I was inspired to share some of my hair color mixing secrets with you while making a banana pudding pie! I know, it’s totally irrelevant but you never know how things might relate to each other in your daily life. I found myself using the same method of mixing hair color to mix the banana pudding and milk.

I added only a little of the liquid at a time for a smoother consistency. Soon after I realized that so many hairstylists don’t do this when mixing hair color and developer. There’s something satisfying about a smoothly mixed, perfect bowl of color.

Here are some tips to help you master hair color mixing and make your life so much easier at the salon!

5 Secrets to Mixing Hair Color


1. Use cream developer for faster mixing.

Clear or cream developer? It’s a matter of preference, but sometimes a matter of what’s available or what is offered by the brand you use. I learned with both because Paul Mitchell offers all levels in both types…where some brands mostly offer cream developer. At the time, I preferred cream developer because it was easier to mix. When I was a newbie…clear developer was frustrating because no one told me what I’m about to tell you in point #2! It was messy and my mixture was always chunky.

Two things about choosing cream developer vs. clear developer:

  • Clear developer will cover more hair. It’s going to spread more easily than cream developer. SO…if you have someone with a thick/full head of hair that wants a single application color…clear developer is going to take you farther and use less product than cream developer will.
  • Always use cream developer with lightening powder. I’ve NEVER mixed lightening powder with clear developer. That’s what I was taught at PMTS (Paul Mitchell The School). That doesn’t mean you can’t…I just don’t do it and I don’t suggest it. 

 

2. If you prefer clear developer…

Add a little at a time as you mix. This will prevent clumps from forming…and we all know those pesky clumps are impossible to whip out once you’ve added all of the developer.

For a perfectly smooth hair color mixture you should mix in about ¼ of the developer at a time. It takes a little longer, but it is so worth it!


 

3. Don’t be lazy- color brushes are not for mixing!

Mixing hair color with a brush is harder. Some of you probably think it’s easier because there are less things to wash when you’re done. Wrong. The color or powder lightener will clump in the brush…making it even more difficult to get a smooth consistency. You should be using mini whisks, or for you lazy lovelies out there…you can use plastic forks.

I LOVE using plastic utensils because I just toss them and get to work. If your budget is tight, then I suggest purchasing 3-5 mini whisks and rinsing them immediately after each use. Almost every mini whisk I’ve owned has rusted a little. That’s probably because I just laid them down on a towel to dry.

You don’t want rust in your hair color, so you have two options:

  • Dry them thoroughly immediately after washing. It’s hard to get all of the nooks and crannies, FYI.
  • Buy silicone whisks instead. They aren’t as sturdy, but they will last!

mini-silicone-whisk-set


 

4. Use a color key.

There are three types of colorists:

  • Those that are tube squeezers.
  • Those that must have a color key!
  • Those that don’t use either(a huge pet peeve of mine).

To be honest…tube squeezers annoy the shit out of me! Even if you’re very careful…you will waste color this way. Not only that, but if you’re going by the measurements on the color tube rather than using a scale…your formula will not be accurate.

Using a color key is the only way to go! You won’t waste any color and if you don’t use a scale your mixture will be far more accurate. The color key ensures that you’re squeezing out every ounce of color!


Two basic types of color keys:
1. Simple

2. Bulky

*Be careful not to push the color key too far onto the end of the tube and/or to twist it evenly. If not…pressure could build up in the color tube forcing color to squirt out of the end.

That does two things:

1. Your formula will not be accurate, especially if you’re not using a scale.
2. You’ll have to use that tube immediately because it cannot be properly sealed. Oxygen can now enter the tube even when the cap is screwed on. It’s possible to seal it with duct tape, but that’s not going to hold next time you need to use that color.


 

5. Use a scale.

I’ve noticed that many hairstylists do not use a scale for measuring. Some people just don’t feel like it, and some don’t understand the importance of properly measuring your color formula components. I started regularly using a scale to measure my color when I noticed someone at my salon doing it. She was the ONLY one that religiously used a scale when she was mixing hair color. She was also the ONLY one that kept perfect records of her clients visits(some people make an effort to write everything down, but we all know that some stuff slips through the cracks when it’s busy).

She was the MOST professional stylist at Bubbles in my opinion and her clients looked very highly upon her. Olivia had style and class(as I’m sure she still does), and she inspired me to be better. She also inspired me to slow down and take time for the little things(like measuring and record keeping) because they are very important. She knew how important it was to be exact in your color formulations.

Here are a few reasons why I think she took it so seriously(and some things that I learned after my ABCH trainging):

  • If your hair color mixture is perfectly accurate every time then you will always know what the results will be. Of course, you need to fully understand the chemistry of hair color….but that’s another subject.
  • Clients like consistency. They can tell when you don’t write things down or when you “eyeball” it. They are paying good money for your services, so you should be giving them your best.
  • If you’re consistent and something goes wrong- you will know that there must be another reason why. Maybe your client used a “wash out” box color in-between visits and you’ll know. Maybe someone didn’t close the developer tightly, so it lost it’s effectiveness. Maybe your client is on a new medication and her hair color needs to be adjusted.

No matter what the reason…you’ll know that it wasn’t you! Confidence is the key to being a successful haircolorist and your clients will know if you’re lacking in that department!



About The Author

Erika

Professional Hairstylist | American Board Certified Haircolorist | Makeup Artist | Beauty Blogger

120 Responses to 5 Secrets to Mixing Hair Color

  1. Irene says:

    Hello!
    I just got my hair colored(charcoal grey/teal grey) but had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to wash my hair for three days. My brother is getting married on Saturday so we’ve been outside working hard and so I was sweating bad which is why I washed my hair otherwise I wouldn’t have washed it so soon. But now my hair is lighter so I am now wondering what I should do…..

    • Erika says:

      Why were you not supposed to wash your hair for three days? Temporary color does fade more as you wash it, but if it was done correctly you shouldn’t notice a drastic change with only one wash.

      The only thing you can do is refresh the color. Call your stylist and express your concerns!

  2. Chan says:

    Hi! Just wondering if I can mix Kenra, Rusk or Matrix creme developer (all 20v) with TIGI creative permanent creme haircolor? Trying to avoid an extra purchase when I already have so many developers lol
    Thanks!

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  4. Sarah says:

    Hi can you tell me what ratio developer to hair dye I should use for a Demi permanent, well it’s a semi permanent andused mostly for toning but when I bleach my roots at home I can’t seem to get it past a level 8 but the mid lengths are a 9, using toners just don’t cover so want to turn the semi permanent toner into a Demi/ quasi permanent ,I know with toners the ratio is usually 1.2. So is it 1.1 I need with a Demi/quasi ? I’m using L’Oréal dialight in 9 range also If using a permanent hair dye with 10 vol developer will this be permanent or only temporary deposit as only want temporary deposit . Thanks

    • Erika says:

      The ratio of hair color to developer depends on the brand, and you should follow the manufacturer instructions.

      I’m a little confused about what you want to achieve. Do you want to lift your regrowth to a level lighter than an 8, then tone? Dia Light is only going to work on hair that is the same level or lighter as the color you are using.

      If you want a temporary deposit then you should not used a permanent hair color line.

      • Sarah says:

        Thanks for the reply ,I asked about the wella koleston permanent and 10 vol as I used it previously after the dialight just on my roots with 10 vol as the dialight wouldn’t take , it was used in a 1.1 ratio with 10 vol 3% I’m just hoping this is not permanent if used with 10 vol ?? No I didn’t want to lighten the level 8 roots I just wanted to use a Demi/ quasi to deposit colour as toning isn’t covering as it’s not a level 9 Or 10 for toning . The dialight says to use a 75ml developer to 50ml colour always , so it’s a 1 to 1 and half ratio ,not sure if this is the toning ratio as it’s usually 2.1 . If I wanted it as more of a quasi to cover better would it be a 1.1 ratio with a 9 or a 10 vol , prefer to use the dialight as it’s better for hair and not permanent thanks

        • Erika says:

          What level was the color you applied?

          Permanent hair color is “permanent” whether you use 10 volume, 20 volume, 30 volume, etc.

          10 volume is used for “deposit only”- that’s when the hair doesn’t require lift to achieve the desired result.
          20 volume is used for 1-2 levels of lift- for example: your hair is a level 7, but you are using/want a level 8 result.
          30 volume is used for 2-3 levels of lift and/or gray coverage.
          40 volume is used for 3-4 levels of lift or high lift hair color series.

          Demi-permanent hair color is paired with 6, 9, or 15 volume(for toning with slight lift, and is usually a special series).

          • Sarah says:

            I applied level 9 ash ,I know with other brands 10 vol used with permanent is permanent but it’s just I heard ( don’t know if true ) with wella you can you the 9 and 10 range of permanent for toning ,But I know that’s with the 1.9% 6 vol in a ratio of 2.1 so I thought 10 vol isn’t much more and 10 vol is used for deposit only usually. So you think even with that being said it’s still permanent ? Thanks

            • Erika says:

              Yes, even though it is “deposit only” it is still permanent. It is a different type of deposit than that of demi-permanent hair color. 10 volume developer does still lift a tiny bit so it can “open” the cuticle for deposit of color(this does not happen with demi).

              • Sarah says:

                Ok thank you I’ll steer clear of the permanent then in future and just use the semi/ Demi Thanks for your help

  5. K Hall says:

    I have bleached my hair so that the near the ends are about a level 9 but closer to my roots is probably a level 8. I have a 9a and and 8a toner. Am i able to mix the two together? or should i mix seperate bowls of each and apply to each area?

  6. kathy says:

    Hello, I get way too much brassiness out of my hair.My natural hair is level 5 with highlights. I like to keep my new growth in level 7-8 but no brassiness. I have about 30% gray. I like to to try the schwarzkopf, Igora Royal.
    I can’t decide what color I should use to achieve the results. It would be nice to cover the gray. But, my biggest concern is to be light enough without the brassiness.
    Would you help me what what you suggest? Should I go NN + Ash or double Ash? If so, level 8 or 7 and half and half?
    Also, I have a similar scale to what you have posted above. It keeps on turning off as I am squeezing the tube. And, looses the memory of what was on there. Do you have a suggestion?

  7. Jayne Thoresen says:

    Hi, I’m trying to go for a natural medium brown(slightly ash) , can I use colour touch 5 with 7/1 and not get red tones.

  8. Carolyn says:

    Hi, I have level 10 heavy highlights in my natural level 7 ash blonde hair (about 3 inches of regrowth). I bought Ion Demi Permanent color in several shades to try, thanks coronavirus. Can I achieve a strawberry blonde using any of the following or a blend? 6RC, 8N, 9NB, 10NA, and 00 Clear. I have a 10 vol cream developer. Thank you!

    • Erika says:

      10 volume isn’t going to be strong enough to achieve the color you want. Also, you will need a different formula for the regrowth and for the previously lightened hair.

      I wouldn’t recommend attempting to achieve strawberry blonde hair with any combination of those colors. You can message me through the contact me page or Facebook with more information/photos of your hair and I will be able to give you better advice!

  9. Tiana says:

    This was very informative. My mom’s stylist gave her the brand and color to use for her hair at home. Can I use any 20 volume developer or does it need to be the Redken Chromatics developer?

    The color is:
    Redken Chromatics
    6G and 4G
    20 volume developer

  10. Bryony Heydon says:

    Hello! I bought some colour online 7/4 but I’m worried it might turn out too red. If I mix some 9/3 with it will it turn out like 8/43.

    • Erika says:

      It depends on the level and tones of the hair that is to be colored. Also, mixing those colors will kinda give you the 8.43, but remember that when you use a color that is already mixed, the dominant tone is the 4. When you mix 7.4 and 9.3- the only way to make the copper(4) dominant is to use more of that color.

      So, you would want to mix 1/2 7.4 with 1/4 9.4 and 1/4 9.3(depending on the color line you’re using and if those shades are available.

    • Jessika says:

      Hi! So im experimenting with my sisters hair and she is at a level 8/9 on her mid section and ends but her base color is at a level 6. I was wondering if I could mix a redken color gel 6N and 9N to get a middle color to help blend the base to the ends? Also using a 10 or a 20 developer…? How should I go about this?

      • Erika says:

        I really need to see her hair in order to give you the best advice, but in theory that could work. 10 volume is the safe bet, but 20 volume would help to lift her base color a little for a more blended look. 10 volume is for deposit only/very minimal lift and 20 volume is for 1-2 levels of lift.

        If I knew more about her hair I could give you specific advice. Just from what you’ve told me though…my gut would be to sub either the 6N or 9N with the same level in an ash and mix with 30 volume. That would give a more noticeable effect(of course, all depending on current tones in her hair).

        You can message me via the contact me page if you want to send me a photo of her hair!

    • Reb says:

      Hi I recently bleached my hair from black to an orange brassy tone and applied the olia 5.0 brown box dye over it, however my hair has a strong red undertone. I’ve decided to mix my own colours now can you suggest what shade I can apply to my hair to get rid of the red tone and in terms of the end result any brown/dark brown shade is fine.thanks!!

    • Vanessa says:

      Hi. I used a “colour remover” and now want to re-colour my hair. I have a colour tube of permanent colour and volume developer. The colour is darker, but if I use the developer it says it will lift the colour up to 4 levels. The remover already has be pretty blonde. The mix is 1:2 but if I mixed 1:1 will there be less lift of hair colour?

    • Vanessa says:

      Hi. I used a “colour remover” and now want to re-colour my hair. I have a colour tube of permanent colour and 30 volume developer. The colour is darker, but if I use the developer it says it will lift the colour up to 4 levels. The remover already has be pretty blonde. The mix is 1:2 but if I mixed 1:1 will there be less lift of hair colour?

      • Erika says:

        Using 30 volume developer lifts up to 4 levels when applied to your natural hair. Color remover doesn’t actually remove all of the color. If you want the level of your hair to be the same or darker than what you currently have- you only need to use 10 or 20 volume developer.

    • Anne Grete Gabrielsen says:

      Oh, what a great web site! And with a professional hairstylist who answers and are really good to explain! I have been searching the web for an answer to my question. I haven´t found the answer, so I will try my luck here:

      I love the hair color 5.21 (2=purple, 1=ash blue), but it´s too dark for me. I know it exists in 6.21 and 7.21 as well, but not in Scandinavia. My question:
      Can I mix 5.21 with a 8? Same brand/type. This brand doesn´t have a 7. Or is 5 and 8 too far apart?

      Have a lovely Sunday!
      Greetings from Norway, Anne

    • San says:

      Hi there! Thank you so much for that information, it was laid out so well. I have a quick question. I have dark hair (south asian) at around a level 3/4. I lightened my hair up to a 6/7 (with 30vol developer) which left me with lots and lots of yellow, ginger and red undertones as expected. I then went in with a 7.1 permanent dye with 20vol developer to neutralise the brassy tones however although it toned down a lot, it’s still very noticeably brassy and red/ginger. Would you advise going back over it with the 7.1 to remove all the brassy tones? I don’t think I used too much developer but do you think it’s possible I did use too much so the dye didn’t effectively counteract the brassy tones. I was aiming for a light ashy brown colour.

      • Erika says:

        It’s hard to say without seeing your hair, but I think the problem here is the variation in tones that you are trying to eliminate. You need the ash/blue to get rid of the gold, violet for the orange tones, and green for the red. That’s why only some of the unwanted tones were neutralized.

        Also, I don’t recommend using permanent hair color for toning…there’s less room for error and more room for mistakes that lead to unwanted and unexpected colors. Demi-permanents use lower volume developers and are much more forgiving(also not as damaging if you need to reapply!

  11. R says:

    Hi!
    I want to get lavender color Purple Riot hair dye and was wondering if I should put clear dye in with it or apply it after ?

    • Erika says:

      Are you saying that you want to make lavender with purple, or that you want to seal it with a clear coat after applying?

      • R says:

        I was wondering if it was a good idea to add a clear coat to the dye to keep the colour lasting longer and keep your hair shiny or just do it after.. or not at all?
        Im also wanting a nice pastel lavender so I was also wondering if that’d help cut the colour?

        • Erika says:

          You can do the clear after the lavender color. If you add it to the color it will just lighten the color and make it less intense/not work as well. The problem with adding clear to a color to lighten it is that the color really won’t take and/or hold very well.

          I suggest using an actual lavender color like this one – Pravana Pastels Lavender

          Remember…in order to get a nice lavender hair color…your hair needs to be very light blonde before applying the lavender color. It will not work on blonde hair with golden/yellow tones(this is true for pastel colors). If your hair isn’t light enough then it could still show up but the shade will be different because the gold/yellow will still be present.

  12. Jordan says:

    I am looking to get a cooler toned sort of ashy black (some may even call it a very dark gray) but I am at a loss. I was thinking of mixing a gray and black to see if it would give me my desired color but I’d rather know if it would work or not before I buy. Any suggestions, is there a better color to mix with?

    • Erika says:

      It depends on what level you want to be, what color your hair is, your underlying pigments, and if your hair has been colored or lightened.

      In my opinion- “ashy black” and “very dark gray” are too different when it comes to hair color for me to give you formula ideas without seeing a photo. A very dark gray shade would be achieved by using a level 3-5(dark brown) because it still needs to be light enough(not too close to black) for the hair to look gray. Here’s how I would formulate based on what you said(assuming that your hair is virgin):

      Ashy Black- 1A or 1B with a touch of 1N and maybe a strip of straight violet additive(depending on your hair)
      Very Dark Gray- 4AA would be ideal, but it depends on the color line because not all brands offer a double ash

      Again…those formula scenarios are very vague, but that’s where I would start. You’re welcome to send me more information about your hair via the contact me page(you can’t send photos to me until I respond to that message via e-mail, but if you do I can give you better advice)!

  13. Ali says:

    I am looking to experiment at home with hair dye. I got some permanent hair dye on sale can I mix it with demi permanent dye to alter the shade?

    • Erika says:

      You shouldn’t mix permanent and demi-permanent hair color together. It might work out, but they require different levels of developer to work properly so I can’t say that it will work the way you want it to…just be safe and buy the other shade you need to mix!

  14. Becky Pyle says:

    I have been a blonde for years. I have very light blonde hair. I generally use icon high lift golden blonde. I decided to go grey so I purchased i con silver titanium. The color is pretty but some of my hair is a gold brassy color..mostly the back. What do I do to correct this. It is a permanent eng color.

    • Erika says:

      Silver hair color will only work on very light hair(and it’s best that the hair have little to no warmth to it).

      The only way to fix it is with color remover and/or powdered lightener. This will be difficult to do in one concentrated area and still get even results. The color must be lifted out of the hair and the hair needs to be lightened past that brassy stage…then the silver color can be reapplied.

      It’s a lot to try and do at home, and your hair will be more porous/damaged afterwards(anytime color is removed and the hair is lightened…there will be damage). You could try using the color remover and then doing a “bleach wash” as it is easier and more forgiving.

  15. Jennie Platelas says:

    Hi I have bought Chromatics Beyond Cover for grey hair color but I am having issues trying to buy the Chromatics Oil in cream developer 20vol in the UK. I have a 20vol Loreal developer and did a strand test using this but it didn’t really cover the grey. Is there another developer that I could substitute for the Chromatics or will it only really work with the same brand?

  16. Kirstin says:

    Hi! I’m using ion Color Brilliance & was wondering if I can mix 6NN (dark intense blonde) with 4G (medium golden brown)?

    • Erika says:

      You shouldn’t mix an “NN” series color with a regular series of color- only “NN” series. You could mix it with 6N though.

      Now…that doesn’t mean that it might not work, but “NN” series are meant to be used by themselves to cover gray hair.

      • Kirstin says:

        Oh! That is really good to know, thank you so much! Was just seeing what I have left to work with because of Covid. Lol… will probably just use one of them. This has been so informative, I’m so grateful for the information here!

  17. Natalie McCaughrin says:

    Wow — I have to tell you that I am amazed at how good you are at explaining this, in a rational and ideal way for all. And as a teacher I don’t hand out compliments like that often. Just wanted to let you know that you surpass most of the famous hair gurus on youtube (don’t worry I won’t name names.) Be well and carry on!

  18. Elle says:

    I have been using Clairol Soyplex liquicolor. My colorist gave me the “recipe” when I moved to Africa. 6N .5 oz + 8N .5 oz but I’ve been wondering if I can just use 7N instead of mixing 6 & 8 together? Also Clairol makes a 7 NN (supposedly better for grays from what I can tell) would that be the same shade as 7N?

    • Erika says:

      Yes, you can use 7N instead! She could have been using that formula because her salon only carried even numbered shades or if that color line does not have a 7N.

      7NN isn’t the same as using a 7N. Do you feel that you need more gray coverage? If not-then I would stick with the 7N. Any NN series is going to turn out a little different no matter the color line. If you want to see the difference check out these color swatch charts!

  19. Dan says:

    Hi Erika! Like many women dealing with the stay-at-home order, my mom is in desperate need of a root touch up. Her roots are very white-ish/light grey. Rest of her hair is a warm, dark brown. Her regular hairdresser gave her her color formula but didn’t give specifics. All she said was:

    “506 (grey coverage)
    6M (mocha)
    Use 20 volume”

    I’ve never dyed hair before and want to make sure I don’t mess it up for my mom. I did some research and I was able to find those numbered products online, but am uncertain of what ratios to use them. (the “506” I found online was “Matrix SoColor 506N Light Natural Brown Grey Coverage” and the “6M (mocha)” was “Redken Chromatics” line. Are these safe/do you recommend?) Can you help interpret that for me?

    Any tips/clarifications/brand recommendations/etc you can offer would be super helpful. Thank you!

    • Erika says:

      It’s unlikely that her stylist mixed those brands together, so maybe she gave you the number “name” for one color and the descriptive name for the other. You definitely do not want to mix any Redken Chromatics color with another color line…it should only be used with other Chromatics shades.

      Also…I’m wondering if the “6M” is also from a grey coverage line. With most pro color lines you SHOULD NOT mix a grey coverage series with a regular series color. Not that it would be the end of the world, but I do not mix grey coverage series with anything other than another grey coverage series color.

      The only reason for adding the 6M would be to lighten the shade and add some warmth, which can be done with another color from the same grey coverage series. I’m going to check a few things and let you know what’s best to use!

      You’re welcome to check back here for a response or e-mail me directly via the contact me page for easier communication should you have any other questions!

  20. Anna says:

    Hi!
    My question is: Can I use 10 volume developer with the dye tube included in box color?
    I am lucky in that 10 volume usually does deposit on my gray hairs. I bought box color that comes with 20 volume and I’m worried about it damaging my hair. (I have 10 volume at homes that I can substitute.) Thank you so much & stay well!

  21. Everette Giles says:

    I went to Sallys today and did the wait outside routine for my hair color. When I opened my color I had crème in a tube. We usually use the liquid 7N ION. My husband colors my hair and puts the liquid in bottle with the developer. We are not sure how to use this as he does not want to use a brush. Help. Please!

    • Erika says:

      The bottle can seem easier, but application is far better with a bowl and brush! It can be a little awkward to get used to(especially for a man because they tend to be more heavy-handed).

      Tell him that it’s just like painting trim in your house! He needs to make sure he has enough color on the brush, but not too much! He should “dab” the brush into the color while trying to keep it on only half of the brush to 1/4 depending on if you have a long or short brush.

      Application works best when applied in quadrants or sections. Part your hair down the middle from your forehead to the nape. Then part from the top of your head to just above/behind the ear to create 4 sections. He can start by applying color to the partings/ “†” section from the root to the demarcation line(regrowth area). Then he will apply to the regrowth in 1/4 inch sections of each section(top first, then back)- starting at the top and working down. I just slice a section with the end of the color brush, hold it up, and paint the underneath part. Then slice another and repeat(this is much easier than trying to paint each side of each slice of hair). Lastly, apply color around the perimeter/hairline(some people do this first, but I like to do it last because it’s less messy).

      I hope this helps…I know it’s a lot, but I didn’t want to give you too little information! Feel free to message me via the contact me page or by replying to this comment if you have any other questions!

  22. Sue says:

    I’m a new stylist and I get a little confused about something – when mixing color, why would you use two different levels? For me, I use a color line that I would use 5N, but I want to add a B so it’s not so drab. The level 5 doesn’t have a B, but level 6 does. I know I would be able to add the level 6B to the level 5N, but I don’t understand what it would do being it’s a lighter level. Does my question make sense? I see stylists do this a lot with toning out blondes too.

    • Erika says:

      Mixing two different levels in a color formula will change the resulting level. In your case- Mixing 5N and 6B(if equal parts) will give you a 6.5, which is just a touch lighter than a 5. The color line you’re using probably offers a 4 B as well, so if I were you I would mix 5N(1/2), 6B(1/4), and 4B(1/4) to stay at a level 5.

      If you want to be really great at color you have to think outside the box. Everyone isn’t going to be an exact level on a color chart. People do this a lot with blonde toners because if the hair isn’t lifted to a level 9 then a 9 toner won’t work…and a level 8 toner may be to dark. So, they mix in a little of the level 8 toner so that it is effective.

  23. Kathy says:

    Hi Erika,
    I was hoping you could help me during these stay at home times. I have been coloring my hair for years to cover up gray hair. I use products from Salley’s. The color of my hair will get too dark at times due to the build up of the same color. I have been lightening it by painting on clairol powder lightener. I then am left with brassy streakes which I then put color back in. This method leaves some areas still brassey. In reading the blog it sounds like a toner might work better except I don’t know what a toner is or how to use it.
    Thanks
    Kathy

    • Erika says:

      When you color your hair do you apply color only on the new growth, or does it get overlapped onto previously colored areas? If it does- that’s why your color gets darker and darker, and those areas will be harder to lighten/turn out more brassy.

      Toner will work, but the tone and level you use is very important. You’ll want to use blue(for hair that is closer to yellow/gold), violet(for hair that is more orange/darker brass), or blue-violet(most likely best option) based toner. I often mix it with a little bit of a natural/neutral toner(like 8N) for some balance so the color doesn’t turn out “muddy”.

      It’s really hard for me to say exactly what you need without seeing your hair. If you need more advice you’re welcome to send me a message via the contact me page!

  24. Sarah says:

    I used to use box dye with no issues as a teen. But my hair dresser hasn’t dyed my hair (to cover my Greys, but it was all over dye). I believe it was a 4 last time. I’m wanting to do it at home myself. I bought mixing tools, I bought a scale. My hair is naturally curly if I don’t straighten/dry it (I normally don’t), somewhat dry, long hair, brown with natural reddish tint to it. I was just going to say it a brown again, all over since my Greys (silvers really) are long and everywhere. My hair is to my butt! I figured a 20 developer.. but I’ve been trying to research the best developer. And then I don’t know which color brand to use either???

  25. Elly MacDudes says:

    Very helpful article, thank you! I live I Scotland and like many people at the moment, am on lockdown because of the Coronavirus. I have an amazing, diligent hairdresser who has written to all of her customers saying that she understands we might not be happy with how our hair is looking at the moment, but that, no matter what, we shouldn’t use a box dye. But I was overdue for both when the lockdown came into force, and three weeks on, I look terrible! Just before I got her email, I bought a box of Clairol nice n’easy 24-wash and a box of L’Oréal Casting on-line, both demi-permanent. Now I’m afraid to use them. Do you have any advice for people on lockdown? My hairdresser suggested washing our hair less, using brown eyeshadow or brow powder, mascara, and root touch up products, etc., but my grey roots are screaming ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ louder and louder every day. I don’t want to disrespect my colourist, but how badly will I damage her wonderful work if I use a box colour?

  26. Ashley N Morris says:

    Can I use box due and developer for a better color

    • Erika says:

      What kind of products are you wanting to mix?

      I think that would be difficult because the box color doesn’t specify the actual level, and you’d need to know that in order to choose the right developer. If you’re going to go to the trouble of getting some developer then you should just get the color at Sally’s as well.

  27. Holly Haverland says:

    I had all over bleach blonde and just colored my roots with the wella 4A and 20 vol developer. My natural color looks just like the 4A on the wella hair color sample chart.
    Long story short, my brown did not turn out as dark as my natural color and does look a bit brassy also. Which I hate. should I just go over it again with another 4A or get a darker color? Any help is greatly appreciated!
    Also did use a protein bond builder before I colored my roots. I was hoping this would help my hair absorb more color. Not sure that it worked.
    Thanks!

    • Erika says:

      It’s hard to say exactly what happened or what you need to do without seeing your hair and knowing more about your haircolor history, but here are my thoughts…

      1. When you go from very blonde to dark hair, it must be “filled” first. You need to replace the pigment that has been stripped from your hair so that it can support the darker color. Usually this is done with a demi-permanent in the copper family(levels depending on the level your hair was when it was blonde). This can also be done all in one step by adding straight copper pigment to your darker haircolor formula, but I don’t recommend doing this if you’re not a seasoned haircolorist(it is more risky when you are going straight to an ash…it would be different if you were coloring your hair with a warmer darker color).

      2. The protein builder is meant to strengthen the bonds in your hair…it won’t help your hair hold color.

      3. Use a neutral brown(maybe even add a little 4G to your formula…this is what will help the color take and hold).

  28. Paige says:

    Thanks for sharing that information! I’m a natural 4 brown, but have had colorists bleach to a wonderful “brassy” blonde for almost 3 years. Recently, I bought Ion demi-perm dye (4N) and colored my hair back brown. I knew it would fade off fairly quickly, but not with so much red/orange undertone. I’m going to buy a permanent 4A now, but curious to know what you think is the best no-box, home hair dye? I’m contemplating Ion again, Wella Koleston, or Madison Reed brands. Are any of these really good, or would you please suggest another quality brand? For the time being, I can’t spend more than I already have at the salon. Thanks in advance!

  29. Shawnie says:

    I was wondering if I’m starting out with dark hair and I want Crimson hair how can I achieve that?

    • Erika says:

      I need to know a little more about your hair to give you the best advice. Please e-mail me via the contact page and I’ll gladly give you some pointers!

  30. Jo says:

    Is it ok to mix metallic black and violet

    • Erika says:

      If you’re using a temporary hair color(it sounds like it) then you can mix anything you want, it just depends on the result you want.

      You’re not going to see a lot of the violet if it’s very black(unless your hair is on the lighter side…but if it is then the darker color won’t last).

      Are you hoping for violet undertones?

  31. Wella toner chart uses an international level and tone system. It is used for Hair Toner that describes different shades of Wella toner.

  32. Chrissy says:

    I have a question I’m a natural blonde and I have long thick hair with that being said I went to sallys and got some hair color blue black the lady said to get one n only hair dye with a developer #20 .but the hair dye is a 2 application and I’m not sure how much of it to use or how much developer to use

  33. Krissy says:

    Hello!

    I have a Greyson purple color in my hair now & I mistakenly used pantene shampoo so it washed the color off my roots.. the color came out nice tho , almost an ombré effect ( my natural color is a strawberry blonde) but anyways I am wanting to touch it up but ran out of the color I used , ( ion color brilliance in chrome) so i purchased the color pewter and bought a violet color additive, but i normally need 3 tubes ( thick hair ) and they only had two so i got light charcoal… should i do my roots with the darker color ( charcoal) & then rest with the pewter with the violet additive, … will that work in achieving a purple grey tone? Or can i mix the pewter with a purple hair dye? ( ion radiant raspberry) … what do you think is the best way to get me to the color i want?

    • Erika says:

      I think that using the darker color on your regrowth will create a nice effect. Just make sure you feather it through a little to diffuse between the two colors.

      What is the actual color you are wanting to achieve? More grey or more purple? I know you said purple-grey, but in that case using just a violet additive might not be enough. You can mix them if they are both demi-permanent hair colors.

      Please reply if you have more questions!

  34. Beth says:

    I’m trying to do some touchups use in Calura Hair color and developer… The online directions say to do a 2 to 1 ratio for blondes. Does that mean two parts developer, or two parts color gree hair color and developer… The online directions say to do a 2 to 1 ratio for blondes. Does that mean to parts developer, or to parts color creme . I’m using 8N Color with 30 developer that I got on Amazon

  35. Amanda says:

    What about wella toner t18??

  36. Nichole says:

    @ann. I know you posted that a few months ago but I wanted to respond just Incase.. Paul Mitchell shines as far as I know is a demi permanent. You would not use 20v developer with it.. you need to get the processing solution that’s made for Demi permanent hair color. It’s usually only “5v or 10v” if you were comparing it to the numbers your used to seeing. Paul Mitchell makes a specific solution for his Demi’s. Also the ratio is 1:1.

    * I do not have a cosmetology license but I’m pretty confident in what I just told you.

  37. Peggy says:

    My ex hair stylist used Wella hair color. Never had a problem with red tones. My natural is a very dark brown but not black. My current stylist uses Redkin. I gave her the same formulation my ex stylist was using but getting red tones in the body of my hair. They are using a permanent color for my gray roots. After applying to my roots she applys it to the body of my hair. Why am I getting the red tones. Also since using Redkin, I don’t have the shine. I have had a new stylist for 5 months.

  38. Diane A says:

    I am trying to get a lighter brown. Are the numbers in hair coloring consistent through out all products? I have been using a golden blonde which my hair dresser told me covers grey the very best which it seems to. I wanted to add a brown to the color mix.
    Any suggestions? My hair is grey on the top with just a sprinkling of grey through the rest of my hair. It Looks highlighted and I get lots of compliments on my hair color
    I have been using the One and Only brand from Sally’s which I prefer over any other coloring I have used. Thanks for any help

  39. Bethany says:

    I color my own hair but only do the root, I find my gray comes back out after a week. Any ideas to give me to get the color to last? I use expensive shampoos and color care.

  40. Ronnie O. says:

    Hi there! What developer would I use for 1A? My hair is brown. 🙂

  41. Katie collins says:

    Hi I am trying to work with what I have …. can I mix different brands?

  42. Jennifer says:

    Just the article I was looking for as I thought about ounces by weight or volume. I have always used a digital scale but for some reason the crazy thought came to mind that the mass or volunes would possibly ve different lol. Glad I read this!

  43. KATY says:

    MY HAIR COLORIST USES SWARTZKOPF 9-7 ON ME. IM GONNA TRY TO DO MY ROOTS MYSELF…. WHAT RATIO OF 9-7 AND 20 VOLUME DEVELOPER DO I USE?

  44. ann says:

    Im using paul mitchell shines it says use a 20 developer my hair is blue smokey/blonde color but I want it gray would I still be using the 2:1 ratio when using the processing liquid

  45. Chrissy says:

    If I wanted to do a brown to purple ombre what would I need to do it? I really like Chocolate mauve but the cosmetologist I talked to wasn’t very helpful. And why wouldn’t you use a permanent and semi permanent.. and if you’re getting hair dye from Sally Beauty Supply which dyes are the best? I’m totally new to dyeing my hair and have lots of ideas..

    Thank you!!

    • Erika says:

      It depends on a few things….

      1. What color is your hair now?
      2. Is your hair artificial or naturally colored?
      3. How often do you plan to or want to retouch your hair color?

      If you can answer those questions I can help you with the rest!

  46. Samantha says:

    Hi, I toned my hair today but my hair didn’t take the color evenly. I used Wella T18 and T14 and the colors just didn’t mix as well as I had hoped. I was going to use Well a permanent liquid hair color tomorrow in the blonde shade (platinum) I had hoped for using As Well red/gold corrector and Wella 50 cooling violet to remove red and yellow colors from my hair. Obviously mixing all those together. My issue is I’m not sure it’s okay to dye over toner?

    • Erika says:

      It’s okay to color over toner, but you should consider using a semi-permanent hair color.

      The toner may not have taken evenly if your hair is porous. Also, depending on the desired color and the actual color of the hair before toning…you may need to add a booster pigment to help it take and hold the toner.

  47. Jes says:

    I have a tube of GI ON and I don’t have any developer. I read you can make your own with deep conditioner and Vaseline, is that possible?

    • Erika says:

      I would not suggest that…developer contains hydrogen peroxide and that’s absolutely necessary to cause the chemical reaction you need for the dye molecules to fill your hair shaft.

  48. Sherri Shaw says:

    Can I mix a permanent dye and a semi-permanent dye together?

  49. Tracy Lowery says:

    I’m doing a brown into pink ombre and I’m using pink by joico and 5m by socolor. Can I blend these two with no problem?

  50. Elke Portley says:

    Great Article! Question? If I mix a permanent dye with a booster is it necessary to also use a toner? I’m no professional lol so I hope I’m not asking a DUH kinda question!

    • Erika says:

      You won’t know if you need a toner until you rinse our the color. Toner is most often used after a lightening color service. Experienced haircolorists should know whether or not a toner will be necessary before they see the results.

      Boosters are used to intensify a specific hue in your color formula. I see what you mean about using a booster to tone, but if you’re using the proper formula then adding pigment won’t matter…if anything it could cause a problem depending on how porous the hair is.

  51. Linda Eschler says:

    How would I measure 50ml of haircolor in an bottle that only measures ounces

    • Erika says:

      You can either convert mL to oz, or you can do it the easy way and use a scale.

      Just put the bottle on the scale, then push the “tare” button. That will set the scale to 0 and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget to make sure the scale is set to mL.

      This is the scale I use:

      Mini Digital Scale

  52. Melissa Kost says:

    Hi, I was wondering if I could mix wella gel permanent with a wella toner?

  53. Susan Edwards says:

    I am not a hair stylist but this was great to read about. I have always known hair colouring can get very tricky so this article was very helpful to find out part of what goes into it. I think I will ask my hair stylist to keep records for my hair if she isn’t yet. http://skyenorman.com/hair-colour/

    • Erika says:

      Thank you! Surprisingly, a lot of haircolorists don’t keep regular notes! I used to be one of them….I was young and creative(still am…haha)….and I thought that what seemed right at the moment would always be right. Good record keeping is one of the keys to success in this business and people like that. They like that you know exactly what formula was used “that time…last year…when we changed it up”. It takes effort, consistency, and repetition to great such a good habit…that’s why so few do it…they start out with great intentions and slowing slide off.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy Holidays!

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