How to Correct Hair That Won't Lighten

Colorist Deb Gavin explains what to do when hair won’t lighten correctly. First things first, Gavin suggests managing your client’s expectations with this simple phrase: Let’s see what your hair will allow. Then, she dives into a multi-step process for hair that doesn't want to budge. 

Step 1 Using Keratin Complex It’s A Blonde Thing and 20-volume developer, apply to four slices back to back close to the front perimeter. Try to encompass the length of the hair. 

Step 2 Warm up with a blow-dryer for speed for three to five minutes.

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Step 3 Wipe lightener off and see what type of a journey you’ll have. 

  • If the hair lightens unevenly “You need to use two different volumes of developer to correct the uneven tone,” says Gavin. “Or, lower your level of expectation—knowing some of the hair won’t have the ability to get as light as other areas.” 
  • If the hair becomes neon “You’re working on a canvas that has had direct pigments applied, and it has stained inside the cortex,” says Gavin. “You need to neutralize your palette before lifting or adapt your destination.”
  • If the hair won’t “move” “You know it has something on it that may not be oxidative color,” Gavin explains. “It may also be a very opaque box color.” Either way, you need to remove color, change the type of reflection and restart the process. 
  • If there’s a combination of surprise shades “Treat them in zones,” Gavin suggests. 
  • And most importantly “Always keep in mind, you’re the one steering the ship. You have to stay calm and in control,” says Gavin. “Once you master color corrections you’ll realize it’s fun, profitable and gets you tons of referred work.”

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