We often show the color journey for achieving a blonde finish but here Alex Coughlan @yeghairbyalex, from Edmonton, Alberta, helps us to explain to clients what’s going to happen if they want to go brunette from being a blonde. “It’s a bit of a process, and requires two steps to get there,” Coughlan says.


“First, let’s start with how we get blonde hair in the first place. Lightener (bleach), removes melanin from the hair and exposes the underlying pigments as it processes (red, orange, and yellow). Same as if you were to bleach a dark towel; it’s going to strip out the pigment and leave you with those warm orangey/peachy undertones.

“All hair is made up of a different combination/ratio of eumelanin (brown/black pigment) and pheomelanin (red/yellow pigment). The darker the natural hair, the more underlying pigment it contains.

"Generally, we refer to natural color levels on a scale ranging from 1-10. 1 being black, and 10 being the lightest blonde. Underlying pigments correspond to each level. So for a level 3, the underlying pigment is red 🍓, for a level 5—orange 🍊, and level 10—pale yellow. 🍌"




“In order to go from a level 10 blonde to a level 6 brown or darker, a ‘colour fill” is needed to replace the missing underlying pigments that have previously been removed. Think of it like having to put multiple coats of paint on a wall to make it look opaque and rich in color. If you were to put one coat of brown paint on a yellow wall it would look translucent, splotchy, and not true to color. Un-filled brunettes often fade to something greenish because there is no warmth present to neutralize the ash."


"With this client, I first toned her with a level 7 copper Schwarzkopf Professional 7-77 & 6 volume and processed for 15 mins (think of it like stepping back down the color pigment ladder!).

"To get to brown, I then formulated with Schwarzkopf Professional  1/3 5-1 + 2/3 5-0 at the root, and 1/3 5-1 + 2/3 6-0 on her ends.

 "End result—delicious chocolate!"

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.