HOW-TO: Low Maintenance Highlights with Major Impact

Mary Kaleta | May 3, 2018 | 1:46 PM
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MODERN Associate Editor Mary Kaleta with Platinum 34 owners George C. Long and Dianne Petersen
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When I visited Platinum 34 salon in Chicago's famous Gold Coast, I needed major hair-apy. Despite having spent the past 1.5 years in sunny Los Angeles, I was far from a California blonde. My highlights had turned brassy and grown out to create a stark contrast between my ends and the rest of my hair.

I wanted hair that was lighter for the summer months and felt (and looked) healthy and hydrated. Naturally, my hair is a darker brunette. I colored my hair for the first time when I was 23, and I've been wary of highlights because they typically turn brassy quickly. I was apprehensive to lighten my hair again and was convinced the color of my natural hair simply made the idea of nonbrassy highlights impossible.

Thankfully, I was in the hands of a color master, George C. Long. His outgoing personality and confidence reassured me that being blonder for summer was a real possibility. He told me my hair was able to lighten to the level I desired and wouldn't turn brassy with proper technique and maintenance.

After a five-hour transformation, my hair looked drastically different; I feel like a completely new and better person. As a beauty editor, I wanted a chic cut and color that felt effortless and healthy. My color continues to brighten with each wash, and it looks natural and sophisticated. The best part: it hasn't turned brassy, just as Long promised. 

"When you're doing color corrections, it's complicated to find that one technique or formula that will work for everyone because it varies," Long says. "You just go into hairdresser mode and do what you need to do to make the correction happen. Every color correction is a different animal, and you need to address each individually."

Still, Long says the basic techniques and formulas he applied for my color correction can be implemented on a variety of clients. To recreate the color, follow these steps below from Long:


Formula A: Oligo Blacklight Extra Blonde lightener 10vol at 1:1 1/2

Formula B: Oligo Blacklight lightener 30vol at 1:1 1/2

Formula C: Oligo Calura 7.3(gold) and 7.31 (gold ash) equal parts with Demi developer 

Formula D: Oligo Calura 10.1(level 10ash) and Clear at equal parts with Demi developer 


Step 1:  Babylight the entire head with Formula A, weaving out sections throughout. 

Step 2: Take the remaining sessions that were intentionally left out of Step 1, and backcomb them. Freehand paint from the mid-lengths to the ends (also called tipping out) using Formula B to remove any orange brassiness. Process the entire head to a level 10 pale blonde. 

Step 3: Shampoo everything out with black light anti-yellow shampoo. Towel dry. 

Step 4: Shadow the root area by applying Formula C, and comb 3 inches down from the root. 

Step 5: Directly after step 3 without rinsing, apply Formula D to the remaining mid-shaft to ends, and process all for 15 minutes. 

Step 6: Finish with Milbon Repair Shampoo and Milbon Repair Conditioner

A Chicago native, Long has been cutting and coloring hair for more than 30 years. His education began at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in London before he moved to New York and trained at the Elite Dada Academy. Long returned to Chicago where he opened Platinum 34, his first salon, with his longtime friend and coworker (and the star behind my perfect hair cut), Dianne Peteresen. (See Salon Today's tour of the salon here.)

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