Kyle White, a celebrity colorist who’s worked at Oscar Blandi for 15 years, reveals his best secrets for de-brassing blondes.
“Coloring hair is the single most transformative thing you can do that doesn’t involve anesthesia,” says colorist Kyle White. And, skillfully toning down brass can take years off your client’s look. Brassy hair brings out red tones in a client’s face and emphasizes skin imperfections. It works for no one. Here, White reveals his best brass-banishing tips.
How do you evaluate brassiness? You have to determine what level of lightness will effectively neutralize the metallic, orange-yellow tone. Ask yourself: Do you need to go lighter and lift past the brassy stage? Do you need to go darker and deposit tint to get the brass out? Or will a simple gloss neutralize the offending tone?
What’s your best method for toning down brass? When you get a brassy blond for corrective work, the hair has most likely been processed multiple times. For the health of the hair, I prefer doing multiple applications of gentle lighteners, as opposed to using a strong product or placing the client under a heat source. Also, add conditioning treatments to the process for maximum hair health. All of my fellow colorists at Oscar Blandi are big fans of Olaplex. We add it to all of our lightening agents to avoid damage.
What products beat blond brassiness best?
- For an all-over, single process tint: Use a green/violet or blue-based tint. For my high-lift blondes, I like the L’Oréal MajiBlond series. I find these shades the least brassy and best at lifting blondes.
- For highlights and off-the-scalp lightening: I use Wella Blondor, which is a blue powder lightener. The blue in the powder helps to knock out those unflattering brassy tones.
- For on-the-scalp bleaching: I like L’Oréal Super Blue, which is oil-based and low ammonia, so there’s little scalp irritation. It also leaves hair feeling soft.
What mixture do you use? If you’re using a high-lift tint, at least 30- or 40-volume developer usually does the trick. But if I’m lightening a client’s hair, and after the full processing time there’s too much gold, I don’t hesitate to mix up more lightener and reapply until I get the color past the gold stage. Clients understand how complex getting the right brass-free blond is. They’ll be on board for whatever it takes to achieve that.
How do you apply your color? Porous ends lighten quickly and grab toners fast—so watch them closely in case they grab too much blue or green from a cool toner. Roots are the opposite. They’re new hair, lift slowly and are resistant, so use a stronger product on roots and allow a longer processing time. And don’t underestimate the damaging effects of overlapping lighteners. If you paint a lightener over already lightened hair you’re just cooking the strands because there’s no pigment there to remove.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming colorists? Although we think of ourselves as great artists, there is a strong science factor to being a great colorists. Always stay on top of the latest advancements in technology. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.