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A colorist's guide for achieving flawless grey hair coverage


Understanding Grey Hair Coverage

Grey hair is a natural part of the aging process, and achieving full coverage requires a strategic approach.

Quality professional hair color products such as Ugly Duckling are formulated with advanced technology to effectively cover grey hair while at the same time achieving really attractive color results.

That could be blonde or brunette. It should look natural.

And it should never look painted - as box color too often tends to look.

A step-by-step approach to grey hair coverage

So now let’s go through the steps you need to take to choose the right color for you and achieve the most attractive look.

1. Check the natural level of your hair

Hair Color Levels

Hair Color Levels

Unless the hair is 100% percent white, there will be some natural hair there. Use the chart above to assess what that level is. 

2. Check the desired level of the hair

Now use the same chart now to determine what level you are aiming for

3. Calculate the number of levels that you will be lifting by

Subtract the target level from the natural hair color level. This will give you the number of levels by which you are going to be lifting the hair today.

4. Now select your shade from the shades below.

You can choose from Ugly Duckling’s base shades and also from Ugly Duckling’s brown shades.

The base shades give flawless coverage.

The brown shades give flawless coverage plus vibrant & natural looking reflects.

You can also combine the two. Hairdressers often do this to achieve a balance of coverage and reflects.

5. Get your developer choice right and decide whether you will be using bleach first

If the number of levels you are lifting by is 1-2, use 20 Vol developer and mix with your chosen shade in a ratio of 1 part color to 1 part developer.

If however, you are aiming to lift by 3 levels or more, you should first bleach the hair.

Use 20 Vol if you are bleaching by 3 levels or less, and 30 Vol developer if you are lifting the hair more than 3 levels.

Get the hair up to pale yellow with no orange whatsoever. Then rinse.

Then apply your chosen color with 20 Vol developer.

6. Prepare your products before coloring and bleaching

Make sure that you have everything that you need at hand: brush, bowl, clips, gloves, timer.

Ugly Duckling sells many of these items.

7. Protect the hairline

Apply any cream or petroleum jelly along your hairline and ears to prevent staining

8. Mixing your products

For hair color, the mix is 1 part color to 1 part developer.

If you are pre-bleaching, use 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

Mix really well until you achieve a smooth, even consistency.

9. Start at the part that needs the most coverage.

Full head coverage

Hair prepared for full head coverage - start at the back

Root coverage

Dark roots need to be redone - start at the root

If this is a full head coverage on virgin hair, you will need to start at the back.

If you have a root regrowth, however, you will need to start on the root area first.

If it is dark root (natural level dark, needing 3 levels of lift as above) you will need to bleach that area first.

10 Process & Rinse

Process for around 30 minutes.

Then pour in a trickle of water and rub the hair thoroughly.

This is known as emulsification. It will improve the quality of color that you get.

Then rinse, towel and blow dry.

For Very Stubborn Greys

For particularly resistant grey strands, consider pre-treating them with 20 Vol developer before applying the hair color.

This helps open up the cuticle and allows the color to penetrate more effectively.

Blonde Transformations

Blonde transformations

Going blonde is a great way to cover grey hair

Even if you are not a natural blonde, you may decide that with the onset of grey hair that you would like to go blonde.

It's a good idea, because the lighter you go, the easier it is to achieve a flawless look.

Select a blonde shade that complements your skin tone. Warm-toned skin pairs well with golden or honey blondes, while cool-toned skin pairs nicely with ash or platinum blondes.

If you're going significantly lighter, you may need to bleach your hair first. Then follow up with an Ugly Duckling blonde toner to achieve your desired blonde hue and eliminate unwanted brassiness.

To keep your blonde vibrant, use a purple toned shampoo and conditioner to counteract any yellow or brassy tones that may develop over time. Ugly Duckling does have these.

Brunette Transformations

For going brunette, you should consider Ugly Duckling's brown range.

Warm skin tones can opt for rich chocolate or caramel browns, while cool tones can explore ashy or espresso hues. 

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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