Color Case Study: Red to Lavender to Purple

Hello I’m Edgar Carubio, a stylist and colorist with Atelier Emmanuel. This is a brief overview of a color change that I recently did on a colleague. Big color changes like this are fun to do. And a lot of work. I wanted to document the process so that colorist and clients can see how much effort it can take. But don’t let that scare you off! Read on…

Sareli had a year’s worth of red color applications. And then she decided to go lavender. At the time we started the color change, she was a level 6 red* all the way to the ends, with about an inch of natural growth showing. This natural hair was about a level 4; we would bleach it to a level 9 blonde. Breaking through the red to get to that same blonde was going to be a little tougher…

*What are levels? There are 10 levels in hair coloring. It is used as a language to speak about the darkness or lightness of hair color. 1 = Black. 10 = platinum blonde. This language is used in speaking about and formulating color services.

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For Sareli to switch to a totally new look, like the silver lavender she envisioned, we needed to get a clean, blank canvas for the new color.

Breaking through virgin hair is easy. For hair that has had applications of red color, it is harder to get to the necessary level 9 Blonde. Any hair that is a level 6 to 0 (brown to black), has some natural red in it.  For hair that has been colored red, it’s like there are now two layers of red to break through: the natural red present, and then the additional red from being colored.

It took 5 bleach sessions to achieve the blonde we needed (about 9 hours!). We began with a medium volume to scout out what type of pigmentation we were dealing with. This also helped me see that some sections had more red pigment than others. With this information I created my game plan, adjusting my bleach application according to what each section needed. Throughout the bleaching process, I used Olaplex. This helped preserve the health of Sareli’s hair.

Olaplex, by the way, was a big reason that Sareli decided to experiment with this new color palette: “I had always wanted to try pastels but was scared of the damage. When we discovered Olaplex, I decided to try it and Edgar was brave enough to do it.”

Once we had our blank canvas, I mixed a silver and purple to get the lavender color you see in the pics below.

So, this type of silvery color is not a natural color, and it does tend to fade.  Washing the hair with cold water helps it last. But not all of us are disciplined to do that… (we all love our hot showers, right?)

For Sareli the color lasted about 4 weeks. Once it had faded enough, we decided to play with darker shades of violet, getting a more purple overall tone.

Now, you probably aren’t surprised that purple isn’t such a natural color, either. And that means? Yup, it is fading too. This time, however, we are getting an interesting effect: as it fades, the silver lavender is reemerging, creating beautiful striations.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this kind of creative color work is a lot of fun to do. Don’t be scared off by the time investment! These big changes in hair color can be really transformative for clients. Just by looking at the pics above maybe you can see what a different person Sareli seems to be with each look.


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