Gray Be Gone! Kenra Color Gray Coverage Fundamentals

By: Kenra Professional

SSE Refresh before-after

Covering gray with hair color is by far one of the largest and most profitable segments in the salon industry. American Salon writes that over 70% of women in the US color their hair, and gray coverage is the number one reason. Knowing color theory inside out can help you become a master stylist who can customize color for any client.

Just like an artist chooses what type of paints to use on canvas, hairstylists have countless options when it comes to what hair color line(s) they choose to use on their guests. Each line has variations and nuances in how they optimally perform, and below, we’ve broken down the best tips and tricks for covering grays when it comes to Kenra Color.

When needing to formulate for gray coverage, any permanent tonal series that starts with N needs to be used in some capacity, based off the percentage of gray the client has. This means you have the option of using N, NA, NB, NUA, N+, or NW+ depending on the amount of coolness or warmth in the desired end result.

How does this work? The N (Natural series) contains a calibrated amount of all three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) necessary to provide coverage in gray hair which is lacking pigment to ensure even color saturation and maximum pigment absorption for the coverage we are looking for.

Based on the percentage of gray, that's how much N series will be needed. If the client is looking to be a 6N, it doesn't matter how much gray he or she has because 6N will cover up to 100% gray on its own.

Standard processing for Kenra Color permanent shades is 30 minutes. However, when gray coverage is needed in the formulation, the process time for Kenra permanent color can be extended to 40 minutes, an additional 10 minutes from standard processing. We do not recommend adding heat as this can be detrimental to the integrity of the hair as well as cause a warmer end result than intended.

If a client wants to be 6R and has up to 25% gray, 25% percent of the formulation will need to be 6N, and the other 75% would be 6R. If the client has more than 25% gray but less than 50%, the formulation would be a 50/50 split of 6N and 6R. If the client has over 50% gray, the formulation would be 75% 6N and 25% 6R. In this scenario, the N is necessary to act as a foundation for the lack of pigment, and the 6R is still the final end result.

Typically, Kenra Color recommends 20 Volume Developer for gray coverage. We do not recommend 10 Volume Developer for covering grays as 20vol has a higher concentration of H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) to open the cuticle more for lift and deposit. However, if more than one level of lift is needed while also providing gray coverage, 30vol and 40vol can also technically be used. If the client is 80% percent or more gray, we always recommend 20vol because there is much more deposit needed than lift.

The CN (Copper Natural) series can also help with gray coverage since N is the secondary reflection. CN will provide up to 100% gray coverage on someone who is UP TO 75% gray. For example, if the client wants to be a 6C and is 50% gray, the formula could be 6CN by itself (for coverage purposes) or it could be 1/2 6CN and 1/2 6C to maintain the vibrancy of a copper but still have the coverage needed for a beautiful end result.

Kenra Color Demi-permanents can also be used for gray blending when depositing only. The mixing ratio is reduced to 1:1 and processed for 25 minutes without heat. Using the N’s in the same manner is recommended.

Studio Stylist Express, Kenra's 10-minute permanent color, can also be used for up to 100% coverage. The same rules apply using the SSE N series in the same ratios based off the percentage of gray.

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