DIGITALLY CALIBRATED LEVEL SYSTEMS
When the first permanent colors were introduced, they were generally grouped form dark to light, and their lifting ability was listed in shades, such as “Lifts up to 4 shades” – the problem was, there was no definition of “shades” and each company seemed to define it in a different way. In addition, two colors in a particular line may look exactly the same but have different levels of lift – and tones could overlap, leading to duplication of product. To help the hairdresser, manufacturer’s provided written ‘results’ sheets, that listed the results you would get with a particular color on a particular level of hair. Example: Very Light Ash Brown would make Dark Brown hair a Medium Reddish Brown. It wasn’t very precise or scientific and hairdressers never really knew what they would get – it was all trial and error. If an in-between shade, created by mixing two shades, was needed, there was no telling what the final level would be either – again, it was trial and error.
In the early 80’s Clairol began talking to hairdresser’s about what they wanted out of a “perfect” color line. Predictiable, reliable, levels was one of their most requested features. Computer technology had advanced to the stage where the specific lightness, darkness, warmth and coolness of any haircolor could be precisely measured and archived.
– HunterPro- Hunterspectraphotometer
A device known as the Hunter Spectraphotometer was available which allowed the scientists at Clairol to create Logics Colorcremes, with exact, digitally calibrated levels – and to ensure that differing tones in a specific level were truly the same level. The same level and tone is very important because in many color lines a 7R might be a different depth than a 7G. With the digitally calibrated system, all the levels are exactly the same across all tonal series, all that changes is the visible tone. Now, ash colors will appear a bit darker than gold colors, but that’s all it is, appearance – the levels are exactly the same. Another benefit of digital calibration is when mixing levels – you can mix a Level 4 and a Level 8 and know that you will always achieve a perfect Level 6. Thus, only odd or even numbered colors need be stocked since all others can be made from the existing inventory.
In recent years companys like Clairol and Wella have measured their Miss Clairol and Color Charm products and placed them on the American Level System. Unfortunately, they are still not calibrated – they are placed on the level they are closest to – for example, one might be a true Level 7.5 and another might be a true 7.3, but they would both be placed at Level 7. After Clairol developed LOGICS, all their following products, like Compliments or Radiance, were Digitally Calibrated.
Strangely, not all companies have recognised the benefits of digital calibration. Some lines, like SoColor, have finally been calibrated since 1999, after Matrix bought Logics from Clairol then L’Oreal bought both Matrix & Logics. All haircolor was placed on-level by the trained eye of a chemist. Now, we all don’t see the same way from day to day and even the light in the room affects how we see, so the levels that SoColor was placed on could vary considerably. Predictability when mixing shades was also not guaranteed until recently.
Redken’s colors are now all calibrated too since L’Oreal owns them, but their older Lapinal Amino and Deco Colors were ‘semi’ calibrated – what I mean by that is a computerized Colometer was used to place them by level and tone, but a Colometer is not nearly as accurate as a Spectraphotometer. The Colometer works by “looking” at the color and placing it by level and tone, whereas the Spectraphotometer actually breaks the color up into its purest base spectrum for absolutely precise measurment and level placement.
Some European colors are Calibrated, some are not. Goldwell TopChic and Colorance are Digitally Calibrated. Schwarzkoph Igora Permanent Color is now calibrated – the older formula was not. Schwarzkopf even dropped some shades from the line that couldn’t be accurately placed on the level chart.
Compagnia Del Colore was the first calibrated line in Europe. That is the colorline Mags uses and recommneds. I also believe Wella ColorPerfect and the later German Wella Color Lines are calibrated – I don’t think Koleston is since it was developed so long ago – perhaps they have slowly eliminated the non-calibrated shades – I don’t know… does anyone? Nexxus Aloxxi is completely calibrated too.
One thing you must know about Digitally Calibrated Levels is that they don’t all ‘line up’ from company to company. For example, even though LOGICS uses the American 10 Level System that places Dark Blonde at Level 6, another company’s colors that use the American System might not match levels exactly – i.e., their Level 6 Dark Blonde, when compared to LOGICS Level 6, might look like a Level 7. There’s no real “standard” of comparison. The American National Standars Institute (ANSI) should get together with all the companies and implement a precise definition of each level. Then you could count on a Level 7 being the same lightness or darkness across all company’s lines.
Level 12, High-Lift or Ultra Power Blondes are not, technically “on” the 10 Level System. They are identified as a Level 12 not because they are a Level 12 lightness, but to show that they are an extra lift – a Level 6 would be lifted to a Level 10 with a Level 12 Ultra-Power Blonde. A L4 would lift to a warm Level 9 or 10, depending on the Level of Lift the blonde color produces.
One thing you must know about lift is that the closer the natural level is to the desired level the less lift you will get. A Level 12 Ultra-Power Blonde will not produce 5 Levels of lift on a natural Level 8. You’ll get two levels of lift, max. So always keep that in mind. It’s one of the reasons you must follow the manufacturer’s recommended Formulating Instructions so precisely.
One other benefit of Digitally Calibrated colors is that the precise amount of Natural Underlying Pigment can be anticipated and pigments added to the color to exactly neutralize them or enhance them. Non-Calibrated color’s don’t have this advantage and are typically shown on white hair so you don’t know how much they will negate or enhance the Natural Underlying Pigment.