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Haircolor Secrets - Bumping Up The Color Or Cleansing The Color Palette?

One of the challenges hair colorists have when taking on a new hair color client is acquiring an accurate hair color history.

Although hair color clients might be willing  to provide detailed color information, it's hard to really know what has been used, even if previous hair colorists were willing to give out the details.

(Image courtesy of ARTec - All Rights Reserved)

Sometimes hair colorists will give a client the exact details of the hair color products used on their hair, many times this information is not willingly provided.  In fact, it may never be provided.

Some hair colorists believe if they give their clients the name of the hair color line or the exact formulation the client might be tempted to try and do the color at home. 

Or even a worse case scenario would be if the client might leave and go to a competitor and just pass on their hair color details.  In all fairness to the hair colorists who guard their color secrets this type of thing does happen and if they worked hard to create a great hair color for a client why should they give up their secrets?

The answer?  When a new client sits in a hair colorist's chair for the first time the colorist may decide to create a blank color slate also known as clearing the palette, clarifying the color or bumping up the color.  This might be done first before adding new color on top of the existing hue.

The practice of cleaning or clarifying the client's canvas first is used by some and not by others.  Creating a blank slate does offer some advantages:

1.  It removes product build-up which might block new color absorption

2.  A clean canvas promote even color saturation and better coverage.

I recently discussed this practice with master hair colorist Barbara Lhotan, a long time senior Paul Mitchell senior educator.

Barbara explained she doesn't always clean or clarify a client's palette because it can be a problem in some cases, but said it can be done with equal amounts of hot water, lightener and a mild shampoo mixed together in a bottle.   She said to apply the mixture to the client's hair and then wait approximately 5 minutes before rinsing.

Barbara advises watching the hair closely.  She also suggests spraying hair with equalizing solution before proceeding with the color application.

Warning: This technique of bumping up the color, cleaning the palette or starting with a blank slate should never be done at home unless you have first discussed it with a hair color professional.

Another hair colorist I talked to told me when he is working with a brand new client he uses equal parts dual-purpose lighteners, 5-volume developer and a gentle clarifying shampoo.

Although sometimes this is called a soap cap, in reality it's not a true soap cap.  This process is more along the lines of clarifying the hair to remove product build up and cleanse the hair color palette.  Barbara noted its sometimes referred to as "bumping up the color".

This process may be performed on long time color clients if there is a need but usually it is reserved for first time hair color clients since the hair colorist can never be sure just what is on their new clients hair.

Some hair colorists will do the initial cleanse at no cost in order to guarantee good color results.  Others will charge for the service.

Be sure to ask your colorist if they will be doing this type of color clarifying before doing your color treatment and make sure you understand if it's a billable item.

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