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Home / Blog/ How to Color Hair in 2022 - A Complete Guide for Professional Stylists
Home Blog How to Color Hair in 2022 - A Complete Guide for Professional Stylists
9.23 Extra Light Rose Beige Blonde - No Lightener Used

How to Color Hair in 2022 - A Complete Guide for Professional Stylists


Bullet Point Summary - The Basics of Hair Coloring in 2022

Before Bleaching

Hair Segmented & Tied Up & Ready For Coloring. Try and be neat in your work. It will help!

  • Always apply hair color on dry, unwashed hair.
  • Choose developer strength according to how many levels you need to lift.
  • Use 20 Vol developer for 1-2 levels, 30 Vol for 2-3 levels & 40 Vol for 3 levels. 
  • If you are going more than 3 levels lighter, you will need to use bleach first.
  • Stick to the recommended color and developer mix rules.
  • For Ugly Duckling colors, the mix is 1+1.
  • For Ugly Duckling toners & high lift colors, the mix is 1+2.
  • Segment hair neatly and start working from the back for a full head application.
  • Do a second application using fingers and gloves.
  • Emulsify after processing is over and then rinse.



Violet and Silver Blonde Shadow Root. 

Products Used:

  • Brilliant Blonde Lightener for re-growth
  • Violet with Intense Silver Blonde 100B for root area
  • Intense Silver Blonde 100B for lengths
  • 20 Vol Developer

Hair by Elona Taki

Do These 12 Things to Get the Best Out of Your Color Application

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 client's 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 & decide your developer choice on that basis.

Do a very accurate assessment of every part of your client's hair.
The key questions you need to ask yourself are (a) "What level is the hair now?" and (b) "What level do you need to lighten in to?"
The difference between the two will help you determine the strength of developer you will use and whether you will need to use lightener or not.
Your developer choice will be a result of the number of levels that you are lifting by.


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, use 40 Vol developer.
For most cases of pre-lightening with lightener, use either 20 or 30 Vol developer. 
If you are toning we generally recommend 20 Vol not 10 Vol. You will get better vibrancy that way.

The hair coloring levels

Hair Color Levels

3. Roots First for Regrowth Applications, Lengths First for Full Head Applications

When doing a regrowth application, color at the root area and then pull the mix through to the ends at the end to refresh as necessary.

But when doing full head coloring, it's better to do the lengths first. Do the root area at the end. Hair always processes faster there, so you need to give that area less processing time.

4. Get your hair color and developer mix right. 

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. How do you measure the hair color and developer? Use 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 Ugly Duckling colors, the correct mix is 1 part hair dye to 2 parts developer.
  • For Ugly Duckling cream-based toners, the correct mix is also 1 part toner to 2 parts developer.
  • For Ugly Duckling's new ammonia-free liquid toning range (Blondify), the correct mix is 1 part toner to 1 part developer.

Use your dye brush to mix the color and the developer into a smooth paste with no lumps as in the picture below.

Or use an applicator bottle if you are using Blondify.

If you are using Ugly Duckling color, there is a lanolin oil additive in the color which will help make the paste nice, smooth and oily.

The lanolin also protects your scalp which gives greater scalp comfort during coloring.

5. How to Measure Your Hair Color & Developer.

The best way is to use kitchen scales. Place the empty bowl on the scale and set to zero.
Now add in your color. One full tube of Ugly Duckling color will usually be enough for medium length hair. (Ugly Duckling tubes are extra large sized - 3.5 oz).
Read off how many oz you have.

Now set it to zero again and if you are doing color, add in the same number of ounces of developer.
If you are doing toner or high lift color, add in double the amount of developer to toner..

If you are using bleach, also add in double the amount of developer to bleach
Just remember that one tube of Ugly Duckling Hair Color contains 3.5 oz of color

  • For Ugly Duckling colors, if you are using 1 whole tube, you need to pour in 3.5 oz of developer
  • For Ugly Duckling cream toners and high lift colors, again for 1 tube, you will need to pour in 7 oz of developer.
  • For Blondify (liquid ammonia-free toners), the bottle size is 2 oz, and you will need to pour in 2 oz of developer.

Color & Developer Mix

This is what a 1:1 hair color mix looks like - 1 part color to 1 part developer.

6. Get Your Bleach and Developer Mix Right

If you are using Ugly Duckling bleaches, the mix is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

Use the scoop in your bleach tub to measure out your bleach, then use the same scoop spoon to measure out developer.
With experience, you will learn to "sight-inspect" your mix and get it right without measuring.

For Ugly Duckling bleaches use 10 or 20 Vol for the root area.

Use 20 or 30 Vol for the lengths depending on how dark your hair is.

This is what a 1:2 bleach & developer mix looks like (Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx Bleach used)

7. Section the hair correctly before applying hair dye

Hair all tied up neatly

Section hair into large sections and pin up.

Separate the hair into big sections. Tie up sections with a clip.
Leave one section (usually the lower back section) down.
On the 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. fine sectioning is really really important. Otherwise the whole thing will end up being a mess!
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.

8. 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.
Ugly Duckling tubes are 3.5 oz, which is more than most colors.
So there is generally enough product for a generous use even for a long hair application.

9. 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). Don't hesitate to make a fresh mix if you have run out of product.
Ugly Duckling color tubes are fairly large - 3.5 oz compared to the usual 2 or 2.5 oz. So one tube of color with 3.5 oz of developer should give enough mix for most full head applications.
By using your fingers you can spread out the color (avoid patches) and also 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.

Applying color

Using fingers for a second color application

10. 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. 
Be aware that hair at the scalp processes faster than anywhere else due to the heat of the scalp. 
You need to watch this area when going lighter and be prepared to rinse as soon as this area looks done, even if this is before the 30 minutes are up.

Color processing on hair

Color all done and processing

11. Emulsify

Hair Emulsification

Hair being gently emulsified before the rinse.

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.

12. Shampoo using an acidic (low pH) shampoo

Use an acidic shampoo.
This will help close the hair cuticle, lock in the color and return the hair to its natural pH level. 
Don't assume all professional shampoo and mask is acidic and sulfate free.  You will need to check on the label.

All Ugly Duckling shampoos are low pH.

What to do When Going Darker

Hair Before Coloring

Dark hair tied up & ready for coloring. Notice how the back is let down...that is where the colorist is going to start.

When coloring darker, you can color the roots at the same time as the lengths.
The same applies during level on level coloring.
Just section the hair as explained above & apply color in the normal way.

What to do when going lighter (Dark Regrowth)

Going blonde - dark regrowth

This client wants to be blonde - but her regrowth is really quite dark. 

Lift the dark regrowth area first with lightener. 
Bring the dark part up to a very pale yellow.
Then tone the whole head, starting with the part which needs the most toning.

What to do When Going Lighter (Light Regrowth)

Very Light blonde hair ready for coloring

This client's regrowth has been correctly lifted to a level 10.

Do the regrowth and the ends at the same time. 
Do not over process the regrowth area as otherwise you may get "hot roots"
Rinse as soon as the roots have achieved the desired result.

What to do When Going Lighter (Long Hair)

Hair first lifted on the lengths

With very long hair, it is best to do the lifting in 2 stages - first lengths, then the roots.

When the hair length is very long, the application time itself can take 15-20 minutes - working fast.
In this case you don't want to let the color sit on the root area too long - you will get "hot roots".
So do the lengths first and then rinse.
Then do the regrowth separately.
You will get better control that way of the lifting process.

How to get Great Grey Hair Coverage 

Grey Hair Coverage Rules

25% grey hair.

All Ugly Duckling colors do contain pigments which will help color in grey hair.
Nevertheless, if grey hair coverage is an issue, it may be advisable to "add in some base".

In order to do this, mix some of the equivalent base color (ending in "N") or extra coverage color (ending in "NN) into your desired color choice.

The rule is to add as much of the base as the client has grey hair.

So, for example, add in 25% base when your client has 25% grey hair, 50% base when she has 50% grey hair, and so on.

Color Correction Issues

Brassy Hair

Dark blonde regrowth, yellow & brassy mid-lengths, white ends. Three different colors in this client's hair!

Very very brassy hair

Once again - 3 different colors. Red, orange and just plain brown at the roots.

If the hair is too brassy, too yellow or too orange, he best solution is always to lift first with a quality bleach.
We used bleach in both the cases above. Clearly, we bleached more in the second case compared to the first case.
Ugly Duckling's Bond Protect Bleach Brilliant Blondexx should be your go-to bleach for this purpose, It has anti-breakage built in and it is gentle on the hair as well as the scalp area.
If your client is unwilling to lift, then you will need to tone down her hair to get rid of brass.
Use Ugly Duckling cold ash blonde shades (Blue based) for level 6 and lighter.

Consider adding in Ash Blue Additive also. It will help tone down yellow.

Use Ugly Duckling's ash and extra ash shades for level 6 and darker. Consider adding in Ash Grey Additive when working at this darker level.

It will help tone down orange and red.

Q: Which are Ugly Duckling Best Selling Blonding Colors & Toners?

A: Ugly Duckling's Best Known Toners are Given Below. 

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V on pre-lightened hair.

Pearl Blonde Toner 10V

Pearl Blonde Toner 10V on pre-lightened hair.

Silver Grey

Silver Grey on pre-lightened Hair

Extra Cold Ash Blonde 10.1b

Extra Cold Ash Blonde 10.1b on pre-lightened hair.

Q: Which are Ugly Duckling Best Selling Fashion Colors?

A: Ugly Duckling's Best Selling Fashion Colors are Given Below.

Rose Gold

Rose Gold

Intense Violet Blonde 7.22

Intense Violet Blonde 7.22/7VV

Ruby Red

Ruby Red

Rose Gold

9.23 Rosy Beige Blonde 

Pretty Pink, Rose Gold Fuschia Pink

Mix of Pretty PinkRose Gold & Fuschia Pink. Achieved on Prelightened Hair.

Violet Root & Silver

Violet & Intense Silver Blonde 


How do I know which color, bleach or toner to use?

Start by looking at your hair carefully and doing an analysis of the ends, mid-lengths and regrowth areas. If they are different colors, for sure you are going to have to do different things in those areas before you can do your final coloring or toning.

You can use the Ugly Duckling Color Advice app to help you do this.

What should I do 48 hours before coloring?

Nothing. Don't even shampoo. Hair color and bleach and toner works best on dry, unwashed hair. The reason is that your customer's hair produces natural oils which help protect the hair during the coloring process, and especially protect the root area.

Note: If you are needing to do a double process coloring operation, you don't need to blow dry after bleaching. Just towel dry thoroughly so that there is no excess water in the hair. Our toners do work very well on wet hair as well as dry.

I have dark hair. How light can I go?

There is no limit with Ugly Duckling bleaches and toners. We have tutorials where we take customers from virgin dark to ultra white platinum blonde in one session. It will take time, that's all. Above all, get the processes and the products right.

I'm looking for personalized hair color choice advice. Where should I go?

Consult the Ugly Duckling Color Advice app. for hair color ideas and detailed recipes.

I need advice on which developer strength to use. Where should I go?

Go here: Ugly Duckling Developer Choice app.

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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