Patrick McIvor Guest Blog: Thoughts on Color

I love sharing ideas that are universal. Sometimes when we talk about color, we overlook basic thoughts. The first thing we need to remember is that everything in the world is colorless—the reflection and absorption of light rays create color. In the world we live in, when coloring hair, we often think about black being a combination of all the primary colors —yellow, red and blue.

But white light contains all the primary colors and black has none, because it lacks light. When all the colors are gone, there is no light.

But let’s get into actual colors. Green is the most common color in nature, and it happens to be the easiest for your eyes to see. That's also why it’s so easy to turn hair green! Blondes, brunettes, or over compromised hair can go green, and it’s because it is the easiest color for your eye to see. More on green later.

Green may be the easiest, but red is the most noticeable. That’s why exit signs, stop signs, police lights and many other things that need to stand out are made red. However, at a certain point, red becomes so saturated that it starts to look brown. If you have ever pulled a straight red deposit only color, over itself many times, you know that the color can actually start to brown out.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is violet, which is the most difficult color for your eye to take in. With the exception of some gorgeous blooms in early spring, violet is almost unfound in nature. It can be hard to create a violet oxidative hair color.

Blue is the strongest primary color, and the only cool color of the three. When blue is mixed in equal parts with either yellow or red, it creates a secondary color that is cool, either violet or green.

Now we’re back to green, which your eye perceives as being the coolest color. Imagine that you are sitting on a beautiful beach with crystal blue water. Is it shiny? Does it sparkle?  Now imagine algae comes in to that water turning it green. Is it still shiny or sparkly?  The interesting thing about blue is it is reflective and greens most often are not. Instead, greens are flat and matte looking.

So for guests that are hypersensitive to red and see the shine in their hair as being red, not shiny, I will look for green bases to create a more matte finish that looks cooler in tone.

So now let’s talk yellow and orange. We all know yellow will stay in hair the longest, yet so often, as colorists, we are fighting or working with orange. Generally, when I am looking to brighten a color for spring, I look to yellow to help me out.

I always want to make sure I control what orange is doing, because a raw-looking orange can make hair look bad. So the key here is to either create a beautiful warm or strong orange color that makes the guest look great or control all the orange so the guest doesn't look brassy.

I hope you enjoyed and maybe thought about color in a new way, with some new ideas. Let me know what you think and see you next month!

[Image courtesy of Patrick McIvor]