Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that has the most impact. That’s the philosophy at Salon Blue in Chicago, where colorist and co-owner Katrina Lipe favors subtle color shifts.

“One technique we like is ‘ColorSplashing,’ in which cooler accent colors are added to the fringe or the perimeter,” says Lipe. “Placement is very specific; we don’t add foils everywhere.”

Salon Blue has specialized in “gorgeous color” for 14 years, and Lipe says one of the ways juniors learn to do it right is through an exercise in which they analyze magazine photos of beautiful models. By critically examining the models’ hair color, make-up and skin tones, then defining what looks good, they reach a Eureka moment as to why some colors work, and some don’t, she says.

“Some women think they can’t wear red or be a blonde. They can—it’s just a matter of getting the right shade of red or blonde,” adds Lipe. “Ultimately, when you can prove to a woman that hair color changes her skin tone, you have a client for life.”

Here, Lipe shows off her ColorSplashing technique to make long-time client April (who was a natural Level-8 blonde with heavy highlights and an inch of regrowth), a lighter, brighter blonde. By stressing maintenance, Lipe is able to shift her client’s shadings every season, she says, because the hair is always in great condition.

ColorSplashing (time: 50 minutes)

Formulas Used

1. One scoop Redken Up to 7 powder lightener with 1 ½-oz  40-volume developer.

2. 1/2-oz Redken Double Blonde N (high-lift blonde) with 1-oz 40-volume developer.

The Process

1. Part the hair off-center. Then randomly alternate the formulas along the part, on the heavy side only.

2. Alternate the formulas around the front hairline.

3. Process, rinse, shampoo and condition.

Long-time Salon Blue client April side-parts her hair, which Lipe uses as the basis for color placement. To make the hair lightest along the part line, she begins in front, at the heavy side. Working with finely woven, ¼-inch vertical sections, she randomly alternates the two formulas as she works to the back crown. Foils are placed on the heavy side of the part only.

If April’s natural color were darker, Lipe says she’d have added a few pieces on the opposite side, as well. Also, the fact the hair is long on top allows her to brighten just one side.

When Lipe reaches the back crown, she returns to the front. Beginning at the right ear, she foils the front hairline just around the face. Taking diagonal partings and using the same sized woven sections as before, she works from the ear to the center top, randomly alternating the formulas. Then she moves to the opposite ear and repeats the procedure.

It takes about 15 minutes to create the new color, which uses about 22 foils. The color processes for 35 minutes at room temperature before the hair is rinsed, shampooed and conditioned.

(Color by Katrina Lipe, hair styling by Katrina Lipe and M. K. King for Salon Blue, Chicago. Photo by Janice Hosick for Hosick and Brown Photography, Chicago; make-up by M. K. King and Yolanda Trejo for SB Face)