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How to Apply Dye on Hair: 10 Things You Need to Get Right

1. Apply hair dye on dry, unwashed hair

All hair dye has been designed to work best on dry, unwashed hair. The oil from your hair will protect the scalp while it is being colored.

All you need to do to prepare the hair for coloring is comb it finely so that you are ready to start sectioning. 

2. Assess how many levels you are lifting

You must do a very accurate assessment of every part of your client's hair and determine how many levels you are trying to lift.

You must do this for every part of the hair, for example for the regrowth area as as well as for the ends. 

Based on this analysis, you will be able to calculate the developer strength you need and also which part of the hair you need to deal with first.

NB If you are looking to lift any part of your client's hair by more than 3 levels, you will need to use a high lift product or a lightener.

3. Choose the correct strength of developer.

For level on level coloring, use 10 Vol developer.

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

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

For 3 levels and more, use 40 Vol developer.

If you are toning pre-lightened hair, use 10 Vol if the hair is already very very blonde (level 10). Otherwise, use 20 Vol.

4. Measure the hair dye and developer carefully. 

The right mix between hair dye and developer will have a huge impact on the hair color result.

If you put in too little developer, you won’t be opening the hair cuticle enough. If you put in too much developer, you will be lightening the hair but not depositing enough hair dye and the color won’t last.

So always measure your hair dye and developer properly. We recommend using either kitchen scales or a measuring bowl with markers.

For most Ugly Duckling hair color, the correct mix is 1 part hair dye to 1 part developer.

For high lift colors, the correct mix is 1 part hair dye to 2 parts developer.

For toners, the correct mix is 1 part toner to 2 parts developer.

5. Section the hair correctly before applying hair dye

Part the hair into 4 big sections. Tie up 3 sections with a clip. 

On the remaining unclipped section, start taking ¼ inch mini-sections in order to apply the color with your dye brush. Lift each strand up and apply color from just away from the scalp to the ends. Neat, even sectioning is really really important.

Taking fine sections will help you achieve even color results.

Once you have completed 1 big section in this way, pin up again. Then start on another section and do mini sections on this one in the same way.

Repeat on all sections until you have finished coloring the hair.

6. Use Enough Product.

In order to get the most vibrant color possible, you must use enough product mix and you must saturate the hair properly. The image below shows a section of hair after the product has been applied:

7. Use your fingers to do the coloring a second time 

Run through the hair a second time after applying the color, with fingers (wearing gloves). Make a second mix if necessary. By using your fingers you can spread out the color (avoid patches) and deposit more color into the cortex just as the cuticle is opening up. 

This is what makes the color really intense and vibrant when you are dyeing hair. If your customer has white hair, you should also cross-check how well you have covered the white hair by re-sectioning the hair and checking that all white hair has been properly covered.

Some areas such as the nape area are particularly resistant and you need to pay particular attention here. Avoid using combs to color or re-color, as you can end up ruining the hair cuticles which have been opened in the coloring process.

8. Respect the processing time

For most colors, the processing time is 30 minutes.

For toners, rinse off when the correct color appears (around 10-15 minutes is normal).

For high lift colors: up to 40 minutes. 

9. Emulsify

Before rinsing, add a little water to the color and rub at the scalp area. Then rub well around the hairline first, then middle and nape.

This process is known as emulsification. It helps lock in the color into the hair, and gives you really vibrant, long-lasting color results plus hair that feels full and very well conditioned.

10. Shampoo using an acidic (low pH) shampoo, conditioner or mask.

Use an acidic shampoo and conditioner to close the hair cuticle and return the hair to its natural pH level.