I'm Blue (Da Ba Dee Da Ba Daa)

The story of a girl who wanted a rooted balayage, and got denim blue.

THIS. You would never know from this picture that 5 hours before it was taken, her hair was partially denim blue, and not in the fun fashion colors kind of way. I received a text on a Tuesday from an existing guest saying something close to "Hi! My friend really needs your help and will be reaching out ASAP". In the little that I could make out through text message (and phone pictures), I knew immediately this was a color correction. She had already called the salon I work at to see when I could fit her in, and I didn't have an appointment available for over three weeks. Here's the kicker guys, SHE STARTED COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL ON MONDAY. Without hesitation I told her to come in the next day (my day off) at 10 am and we would make it right before her first day of school.

From what I gathered, prior to her hair appointment the day that she text me, she had always been a full foil without toning. She wanted to transition to a more on trend look, and requested a cool rooted blonde with some brighter pops of color around her face. What she received was a neutral base with denim blue lowlights.

We've all had unfortunate lighting situations where our pictures don't do the hair justice. In this instance, the BEFORE pictures didn't do the hair justice. The lighting just wasn't right and it wasn't capturing the way that it truly appeared. Hopefully you get the general idea through these images that the lowlights were uneven and an undesired tone, the hair overall lacked the dimension she was looking for and there were no bright pops of blonde around her face.

With that being said, I understand where this stylist was going. Being able to reverse engineer hair color is one of the BEST tools to being able to offer an effective color correction. Her base was touched up with something neutral, no real issues there. A lowlight was then applied in an attempt to drag down her base and create a longer root. A blue based ash was used in hopes of creating a cool tone, but the big red flag here is that it was applied over level 10 blonde. What this stylist did was halfway there. The thought was there. The reasoning was there. What wasn't there was experience with this style of color and real life understanding of ash tones and placement. This is in no way a disrespectful observation of the original stylist. It is a breakdown of what happened, and why it didn't work so that nobody here encounters the same situation and gets an outcome similar.


Knowing that her hair was freshly colored (literally the day before) and having color matched her base to a level 6 and lowlights to a level 7, I knew what to do. This guest has very fine hair, which generally makes for an easy lift. Because the color was still fresh, the original color process had not actually yet completed making it easier to change what had been done. We decided to go with a full babylight with color in between, and a darker toner at her base than at her ends. (You guys will hear me use the term babylight one billion time on TFF, because it truly offers a complete and seamless change to the hair with the most even lif).

SO, I began by sectioning out her entire head before even mixing my formula.

My plan was as follows:

-Take 1/4 inch sections on the entire head from nape to hairline with NO section any thicker.

-Once all of my foils had been applied in the back two quadrants, apply her base color in between.

-Once all of my foils had been applied through her sides, apply her base color in between.

-Once all of my foils had been applied through her top, apply her base color in between.

-Once all color had been applied, pull foils from the back two quadrants and rinse thoroughly.

-10 minutes later pull foils from the two side sections and rinse thoroughly.

-10 minutes later pull foils from the top sections, rinse thoroughly and cleanse the whole head.

-Apply base toner & mids and ends toner, allow to process for 15 minutes

Babylight Formula :

12g violet based lightener

24g 10,15,20 and 25 volume

Remixed every 20 minutes, each remix the developer was bumped up

Base Formula:

24g 6,71 (level 6 beige with a hint of blue)

36g 10 volume

The main challenges here were application time, NOT enhancing the blue while still giving her the cool finish she wanted, and that the blue lowlight had been pulled through her mids so unevenly, making it difficult to use a "halo" (higher in the front lower in the back) placement, which looks the most natural. With 1/4 inch sections, you have. to. hustle. to get a full head of babylights in. We started with 10 volume in the back knowing that her fine hair would lift easily to a level 10. As we moved through her hair and had to remix lightener, I bumped the developer up 1/2 level every time to give a more even lift in a time effective manner.

Once her foils (and most of her base) were all applied, I took a picture for processing because after this point, it would be constant application with no time to get the full head in all its glory. That, and I was proud AF of this foil work, and it looks better without color smeared in between them on the top!

With her base color application, it was difficult initially to decide how far to drag down the color due to the uneven depth throughout, and we needed to cover that blue! I took a gamble with her base color formulation understanding that by using a level darker it would offer full coverage of the lighter pigment, and hoped that whatever color line was underneath didn't make (what in my opinion is) the perfect tube of an ash base into a giant regret.

I decided on pulling the base color down farther than I would have under any other circumstance. Some of the blue pieces were nearly 3/5 of the way down her hair strand through the back, and some at least halfway down towards the front. In a halo placement, I pulled the base color down 3/5 through the back, 2/5 through her sides and concentrated my foils heavily around the face to break through and allow for her "money piece".

Once all of her color had processed and been cleansed with a protein based shampoo for bleached hair, I towel dried and applied her toner. She lifted to a PERFECT level 10 with pale yellow undertones. I applied her base toner from her root to 4 inches down to really give us a shadow root (but formulated it to still leave gorgeous dimension), and her mids and ends formula to the rest of her hair.

Base Toner:

20g 8,72 (level 8 beige with violet)

40g 5 volume

Mids & Ends Toner:

30g 10,23 (level 10 violet with gold)

60g 5 volume

The base processed for 15 minutes total, and her ends for about 9 minutes. I cleansed and conditioned her with a protein based line for bleached hair (especially important in this case as she did NOT want a cut), prepped her hair with an oil, leave in conditioner, and silkening oil mist, then blew her out and popped in some curls. ARE YOU GUYS READY!?


THIS IS SO SATISFYING. She loved her hair, I loved her hair, and she could start cosmetology school with confidence that she looked the part! From start to finish this took 5.5 hours (including our mini photoshoots). She took home and olive extract based shampoo and conditioner made for smoothing and a leave in conditioner with thermal and UV protection. Her hair is well cared for, and she learned a TON about color theory already (haha)!