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Hair Color Wheel & Color Wheel Toners

Hair Color Wheel - The Secrets to Color Neutralization & Tone Correction that All Stylists Need to Know!

BY SALLY MADISON
NATIONAL COLOR TRAINER

BULLET-POINT SUMMARY: COLOR WHEEL SECRETS FOR HAIR STYLISTS

  • The color wheel shows which colors cancel out which.
  • Green and green-based ash cancel out red, magenta and orange.
  • Blue and blue based colors and toners cancel out orange and yellow orange.
  • Violet, purple  and purple based toners cancel out yellow and pale yellow.
  • In general, it is a good idea to remember that color wheel problems occur because the hair has not been lifted enough.
  • So bleaching the hair to lift it properly is therefore the most important first step for fighting red, orange, yellow & brassy hair. 
  • Do this & almost all your color wheel problems will vanish away.
  • After you have done that, use the appropriate neutralizing colors to color-correct. 
  • Use the guide below to choose which color is the most appropriate for you.
  • Ugly Duckling toners and color correctors are powerfully pigmented with blue, purple, green and ash based pigments
  • They will help you achieve great hair color results - no matter what level your client's hair and how brassy it is!

WATCH HOW TO USE A PURPLE BASED TONER & SHAMPOO TO COUNTERACT YELLOW HAIR

COLOR WHEEL PRINCIPLES IN ACTION PART A - USING PURPLE TO COUNTERACT YELLOW

Hair by Elona Taki

WATCH HOW TO USE BLUE BASED ASH BLONDE 7.1b & PURPLE BASED 7VV TO COUNTERACT YELLOW-ORANGE

COLOR WHEEL PRINCIPLES IN ACTION PART B - USING BLUE AND PURPLE TO COUNTERACT YELLOW-ORANGE

Hair by Elona Taki

WATCH HOW TO USE GREEN TO COUNTERACT RED & MAGENTA

COLOR WHEEL PRINCIPLES IN ACTION PART C - USING GREEN TO CANCEL OUT MAGENTA, ORANGE & RED

Hair by Elona Taki

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Q: What is the Color Wheel? How Can I Even Understand it?

The Color Wheel is a way of arranging colors to show which colors cancel out which.

Each color has a relationship with every other color. The Hair Color Wheel Chart below is a way of showing this relationship. 

Colors which are on opposite ends to each other on the color wheel will tend to cancel each other out.

As we say in Hair Color Theory, certain colors neutralize other colors. 

Or as hairdressers put it, these colors color-correct other colors.

In plain simple English, certain colors cancel out others.

  • Purple cancels out yellow.
  • Blue cancels out orange.
  • Green cancels out red.

The Hair Color Wheel

Q: So I should use the opposite color on the color wheel to color correct. Is that right?

Yes, correct. See the Color Neutralizing Chart below:

Neutralizing Colors

As you can see:

  • We need to use purple (or violet) to neutralize pale yellow.
  • We need to use blue to neutralize yellow-orange.
  • We need to use blue-green to neutralize orange.
  • We need to use green to neutralize red.

Q: How do underlying pigments come into it?

This Chart below shows the underlying pigments that you get when you bleach hair.

Levels of Bleached Hair

As you can also see, the undercoat or brassiness that you get is directly connected with how well you have lifted the hair.

As you lift the hair up lighter and lighter, the underlying pigment changes from orange, to orange-yellow, to yellow, and then palest yellow.

As a stylist you should be very familiar with these underlying pigments. They are what you get when you bleach or lift hair.

The following color neutralization issues are very common in a salon:

You lifted a customer’s hair with bleach but there is still yellow left in the hair.
You lifted a customer’s hair from dark brown to blonde but there is still orange left in the hair.
You lifted a customer’s hair from dark brown to brown but there is still red left in the hair.

So, here's what you do:

Green cancels out red on hair that has been lifted to brown or light brown.
Blue cancels out orange on hair that has been lifted to dark blonde.
Violet cancels out yellow on hair that has been lifted to light blonde & blonde.

Q: How does this Help me As a Colorist in a Color Correction Situation?

You can add in Green, Blue and Violet to color correct unwanted tones in the hair. The way you do this is by adding in these "mix" tones to your target color.

However, there are 2 important "buts" you need to be aware of:

FIRST ISSUE: YOU NEED TO LIFT FIRST WITH A GOOD QUALITY BLEACH.

Before dumping in colors to cancel other colors, it is far better to first lift the hair up as far as it will go.

The most common mistake that stylists make is that they don't lift the hair enough. And then they try to tone or color correct.

This is where using a good quality bleach comes in - as well as sound bleaching knowledge.

We often hear stories from hairdressers who are unable to lift the hair past orange because they have used an inferior beauty store bleach.

We would suggest you use a bleach like Brilliant Blondexx.

It is powerful, but it is very safe.

It is the only bleach on the market with Bond Protect built in.

Thus helping to prevent hair breakage issues which sometimes occur when stylists are trying to push the hair to level 10.

It will provide an excellent lift, all the way to level 10 (palest yellow).

Using 20 or 30 Vol developer only.

It can be used near the scalp as it is very gentle and non-irritating.

So lift as far a you can. Level 10 is ideal. Then at that stage it will be much easier to color correct for whatever underlying pigment is still left.

WATCH VIDEO ON HOW THE COLOR WHEEL REALLY WORKS:

SECOND ISSUE: YOU NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH MIX COLORS TO PUT IN.

The second issue is this. Yes, by using mix colors (green, blue and purple) you can color correct.

But you need to know how much to use of these colors to add in.. 

Otherwise you could end up with green hair, blue hair or violet hair. Or worse, mud-colored hair!

So if you do intend to use these mix colors directly, please follow these rules:

With green and yellow, add 1 inch of Ugly Duckling green to 1 tube of your target color.

With blue, add 3/4 inch of Ugly Duckling blue to 1 tube of your target color.

With violet (purple, in other words), add just 1/2 inch of Ugly Duckling violet to 1 tube of your target color.

In other words, the blonder the hair, the less of the additive you should add. Otherwise you may end up with blue or purple hair.

Ugly Duckling Mix Colors (Color Correction Colors):

Violet - use this to counteract pale yellow

Violet Neutralizes Yellow

Blue - use this to counteract yellow-orange

Blue Neutralizes Yellow-Orange

Green - use this to counteract red or magenta

Using Green to Counteract Red

Yellow - use this to counteract purple or violet

Yellow Neutralizes Purple

Q: Help! I put toner on my client's hair and it turned green! Why is it doing this & what did I do wrong?

Green Hair

This is a classic "Color Wheel" mistake. The reason her hair turned green is because her stylist did not bleach her hair enough.

It was too yellow. Then she dumped in blue based toner in an effort to try and get her hair blonde.

Of course, it did not work!

What happened? Sure enough, as Color Theory and the Color Wheel would predict: Yellow + Blue = Green!

What we advised her to do, is what we would advise anyone to do:

Bleach one more time, really well. Use a bleach that works really well - we always recommend Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Bleach.

Once you do that most of the yellow will get lifted out.

Once you have done that, you can use your blue based toner and all will be well.

Q: What is the easiest way to fix yellow tones in the hair? 

Rather than use pure mix tones (blue, violet etc) use Ugly Duckling Blue & Purple Based Toners, & Blue Based Ash Colors.

In fact, we recommend that you do this.

Here is a list of colors that we would suggest that you use for color correction purposes:

1. Purple Based Toners and Blonde Colors 

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V and Pearl Blonde toners 10V are purple based and will color correct for pale yellow. 

10.2 is an intensely pigmented purple based blonde color which will also achieve the same result.

Pearl Blonde Toner 10V was used on this client:

Pearl Blonde 10V

Hair by Elona Taki

WATCH VIDEO OF INTENSE PEARL BLONDE 100V IN ACTION:

Intense Violet Blonde and Purple Grey are also Violet based colors and can be used for extra strong toning. They achieve spectacular and really unique color results.

Below: we used Intense Violet Blonde to color correct yellow and brassy Hair

Intense Violet Blonde Toner - Before & After

Hair by Michelle Kim

WATCH VIDEO: 10V & PURPLE GREY ACHIEVE A STUNNING BLONDE TONING RESULT

Hair by Elona Taki.

We do recommend that you try them out in your salon. Your customer will be totally wowed and will love you for these effects & will come back to you for more!

You can learn more about these colors by pressing on the links below:

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Violet Blonde

Pearl Blonde 10V

Pearl Blonde 10V

10.2

10.2 Violet Blonde

Intense Violet Blonde 7.22

Intense Violet Blonde 7.22

Purple Grey

Purple Grey

2. Blue Based Toners and Blonde Colors

Intense Silver Blonde and Silver Blonde toners are blue based and will color correct for yellow.

Ugly Duckling's 10.1b and 9.1b are blue based ash blonde colors and they will also color correct for yellow. 

Ugly Duckling's 8.1b. 7.1b and 6.1b are also blue based ash blondes, but at a slightly lower level.

These are also excellent as color correctors and great for clients looking to go medium or dark blonde.

Extra Cold Ash Blonde 10.1b was used on this model:

10.1b

Hair by Brittney Perez

WATCH VIDEO OF 8.1b USED ON OUR MODEL:

Hair by Elona Taki.

WATCH VIDEO OF 7.1b And 7.22 USED TO TONE DOWN BRASSY HAIR TO BRUNETTE:

Ugly Duckling's blue based toners and colors are given below:

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Silver Blonde 10B

Silver Blonde 10B

10.1b

10.1b

9.1b

9.1b

8.1b

8.1b

7.1b

7.1b

6.1b

6.1b

3. Ash based Colors & Chestnut Colors to Counteract Red & Tone down

For color correcting orange and tone down, use Ugly Duckling's pure ash colors such as 5.11, 4.11 

These are double ashes and have a lot of neutralizing pigments build in.

Use them when you are looking to neutralize orange or red tones and you are looking for a brunette final color result.

5.11

5.11

4.11

4.11

Q: Can I reinforce my color correction by adding in additives?

Yes you can do this.

You can use the following additives, which you simply add in to one of the colors or toners mentioned above:

Ash Blue Additive adds in blue for bases 6 and up. You can add in an inch of this into your color mix. This helps counteract brassiness (yellow) in blonde hair.

Ash Grey Additive adds in green for bases up to level 6. You can add in an inch of this into your color mix. This helps counteract brassiness (yellow/orange) in brown hair.

The recommended technique here is to squeeze in a little of your chosen ash additive (around 1 inch is good to start with) to a full tube of the blonde color that you are using. 

Note that these additives will tend to take your color level down by about 1 tone.

Ash Blue Additive

Ash Blue Additive

Ash Grey Additive

Ash Grey Additive

Q: I hear a lot about using green to fix red hair. Can you show me a video of this being done?

A: We only really recommend this technique when you are in situations where you can't lift any more.

In this case use Green to Neutralize & Fix Magenta or Red or Orange Hair 

The case below shows a customer whose hair had been colored many times.
It was basically impossible to lift it up beyond a certain level without damaging her hair.
Our stylist used green to neutralize an impossibly orange hair color.

WATCH COLOR CORRECTION VIDEO: USING GREEN TO GET RID OF RED TONES:

Hair by Elona Taki

Q: Can I Use Toners to Kill Brassy, Orange or Yellow?

A: Yes, you can - but you need to get the hair correctly pre-lightened to level 9/10

Ugly Duckling's toner range have been formulated with exactly that aim in mind.
They have very fast acting pigments which typically neutralize in around 10 minutes.
Use Intense Pearl Blonde 100V or Intense Silver Blonde 100B for first time applications or when the color is still yellow (level 9)
Use Pearl Blonde Toner or Silver Blonde Toner when the lift is correct (level 10).
When using toners it is really important to pre-lighten dark areas of the hair and get everything up to as close to level 9/10 as possible.

Q: I'm doing all that but I am still not getting the Ashy Blonde Result that I am looking for. What am I doing wrong?

A: Almost certainly you need to lift the hair more. 

  • If you are looking for a white blonde or an ashy blonde, color neutralization from a dark level will not work.
  • Almost certainly you need to lift the hair more. 
  • Use a quality lightener and lift the hair up, ideally all the way to level 10. That way you will get rid of all yellow and orange.
  • Then apply a toner as above.

Examples of Hair that has been correctly lifted to level 9/10

Level 9

Hair that has been lifted to level 10

Q: How do I tone hair which is really really yellow, bordering on orange?

A: Use Ugly Duckling Intense Toners

In general, we always recommend that you first lift the hair correctly (see picture above) before attempting to tone.
If you have done that, and the hair is still yellow, use Ugly Duckling's Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V or Intense Silver Blonde Toner 100B.
These toners have a special "booster" in them which will get rid of any remaining yellow.
This is what makes them among the most effective toners on the market today.
Use with 20 Vol developer in a 1:2 mix.
Try & work fast because these toners are very fast acting & you want to give all the hair an equal processing time as much as possible.
If you have long hair, tone the root area the last - it will process very fast there because of the heat from the scalp.

Q: My hair pulls orange. What should I do?

A: Sorry, there is no such thing as hair that "pulls orange."

There is, however, such a thing as a stylist that does not lift enough!
Don't misuse the color wheel and think you can just dump in ash and more ash and kill brassiness. It doesn't work like that.
Hair has its natural melanin which is causing that orange and that brassiness. You need to remove that first.
Lift up the hair to a true level 9/10. Use a quality lightener that works well on dark hair.
Then apply your ash toners as above. You will get a much better result.

Q: My customer has dark hair. She wants to go blonde. How do I get rid of all the red and orange as I lift?

A: Just keep lifting all the way up. It will transition from orange to yellow to pale yellow as you do so.

We do recommend you use Ugly Duckling bleaches whenever possible. All bleaches are not the same and have different lifting powers.
Brilliant Blonde is what we recommend when you have "heavy lifting" to do. It has been designed for dark hair and it lifts 8 levels.
Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect is what we recommend when you need to go in near the scalp and when you need a gentle bleach.
Brilliant Blondexx has Bond Protect built in and will protect hair from breakage as you lift.
We also recommend you use Ugly Duckling pearl blonde and silver toners. They are very heavily pigmented and provide for fast and effective toning.

Watch This Video to See Dark Hair Bleached Correctly and Toned to Pearl Blonde in One Sitting

Products Used:

  • Brilliant Blonde Lightener
  • Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V
  • Purple Shampoo and Mask
  • Developer

Hair by Ashley Betancourt

CONCLUSION

  • The color wheel can help you understand what is going on when your client's hair is too brassy.
  • The color wheel is particularly helpful when you can't lift the hair anymore - eg it is fragile or has too much color build-up.
  • But in all other cases we suggest you lift the hair first.
  • Do that and all your color wheel problems go away.
  • After that you can just apply your choice of ash additives, blue based ash blonde colors or Ugly Duckling toners. 
  • You will get excellent results if you do this we promise!
About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.

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