Top Colorists Reveal Their All-Time Favorite Shade Techniques

Colorist Tips

Every artist has one—a tried-and-true formula that ensures gorgeous color results for any client, any time.

A Study in Scarlet: These hot how-tos will have you (and your clients!) seeing red.

Red Hair Technique

Who: ​Halston Hoyte for Celeb Luxury

The Formula

Color: Celeb Luxury Gem Lites Colorwash in Ruby

The Technique

Step 1: At the sink, divide hair into two parts, then shampoo twice.

Step 2: Let color soak in for 5 minutes for proper deposition.


Who: Presley Poe for Pravana

The Formula

Base: 20g. ChromaSilk 4.45 + 10g. ChromaSilk 4.52 + 5g. Ash Blue Additive + 10-vol. Crème Developer

Top Crown: 1 tube Vivids Red: 2 drops Vivids Blue

Nape Area: 2 tubes Vivids Red: 5g. Vivids Green


Who: Rebecca Hiele and William Wilson for Goldwell

The Formula

Regrowth: Topchic 40 ml. Lotion 6% (20 vol.) + 40ml. 5RR Max @Pure Pigments + 8ml. Pure Red

Mid-lengths and ends: Topchic 40 ml. Lotion 9% (30 vol.) + 40ml. 7RR@RR @Pure Pigments + 8ml. Pure Red

Scarlet Hair Technique

Who: Maria Gallicchio for ColorDesign

The Technique

Step 1: To create dimension, apply a few foils on top of the hair using Violet Powder Lightener mixed with 7-vol. Developer.

Step 2: Mix Dark Copper Blonde 6.4/6C with 20-vol. Developer (1:1.5) and apply to regrowth between the foils. Apply the same formula to the mid-lengths and ends. Process for 35 minutes.

Step 3: Rinse hair and shampoo with Reconstruction Shampoo to rebuild strength and add shine.

Step 4: Mix Ammonia-Free Light Copper Blonde 8.4/8C with 7-vol. Developer (1:15). Use as an overlay on damp hair. Process for 20 minutes.

Step 5: For increased shine and strength, complete the color service with Reconstruction Shampoo, Oil and Mask.

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Who: George Papanikolas for Matrix

The Formula

Balayage: 2 scoops Light Master + 2oz. 40-vol. Cream Developer

Base: 1:1 SoColor 8C + 20-vol. Cream Developer

Glaze: 1:1 Color Sync 7CC + and 10-vol. Cream Developer

The Technique

Step 1: Let the hair fall to its natural part. Then, create a radial parting to separate the front from the back.

Step 2: Starting in the back, work with diagonal sections approximately 1-inch deep. Free-hand paint a deep “V” shape with Light Master and saturate the mid- lengths and ends for a brighter result.

Step 3: Repeat this application method throughout the entire head. Process for 50 minutes or until desired lightness is achieved. Rinse and towel-dry.

Step 4: Create a root smudge effect by applying the base formula to the new growth area. Process up to 30 minutes, rinse and towel-dry.

Step 5: Apply the glaze formula from scalp to ends. Process up to 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Step 6: Apply Bond Ultim8 Step 2 for 10 minutes, then rinse, cleanse and condition using Total Results Color Obsessed Shampoo and Conditioner.


Who: Heather Butterworth for Affinage

The Formula

Regrowth and smudge: 30g. 8.465 + 30g. 6.46 + 30g. 10 vol.

The Technique

Step 1: Lighten mid-lengths and ends to a level 8 using Lite and 1-vol. while regrowth is processed.

The Toner Formula

Toner Formula 1: 15g. 8.465 + 15g. 9.23 + 5g. .4 Intensives + 60g. Converter

Toner Formula 2: 20g. 7.4 + 10g. .4 Intensives + 60g. Converter

The Toner Technique

Step 2: Apply Toner in a pinwheel pattern from the crown down to the hairline, alternating between toner formulas, in -inch to 1-inch sections. Process for 25 minutes.


Blonde Ambition: Cater to your flaxen flock with these fair hair go-tos.

Blonde Coloring Tips

Who: Brandon Wagner for Crazy Color

The Formula

Formula: / Graphite mixed with / Black

Pinwheel Toner: Silver, Platinum and Ice Mauve

The Technique

Step 1: Perform a full head application of Formula 1 at the roots, then smudge 1 inch down.

Note: The Black does not make the blonde any darker; rather, it lends a smoky look for increased depth and opaqueness.

Step 2: To enhance dimension, apply three colors—Silver, Platinum and Ice Mauve—in alternating pinwheel-pattern panels in foils. Using these three formulas both tones and refines the blonde.

Step 3: Process 20 minutes. Rinse using cool water, then condition with Rainbow Care Conditioner.

RELATED: Celebrity Colorists Share their Most In-Demand Formulas


Who: Beth Minardi for Beth Minardi Signature Haircolor

The Formula

Bowl 1 Highlights: Signature Bleach + 20- vol. Signature Gentle Creme Developer

Bowl 2 Highlights: 2oz. 12ICE Signature Permanent Creme Haircolor + 2oz. 40-vol. Signature Gentle Creme Developer

Bowl 3 Lowlights: Equal parts 10BB Signature Demi- Permanent Creme Haircolor + 5-vol. Signature Gentle Creme Developer

Universal Blonde Toner: 1oz. 10G + 1oz. 10BB + 1oz. Invisible Signature Demi-Permanent Liquid Haircolor + 3oz. 5-vol. Signature Gentle Creme Developer

The Technique

Step 1: Create babylights around the face using Signature Bleach (available soon!) + 2oz. 20-vol. Signature Gentle Creme Developer mixed to desired consistency. Process to pale yellow. Rinse, shampoo, condition, and dry hair.

Step 2: Create very deliberate dimension throughout the head with an impressionistic placement of highlights and lowlights starting at the nape.

Step 3: Process under rotating heat for 25 minutes. Rinse and shampoo, then blow-out hair until it’s 75-percent dry.

Step 4: Glaze with Universal Blonde Toner Formula.

Step 5: Process at room temperature for 10 minutes. Rinse, shampoo, condition, and style.

Blonde Hair Techniques

Who: Amanda Lenz for Product Club

The Formula

Babylights: Davines Progress Lightener with 30 vol.

Glaze: Redken Shades EQ: 40g. 09V + 20g. 08T + 10g. 07P

The Technique

Step 1: Backcomb slices and babylights.

Step 2: Apply glaze to towel-dried hair, and leave it on roots and retouched areas for the first 10 minutes for depth and control. Pull through ends an additional 10 minutes.


Who: Kelly Stanley for Malibu C

The Formula

Balayage: Wella Professionals Freelights + 40 vol.

Toner: Wella Color Touch 15g. 10/81 + 15g. 8/81 + 10g. 9/03

The Technique

Step 1: Prep hair with Malibu C Color Prepare.

Step 2: Balayage.

Step 3: Pre-tone using Malibu C Crystal Gel mixed with Malibu C Primary Blue Concentr8 Colour.

Step 4: Apply toner formula.

Step 5: Rinse and condition with Oribe Gold Lust Conditioner.

Step 6: Style with Oribe Imperial Blowout Transformative Styling Crème for a sleek look.

Step 7: Prime with Oribe Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray prior to thermal styling.


Hot Chocolates: Tap these mocha hues for brunette beauties.

Brunette Coloring Techniques

Who: Colin Caruso for Paul Mitchell Professional Hair Color

The Formula

Paul Mitchell the Demi 3A (3/1) 2oz. (60g./ml.) + Paul Mitchell Processing Liquid 2oz. (60g./ml.)

RELATED: How to Get Opulent Brown Hair by Goldwell Team Member Nick Pagano


Who: Jacqueline Cefalu of Jensen & Co. Salon, Reno, NV, for CLiCS

The Formula

Formula 1: 40g. CLiCS Creme Lightener + 2.2g. CoBonder + 40g. 40-vol. Developer

Formula 2: 35g. 6N + 14g. each Orange, Blue and Green + 15.7g. Yellow + 7g. Red + 6.2g. CoBonder + 99.7g. 20-vol. Developer

The Technique

Step 1: To create dimension, pre-lighten clean hair with CLiCS Creme Lightener.

Step 2: Using a balayage technique, work Formula 1 from the nape to the top of the occipital area.

Step 3: Next, weave and slice sections diagonally forward and backward at the crown of the head.

Step 4: Process for 45 minutes or until level 8 is reached.

Step 5: Wash hair thoroughly. Step 6: Apply Formula 2 from scalp to ends.

Step 7: Process with cap for 35 minutes.

Step 8: Wash hair thoroughly, then style.

Brunette Color Tips

Who: Amanda Evans for Scruples

The Formula

Natural Level: 4

Pre-lighten Formula 1: Blazing Highlights Toner Infused Gel Color Chestnut

Pre-lighten Formula 2: Blazing Highlights Toner Infused Gel Color Cool Almond Blonde

Base Color Stretched Root: High Definition Custom Mixing Gel Color (Artistic Blends) Chocolate Brown

Toner Formula: High Definition Custom Mixing Gel Color (Artistic Toner Formula) Golden + Platinum

The Technique

Step 1: Using the Scruples 30-foil technique, apply Pre-lighten Formula 1 in babylights, feathering close—but not right next—to the scalp.

Step 2: Use an ombré teasing technique between foils. Tease the hair close to the scalp and apply Pre-lighten Formula 2 on the ends, feathering up close to the teased area.

Step 3: Process for 20 minutes under a dryer.

Step 4: Shampoo and towel-dry hair.

Step 5: Apply the Base Color Stretched Root Formula on the scalp, and stretch out 2 to 3 inches. Apply the Toner Formula to the ends.

Step 6: Process for 20 minutes.


Who: Mike Petrizzi for AGEbeautiful

The Formula

Formula 1: 1 oz. 5NN Permanent Hair Color + oz. 5G Permanent Hair Color + oz. 6A Permanent Hair Color + 2oz. 20-vol. Developer

Formula 2: 2oz. TintShine Bronze + 2oz. Demi Developer

The Technique

Step 1: Apply Formula 1 to the base and regrowth areas only.

Step 2: Process for 45 minutes, rinse, shampoo, and lightly condition.

Step 3: Apply Formula 2 all over towel-dried hair and process for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Rinse, lightly shampoo and deep-condition.


[Images: Getty Images; Courtesy of Halston Hoyte; Presley Poe; Maria Gallicchio; George Papanikolas, Heather Butterworth; Amanda Lenz; Roberto Ligresti; Kelly Stanley; Colin Caruso; Jeramie Lu] 

This story first appeared in the February issue of Beauty Launchpad magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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