Product Knowledge | Kevin Murphy Fresh.Hair

Kevin Murphy Fresh.HairThe first product from the Kevin Murphy line I fell in love with was Fresh.Hair. It’s a dry cleanser that can be used on any hair type and in pretty much any situation to refresh and revitalize dirty and limp locks. When I first learned the miracle of dry shampoo, I went on a mission to find the best. Before I found Fresh.Hair, I was using another line that seemed to work really well, but eventually, I was getting way too much buildup in my hair. It worked, but it wasn’t perfect. Some others were too greasy, too heavy or just simply didn’t work. And the worst were the ones that showed up white on my dark hair and never rubbed in enough to blend in! Ugh!

So when I tried Fresh.Hair, it seriously felt like a life-changing experience. I loathe getting up early and at the time, I needed to leave for work around 7 to 7:30 most mornings. My mid-length haircut was difficult to style day old without some extra help and I certainly wasn’t going to wash my hair every morning and style it completely wet to dry. I was becoming the queen of topknots and ballerina buns and really needed something that worked. Enter Fresh.Hair. Let me share with you the details on how and why you should try it out, too!

What it’s for: Originally created by Kevin after needing an easy way to turn over models hairstyles in between shoots, this product is most simply designed to refresh hair. In the real world of everyday at-home hairstyling, the purpose continues with using the powdered substance to soak up grease at the roots, add volume and rejuvenate your style after a long day of it possibly flattening or falling out. Simply put, it’s for giving you an extra day or evening of great, fresh hair.

How to use it: Spray in small sections at the root from about 6 inches away. After spraying it in, work it in with your fingers and you can even use a towel or cloth to rub out excess powder if needed. I also like to brush it through to distribute and make sure I cover everything!

Added benefits: With ingredients like burdock root extract, grapefruit extract and Chinese cinnamon leaf oil, this product not only refreshes, but it helps to repair and regulate your hair and scalp. It’s antioxidant rich, so it can promote hair growth and it regenerates the cells in each hair. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps balance sebum production. A great product is one that has many added benefits which help improve the hair while you use it and that’s exactly what this product does. And it’s water soluble, so you never have to worry about buildup!

Always remember: Shake that can before using! The ingredients can separate while sitting, so make sure to shake, shake, shake before spraying it onto your strands!

Price Point: $22-$27 depending on location

Where to find it: Any Kevin Murphy salon or hairdresser. In Denver? Contact me and I can get it to you! If you’re anywhere else, try this link of the website to find the closest distributor near you!

The Twist & Turn | Youtube Tutorial

The Twist & Turn #5MinutePinIt

#WhatIWoreWednesday is all about giving you practical, easy and simple hairstyles that you can recreate in just 5 minutes. Every look is something I’ve actually styled in the morning (as you can tell by my lack of makeup and hairstyling at the beginning), though I am filming these bits in advance to stay up on content. In every video, I come to you straight from my own bathroom and I show you what you need to use, I do the look on myself and I showcase photos of the finished result. I literally give myself 5 minutes to do the look and I start with morning hair so that you can be sure every look truly is as simple as they seem. For sneak peeks and teasers, I’m posting to my Facebook and Instagram, so head there if you want to get insider info on when each video launches!

Check out my very first #WhatIWoreWednesday full tutorial on Youtube now! 

The art of balayage, 3 ways. Kate Allen.

Balayage 3 Ways & A List Of Benefits

Balayage is SO BIG, you guys! And guess what? It’s not going anywhere! Sorry, haters but this trend is only gaining popularity in new groups of women who have been shy to try it out. For women who thought it was just a fad not worth spending money on, for those women who can no longer color their hair on-scalp and for those women who just realized they can get sun-kissed, naturally beautiful looking highlights that are also low maintenance… Well, for those ladies, it’s just begun!

My prediction is that by 2015, most of us are going to be on board with this practically magical technique. So I think you should take a couple of minutes now to learn all about why you should switch your highlight game to this gorgeous upgrade….because it looks great on every length!

Scroll through for balayage three ways: on a pixie, long bob and long layered hair cut. Then, continue down for a list of all the best reasons to consider ditching your foils and trying balayage!

1. Bright Blonde On A Pixie

For this look, I wanted to have some statement bright blonde pieces to go with Gina’s natural dark blonde hair color. They are a bit more dramatic and they’re just perfect to go with Gina’s bright, warm personality. In this particular balayage technique, I use varying degrees of thickness for each strand of hair and I varied how close they got to the scalp from directly to the scalp to about one inch out. This allowed me to really play up the fringe area (to give the appearance of more thickness and texture) and to allow her color some “pop” around her face, mimicking the pattern in which the sun naturally lightens the hair.


2. Medium-Blonde On A Long Bob

Tina’s hair has been transitioning since I met her a year ago and it’s never looked better! This was after moving her over from highlights to balayage and though we want to go a bit lighter and brighter, this was the perfect first color! You’d never tell from this photo that Tina’s hair is a little bit thinner because the subtlety of the balayage gives an enormous amount of dimension and depth (one of the favorite things about it!). As you can see, I placed the balayage only around the crown and the front to leave her base color as the contrasting accent. I took each highlight straight to the root because Tina is used to a traditional highlight, so I didn’t want to change it up too much and make her feel like she had roots. But I still made sure to feather it in really well so that it would look very natural and sun-kissed as it grows out. Especially because my hair is a lot like Tina’s, I’m loving this look on her and how thick, vibrant and dimensional it makes her locks look!


3. Ombre Balayage On Longer Hair

Stephanie had quite a bit of grow out and I wanted to give her something fun, bright and youthful to match her personality and lifestyle, but also something that was lower maintenance, allowing her more time for fun and less time worrying about her roots. She was into an ombre look, so we went for it! I feathered in from about an inch and and half from the roots, leaving room for her natural to blend in between. Then, I continued the balayage down to the bottom of the hair. I blended our medium-blonde color from near the roots to the bottom and then on the bottom, I saturated the hair with a brighter blonde, then feathered it in with a clean brush to blend seamlessly. I wanted people to look at her hair and see no transition from the medium color to the bright blonde, especially when worn straight. I love how this look gives Stephanie, another fashionista like myself, a trendy and youthful look that’s still work appropriate!

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Benefits of Balayage:

Natural look that mimics the pattern of lightness created by the sun. Just like when you spent all summer at the beach sunning and laughing with girlfriends!

Perfect for women who can’t apply color on scalp, this allows for bleach or color to only sit directly on the hair. So if you have an allergy to color, are pregnant or have other reasons for not wanting anything to soak into the scalp, this is perfect.

More time in between grow out. Because of the feathering used to place the highlights, there’s a very seamless transition from dark to light and no line of demarcation like you’d get from foils.

Lower maintenance technique that requires touch-ups only every 8-12 weeks, depending on hair type and desired result.

Can’t decide on just one color? Try ombre through balayage and get the best of both worlds with two different colors blended into each other. I’m currently rocking a balayage from my natural darker color to red on my ends.


Less damage! Because you aren’t completely saturating all of the hair in bleach or color, there’s much less damage and dryness on your hair strands, meaning healthier, softer, shinier tresses.

Use balayage to accent a haircut. If you have an angled bob or a rocking fringe, have more highlights concentrated near the angles you want to accentuate.

Want hair to appear longer? Just do balayage underneath through the bottom of the hair and instantly trick the eye.

And a word about at home, DIY balayage…. You guys, this technique is really difficult. It’s not as easy as painting it on with a brush or combing it through. This particular concept took me a little over a year to specialize in (only after I’d taken tons of classes and trained under someone who specialized in it) and I didn’t perform it on a paying client for 9 months. There is a lot of this technique between how much color to use per strand, what consistency that color should be, how to apply it, how to feather it in to blend perfectly and how to properly apply heat if needed. I just barely will do it on my own hair, so I would seriously advise you to go to a professional for this kind of technique! Just trust me! And if you don’t, just Google “at home ombre” and you’ll see exactly what I mean! :) I’m all about saving some money or any added convenience, but I’ve seen this technique end in disaster too many times to not make a note about this!

So what do you lovelies think? Have you heard of balayage yet and would you be willing to try it out?? Tweet me @Hairwithkate and let me know! For questions on booking my services here in Denver or in Vancouver, shoot me an email at! 


PRODUCT LOVE | A guide for how much to use

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A common cause of a bad hair day is too much or too little product. Too much powder at your roots can clump your hair together and too little styling mousse can leave very little hold and volume.

Today, I got lost in my product sample closet and took a quick snapshot of the most common products that are applied before or after drying your hair to show you a basic guide. Keep in mind, this a very basic starting point, so women that have much thicker hair might need a bit more. But this is a great starting point to show you approximately what you need. Always layer more if you need more, but start with these estimates. Also, keep in mind that each product line comes with certain recommendations of where to apply each product, so follow your manufacturer’s directions when in doubt. These products are various samples I had in my closet, so I’ll tell you where to apply based on my experience with each.

Rusk Styling Cream: Nickel sized amount, applied from the mid-strands to ends. 

Moroccan Oil Mousse: Palm-full, applied from roots to ends.

Deva Curl Styling Gel: Nickel to Quarter sized amount, applied from mid-strands to ends.

Osis Powder: Three sprinkles, about a dime sized amount, applied at roots. 

What are your favorite products to use before drying or for a refresh? Have you ever used too much or too little and it’s totally-ruined-your-morning?!? Tell me about it on Twitter or Instagram @HairWithKate! 

Check out these product reviews to learn more:

Big Sexy Hair Powder Play

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo & Conditioner


Moroccan Oil Volumizing Mousse

THROWBACK THURSDAY | Beauty Shop Edition

Old Wives Tale: Use hairspray to get rid of static.


Modern Update: Since we know that static is caused by a lack of moisture in the hair, adding hairspray to the problem will only further the static. It might work to make the hairs submit and lay down, but since many women like to wear their hair more natural and touchable these days, helmet head doesn’t fly. Because of this, you have to handle static on a cellular level.

To handle a basic dryness in the air which is often the culprit of static for fine haired ladies in the winter, you just need a cream or lotion that can penetrate and add moisture. I recommend Kevin Murphy’s Anti Gravity for this purpose. It uses lavender flower water to balance the production of oil from the sebaceous gland, so it will pick up oil production if the hair from the follicles are too dry. Anti Gravity also uses honey extract to seal in moisture, helping with static production in the future.

And for hair that is severely damaged through the cuticle and cortex into the innermost layers of the hair, a deeper treatment will be necessary to rebuild. Kevin Murphy’s Young.Again treatment oil would be perfect! It uses immortelle, which is incredibly high in antioxidants to help prevent and decrease damage. Bur oil also helps eliminate dryness and flakiness on the scalp and safflower seed oil adds serious moisture. This oil can used on all hair types and also has the Kevin Murphy Extreme Heat Protection up to 428 degrees fahrenheit, so you can style directly after applying. If you currently aren’t doing anything to add moisture to your hair through rich antioxidants and deep penetration, I would recommend trying one of these products!

The biggest thing to remember when static strikes is add moisture! In a quick fix at the office, you could even run a tiny bit of hand lotion through your locks or spritz some facial mist on your ends. Use your resources, but just remember no extra dryness! Leave that helmet head to the vintage ads of the 50s!

 What is your go to move to prevent static? Tweet me @HairWithKate! 

STEP BY STEP | Kevin.Murphy Wave Clips On A Bob!

By now you know that Kevin.Murphy is king when it comes to innovative, modern and easy hairstyles. His three kits, Mermaid, Screen Siren and Surfer Girl have given women easy ways to recreate their fave looks and they each come with all the necessary tools and products. The problem? These tutorials area always shown on women with long hair.


So I’m rocking a long bob lately with my straight locks. Kind of like Emma Stone this year… and we all remember her super adorable beach wave look from the Spiderman Premier she did. And just like Emma, as much as I love my new look, I need quick ways to shake it up from time to time. Especially on those mornings when I just don’t feel like styling! I’ve also always wanted wavy hair since I was a little girl. That’s why when I do utilize my KM tools, wave clips are usually the first thing I opt for. But since my hair is so straight and much shorter than it was before, I don’t want so much curl that my hair bounces up to my chin. Sounds like a lot of demands, right? I decided to try out my precious wave clips in a modified manner and see what I came up with!

I should start with a disclaimer that the way we are doing this tutorial is not how Kevin Murphy teaches. To watch his video and learn exactly how he does it, check this out. But like I said, I’ve never seen these waves clips on day old, short, straight hair and I wanted to see if we could modify the process to work for me and women in my situation. So, I got a bit creative and did things my own way, which is what beauty is all about.. finding what works for you! Follow the photos above and check out my detailed steps below to learn exactly how this modified wave clip technique can work for you if you have short hair!

1. Hi! My name is Kate and I’m a beach wave-aholic. 

2. Wave.Clips. Get them from your local Kevin.Murphy salon or hairdresser.

3. Hair Resort Spray. Get this from your local Kevin.Murphy salon or hairdresser. Both tools are the bread and butter of this look and absolutely essential. Start by spraying Hair Resort all over your hair in sections. This spray is a miracle worker when it comes to giving the feel and look of a day at the beach. It’s the ultimate texture enhancer and also boasts wheat amino acids to allow the hair to retain moisture better and to give shine. Another key ingredient is hydrolized silk, a conditioning ingredient that helps give control and conditioning. And of course, it has heat defense up to 428 degrees Fahrenheit, so you don’t have to worry about your precious little head losing any hair to heat damage.

4. Place your wave clips. Since my hair is so short, I took four sections along my head and used one clip per section. My front sections were just above and in front of each ear and the back sections were behind that and split down the center back. I used a comb to gather up my hair in one section and then I simply snapped the clip into place a bit higher than I normally would, just above the eyebrow. Any hair that was left sticking out of the ends, I secured to the wave clip with a pin curl clip. You can see from the photo that I still had a few layers sticking out.

5. Blowdry the secured clips. If you have any amount of frizz or natural wave to your hair, you’ll want to place a texture net over your clips before blowdrying. This will ensure the hair stays smooth while drying. Since I have the straightest hair you’ve ever seen and literally zero frizz or movement (and I don’t mind any bit of frizz I MIGHT get from drying), I decided to try it without the net to see what I got. Either way, you’ll want to set your blowdryer to high heat and low pressure to heat up the hair in the wave clips. I only dried my hair for about four minutes because I wanted a really loose beach wave like Emma’s. If you want a very defined, waterfall wave then you’ll want to dry longer. *Also, in the video, Kevin puts the product on after securing the wave clip. You can spritz a bit more on at this point, but I put mine on at the beginning because I was working on day old hair, not a fresh blowdry.

6. Cool the hair. After drying, you need to cool down the hair to let it set properly. You can do this by using the cool shot button on your dryer or simply just let it cool down naturally. This step in the process is crucial because it’s the cooling down that really creates the style and locks it in. Once the hair is completely cooled to the touch, you can unsnap your wave clips and take them out.

7. Wave! You should be able to see the pattern immediately. Yay!

8. Shake! I don’t like to break this look apart too much when I’m done because I like the uniformity of the waves right after styling. So, I just shook it a little bit and fluffed it up with my hands like in the photo. All I’m trying to do is just add a bit of movement and break it up the tiniest bit. If needed, you can comb through it with a wide-tooth comb.

9. Voila! Take a look at the wave that was created in just five minutes! It looks super cute on my angled bob, I have volume everywhere (which I love!) and paired with the right outfit and accessories, I can take this look to the beach on vacation or to a meeting downtown. And if you’re dreaming extra of vacation, you can put a flower in it, too! :)

A few key things to remember… This modification is great for short, straight hair. If you have time to blowdry your hair, if you are prone to frizz, or if you have more hair to work with, you’ll want to follow Kevin’s steps more closely. BUT! If you are like me and rocking a shorter look for 2014 and you get oh-so-sick of having to just wear it straight everyday, this is an AMAZING five minute trick to get those awesome beach waves. Also, you can purchase each tool or product individually from your Kevin.Murphy salon or you can just ask for the Mermaid Kit, which comes with all the tools you need, including the texture net and pin curl clips.

Be sure to let me know on Insta or Pinterest how you like these clips and this tutorial. I want to see your modification and how you’re making this look your own! And as always, if you have questions, send them my way!

I hope you enjoyed and have a lovely Friday! :)

An Update & Thank You!


Hello, lovelies! I wanted to take a quick second to say a huge thank you to all of you. Every single person who visits my websites, books a service, reads my column at HelloGiggles or follows the exciting things I’m doing on Facebook or Instagram has inspired me. Every day that I wake up, I want to keep working towards my mission of inspiring and empowering women worldwide by providing them with the advice, consult and expertise of a master hairdresser. I’ve long believed that every woman can share her beauty with the world through her spirit AND smile, combining the entirety of her inner and outer beauty. The women whom I admire seem to light up a room with their positive energy, speak their opinions with conviction and grace and always build up other women instead of tearing them down. I think of women like Mindy Kaling and Olivia Wilde who are confidently strong and assured, but still encouraging and uplifting. They add to the world with their grace and strength, but that only comes from loving who they are. I want to be around women like this. I want to always work towards being better at embodying these traits to share with those in my life. And I want to hopefully inspire other women to become who they want to be. That’s what all of this is about every single day. Every class I sign up for, every highlight I place, every shoot I work… it’s all to continually become better and better at achieving my mission.

Thank you for going along on this ride with me and supporting me along the way.

This past week, I got to add even more education and training to my bag of tricks. I’ve been pursuing a big dream of mine for the past few months to become an educator with the product line that I absolutely love, the only product line that I’ve been inspired to share with my clients and the world. I’ve just begun a mentoring process to pursue this dream and the first part of that was to spend the past weekend with a hairdresser I’ve admired, watching, listening and learning. I always know I’ve had a great training session when I walk away with pages of notes, a strong sense of wanting to learn even more and a loooong list of things I need to work on. There’s always another way to improve and this weekend gave me lots of active ways on how to do this. There were a few “pinch me” moments where I was sitting in class, looking around and feeling amazed to even be in the room with such talented people, knowing that some of my hard work has paid off to even get me to this chair. I can’t wait to share with you more about the mentoring process that I’ll be going through when the time is right and when it is appropriate, but I wanted to give all of you a heads up. I know you follow my career and the things I do (remember my vision boards for the year?), so now that I’m actively working on this goal that a lot of you have asked me about and given bits of encouragement for, I wanted you to be the first to know!

Again, thank you so much for your support and inspiration. Simply knowing that I have sisters out there rooting for me to keep going and reaching my goals is often a motivating force when I need it. Yay for teamwork, good things, beauty and all things hair! :)

Now! Back to the blog…

The Ten Commandments of Hair Color, Part 5

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We’ve come to the final installment of our Ten Commandments of Hair Color series! I hope that by now, you have a great understanding of the the chemistry and makeup of hair and feel comfortable owning your color choices whether you do at home hair color or visit a salon. You should feel empowered to understand every step of the process and that is the goal of this entire series! Today, we finish our series with perhaps the most important aspects of hair color theory and knowledge. We’ll end this series with the importance of a patch test and how those should take place and also, how to treat your hair color afterwards and maintain the vibrancy and dimension that hair color provides. Alright, let’s get started!

9. Always do a patch test before using a new color line or coloring for the first time. 

Hair color is not always for everyone. I’ve seen allergies, reactions and just general sensitivities, but none of them are pretty or fun to deal with and treat. In beauty school, all new hairdressers learn that a “patch test” is required for every new customer they service. However, it doesn’t often happen because most women who receive hair color in a salon have had a color service previously and don’t have any known problems or issues. So most hairdressers will assume that they are in the clear to move forward with any color services. Also, a patch test needs to be applied and watched for 24-28 hours. Because this requires the client coming in for the patch test and then coming back in at a later date after seeing the results, a lot of women choose to opt out and follow a more convenient route, albeit a riskier one.

A patch test is taking a small amount of color, applying it to the forearm and watching and recording results to gauge any reactions. If the patch test leaves a little bit of redness, but had no itching or burning, the client has a mild sensitivity but not an allergy and you can proceed with a color application. However, if the patch test has produced any itching, burning, inflammation or even sickness or fever, you should consult a doctor immediately and forego any hair color applications in the meantime.

Unfortunately, it is a bit unrealistic to do a patch test on every client that books a color service in the salon. Because highlighting and balayaging doesn’t require putting color directly onto the scalp, I almost never do a patch test for clients who request these services. However, if I have someone who’s never had color before and we are applying right onto the scalp, I do require a patch test. And at the very least, for any color customer, I always inform them of all this information and require their acknowledgment that they understand the risks of applying hair color before a service. As a consumer, it’s crucially important to know your risks and your rights, so I really wanted to share with you how a patch test should occur and when it should always take place. Part of owning your hair color knowledge is understanding the risks involved, so always take extra precautions if necessary!

Furthermore, if you choose to do your own hair color at home, always do a patch test beforehand. Every single time. Even when I was in high school using box color, I would place a small amount of color on my wrist and watch it for a day before actually using it. The reason why this is so important is because box colors have much harsher ingredients in them that can cause serious reactions. Secondly, an allergy can pop up at any moment without any warning. Even if you’ve been coloring your hair for twenty years on scalp, you could throw the exact same box color you’ve used onto your scalp and experience a major allergic reaction. Because this can happen, especially if you color at home, please be safe with your process and always do a patch test first!

10. Maintain your hair color by following these key tips. 

Now, you have your Jennifer Aniston highlights and your chic blowout as you step out of the salon. You’re ready to take on the world one fabulous step at a time, right? Hold on, hold on. There’s way more to color than washing it out and having it look flawless. The maintenance is almost just as important as who you choose to actually do your color.

The very first thing you must do to keep vibrant and dimensional color is to invest in a great shampoo. Grocery store brands will strip your color and leave your strands looking dull and damaged. You can check out my recap here to find out exactly why. For colored or highlighted hair (and really any hair that needs help with moisture and health), you must use a sulfate free shampoo. Sulfates won’t strip any of that gorgeous color you just paid for and they will also deposit moisture and protein into the hair to add to your hair’s health. Ask your hairdresser what brands she recommends (or take my recommendation here) and make this aspect of your hair color maintenance mandatory. I always tell my clients there’s no point in spending hundreds on a fabulous color if it only lasts a few weeks because you don’t maintain it in between salon sessions!

Another thing you can do that will make a huge different in how your color looks is protect it from heat, the sun and any elements that can dry and dull it out. When styling your hair in the morning, if you use any kind of heat tools, always use a heat protectant cream or spray to protect each strand. The line that I love and use in my salon, Kevin.Murphy has made the three most popular products that I use on most clients all heat protecting. I also use one of those three products on my hair every morning before I even think about touching a curling iron to it. A lot of products that boast heat protection also usually protect from UV rays and the damage of the sun. Just like with skincare and how we all wear sunscreen in our BB Creams and moisturizers now, the same needs to be true with hair. Especially here in Denver where we have such high altitude and such penetrating UV rays! The sun can fade your color quicker than almost anything and since it’s actively doing that every day that you step outside, it’s important to make sure the product you use can provide a shield so that your color stays bright and beautiful!

The last thing I would suggest seems like a silly thing, but it makes a huge difference. I suggested this tip when I wrote about frizz on HelloGiggles, but it also works when it comes to hair color. It’s a commonly known fact by hairdressers that warm water or air opens up the cuticle and cool water or air closes it down. This is why you’ll notice hairdressers trying to keep your head and hair warm while color is processing; it’s so that the color really penetrates the cuticle as much as possible. So when you wash out your hair in the shower with your conditioner, use as cool of water as you can stand. If you need to, get out of the shower and immediately rinse your hair with cool water under the bathroom sink if you can’t stand some coolness in the shower. This is so crucial because it will ensure that your cuticle is completely locked down and shut before you start to manipulate the hair or step outside, making it very difficult for that pigment to leave the hair strand. And again, when you are finished styling your hair, go over the hair with a cool shot from your blowdryer. This will lock in your style and your color by shutting down the cuticle again.

So that concludes our series on The Ten Commandments of Hair Color! I hope you learned so much and enjoyed empowering yourself with all the facts you need to know to about getting the perfect color. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always needed to know why things work the way they do and I’ve always had a desire to completely and fully understand the elements of things I take part in to be comfortable jumping into it. Trust me, my beauty institute educators were really sick of hearing, “but why?” from me by the time I graduated. Now, however, they are proud to see where I’ve taken that pursuit of knowledge in my career and I’ve been so eager to pass all of that along to you and your friends!

Please feel free to bookmark this page for future reference, print it out (on recycled paper, of course!) if you need to use it to consult your hairdresser, or just share it with your friends! I think we all could be so empowered to know these “commandments” by the next time we grab a box color or step into a salon. And if you have any questions or concerns at all, contact me by email, via Twitter or shoot me a message on Facebook. I’d be more than happy to help! And of course, if you are in the Denver area and need a colorist consult, you can book that with me by clicking here! :)

Previous Commandments:

The Ten Commandments of Hair Color, Part 4

Alright, now we are getting into the fun stuff! We’ve gotten through all of the basics of levels, undertones, lifting, depositing and we’ve even refreshed our memories on our primary colors elementary school style! Then, we got into the rules of red hair color and the different types of hair color out there and how to choose. Today, let’s tackle the texture of your hair strands and their porosity. Both of these factors are hugely important when determining your hair’s ability to handle color.

7. Your texture determines how your color will take and last. 

Whether your hair is fine, medium or coarse will determine how well it will take to color and how quickly it will fade. If you don’t know the texture of your strands, check out my post on HelloGiggles about how to figure it out. And also, remember we are talking about the texture of each individual hair strand, not the amount of hair on your head. It’s totally possible to have really fine hair, but to have a large amount of it on your head.

Speaking of fine, we’ll start with that texture. Fine hair is the smallest texture of any hair type. When you run your hands through fine hair, it usually feels angel soft and air-y. And what most people don’t realize about fine hair strands is that the outermost layer, the cuticle, is actually incredibly thick. Even though the strand itself is so thin, the thickness of the cuticle makes fine hair the hardest hair type for color to penetrate. Just like what we learned about red color principles, color applied to fine hair will take a few processes to really stick and stay. But once it does, that cuticle has locked it in and it’s not going anywhere. If you have fine hair and have noticed this problem before, now you know there’s actually a scientific reason for why that happens! It’s also important to note that since fine hair has such a concentrated amount of pigment in one small strand, hair color can often appear darker than expected. Also, because fine hair is so fragile with a small inner layer, you have to be incredibly careful not to damage the hair when trying to get rid of pigment.

Medium texture is exactly like how it sounds: right in the middle. It has an average sized cuticle and cortex, making it the easiest texture to deal with when coloring. Because all layers are average size and supported, medium hair can handle most color applications. And it can also take color very well with minimal fading and minimal maintenance. If you have medium strands, you’re fairly lucky when it comes to how much your hair can handle!

Coarse texture is hair that has a very large inner layer and a small, thin outer layer. Coarse hair is quite resistant to lightening and can sometimes even process lighter than expected due to the size of each layer. It’s also important to note that because of the small size of the cuticle, color is mostly resistant because it has an easy time penetrating the cuticle, but a very difficult time penetrating the thick inner layer. If you have a coarse texture and have often found your hair to be resistant to color applications, now you know why!

8. Find your hair’s porosity.

Porosity is the hair’s ability to hold and retain moisture. The amount of porosity your hair strands have directly determine how well they will hold color or if they will hold color at all.

When I was new in my career, I put one color formulation on a client’s hair. She wanted to go to a darker, cherry red color, so I formulated that color and applied it from roots to ends. Obviously, there was a lot more thought that should have gone into this and one key thing that I missed looking into was the porosity of her hair. I’d asked this client about her color history and though she didn’t tell me about the dozens of box colors she’d done in the past on her long hair, I should have checked the porosity myself and noticed that her ends were severely damaged. Of course, when I put that color onto her crazy porous hair, the top half of her hair (where there was less damage) was the perfect color we had wanted to achieve. And the midstrands and ends? Completely black. They had soaked up every bit of pigment and her hair color history that I wasn’t aware of, her fine texture and her extreme porosity made for one bad experience for both of us. But I learned a whole lot about dissecting each aspect of the hair before even thinking about beginning a service. I tell you this story simply to explain how serious porosity can be to your hair color!

Very porous hair will usually be the result of heat or sun damage, previous color applications (especially harsh box colors), perms, relaxers and heat styling. You can always tell the porosity of hair by holding a small amount of strands in your fingers and running them down the strand. If the strands are very smooth with no roughness, they have a resistant porosity. This means they have a hard time holding and absorbing color, but if you use a little extra pigment and use the maximum processing time, the color can turn out beautifully. If the hair strands feel mostly smooth, but with a bit of a raised or rough cuticle, the porosity of the hair is average. This is most commonly what I see in clients and this kind of porosity holds color fairly well. If the hair strands feel incredibly rough or even like there might not be an outer layer, the porosity is extremely high. This would be where the example I gave you comes in of the very dark ends.

I always recommend checking the porosity before coloring because, obviously, it makes a great difference in how the final result looks. If you have very porous hair, I would suggest staying away from color or highlighting until you can repair and build your stands back up to optimal health.


The Ten Commandments of Hair Color, Part 3

Who’s ready for another round of hair color commandments? At this point, we’ve gone through how the level and undertone system works and we’ve figured out why that even matters. Building on the basics, we then learned about primary, secondary and complimentary colors and how they work together to create tonal value in a hair color. Finally, we went through toners and fillers and how each works, why they’re important and how to figure out exactly what you need for your hair color specifically. Whew! It’s been a long #colorweek! Today, let’s dive into the different categories of hair color and all about red! And remember, if you end up with any questions at all or you’d like to visit me in the salon for a consult or color appointment, feel free to contact me! 

5. Choose Semi, Demi or Permanent.

Semi-permanent color is your Manic Panic. Mostly popular among those who like to change their hair color on a frequent basis, semi-permanent color is a direct dye with no ammonia. It basically just coats the first two layers of the hair and washes out a little more with each rinse. I have friends who swear by using colors like this for their bright pinks or blues or even just to add some fresh, natural looking pigment to their hair. I personally am not a huge fan simply because it gets on everything! It rinses out with every wash, gets on your pillows and jackets and you constantly have to worry about it. And it also fades fairly quickly because of it’s semi-permanent status.

Demi-permanent color, which we talked a little bit about when we went over toners and fillers, is the next level up. Demi is an “oxidative color”, meaning a developer is mixed with the color in order to allow for a chemical process. It simply deposits color, meaning it can’t be applied and processed to lighten the hair, only darken or to add pigment. Demi-permanent color also does not cover gray hair according to manufacturer’s directions. I’ve been able to use my Wella demi-permanent under heat for clients who are less than 30% gray and have it cover, but for the majority of people, it’s not strong enough and it fades quickly on gray if you try. This category of color is also great because it doesn’t damage the hair as much as permanent color; because it only deposits and doesn’t blow the cuticle of the hair open to lighten, it’s actually quite soft on the hair strands. The one that I use, Wella’s Color Touch actually has conditioning properties and lots of shine, so the end result is always glossy, smooth and conditioned hair.

Then you have permanent color. This is your strongest type of color and as I said before, usually essential when trying to cover gray. Permanent color is also oxidative just like demi-permanent, so it is considered a chemical process. However, because permanent color lines lift and deposit color, they are often a lot harsher than the demi’s. This kind of color can be used to cover gray, change pigment, darken to a level 1 or even lighten virgin hair up to a level 10. I find myself using this hair color more than any other just because it doesn’t fade and it is so vibrant and rich for the entire 6-8 weeks in between touch ups. However, where demi-permanent fades slowly over time without a line of demarcation, permanent will show as grow out in a hard line. To cover gray or drastically change your hair, though, using permanent is necessary.

6. Know that red is a commitment before you try it out.

My crazy red hair of 2012!

My crazy red hair of 2012!

In the basic chemistry of hair color, it’s widely known that the molecules that make up red pigment are much larger than any other pigment. Why does this matter at all? Because what that statement means is that red will take a long time to finally penetrate each hair strand and once it does, it’s not going anywhere.

I just did a post on this specific topic of red hair color on HelloGiggleswhich you can check out here. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail because you can read the HG post, but I do want to give you a basic rundown.

Because of the larger molecules, red will fade very quickly the first few times it’s applied. It hasn’t fully penetrated the hair strand, only coated the outside or second layer. This has nothing to do with lack of skill on a stylist’s part or even a faulty color line, it’s just simple chemistry. But since I have frequently gone red myself and I get red requested often in the salon, I know that once you’ve gone through about two to three sessions of reapplication through the entirety of the hair, that red is pretty much in there. It might lose a little bit of vibrancy over the course of 6-8 weeks in between touch ups, but the base will be there. In order to enhance the red, try a pigmented shampoo once a week. And definitely be careful when using white pillowcases or towels… I’ve ruined a few in my day with my red hair!

It’s also important to note that if you decide to get rid of the red at some point, you should get ready for a battle! Now that the pigment has worked its way into the innermost layer of each hair strand and has fully stained it, the only way to truly get rid of it is to lift it out with bleach. And the first couple times you do so by adding a few highlights in, be ready for a lot of orange. If you remember from part one, each color has an undertone and the undertone directly above red is red-orange and then orange. So as you lift that color up from red, you’ll have to pass through the brassy oranges. In the next commandment, we’ll find out all about how to counteract those unwanted colors, but the important thing here is that you recognize that red is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time, a lot of maintenance and a lot of patience.

But for those of us who just don’t feel like ourselves without red hair, it’s all worth it! :)