As a hair colorist, working with clients that have significant gray hair can present some unique challenges when it comes to achieving the desired results. When a client is 75% gray, special considerations must be taken when formulating and applying color to ensure a beautiful, natural-looking outcome. In this article, we’ll discuss best practices and techniques for applying color to a client with 75 gray.
Evaluating the Existing Hair Color
The first step when working with a client that is 75 gray is to carefully evaluate their existing hair color. Pay attention to the ratio of natural to artificial color, the level and tone of the artificial color, and how it grows out into the gray. This will help determine things like:
- If filler or a color-balancing technique needs to be used
- What level of lift is needed to achieve the desired result
- Whether the artificial color needs to be removed or can be worked with
It’s also important to assess the texture and condition of the hair, as gray hair can sometimes be drier and more porous. This may affect the formulation and processing time.
Choosing the Right Color Formula
When working with significant gray coverage, permanent color is generally recommended over deposit-only colorants. Permanent color contains ammonia and peroxide which helps open the cuticle and penetrate the hair shaft to deposit and lift color. Some key considerations include:
- Using a demi- or permanent formula to match the level of lift needed
- Choosing a formula with an ash or neutral base to neutralize warmth
- Using high-lift color or lightener if lightening more than 2 levels
- Adding a violet-based toner to eliminate brassiness
It’s crucial to customize the formula based on the client’s starting level and desired result. Consulting a color wheel is helpful when formulating.
Pre-Toner and Filler Options
Two techniques that can help with gray coverage are pre-toning and adding filler to the formula. Pre-toning with a violet-based toner 1-2 levels lighter than the target level can help neutralize brassiness and provide a canvas for the target shade. Filler replaces missing pigment in naturally lighter gray hair and allows the artificial color to take more evenly. Red or gold filler is commonly used. Doing a test strand is recommended to determine if filler is needed.
It’s critical to section the hair neatly and systematically when applying color to maximize gray coverage. Vertical partings generally provide the best coverage. Start the application in the back and work to the front, thoroughly saturating each section. Pay extra attention to the hairline and sides where grays often concentrate.
If the ends are very porous, apply color to the mid-lengths and ends first, then go back and apply to the roots and new growth last. This helps prevent the ends from overprocessing. Process according to manufacturer’s recommendations based on the formulation and level of lift needed.
It’s important to nourish and protect the hair after coloring to restore moisture and smooth the cuticle. Use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner regimen tailored to color-treated hair. Once a week, treat hair to a deep conditioning mask. Regular trims and avoiding heat styling also keep hair healthy.
For longevity between salon visits, recommend clients use an at-home glossing or toning treatment to refresh color and camouflage new gray growth. Emphasize the importance of following your professional recommendations for home hair care.
Regular touch-up appointments are essential for maximum gray coverage and preventing banding. For clients that are 75% gray, recommend appointments every 4-6 weeks. The goal is to avoid excess regrowth by keeping color fresh. Shorter processing times can often be used for refreshers.
Occasional intensive conditioning treatments may be needed. Closely evaluate the hair and adjust formulas as needed over time. Open communication with clients is key for successful gray coverage maintenance.
Best Practices for Gray Coverage
Here are some top tips for achieving beautiful color results on clients that are predominantly gray:
- Use permanent color for maximum gray coverage
- Customize formulas based on clients’ hair needs
- Pre-tone and use filler as needed
- Thoroughly saturate sections during application
- Focus on new growth at the roots
- Rinse hair thoroughly post-color
- Strengthen and protect hair between visits
- Schedule regular 4-6 week touch-ups
- Adjust techniques over time as hair needs change
Gray hair presents unique challenges when coloring, but with the proper techniques and formulas, beautiful results can be achieved. The key is customizing the approach based on each client’s individual hair characteristics and goals. With 75% gray, permanence, proper saturation, and regular refreshers are critical for success. A skilled colorist develops a partnership with clients over time to maintain their ideal coverage as the gray progresses. With the right strategies, clients can continue to have vibrant, youthful-looking color regardless of their percentage of grays.
|Color Level||Formula Recommendation|
|Level 1-3||Demi- or semi-permanent|
|Level 4-5||Permanent with ash base|
|Level 6-7||High lift color or lightener|
|Level 8-10||Violet-based toner|
This table provides general recommendations for color formulas to use according to the client’s natural level when working with gray hair. A demi- or semi-permanent formula may be suitable for darker levels. Middle levels require permanent color with an ash base to neutralize warmth. For lighter levels, high lift color, lightener, or a violet-based toner is recommended. However, it’s always important to evaluate each client’s hair and needs when customizing your formulation.
- Casserly, P. (2020). Formulating for Gray Coverage. Modern Salon. https://www.modernsalon.com/article/34037/formulating-for-gray-coverage
- Goodwin, A. (2021). How to Color Gray Hair for Beautiful Results. Matrix. https://www.matrix.com/blog/how-to-color-gray-hair-for-beautiful-results
- Symonds, J. (2021). How to Cover Grays and Add Shine. Behind the Chair. https://behindthechair.com/articles/how-to-cover-grays-and-add-shine/
- Taft, A. (2021). Coloring Gray Hair: The Secret Formula You Need. L’Oreal Paris. https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-color/gray-coverage/gray-hair-coloring.aspx