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Making Gray Hair Blonde

At first thought, it probably seems like making gray (non-pigmented) hair blonde should be a very simple and straightforward process. It would seem that you just mix any blonde color you desire; simply apply it, re-growth to ends and you're done.

If you've tried this before, you may get lucky once in a while, but eventually you will have problems such as:

Gray (non-pigmented) hair….

• Is not actually covered
• Looks too drab
• Looks pink
• Looks brassy gold
• Has a greenish cast
• Has a bluish cast
• Looks orange
• etc.


Formulating for gray (non-pigmented) hair has a few secret ground rules which we have to abide by in order to be successful and create beautiful colors on gray (non-pigmented) hair.


Secret Ground Rules

Secret Ground Rule #1

Never use a straight ash blonde tint on gray (non-pigmented) hair even if you want an ash blonde finished result.

Gray (non-pigmented) hair is ash by nature; therefore, if you use a straight ash tint on it, you will get very drab results.

Haircolor Secret
Ash Hair + Ash Tint = More Ash/Drab Color


The hair could look smoky, gunmetal green, lavender, or steel gray.

Secret Ground Rule #2

To get total gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will need to use a level 8 blonde or darker. (If the hair is a fine texture, level 9 may work).

Most manufacturers will tell you that, in order to get good gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair, you need to use a level 8 or darker. This is because in most cases, there is not enough dye load into levels 9 or 10 to obtain adequate gray coverage on resistant gray (non-pigmented) hair.

Secret Ground Rule #3

Never put a straight cool red tint on gray (non-pigmented) hair.

Gray (non-pigmented) hair lacks warmth (contributing color pigment/golden & red), so it will always show the full impact of the base in a tint.

Cool red colors such as RV’s (red violet) and PR’s (purple reds) will look pink in the lighter shades and lavender or mauve in the darker shades. This is because the hair itself has no gold (warmth) to compensate for the tint which would balance out the color.

The Secret Ground Rule #4

Gray (non-pigmented) hair will always turn yellow when lightened because of the pheomelanin (red-yellow) pigment which is still in the hair.

I already stated this at the beginning of this book. The reason I am emphasizing it is to make sure you realize that, before lightening gray (non-pigmented) hair, be prepared to tone if necessary.

Sometimes you'll get lucky and not have to use a toner at all, but in most cases, the yellow bleached-up gray (non-pigmented) hair will look raw or straw-like so just be ready to tone if needed.

Secret Ground Rule #5

All gray (non-pigmented) hair is not created equal and, therefore, will not react the same to tinting, bleaching or toning.

Coarse textured gray (non-pigmented) hair will always react slower and be more stubborn when tinting, bleaching or toning. Finer textured gray (non-pigmented) hair will always react quicker to tinting, bleaching and toning.

Keep in mind that on the same head of hair, you will have a mixture of fine, medium and coarse gray (non-pigmented) hair. And in some cases, you may have to treat these different parts of the head with separate hair color formulas.

Secret Ground Rule #6

In most cases, when covering 75% to 100% gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will have to mix the desired shade with either a gold base tint or a neutral/natural base tint in order to make up for the lack of warmth in the hair.

Most tints are made to be put on pigmented hair, which will give a contributing color pigment of red or gold. Therefore, if working on 100% gray (non-pigmented) hair, you will have to mix in the missing tone (gold/red), or both, in order to make up for the lack of this warmth in the gray (non-pigmented) hair.


This lesson is an excerpt from my book "Great Great Coverage" in the haircolor trade secrets program. If you would like more information Click Here

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