Expert Advice

Beth Minardi on Blending Correctly

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 6:22 PM

Beth Minardi on Blending CorrectlyThe following response comes from internationally acclaimed salon colorist, educator and product consultant, Beth Minardi. She is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in all phases of coloring. 


Q. My client is at the age where she's looking to change from her long, single-process brown hair to a highlighted look with layers. She comes in every three weeks because she hates the gray she's seeing, but then she mentions she likes the "silver" look she's seen on women her age. She has a 50-percent salt and pepper mix in the front and top crown, which I've been coloring with a Level-4 permanent color, and her eyebrows are almost black. How do I go about highlighting her without the orange crisis? And what should I say about "silver"?

A. As I've said before, gray is an option every colorist must know how to handle, but it's not for every client. For some good guidelines on who can and cannot pull off the gray look, pick up Going Gray, Looking Great by Diana Jewell, for which my husband Carmine and I did gray-based hair and color designs. (You can get it at or through

My recommendation is to avoid rapid, significant color changes at this stage, and start blending the gray gradually. My preferred formula is equal parts Shades EQ 06G and 07NB with Processing Solution, applied with a bottle to regrowth only. Do not refresh the hair shaft with this formula. Process the color for 20 minutes under heat, then an additional 10 minutes at room temperature, followed by a shampoo, condition and styling.

You will note that this formula blends the white hair to about a Level 6 without significantly altering the natural Level-4 strands. The gray will appear to be a dark blonde highlight.

Repeat this technique every four to six weeks until about three inches of hair is blended rather than covered. You and your client can then choose whether to enhance the new shade with highlights, lowlights or a combination of both. You may even opt for a less-blended effect, achieved by switching to a more translucent formula such as equal parts Shades EQ 06G and 09NB. Because the client's eye has adjusted to less coverage, she can now visit you for color every six to 10 weeks.But don't be surprised if after six to nine months, your client wants to return to her previous total-coverage color. Many (but not all) simply don't look good gray. For those who do, a salon silver is very attractive. I promise to provide my readers with regular gray blending updates to build our expertise in this valid, potentially lucrative, salon service.


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