Mar 19, 2014

High lift color

High lift dye is different to regular dyes because it is geared towards heavier lightening power. This is what makes high lift dye useful in hairdressing, because it is a dye primarily designed to lighten your hair, thus rendering it capable of replacing bleach in some circumstances.

Bleach vs high lift dye

The choice of either using bleach or high lift dye to lighten hair is dependent on a few defining characteristics that indicate whether a high lift dye will work properly. You can lighten hair with a high lift dye if:
  • You have not dyed it before
This includes any permanent or demi-permanent dye; especially dark colors. Previously dyed hair won't respond to further dye.
  • You only need to lighten your hair by a maximum of 3 - 4 levels
Achieving up to 5 levels of lightening with a high lift dye is not impossible, but is unlikely depending on hair type and texture. You can expect to lighten hair 3 - 4 levels with any great certainty when using high lift dye.

Hair that is a level 5 is light brown and it will reach light blonde, whilst hair that is a level 6 is dark blonde, and it can be lightened to a platinum blonde. For anything darker, it is preferable to lighten your hair with bleach in order to achieve the best results and actually reach blonde.

Essentially, to summarize the above, you can't lighten hair that is previously dyed, nor can you reliably lighten hair more than 4 levels. Compare this with bleach, which works on previously dyed hair, and can lighten a maximum of 7 - 8 levels when working with virgin hair and high quality bleach powder.

If your hair is darker than a level 5 and you want to be blonde, you should use bleach right from the beginning. If you're a level 5 or lighter, high lift dye can be used.

How to prepare high lift dye

High lift dye is prepared a little differently to other dyes. One of the most important differences is that it is mixed with 40 vol peroxide. This is because the dye was designed to use this high strength of developer and it needs to be used for it to work properly.

Most people will notice less irritation from a high lift dye incorporating 40 vol peroxide than they will with a standard bleach powder formulation containing 20 or 30 vol developer. This is because high lift dye is not bleach, and does not carry the exact same precautions. There is a common goal and intent in their use though, and that is to lighten hair.

The other main difference is that high lift color needs to be mixed in a 1 to 2 ratio of high lift color to developer. This will surprise most people who know that hair dye is generally mixed in an equal ratio of color and developer for most brands. For high lift color however, this double volume of developer is part of the chemical balance that forms the lightening environment

High lift dyes also remain on the hair for longer after application. It's not unusual for the dye to be left in the hair for up to an hour, whereas other hair dyes are removed anywhere between 20 - 45 minutes depending on the lift required and the color desired. High lift color needs the extra time to develop because it lightens hair more than other hair dyes.

How to use high lift dye

To use high lift color, mix it with 40 vol developer in a 1 to 2 ratio of high lift color to developer as described above. Once prepared, the high lift color needs to be used immediately because a chemical reaction is taking place and lightening will decrease with time as this reaction runs its course.

Section your hair into quadrants by parting it from the middle of your forehead to the nape of your neck, and then again from each ear. These four sections are easy to work with and a good way to apply any hair dye or bleach. Apply the high lift color to each of the quadrants until your entire head is covered in the dye and allow the dye to process for up to 1 hour at most, depending on the lightening required and specifics of the brand being used.

Rinsing high lift dye out

After you rinse the high lift dye out, you may still need to tone your hair. It seems counter-intuitive that you would have to tone your hair after just using a hair dye, but it is often the case; especially if used on darker hair. The fact is, high lift color is better at lightening hair than it is at depositing color into your hair. When you use this type of hair dye, the color that is deposited by the high lift color isn't always strong enough to tone out the underlying pigment that is revealed when you lighten dark hair.

To tone your hair, use an ash toned blonde dye at a level that is slightly lighter than the level your hair has reached. The ash dye contains cool tones which will act to neutralize the warmth that appeared when you lightened your hair, and the result is a neutral tone.

If you want slightly more warmth in the final result, rinse the toner out sooner; you can remove it as soon as you're satisfied with how the color looks. Leaving it for longer will produce a result that is cooler or more ashy.

In deciding whether to use high lift color or bleach, make sure you take the history of your hair into account, as well as its current color. Both hair lightening methods have their positives and negatives, and it's a matter of finding the product that will best suit your hair. That is how you achieve hair lightening that looks good and is sufficient to give you the color you really want.

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