Color How-To: Faded Blonde Highlights to Rich, Chocolate Brunette Ribbons

Mary Kaleta | November 29, 2018 | 7:08 AM
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Associate Editor Mary Kaleta @marykaleta with Boss Hair Group owner and colorist John Blue @colorbyblue
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Before, back view
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After, back view
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Before, side view
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After, side view
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As editors at MODERN, we witness hair transformations regularly and spend a solid portion of our days scouring social media to find perfect hair colors and cuts. We see clients and models willing to go platinum, blue, pink—you name it—all in the name of good hair or for the age-old saying "it's just hair; it'll grow back," which never seems to be out of season.

We constantly stand by the mantra of the importance of communication with stylists and trusting their expertise. When I decided it was time for a change up from the blonde highlights I had been maintaining for a few years, I sought the help of Chicago brunette whisperer, John Blue @colorbyblue to take me back to my roots—literally.

During my consultation with Blue at his Boss Hair Group salon in Chicago's River North, I explained to him that I wanted a low-maintenance color update. I was looking to keep some lightness around my face and throughout in case I decided to go lighter again, but I ultimately wanted my natural base to be blended. It was also important to remove any brassy tones that had developed over time. Blue explained that he would use three different hair colors to create ribbons of brunette throughout my hair and would use demi-permanent color from Keune Haircosmetics North America.

"I chose Keune Semi because of the longevity, shine and consistency of the product," Blue says. "I opted for a demi-permanent because we were desiring to deposit color rather than needing to lift it. It’s also a great option for someone who likes to play with their color and go back to blonde in the near future."

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A day in the life 🥰 thank you, @colorbyblue #modernsalon

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Formula 1:

Keune Semi 5=5.23 1:2 semi color activator

Formula 2:

Keune semi 6=6.38 1:2 semi color activator

Formula 3:

Keune Cream Bleach and 10 vol


  1. Apply Formula 1 from new growth down 2 inches on entire head.
  2. Starting at the nape, apply Formula 1 to mid shaft and ends of 1-inch sections and isolate with Colortrak Meche strips. Continue up sections, and apply formula 2 to mid shaft and ends and isolate with Meche strips, continuing up the back of head.
  3. Starting above the ear, melt formula 3 into base color isolate with Meche strip. Continue working up the head, alternating Formula 3 in between Formulas 1 and 2. Once complete, repeat on the other side.
  4. Process at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  5. Rinse gently and shampoo with REF Stockholm Sweden Weightless Volume Shampoo to prepare the hair for Keune semi clear gloss. Process for 8 minutes to add shine and seal hair cuticle. Follow with REF Illuminating Color Shampoo and Conditioner.



Apply REF Root To Top at crown area and two pumps of REF leave in treatment through mids and ends to protect the hair from heat. For styling, apply two to three spritzes of REF Ocean Mist prior to roundbrushing. Finish style with a spray of REF Hold and Shine.

Blue has more than 18 years of experience in the salon industry. His work has been featured in the pages of Elle and Urb as well as on MTV, TLC, and WGN. Chicago Magazine honored him in 2012 with a Best Colorist title for his natural balayage technique. His experience as a global hair color educator for Aveda led him to work and educate in top nationally awarded salons in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Chicago. He opened Boss Hair Group in summer of 2018. The salon's 80s glam rock vibe can be seen in this salon tour from Salon Today.

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