In many places that experience different seasons, there’s a change in clothing styles, seasonal scents, and even seasonal foods. Changing hair color for the season is one of the most refreshing ways to celebrate the transition of weather.
When wintry weather is approaching, there’s a lot less sunlight and time spent outside, many people end up with a little less of a sun-kissed glow than normal (or they may get really pale; yes, I’m talking about myself). This creates a desire and sometimes even a need for a change in a client’s hair color formula or technique.
Let’s say someone has a complete all-over highlight; they are blonde without much dimension. The easiest thing to do is to darken that client to a brunette. But anyone who is a blonde, or knows blondes, will agree that most blondes freak out after a week or two on the dark side. Plus, with all of that pre-lightened canvas, there are many options for a dimensional and winterized hair color.
Here’s a breakdown of some classic hair winterizing ideas that I love to perform on my clients.
Winterizing blonde hair can be performed in a variety of ways. I often start by diluting the heaviness of a highlight by spacing my foils just slightly farther apart as I move away from the face. In combination with that, after all my highlights are in, I will add a lowlight every few foils from the roots to the mids only. This allows for a diffused amount of depth to appear natural-looking throughout the placement. Pulling a lowlight to the ends can create a muddy, over-darkened look. The goal for a winter blonde is to soften and create dimension.
Additionally, I may “calm the blonde” by altering the glaze/toner formula slightly. For example, if I’m using a formula that is 9GB = clear, I could remove the clear from the formula for a true level 9 final shade. This might also mean using a cooler formula, and by that, I don’t mean flat or ashy. Adding a small amount of violet or even rose to a formula can create a more opalescent and wintery blonde than using a formula slowly with gold in it. Sometimes if I am already using a 9V glaze, I will add a drop of level 9 blue to make it even icier.
If I’m balayaging the hair, I will paint a surface application on the top of the section as opposed to saturating the entire section. This allows for a lowlight effect underneath each highlight by leaving a little more depth. I also will take my glaze down to calm the blonde, often going to an 8 or 8/9 and adding smokier undertones to match the season’s color palette. An example of that would be going from a 9 neutral beige glaze to an 8 natural ash, or mixing the two together.
Winterizing a brunette can follow a lot of the same theories as a blonde, in regard to tonal changes. For brunettes with dimensional highlights, I move away from the honeys and champagnes into richer caramels and chocolates. My favorite type of beautiful winter brunette is one that lands in a neutral tonal family. Nothing overly warm or cool, or overly dark and flat.
If a client has a single-process brunette shade, this is actually a great season to add a few soft foils around the face. Besides increasing the price of the service, the addition of a little sparkle around the hairline prevents a brunette from looking washed out by the winter weather.
Techniques for winterizing a redhead are a bit different than those of brunettes and blondes. I say this because a redheaded client will normally look better in either a warmer or cooler shade palette, so that isn’t the adjustment approach that works. Creating depth and dimension is, however, going to be an important method to use. This can include glazing the root of a redhead slightly deeper than the mids to the ends, using a slightly more muted formula for less of an intense effect, and even doing a little bit of balayaging on wet hair.
The root glaze concept will allow for depth without overall darkening a client. If a client has gray coverage needs, I suggest keeping the base formula the same and only doing that darkening with the glaze. It’ll allow for more wiggle room when winter eventually ends without having to undo a major change.
Muting a formula can mean just taking a bit of the bright copper or red out and adding something with a brown base. A shade like that might be a CB or an RB- copper brown or red-brown. This adds a softer finish than a standard copper or red on their own.
Balayaging on wet hair is my favorite technique for creating a dimensional redhead because it allows for subtle shifts in the color with more control and blend than foiling does. After rinsing the color out, I towel dry and use a balayage lightener with a low-volume developer (10 works fine for me), taking large or small sections concentrated around the face and crown while the client is at the bowl. I just apply these as surface balayage to create dimension without oversaturating. Often I don’t even glaze afterward! The controlled lightening can create dimension quickly by just breaking up existing red pigments in the hair. It’s also a great add-on service option.
Overall, the best way to winterize hair color is to create a design concept that can adapt to a client’s current look, without necessarily sending them into a different color entirely. Seasonal changes in style give us the opportunity to be creative and adaptable, and to create custom color for our clients. You’ll be much happier (and so will your client) when the winter season ends and the transition back to a brighter, springier color is another fun adventure rather than a corrective process.