you your own star!’ Because all they really want is a change that makes them feel beautiful.”