When You Play The Game Of Tones, You Win, Or You Dye

A post in which I am equally proud of and embarrassed of the title

Last week I had the honor of having a first time guest in my new salon! She was scheduled for a balayage, which generally speaking can mean almost anything these days. As soon as she walked in, I knew that this would not be a balayage application, rather a color correction. The first words she said after sitting in my chair were "this is what I was SUPPOSED to get", and I knew right away I could get her close to her goal!

Naturally a level 5 with 40% grey, she had four weeks of regrowth. Her beginning level previous to this was a colored level 5. She initially wanted to work towards a slightly rooted neutral toned blonde that would allow for a graceful grow out between color services, while still looking fresh and new.

There was a lot going on in this hair, and I needed to address all of the brass without over depositing to make her too cool. Her base matched up to a neutral level 5 with 40% grey, through her mids she matched up to a copper level 6 ,very gold level 8, and a gold level 9. Her end carried through the levels 8 & 9, with more gold 9 than anything else. The porosity on this hair was very compromised, and her natural texture had a decent amount of frizz to it with quite a bit of breakage around her face.


We began by cutting nearly two inches off of her hair to support health and to create shape. With her natural texture and stress from previous color, our long term goal is to grow the hair around her face and her overall length.

We had multiple problems to address, the first being grey coverage at her natural base. Second, we needed to break up the bright level 8 to create more cohesion in her color and lift her light enough to keep her hair from reverting back to brassy. Third, we needed to tone down everything else to a neutral palette.


30g 5,1 (level 5 blue based ash)

45g 20Vol


20g violet powdered lightener

40g 20 volume


12g 9,27 (level 9 violet beige)

10g 10,0 (level 10 neutral)

8g 8,21 (level 8 violet with blue)

45g 20 volume

Toner (liquid demi-permanent):

12g 9,0 (level 9 neutral)

8g 9,22 (level 9 double violet)

10g Gloss (clear)

30g 10 volume

Processed for 15 minutes

I applied her base and foils at the same time, as I wanted to ensure that her highlights lifted as cleanly as possible. This allowed for the low volume lightener to lift through natural level 5, copper level 6 and brassy level 8 without having to eat its way through color. I pulled her base color roughly two inches down in between her foils to give a slight rooted feel. Once her base and highlights were applied, I used our permanent pull through color formulation and saturated all of her hair that was not in foils. When applying her end color, I utilized pressure between my middle and forefinger where the base color met her end color to give a soft blend. After all of her color was applied, we processed for 25 minutes.

Once she had finished processing, I cleansed her with a nourishing shampoo to remove the color and lightener from her hair, towel dried, then fully saturated her hair with our toning formula. I allowed this to process for 15 minutes at which point the hair appeared to have a fully neutral reflection. I cleansed and conditioned with a nourishing family to address her previous color damage. Before styling, I prepped her with a nutrient rich leave in conditioner, a hydrating mousse, and a lightweight oil like product for added softness, hydration and shine. I blew her out with a large round brush for body and movement, and finished her with a texturizing spray. We were both so excited to see the finished result!



For one application, I couldn't be any happier! We made far more progress and achieved more control than I expected, and my guest was thrilled, and her hair felt loved. She couldn't keep her hands out of it!

Follow @theformulationfiles on Instagram to stay up to date on daily happenings and behind the chair videos, and leave a comment below with content that you want to see featured on The Formulation Files!

What I Used:

Davines Century Of Light Progress Lightener, Mask With Vibrachrom Permanent Color, View Liquid Demi-Permanent Color & Products

Dyson Blow Dryer

Reynolds 711 Foils

Paul Mitchell Round Brush

YS Park Clips