David Stanko Gives Tips on Mixing Colors


The best DJs keep everyone on the dance floor with their mixes, and House Color Mix Masters can produce a salon parallel—if they skip extended play. When it comes to the permanent color beat, I advise sticking to the two-tube rule. Often, tri-tube treatments create a confusing color or an over-mix with “blah†tones that go too warm or too flat: They rarely end up in sync.

Two-shade mixes provide the best output when you combine brunette and a “reflect†tone for personality punch. Try a cool ash shade with a hint of neutral tint or control your color-pitch perfectly with a reliable combo, like Redken Color Gels 5NW Cappuccino mixed with 5NA Walnut, which creates a coffee-bean color that completely covers gray. These are strong structures that guarantee rebookings.

Beginners or those who are recent converts to a color line should limit their manual mixes to single-use shades, until they’re familiar with the outcome. Over-experiment by combining 2-3 different colors right off, and whether you love or hate the results, you’ll never know exactly why. Maybe it’s an issue with your new line; maybe you used the wrong color controls. Dr. Dre and I agree: Slower is better—at least, to start. Once you get the hang of things, go ahead and start rocking your haircolor combos.

One creative caveat: Redken Shades EQ demi-permanent haircolor is easy to use for artistic effects. Create formulas with an original beat by adding a capful, a quarter ounce—even mix 3 different color glosses together. My sizzling sampler: 09NB Irish Crème + 09G Vanilla Crème + a hit of 09AA Papaya, used to add a hint of tint to over processed blonde.  Don't freak when it oxidizes orangey-yellow: that won’t be the end result.

So, permanent color lines, like Redken’s Color Fusion and Color Gels, are solo to two-shade lines (in my house mixes anyway), while Shades EQ is Mix Masters dream, whether you like it minimal, techno or harmonically hot.

ds-headshotA haircolor Consultant for Redken 5th Avenue and a working salon colorist, David Stanko has been featured in the pages of top fashion publications, including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, In-Style, Latina and Elle. After inventing new ways to use color technology to transform individuals and teaching that art to other salon professionals, he was twice honored by HaircolorUSA: in both1999 and 2000, he was named “Best Educator†and “Most Inspirational Educator.â€