Beth Minardi: Performing Color Retouches

Busy colorists most often find themselves performing color retouches. This retouching of the "root" most often calls for a bit of alteration or correction of color tones in a faded or off-tone situation along the hair lengths. So much has been done in recent years to improve how we can transform a basic "root touchup" into an artful "better than natural" color result. It's certainly worth exploring here.

To best understand what we need to do in order to "perfect" haircolor during each and every color appointment, we need to again examine precisely what's going on with hair as it moves away from the scalp. Colorists should keep in mind that the hair that has recently emerged from the scalp is a very different fiber than the hair located further down the hair strands. This "new" hair is something I refer to as Zone 1. Zone 1 hair is exposed to heat from the scalp.

Since it is newly exposed, it is still "soft" and not completely keratinized. which means that it accepts color very well and is ready to develop lighter, warmer and brighter than we may expect, particularly when we apply a lightener or a permanent color shade that is lighter than the natural color.


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We have all seen light brown or red hair that seems too bright or too orange, or "brassy," at the hair near the scalp. This is a perfect example of how color can affect hair located at Zone 1. For this reason,  I created BETH MINARDI BB balanced brown and balanced blonde shades. They lift without creating unwanted "heat" and cover gray perfectly (if gray is an issue). As you formulate for your clients, just keep in mind the following: "Be careful, choose a shade slightly deeper and/or slightly cooler than the target shade you wish to create. Restrict this formula application to the "roots" only, because that hair further down the hair lengths ... is another kettle of fish.

Hair located 3/4 of an inch away from the scalp, down to the top of the shoulder, is what I refer to as Zone 2 hair. This hair has been exposed to life here on Earth, anywhere from four months to four years. It has been exposed to environmental and physical factors, shampoos, conditioners, brushing, combing and abuse by friction more times than a person might want to count. This hair is fully keratinized and hardened. The cuticle layer is often abraded or compromised as the hair moves further away from the scalp. This is is often porous, and in almost every case this hair "grabs" color to a shade darker and/or drabber than we might expect.

Unlike the hair located at Zone 1, it often rejects warmth. (We have all seen the redhead whose hair is a great shade near the scalp, but whose hair lengths are a muddy brown, yucky burgundy or almost black!) This happens because the colorist did not balance the color(s) being applied to the hair.

Performing a classic Color Refresh and Glaze (The Beth Minardi Term for "retouch," involves application of a creme permanent shade or creme demi shade to Zone 1, followed by a correctly formulated glazing formula applied to Zone 2. To create this perfect balance, we examine the current level and tone of Zone 1, as well as determining the percentage of gray hair (if present).

After formulating and applying a target formula to Zone 1, the hair is permitted to process as directed by the manufacturer. When approximately 15 minutes remain, an acidic demi liquid shade (like Beth Minardi Signature Liquid Demi Color), is mixed with 5-volume Developer and applied throughout the hair located at Zone 2. So two beautiful things are happening at once:

The perfect lift and deposit or deposit only shade is working to transform the current color of the hair located near the scalp, and those fragile, faded hair lengths are being bathed and tinted in an acidic, conditioning color broth which won't develop to a "too dark" or "too drab" result. You are creating the perfect balance. And, after all, is great color not simply a matter of balance? 

Wishing you a most successful, colorful week ahead.

Beth Minardi

About: Beth Minardi has dedicated her professional life to the elevation of  salon haircolor to an art form.  For almost thirty years, she has worked both behind the chair as a star colorist, and has been instrumental in the development of several of the top color brands in use today.  Beth began her colorful career at Clairol, where she became director of education.  At Redken, she traveled, training thousands of color professionals, and penned the monthly Shades EQnewsletter. As an integral part of her current work at Joico, Beth created her own exclusive brand of professional Color:  Beth Minardi Signature Shades, a collection of 77 intermixable conditioning colors. With industry legend, Sam Brocato, she opened STUDIO B Hair, a salon oasis located on Manhattan's luxurious Upper East Side.  She continues to lecture and teach extensively.  Beth resides in New York City with her Poodle 'person,’ Mango.