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7 Golden Rules of Hair Colouring – Plus Free PDF

Sarah Oglesby - September 9, 2016 Hair Colouring, Hairdressing Education

7 Golden Rules of Hair Colouring – Plus Free PDF

When it comes to hair colouring formulation there are a few golden rules that must be followed to ensure a successful outcome and happy clients. Whether you are just starting out or the company you trained with never helped you crack colouring hair, MHD’s 7 Golden Rules of Hair Colouring should help you feel more confident when it comes to creating bespoke hair colour to increase your clientele and improve your income.

Hair Colouring Rule 1: Be the expert on your Colour House

Before you walk near a client with a tint bowl and tint brush, know the colouring products offered by your Colour House inside and out! Make sure you are an expert on:

  • The manufacturer’s instructions for each product
  • Which developers are mixed with which product lines
  • Your development times
  • And most importantly, what colour tones are associated with their numbering or lettering system.

You need to be an expert on every aspect of your colouring products to ensure that you nail hair colour formulation every time!

Visit our Colour Wheel article for tips on personalising a colour wheel with your Colour House’s numbering or lettering system to help you visually associate codes with tone.

Hair Colouring Rule 2: Know your natural depths

Being able to visually identify natural depth is an invaluable skill when colouring hair. Don’t get too caught up in the International Colour Chart’s naming of natural depth. All too often a trainee or inexperienced hairstylist has picked up a depth of a level 6 (dark blonde) and has gone running for the staff room when they realise the result was much darker than expected. Train your eye to correctly identify natural depth.


Colour Volume

Hair Colouring Rule 3: Always perform a consultation

Never ever EVER skip this rule! It doesn’t matter how often you see your client or how often you colour their hair you need to ensure that you provide a professional thorough consultation before every service.

Your consultation is the time to identify your client’s:

  • Natural depth
  • Hair texture and characteristics
  • The target depth and tone
  • The colouring techniques that you will use to achieve their new look

Although these are all important, they are not the only factors you must consider during your consultation. You must also check for any contra-indications that may prevent the service from proceeding.

Golden Rules of Colour Formulation, Hair Colouring


Hair Colouring Rule 4: Always skin test

Follow your colouring products manufacturer’s instructions and test either 24 or 48 hours before EVERY colour service. Although allergic reactions to hair colour is extremely rare, a client can develop a sensitivity at any point in their lifetime. This sensitivity might just be their next colour appointment with you. Some reactions can be very severe and may even cause death. You need to protect your client and your business and ensure you never skip this rule.

How to do skin testing

How to do skin testing

Watch Tracey Sarno’s full lecture covering the essential testing processes on skin and hair testing here

Hair Colouring Rule 5: Always analyse your client’s hair and scalp

Perform a detailed hair and scalp analysis and record the outcomes for future reference.

You need observe your client’s scalp for open wounds or changes in texture or colour.

You need to look for any recent hair loss that may be a contract-indication to your service, as well as analysing any recent changes to hair porosity or hair strength.

The outcomes of your analysis will determine if it is safe to proceed with the colour service, as well as informing you of any changes to product choice of formulation.

If you don’t already have a system in place for recording your consultations for future reference download our free MHD Client Record Card.

Remember you are often the only person that regularly observes your client’s hair and scalp. Advising them of any changes they may not be aware of and that may need medical attention is always welcome.

Watch our video Considering Hair Characteristics when Colouring Hair for further advice on analysis and consultation for colouring services.

Hair Colouring Rule 6: Choose your developer first, then your product

At MHD we always recommend that the integrity of your client’s hair should be at the cornerstone of any colouring service you offer. The strength of your developer has a huge impact on the porosity and elasticity of your client’s hair post service. Choosing a developer that is a higher strength than required can have a negative impact on your results and your client’s hair structure.

Here’s our recommendations on developer choice:

6 volume (1.9%): Clients that do not require white hair coverage and wish to stay the same depth, change tone or go darker. 6 volume (1.9%) is generally mixed with semi, demi or quasi-permanent colours which are gentler on the hair.

10 volume (3%): Clients that require 70% white hair coverage or wish to stay the same depth, change tone or go darker. 10 volume (3%) can be mixed with demi, quasi-permanent colours. Depending on your product manufacturer 10 volume (3%) is often mixed with permanent colour when toning as part of a two-step colour service.

20 volume (6%): Clients that require 100% white hair coverage or 1 to 2 depths of lift. 20 volume (6%) is mixed with permanent colour or bleach / lightener.

30 volume (9%): Clients that require 2 to 3 depths of lift. Not recommended for white hair coverage. 30 volume (9%) is mixed with permanent colour, high-lift tint or bleach /lightener.  Never use with bleach / lightener on the scalp. Only use on hair that has good elasticity or porosity when mixing with bleach / lightener for application through the mid-lengths and ends.

40 volume (12%): Clients that require 3 to 4 depths of lift. 40 volume (12%) is used with permanent colour or high-lift tint. It is not suitable for white hair coverage. Never use with bleach/powder lightener on the scalp. Only use on the mid-lengths or ends when mixed with a product to protect the structure of the hair.

Hair Colouring Rule 7: Always consult your Lightening Curve and Colour Wheel

Once you have identified your natural depth, your target depth and tone, the developer and your product you now need to correctly formulate the colour that will provide you with your desired result.

If you are going lighter or darker you need to firstly consult your lightening curve . If you are going darker you may need to replace the underlying warmth that would exist in natural hair colour at your target depth.

If you are going lighter you may need to neutralise the underlying warmth that will be exposed as you are lightening the hair. To find out more about considering the lightening curve when formulating hair colour read our lightening curve blog here.

The Lightening Curve, Hair Colouring

Once you have a good understanding of your what is happening with your underlying warmth it’s time to consult your Colour Wheel and the Principles of Colour Theory. Use the theories of Complementary Colours and Colour Harmony to neutralise or enhance tone. Learn more about formulating with a colour wheel here.

Colour Wheel

Now you are ready to correctly formulate your client’s target depth and shade! Following MHD’s 7 Golden Rules of Hair Colouring will ensure you have

  • Become a master on the colouring products and tones from your Colour House
  • Correctly identified your client’s natural depth using the power of visual observation
  • Skin tested your client for sensitivity prior to their colour service
  • Consulted with your client and identified their target depth and tone
  • Thoroughly analysed their skin and hair to identified any contra-indications
  • Chosen the correct developer for your target depth to respect the integrity of the hair
  • Consulted the Principles of Colour Theory and considered the Lightening Curve and the theory of Complementary Colour and Colour Harmony to formulate the correct formula to achieve your target depth and tone.

Watch our wide range of colouring techniques for all skill levels on MHD here.

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