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Home Blog How to Color Hair (Step by Step, Video & End Results) - A Complete Guide for Professional Stylists
9.23 Extra Light Rose Beige Blonde - No Lightener Used

How to Color Hair (Step by Step, Video & End Results) - A Complete Guide for Professional Stylists

Bullet Point Summary - The Basics of Hair Coloring

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.


Do These 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

  • 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.

Hair Color Levels

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, 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.

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. 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 colors, the correct mix is 1 part hair dye to 2 parts developer.
  • For toners, the correct mix is also 1 part toner to 2 parts developer.
  • Use your dye brush to mix the color and the developer into a smooth paste with no lumps as in the picture below.
  • 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. The Easy Way 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
  • So for Ugly Duckling colors, if you are using 1 whole tube, you need to pour in 3.5 oz of developer
  • For Ugly Duckling toners and high lift colors, again for 1 tube, you will need to pour in 7 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. How to mix Bleach with Developer.

  • For 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 20 Vol always 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)

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.

7. 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.

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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.

11. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 take extra steps as explained below.
  • Mix some of the equivalent base color (ending in "N") or extra coverage color (ending in "NN) into your desired color choice.
  • This is known as "adding the base".
  • 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- 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 - it will help tone down orange and red.

Video Tutorial 1

Violet and Silver Blonde Shadow Root. Hair by Elona Taki

Products Used:

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

Video Tutorial 2

Lifting Dark Virgin Hair with High Lift Color - No Bleach. Hair by Elona Taki

Products Used:

  • 100.11 High Lift Deep Ash Blonde

  • 40 Vol Developer

Video Tutorial 3

Lifting and Toning Asian Hair Blonde. Hair by Elona Taki

Products Used:

  • Brilliant Blonde Lightener

  • Pearl Blonde Toner 10V

  • 20 Vol Developer

  • NB For a new client we always recommend a patch test 24 hours in advance.
  • Here's how to do it: make a tiny mix of the color to be used and developer and apply onto the nape area just behind the ear.
  • If your client gets no reaction within 24 hours, that's good and you can go ahead and apply the color.

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