Every colorist has certain dependable toning formulas that he or she uses almost anytime the client says “[golden, wheat, white, honey, whatever tone] blonde.” Here are a few of mine.
For a perfect beige (or “wheat” if you want a prettier word) blonde, I have had lots of success using this formula. My co-stylists call this my “magic” formula, and I am always writing it down for them to use. We use it on many clients who are militantly anti-brassiness yet don’t want white blonde hair either. Apply this at the bowl but on towel-dried hair after you shampoo:
(I use the ml side of the Redken Shades applicator bottle) 20ml of 000 (clear) + 10ml 09V + 10ml 09N + a small capful of 09RB + 40ml Processing Solution.
Run it all through the client’s hair. Don’t leave! Sit there and watch it. After about five minutes or so, you’ll get to what I call the “oh shit” point.
The oh-shit point is the point at which your gut instinct is telling you that it’s too late, you’ve completely ruined this poor girl’s hair, and how the hell are you going to spin this when you have to explain why you turned her hair green, or purple, or maroon, or whatever color.
With this particular scenario, the oh-shit point is the moment at which the hair appears to be turning an ugly purplish green color. If you really watch it you’ll be amazed at how fast the color does this. That is when I rinse the color out, but not beforehand. Even though it will be tempting to wash it out before, just wait for the oh-shit point, then rinse it out. You can use the Shades as a shampoo, so once about half of the toner is still in the hair, lather it as a shampoo to clean the scalp, then rinse thoroughly and condition.
For golden blonde I use as a default 10ml 000 Clear + 10ml 09GB + 20ml Processing solution. Honestly though, I don’t use this formula unless I’m absolutely sure they would be ok with seeing a little warmth in their blonde.
For a gorgeous pearl almost-white tone, I use 30ml 000 Clear + 20ml 09V + 10ml 09T + a very small capful of 09RB + 60ml Processing Solution. Be wary though, this can age a middle-aged client because it can make them look like they have “grey” hair. But on the right client this can look amazing. Think of Tabitha’s hair from “Shear Genius” and “Tabitha’s Salon Takeover.” Or think about that girl (what is her name?) that made it to the final three in last season of Shear Genius, the young one with the white hair.
Well those are my go-to formulas. Care to share any of yours?
Another word on toning, and on hair color in general, especially for those stylists out there who have been doing hair for less than ten years; one of my strictest rules that I have about coloring hair is to never comment on the hair color until it is dry. That is the only time when the color will look the way it is going to look. The tone that the hair appears wet and the tone that the hair will show up as dry are two different things. Blonde never looks pretty wet. Even white hair can look purple or grey when it is wet. And the client can tend to freak out when they see how it looks wet. But that is not the time to discuss the color. Discuss the tone with the client only when the hair is dry.