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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Brighten Dark Ash Blonde Hair by “Breaking the Base”

Small change, big payoff.
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Break the base hair colour

Q: I can never figure out what hair colour truly suits me. I'm constantly going between blonde shades, dark brown shades or my natural hair colour, which you can see in my photos. 

Hair consultation - Dominique

Dominique is searching for her best hair colour.

I have an olive skin tone, but my face is a little bit more pale than the rest of my body. 

Hair consultation - Dominique

Dominique's natural hair colour.

My hair is not thin, but it's not thick either. I have oily roots and dry ends, and I get split ends easily. I hope you can help me! Thank you for your time. — Dominique

Hair consultation - Dominique

Dominique describes her skin tone as olive.

A: Dominique, thank you for sending along your request for a hair consultation. You're right, olive skin does usually look best with the cool tones that I see in your pictures. I'm talking about your old highlights that you would have had done about a year ago. They're a beige blonde, which is a cool tone.

But your skin tone is not as olive as you think.

Cool tones are okay on you, but they're not your best friend. Those highlights would look better if your base colour was warmer. I think what's bothering you is that your base colour is too cool and too flat. 

Your base is a dark ash blonde. If you go one shade lighter, it will create a tiny bit of warmth. It's going to change your whole appearance and bring out your eyes.

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The technique is called "cracking" or "breaking" the base. You just want to crack that darkness enough to lose the ashy hue and go to a warmer hue.

Tell your stylist to use, let's say, Schwarzkopf Igora Royal 8-1 plus 30 volume peroxide. It needs to be quick on the base for about three to four minutes. 

However, this is a very high-risk thing. If you crack it too much, it's going to go too orange and it won't work.

You could also tone your highlights after with a gold toner. This will look a lot better. 

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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at Saint Laurent at the Palladium in 2016.

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Scarlett Johansson at the 2011 Oscars.

So, stop thinking that you're an olive. You're not.

For the dry and split ends, you not only need a haircut but you also need to moisturize. Your hair has a little bit of a frizz texture. Frizz means a lack of moisture. 

You need to moisturize your hair with lightweight products that are going to penetrate. If you put on heavy products, they'll just sit on the outside of the hair and weigh it down. You could try René Furterer; it's a French line that has good moisturizing treatments for fine hair. 

Or you could do a liquid protein. It comes in a small vial, about $35, and you can only buy it at the hairdresser's. It penetrates to the inside of the hair and reconstructs the fibers, which means less frizz. 

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