Expert Advice

FIRST SKILLS COLOR: How to Help a Client Transition to Naturally Gray or White Hair

Anne Moratto | October 12, 2015 | 5:54 PM

Gray, silver and platinum-white haircolor has been on-trend for younger clients, but occasionally a mature client will decide she is ready to stop coloring her hair
and work back to a more natural look. Wella Design Team Member Justine Hornick says the colorist must walk their client through a decision that will impact more
than just haircolor.

“One of my passions as an educator is to allow the colorist to be the professional and the concierge of our business and not be an order-taker,” says Hornick,
artistic director at Root Salons in Minneapolis. “When a client decides to stop covering her gray, it can really shift her own perception of age and also how
people view her.”

Hornick recommends touching on these points during the consultation:

READY FOR IT: “First, I assess if they have given this some real thought and have worked up to it for a good six months,” Hornick says. “If it’s a spur-ofthe-
moment decision, I say, ‘Let’s hang out and think about this.’”

TIME: “Hair is not maintenance-free after we stop coloring it. It can sometimes take more than a year to get to the right natural shade.”

TEXTURE: Besides the way it looks, gray hair feels different, too. “Unpigmented hair is lacking protein and moisture, which can make it more coarse and unruly.
Coloring hair might have made it softer, so their texture might change, and you have to make sure they are up for that, too.”

TONE: “Sometimes their natural color isn’t what is best suited for their skin tone. If they have more warm tones and they tan really easily, with green or brown eyes, they look better in golden tones and won’t look so great with a smoky/ashy silver, so we add brown to their gray once it grows it out. We might paint in some lowlights, too.”

GROW FOR IT:  When they are ready to start the grow-out process, Hornick again takes a less-is-more approach. “I’m a big fan of  ne foiling throughout the top of the hair and in the part to get them started,” Hornick says. “I like them to have a good amount of regrowth, so I do this every eight to 16 weeks, and I also cut off as much hair from the bottom as they can tolerate. The foil breaks up the color so the eye doesn’t go right to the new growth against the gray.”

LIKE A GLOSS: Unpigmented hair turns yellow or gold easily, so after they have stopped coloring, many of Hornick’s clients come in every six to eight weeks to have a violet pigmented glossing service. “A custom gloss with Wella Illumina Color or Relights from ColorTouch gives great, luminous shine to the hair,” Hornick says. “It also tinges the actual tone from brassy to restore the vibrancy of silver and platinum.”

Sema Conde, a Los Angeles-based colorist, had a client ready and willing to embrace change—her mother. Mom had been coloring her hair every two weeks for years and was prepared for a dramatic shift. Conde says the key is even consistency and saturation. She keeps color even by applying measured bleach to foil before
placing it on a section to ensure hair will be completely saturated.


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