This was a question from the Matrix site that I had answered:

Hi Mags,
I have some jumbled info in my head that I just can’t sort right now. Help me with this please. Okay, I understand that white hair is the lack of pigment, but I have also heard that you still to need to worry about the underlaying pigment. Because even though it’s now white, it once did have pigment and the base is still there somewhere, even though you can’t see it. And so my question, how does bleach effect a 100% head , or even 80 or 90% white head of hair?


White hair is the absents of pigment- but… if you see any colored hair in there, then that mean some of the white hair has just a little bit of pigment left, but not enough to show up well.
There are millions of color granules in the hair, and some are up close near the cuticle layers, some deep in the cortex and some in the medulla, that’s if the hair has a medulla.
As the pigment granules produce less pigment, it doesn’t mean it all gone, that why some stylist apply bleach to the hair that looks like is 100% white and they end up with orangey hair, if the original hair used to be levels  6 and down.
Normally you only worry about the underlying pigment if you are lifting pigmented (non-white) hair, not to say if you had a client that was 60% white in the front and 40% pigmented in the back, you do not worry about the Underlying pigment, because you really ALWAYS NEED TO THINK ABOUT IT!
Sometimes you need to treat that 60/40 person, like they are 2 heads, one formula for the back and one for the front.
Let’s say I want to take a NL-4 up to 6 and she has 60% white & 40% dark. She tells me she doesn’t want alot of warmth.
I would use the 506 + 6N + 20vol up at the front and I would use the 6AA + 20vol at the back. and it will match.
Now bleach will effect this same client differently too, if I used bleach /20vol it will take the white hair and bleach out any leftover pigments and bring it up to a pale yellow tone, but the back hair will only get to a level 8 or 9, unless I use a higher volume to bring it up to the pale level 10+ that the white hair will be.
So you do need to look at the underlying pigment if the client has any, any pigmented hair’s still there and most DO!
Not many women come in looking like Mrs Santa Clause, all white hair very rarely happens.
Whte hair is lacking in certain minerals, so that is why you need extra processing time too, that extra 15 minutes is really needed to cover the white hair.
And by the way, there is ONLY pigment or white- grey hair does NOT exist. – mags kavanaugh

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