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How to Use Professional Hair Colors to Get Sensational Results


Using professional color leads to much better hair color results. 

But in order to get the best out of professional hair color, there are 8 important skills all colorists need to have.

Whatever your starting color and whatever your target color.

Let's discover these 8 skills now.

Understanding Hair Levels

The first skill any colorist needs to understand is hair levels. 

Hair levels describe how light or dark hair is.

With the 2 charts which we are giving below, we will allow you to read off the hair color level of any hair.

Use this chart to read off your client's hair color level if it is natural hair color:

Hair Color Levels

Hair Color Levels - Natural Hair

And use this chart to read off your client's color level if it is bleached or lightened hair color:

Hair Color Levels - Lightened Hair

Hair Color Levels - Lightened Hair

Rules About Developer Choice & Lifting

The next skill is understanding which developer strength to use. 

And whether you need to use bleach or not.

The rules are as follows:

For 1-2 levels lift, use your color with 20 Vol developer.

For 2-3 levels lift, use your color with 30 Vol developer.

For 3 levels lift, you can't use a regular color or toner. You will need to use either a high lift color or an intense toner (toner with added lift). Use this with 20 Vol developer.

For 4-5 levels lift, first use a good quality bleach with 20 Vol. developer. Then color or tone.

For 5-8 levels lift, first use a good quality bleach with 30 Vol developer. Then color or tone.

Lifting Dark Roots to Blonde

Lifting Dark Roots

Lifting dark roots is a really key skill!

Very often, roots are not the same color as ends.

And if they are different, you need to analyse the different parts of the hair separately. 

You need to lift the parts that are dark (in this case, the roots) first with bleach.

And you must do this before you attempt to color the whole hair.

Using Bleach

Using Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach with Bond Protect

Using bleach is another really big skill separating professionals from non-professionals.

Very often people are fearful about using bleach and high lift colors.

But there is no need to be fearful if you use good quality products and apply them in the correct way.

Make your mix 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

You may need several bowls in order to make separate mixes.

Really saturate the hair with the mixture. The hair needs to be soaking in it, otherwise it won't lift properly.

Start at the parts that need the most bleach and work fast so that the whole head lifts evenly.

Inspect carefully, peeling back the bleach mixture with your tail-comb to check that the bleach has lifted sufficiently.

It needs to be level 9 or 10 - very near to very pale yellow bordering on white.

That way you get all the brassiness out.

Rinse when done.

Using High Lift Colors or High Lift Toners To Take Hair Blonde

High Lift Toner

An application of Intense Pearl Blonde 100V - a high lift toner

When stylists see that the hair is fairly orange (even after bleaching) they tend to use either a high lift color or a high lift toner - Ugly Duckling has these.

To make things easy, we are now going to give you the most widely used Ugly Duckling high lift colors and high lift toners.

High Lift Colors

Use the following 2 colors for high lift.

They have ash tones added, so they will stop the hair from going brassy:


100.10 High Lift Ash Blonde


100.11 High Lift Deep Ash Blonde

High Lift Toners

Use these toners for high lift toning. They are some of the fastest acting and whitest toners on the market.

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Intense Silver Blonde Toner 100B

Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V

Using Liquid Toners To Remove Yellow 

Using Liquid toners is another key skill that colorists need to know.

They are the quick fix for brassy hair and yellow hair.

Liquid toners can be poured straight out of an applicator bottle right onto the hair.

You then just rub them into the hair - very thoroughly.

They can be applied fast and they process in 10 minutes only.

Which means these are the ideal products for toning and refreshing blonde highlights - without lifting a dark base or lowlights.

Ugly Duckling's liquid toners are called Blondify.

They are ammonia-free and they come with Bond Protect.

Use the violet based toner to neutralize yellow hair level 9 or 10.

Use the ash based toner to neutralize orange-yellow hair level 7 or 8.

Natural Violet Blonde 010V

Blondify 010V - Natural Violet Blonde

Natural Ash Blonde

Blondify 010A - Natural Ash Blonde

Getting the Best Out of Your Color - Application Tips

Hair Color

This is what a mix of Ugly Duckling cream color looks like

Color Application - a really important skill! Let's go through some of the steps.

First, make sure you follow the mix instructions correctly.

With most Ugly Duckling colors, the mix is 1 part color to 1 part developer.

With the high lift cream colors, Ugly Duckling permanent toners and bleaches, the mix is 1 part product to 2 parts developers.

When applying color or bleach, make sure you achieve good saturation.

Very simply, it means that the hair needs to get smothered with product.

You should also do a second application in the case of colors and cream toners using fingers and rubbing in product into the hair (wearing gloves).

The above applies when using any cream-based color.

When using Ugly Duckling liquid toners, application is easy.

You just pour the mix straight onto the hair.

But once, again you need to achieve good saturation.

Do this by rubbing the product well into the hair in order to get pigment saturation (use gloves, of course).

When any color or toner processing time is over, don't rinse straight away.

You need to emulsify first.

You do this by letting a little bit of water run into your hands and rubbing the color or toner mixture into the hair one more time.

Doing this will ensure that the pigments into the color penetrate completely into the cortex.

Then let the water flow fully: not too hot, in fact fairly cold water is preferable and will keep the hair color vivid.

Towel try and blow dry and you're done.

You should find that the hair is in as good and possibly even better condition after coloring if you have done it right.

With good quality products, of course!

Hair Care and Maintenance for Blondes

Blonde hair

This hair was bleached and then toned using Ugly Duckling 10.1b - a blue based ash blonde color.

Lastly: taking care and treating hair after it has been colored.

There are 2 sets of hair care products that we would recommend here.

The first is Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo and Mask.

This is a sulfate free purple toning hair care regime which will keep blonde hair from getting yellow. 

The second is Brilliant Blondexx treatment range for blonde, bleached and highlighted hair.

This contains Bond Protect and will strengthen fine, bleached blonde hair and make it healthier, thicker and stronger.

Both of these lines are acidic. Meaning that they will return the hair to the normal closed position and prevent split ends.

Purple Shampoo application

An application of Purple Mask at the backwash

About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.

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