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Hair Correctly Lifted to Level 9. Some yellow which can be neutralized with a toner.

The Hair Color Wheel - The Secrets to Color Neutralization and Tone Correction that All Hair Stylists Need to Know!

Q: How Should I use the Hair Color Wheel as a Colorist? 

A: Simply Read off the Opposite Color on the Color Wheel to Know Which Color You Need to Neutralize. 

  • Each color has a relationship with every other color. The Hair Color Wheel is a way of showing this relationship. 
  • Colors which are on opposite ends from each other will tend to cancel each other out.
  • In Hairdressers' parlance, these colors will neutralize each other.
  • So purple is the opposite of yellow. Purple will neutralize yellow.
  • Blue is the opposite of yellow/orange. Blue will neutralize yellow/orange.
  • Red is the opposite of green. Red will neutralize green.

The Hair Color Wheel

Q: How can the Hair Color Wheel Help me in the Salon? 

A: The following color neutralization issues are very common in a salon:

  • You lifted a customer’s hair with bleach but there is still yellow left in the hair.
  • You lifted a customer’s hair from dark brown to blonde but there is still orange left in the hair.
  • You lifted a customer’s hair from dark brown to brown but there is still red left in the hair.

In general, you need to remember these rules about Color Neutralization:

  • Green cancels out red on hair that has been lifted to brown or light brown.
  • Blue cancels out orange on hair that has been lifted to dark blonde.
  • Violet cancels out yellow on hair that has been lifted to blonde.

In these three cases above, using the opposite color can help you achieve your desired result quite easily. This method is called "using mix colors to neutralize."

  • In each case you are using the opposite color on the color wheel to counteract the unwanted red, orange and yellow.
  • The technique here is to add in a very small quantity of the opposite color.
  • So use greenblue and violet as color additives or mix colors
  • The normal mix ratio here would be 1 inch of green/blue/violet added to 1 tube of regular color. 
  • The blonder the level you are working at, the less of the additive you should add - otherwise you may end up with blue or purple hair.
  • So rather than one inch to one tube of regular color, try 3/4 inch of one tube. 
  • Add in the same amount of developer as you have of color: 1:1 mix is the normal mix for Ugly Duckling color.

Q: Can I use pre-mixed ash additives to neutralize hair color instead of mix colors? 

A: Yes, with Ugly Duckling Additives you can do this.

  • Instead of using pure color to neutralize, use Ugly Duckling's Ash Blue Additive or Ash Grey Additive.
  • It's actually a good idea to use this. It's far easier than using pure mix colors as described above.
  • Ash Grey Additive has been developed to add in green for bases up to level 6. You can add in an inch of this into your color mix. This helps counteract brassiness (yellow/orange) in brown hair.
  • Ash Blue Additive has been developed to add in blue for bases 6 and up. You can add in an inch of this into your color mix. This helps counteract brassiness (yellow) in blonde hair.
  • The recommended technique here is to squeeze in a little of your chosen ash additive (around 1 inch is good to start with) to a full tube of the blonde color that you are using. 
  • Note that these additives will tend to take your color level down by about 1 tone.

Q: So I Want to Take My Client Totally White Blonde and she has Yellow Hair. What Should I do?

A: Use Purple Based Toners to Neutralize Yellow if you are Planning to take the Hair to an Ultra White Blonde

  • The first thing is always to check that you have lifted your client's hair to as light as it will go.
  • Then use one of Ugly Duckling's purple based toners and colors -  they are extremely effective at neutralizing yellow and they also lift.
  • They have all been formulated to help you achieve ultra white blonde, in different reflects, on yellow hair.
  • Use Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V (purple based) or No-Lift Pearl Blonde toner 10V (also purple based).
  • The "V" stands for Violet or Purple.
  • You can also use 10.2 Extra Cold Ash Blonde. This is a regular color and has really vivid and it has especially intense purple pigments built in.
  • Being a regular color, it is stronger than a toner and will neutralize yellow more. You leave it in for 30 minutes as you would for any regular color.
  • Finish with Purple Shampoo & Mask. This also helps. But make sure the basic neutralization has been done first.

Watch the Video Below of 10.2 and Purple Shampoo in use After Bleaching to Neutralize Yellow Hair and Produce a Stunning Super White Blonde Color! 

Hair by Elona Taki

Hair Color Wheel - using purple

Or watch on this link:


Q: My Client Has Yellow Hair And Wants to Go Ash Blonde. What Should I do?

A: Use Blue Based Extra Light Blonde 10.1b to Neutralize Yellow & Give Your Client a Beautiful  Ultra Ashy Blonde Result

Watch the Video Below of Blue Based Extra Cold Ash Blonde 10.1b in Action!

Hair by Brittney Perez.




Using Blue Based Dyes

Hair by Elona Taki

Q: My Client Has Orange Hair. What Should I do?

A: Use Green to Neutralize Orange Hair if you are Planning to Give Your Client a Dark Blonde Result or Darker

  • As long as you are not looking to go lighter, you can use your choice of (a) green (b) ash grey additive or (c) any of Ugly Duckling's green based ash blonde colors.
  • Ugly Duckling's regular ash colors are green based - in fact they contain a lot of green! (more than most color ranges).
  • 3.11, 4.115.11 are double ash reflhttps://fb.watch/408O052ojs/ects - extra amounts of green based ash to fight red on dark bases.
  • At higher levels, you can use 6.1, 7.1, 8.1, 9.110.1 - all green based ash colors.
  • It is, however, important to remember that the above techniques work very well in tone-down cases.
  • But in tone-up cases, in other words where you are trying to go significantly lighter, you really need to lift first properly using a lightener, then neutralize using a toner.

Q: My Client's Hair is Orange. I Want to Take it Blonde. But it's so damaged that I am Scared to Lift it Any Further. What Should I do?

A: In this case use Green to Neutralize Orange Hair 

  • The case below shows a customer whose hair had been colored many times.
  • It was basically impossible to lift it up beyond a certain level without damaging her hair.
  • Our stylist used green to neutralize an impossibly orange hair color.
  • Watch the Video below to see this in action!

Using Green to Neutralize

Q: Can I Use Toners to Kill Brassy, Orange or Yellow?

A: Yes, you can - but you need to get the hair correctly pre-lightened to level 9/10

  • Ugly Duckling's toner range have been formulated with exactly that aim in mind.
  • They have very fast acting pigments which typically neutralize in around 10 minutes.
  • Use Intense Pearl Blonde 100V or Intense Silver Blonde 100B for first time applications or when the color is still yellow (level 9)
  • Use Pearl Blonde Toner or Silver Blonde Toner when the lift is correct (level 10).
  • When using toners it is really important to pre-lighten dark areas of the hair and get everything up to as close to level 9/10 as possible.

Q: I'm doing all that but I am still not getting the Ashy Blonde Result that I am looking for. What am I doing wrong?

A: Almost certainly you need to lift the hair more. 

  • If you are looking for a white blonde or an ashy blonde, color neutralization from a dark level will not work.
  • Almost certainly you need to lift the hair more. 
  • Use a quality lightener and lift the hair up, ideally all the way to level 10. That way you will get rid of all yellow and orange.
  • Then apply a toner as above.

Examples of Hair that has been correctly lifted to level 9/10

Level 9

Hair that has been lifted to level 10

Q: How do I tone yellow hair?

A: Use Ugly Duckling Intense Toners

  • In general, we always recommend that you first lift the hair correctly (see picture above) before attempting to tone.
  • If you have done that, and the hair is still yellow, use Ugly Duckling's Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V or Intense Silver Blonde Toner 100B.
  • These toners have a special "booster" in them which will get rid of any remaining yellow.
  • This is what makes them among the most effective toners on the market today.
  • Use with 20 Vol developer in a 1:2 mix.
  • Try & work fast because these toners are very fast acting & you want to give all the hair an equal processing time as much as possible.
  • If you have long hair, tone the root area the last - it will process very fast there because of the heat from the scalp.

Q: My hair pulls orange. What should I do?

A: Sorry, there is no such thing as hair that "pulls orange."

  • There is, however, such a thing as a stylist that does not lift enough!
  • Don't misuse the color wheel and think you can just dump in ash and more ash and kill brassiness. It doesn't work like that.
  • Hair has its natural melanin which is causing that orange and that brassiness. You need to remove that first.
  • Lift up the hair to a true level 9/10. Use a quality lightener that works well on dark hair.
  • Then apply your ash toners as above. You will get a much better result.

Q: My customer has dark hair. She wants to go blonde. How do I get rid of all the orange as I lift?

A: Just keep lifting all the way up. It will transition from orange to yellow to pale yellow as you do so.

  • We do recommend you use Ugly Duckling bleaches whenever possible. All bleaches are not the same and have different lifting powers.
  • Brilliant Blonde is what we recommend when you have "heavy lifting" to do. It has been designed for dark hair and it lifts 8 levels.
  • Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect is what we recommend when you need to go in near the scalp and when you need a gentle bleach.
  • Brilliant Blondexx has Bond Protect built in and will protect hair from breakage as you lift.
  • We also recommend you use Ugly Duckling pearl blonde and silver toners. They are very heavily pigmented and provide for fast and effective toning.

Watch This Video to See Dark Hair Bleached Correctly and Toned to Pearl Blonde in One Sitting

Products Used:

  • Brilliant Blonde Lightener
  • Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V
  • Purple Shampoo and Mask
  • Developer

Hair by Ashley Betancourt