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Colour Corrections - The Myths, facts, Fears & Truths



Colour Corrections – the myths, facts, fears and truths

 
Colour correction, a word that can strike fear into a young colourists heart.

Each day in the salon I hear more and more clients using words and terms once only reserved for experienced stylists, the Internet is a wonderful thing, but it's just as good at spreading false information as it is a resource of learning.

When a trainee hairdresser first encounters colour, it is obviously the basics that are taught first, fair enough, BUT, colour correction is often separated from ‘classic’ colour training and reserved for the advanced students studying their level 3. I'll say it openly, I disagree with that, it causes that divide, inducing fear and uncertainty.

Most colours these days are corrections and the knowledge and skills needed to carry out full scale corrections just as relevant for an everyday root retouch.

If you've ever thought about taking the plunge and visiting the salon for a colour correction, or just simply want to know a little more about how we deal with it and what to expect, but don't know what to believe based on the internet waffle or gossip from friends, read on. This blog is made up of actual colour knowledge, things that all colourists should know and the main questions asked of us by clients in salon, along with confessions of a colourist and an insight of how we do things at ITC. It's not a colour lesson, but some might find they have picked up on a lot of information they would only hear from a colourist, if they asked. Hopefully this blog will explain all, dispel a few myths and let you in on the wonderful world that is colour.

 

 

What is a Colour Correction?

When most people think of colour corrections, they imagine huge services, changing from dark brown to light blonde or bright red, but really, anything that involves us changing the formula or application of your colour to correct any issues, or a double process colour when we need to lighten, darken or tone your hair to achieve your desired colour could be considered a correction service.

This could include anything from adding some lowlights to an over processed blonde to adjusting the formula for for a root retouch when a client has gone a little too long between salon visits.

Some colourists would argue that ANY colour service on hair that already has synthetic colour or chemical compound present on the hair would be considered a correction, and only an application on true Virgin hair wouldn't be.

 

Virgin hair is the term used by stylists to describe hair that has had absolutely no chemical services. This includes all permanent, semi-permanent and quasi-permanent colours, chemical straightening or permanent waving services.

 

As a colourist myself, having a customer in front of me with 100% Virgin hair is a very rare luxury. More and more people are following the trends and visiting their colourist for the latest cocktails of colour, and unfortunately, the rise in DIY home box colour means more people are also trying the ‘cheaper alternative’ to the salon themselves. This has caused a huge sway in the variety of services we offer in salon, and results in  the vast majority of colours we carry out including a correction in some form or another, whether it be to update a salon colour to the latest trend or ‘put right’ a DIY disaster.

 

 

Consultation is Key

We take consultations pretty seriously and have a rather rigorous consultation system in the salon; it normally starts with a phone call or visit to the salon from a client who will normally begin with “can you do [insert colouring technique or service]”, “I would really like a big change” or “I put a home colour on and THIS HAS HAPPENED!”.

First action for us would be to gather some information and carry out some tests. We have created in salon consultation questionnaires which our assistants and junior team are trained to use to gather this information, and take a test cutting from your hair, after which, they will get you booked in for your consultation with a Senior Colourist.

 

A test cutting is a very small section of hair cut from your root, it's small enough you'll never know its gone and we will always take it from an area you can't see (definitely not from the crown, parting or hairline). We usually take two, from different areas of your head to account for differing degrees of porosity, condition and colour build up to get a more accurate reading. We will then apply the colour or lightener to the hair so we can clearly see the result of the colour, what is (and isn't) possible to achieve, the condition of the hair following the service and make any adjustments to the formula or timings and are able to plan which services are best to achieve your desired result while maintaining the hair condition.

 

While you are waiting for your appointment, a Senior Colourist will carry out the relevant tests on your test cuttings based on the information you have provided and what you have requested as your desired end result. They will then note all this down along with the results of your tests and the service options available. By the time you arrive for your consultation, we already have plenty to talk about.

Your Colourist will be able to ask any follow up questions and confirm all information is right, and run through with you the results of your tests, discussing with you in more depth what you hope to achieve and what you expect from the service. We can then decide and discuss which services will be most appropriate, how long it will take, how much it will cost, how many salon visits it will take and the aftercare required. You then have the option to get booked in, without the worry of booking the wrong service or not having enough time for the appointment, the consultation is completely free.

This process is a vital starting point for any colour correction, and it is essential both parties are 100% honest with each other, especially when it comes down to the client discussing their colour history (what colours they have had on their hair and when) and the stylist discussing what is achievable and what is not.

 

One of the biggest issues when colour correcting is the end result not being what the client or stylist was expecting. This is almost always down to someone not telling the whole story, a colour applied a year ago the customer ‘forgot to mention’ in the consultation, or the colourist failing to mention what a product can and can't do.

 

Carrying out a colour correction, or any colour for that matter without a consultation is going in blind. Sure, we know from knowledge and experience what to expect in certain circumstances and generally what certain products do, but it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. No one wants to find out half way through a lightening process that a colour applied two years ago has just turned your beautiful baleage into a blunt Bob, an issue that could have been easily avoided by taking another service route.

 

ITS ALL THERE: hair grows on average half an inch a month, or 6 inches a year; so if your hair is 18 inches long (approximately a few inches below shoulders give or take) the ends are 3 years old. EVERY CHEMICAL YOU HAVE APPLIED TO YOUR HAIR IN THE LAST 3 YEARS IS STILL THERE, IN SOME FORM OR ANOTHER, and will effect the services you have, the condition of your hair and the end result. The longer your hair, the longer your colour history. It's far better to know what we are working with before we start applying colours, since once we start lifting or depositing, we WILL discover what's on there, and it may affect the services we are able to carry out and the final result of your colour and condition.

 

You can visit the salon at any time for a consultation, the initial information gathering is carried out by one of our junior team and can usually be done without an appointment by just popping in. Our senior team however tend to be much busier and an appointment is essential, the Assistant or Graduate Stylist carrying out your initial consultation will arrange that all for you, ensuring both you and your colourist have enough time to get the most out of your service.

 

There's a lot of factors to consider…

It's not just what a client has asked for that determines which products we use and services we perform. Without going too much into the ins and outs of colour chemistry, these are the basic facts we work with when carrying out a consultation and throughout the colouring service:

 

Depth matters

In simple terms, the depth of a colour is how light or dark it is. Colourists have a very simple numbering system to determine this, called the International Colour Chart, or ICC for short. This numbering system, 1 being the darkest (black) and 10 being the lightest (extra light blonde) is the same all around the world and all colour manufacturers, even the ones in supermarkets (some systems also use an 11 or 12 to include highlift tints and ultra blondes), and each number is called a level.

 

Tone matters

Apart from how light or dark a colour is, we also need to know what tone is there. Tone is how we would describe the ‘colour’ in the hair, with warm colours of yellow (Gold), orange (copper) and red (well, red!) and the cool colours; green (very ash), blue (ash) and violet (yep, just violet), and all the lovely cocktails in between!

 

 

What's under the depth matters even more

All natural colours are made up of predominantly warm tones, and this is called the underlying pigment, the darker the level, the more warm or red the underlying pigment is. Black and brown hair has a red or orange underlying pigment, blondes have a yellow or pale yellow underlying pigment. This plays a massive role when lifting hair lighter or darkening colour 2 or more levels either way or greatly changing tone to very red (warm) to cool (ash) or vice versa.

 

Understanding what the depth, tone and underlying pigment of a colour is, both existing on the hair right now and the colour a client hopes to achieve forms the very foundation of the decision process during the consultation.

 

Knowing these three bits of information is how we know and how we describe what a colour is.

 

Hair Condition affects EVERYTHING

If a clients hair is damaged before a colouring service, either due to heat styling, previous chemical applications or for health reasons, this is always a big contributor to whether a service can be carried out. I'm not going to lie, every chemical applied to hair, even top quality salon products expertly applied does some degree of damage to hair, we are changing the molecular make up of the hair after all, but it is how much damage the hair can take which matters, it will only take so much before it gives up and makes its way down the plug hole. If the hair is already at that dry, brittle or porous state, we won't be able to use higher strength products, thus reducing what can be achieved, and in severe cases of pre existing damage, we wouldn't do it at all.

 

Years of home colouring, over bleaching, overlapped highlights and regular heat damage all build up and remain there until the hair is cut or worse, eventually breaks off. For some people, this will be the time they decide to get it sorted with a colour correction, but unfortunately, that can really be the straw that breaks the camels back, it's just too late, the damage has been done, and no amount of corrections can fix that. Prevention is better than cure.

 

The condition of the hair doesn't just determine whether a service can be carried out however, it also greatly affects how a colour will look, and how much aftercare is involved. The more colours that have been applied and the more heat damage the hair has had to put up with will mean the hair will be more porous, put simply, what state the outside layer of the hair is in. This outside layer of the hair is called the cuticle, and it's made up of lots and lots of tiny overlapping scales pointing down from root to tip. Healthy, shiny hair has flat cuticle scales, and can keep all that lovely moisture and all those colour molecules held in tight, meaning colours will last longer, look more vibrant, and hair will be softer and shinier. Porous hair is when those cuticle scales have started to lift and peel away, meaning the hair can no longer hold on to moisture or colour molecules, leaving the hair rough, dry and dull, and colours will fade much quicker.

Every time the hair is lightened or coloured, part of that process is lifting the cuticle to allow colour in (depositing tint) or pull colour out (lightening), and every time that is done, the cuticle scales become slightly more damaged. The degree of this damage will depend on how many times the cuticle scales have been lifted, the strength of the products used, whether it has been a professional service or DIY, how much heat damage the hair has received and whether the client has been using the correct products or cheap supermarket shampoos, to name a few.

Porous hair needs to be treated with greater care, as few chemical services as possible, regular trims and careful styling. Colours applied can act very differently on various porosity’s and therefore can require various formulas, accurate applications and different development times which a colourist needs to work with, and as for the customer, getting the at home hair care right and listening to their stylist is a must, colours will take a greater upkeep as they will fade quicker, so regular toners, gloss services and refreshers will all be penciled in to their future appointments, even as often as every 2-3 weeks if regularly shampooed.

 

No, we do not possess a magic wand!

No matter how far the the industry has advanced, or how the products we use have developed, they will still only do so much. Bleach is a powerful weapon when used correctly, but still has a limit of only being able to lift 5-7 levels, this is our speed of light limit, so lightening from a level 2 dark brown to a fashion platinum grey blonde is never, EVER going to happen in one day, (and all that red underlying pigment, not going to happen). No amount of bleaching can remove years of colour build up, and as for colour removers, well, the name for starters; somewhere along the line, it became myth that ‘colour removers’ would do just that, remove the colours that have been applied to the hair, bringing it back to that long forgotten Virgin hair, and providing a wonderful even canvass to start the next colour project on, or even mean there's no more roots to do every 6 weeks because years of colour have just been wiped away, slate clean, hello natural hair.

If anyone reading this has tried a colour remover and believed the promises on the box, you know what's coming.

Could it really be that easy? Of course not. Although colour removers are very different to bleach, the fact is still the same. Once a colour is on the hair, it's there for good until it is cut out, it may have faded to the point it can't be seen, or covered over with another, or bleached to its underlying pigment, but it is still there, the chemical process has taken place and there will never be a way to “virgin’ise” hair.

 

One of the biggest challenges we colourists face when trying to explain to a client the colour they want isn't possible due to the colour build up already on the hair is when they say; “but I had this done 3 years ago at another salon and they managed to do it just fine!” Or “my friend got this done last week and it worked on her”. Ok, so going back to the idea that your length of hair is like a timeline and everything that has been done to it since it grew out of the scalp is still there in some form or another; 3 years ago, that same head of hair was in a completely different state than it is in now. In the last 3 years it has had countless colours applied, DIY attempts gone wrong, various salon services, a handful of silicone based supermarket shampoos lathered on, daily heat styling and even sprouted a few more greys. The hair on your head right now has a very different history it had 3 years ago. As for the friend comparison; unless you are a genetically identical twin with the same colourist who carried out the exact same services each time and follow the exact same styling routine, once again, there will be two totally different colour histories, and therefore two totally different canvasses to work on with drastically different potential results.

 

Different products are designed to do different things, but everything has a limit. A high lift tint is not going to look like a bleach and tone service. Slapping a dark brown over platinum blonde is not going to give you the shiny rich result of the colour chart and applying a plum red onto live xxl black is a waste of time, and considering that although these things will not work, the chemicals are still doing their thing on the hair, so the damage is still being done, that colour history is still being added to but without the payoff of getting the result you want.

When it comes to hair damage, this is another “once it's done, it's done” scenario; plenty of products claim to ‘repair’ split ends or “take back the damage” of 100 blow dries, truth be told, that is never going to happen. Sure, using the right products (the ones recommend to you by the person who has done years of training to be able to diagnose hair concerns, not a label on a supermarket shelf), will help to mask damage, making hair LOOK in better condition and help PREVENT further damage occurring, there is only one sure way to remove split ends and damaged areas, and that is to cut it off. Forget all these silly Facebook DIY kitchen recipes. Nothing will glue hair back together again.

 

If you imagine the hair strand as a piece of rope, made up of lots of smaller pieces of rope entwined. When this rope becomes severed at the ends and frayed (like a split end), the rope will continue to unravel up the length, the only way to fix it, is by cutting it off above the area of damage and preventing it from becoming frayed again.

 

 

Skin tone and eye colour matters

Like many things in life, sometimes the things we crave the most are things we either just can't have or aren't as good as they seem.

This is very true with hair colour, as part of the job for a colourist is personalising the colour to every client. Not all colours suit everyone, and a colour that looks absolutely amazing on their friend or celebrity might look horrific on a client.

And that doesn't just stop at how light or dark a colour is, slight differences in tone can make a massive difference to how a colour looks on a person. Reds are a perfect example of this, a client with a fair complexion and blue or green eyes will look amazing wearing a copper red, but a cooler, violet red will drain their complexion, whereas a client with olive or tan skin and dark eyes will suit the violet red perfectly.

 

Many times, when we consult with a client who was unhappy with a previous colour, the colour itself (application, technique, depth, tone etc.) has nothing wrong with it at all, and by all rights is a really nice colour. BUT, it doesn't suit them, and it's often the tone of a colour we need to correct rather than drastically change the depth or technique used.

 

During a clients consultation, this will all be discussed and considered along with whether the client predominately wears gold or silver jewellery and what colour clothes they tend to wear the most.

A good tip for anyone looking for their next colour adventure would be to collect photos of people with similar skin tone and eye colour, and then look at the colour they are wearing on their hair. This way, you can get a better sense of what will suit you and compliment your features rather than looking solely for a colour that you may really like, and looks great on someone else, but won't look as amazing on you.

 

Existing artificial colour (of any sort) effects what we can do

Every colour, no matter if it was a permanent or not changes the way hair will react to future colouring or lightening applications.

We need to know what has been applied to the hair before colouring, even if a customer thinks we don't. From tinted shampoos and conditioners to boot polish and mascara, any artificial colour can affect the next one applied, and it's best for us to know before we find out because there's a problem!

Each time a colour is applied to the hair, the chemical reactions are causing the damage and the tint is building up, this is why people who apply Browns or dark blondes over and over see their ends get darker and ‘flatter’ while the roots, the area with fewer applications, look lighter. And, why people who apply blondes, which are designed to lighten hair, notice their ends becoming lighter and paler while the roots remain darker and appear more ‘yellow’.

Home colouring and bad colour applications are the main cause of the these problems .

Sometimes, a client will think that because they have stayed the same colour for say, 12 months, they have only had one colour on their hair, but if that client has shoulder length hair and would usually apply their colour every 6 weeks or so, in reality, the roots will only have one colour applied, but the length and ends will have up to 9! If she decided to change her colour, the areas of hair with only 1 or 2 applications may lift without an issue, but the hair with 8 or 9 applications? Not likely.

 

We are used to clients sitting in our styling chair proclaiming their hair is ‘natural’, and they don't colour it, all the while, we can clearly see the signs of colour build up, over processed ends and half an inch of Virgin regrowth staring us in the face. Just because the colour you apply looks a lot like your natural colour, or the box says it washes out in 12 washes, does not mean your hair is natural, it has still gone through the same chemical processes, undergone the same damage and has been permanently changed. Natural hair would be hair with absolutely no colour applied at all.

 

Another misunderstanding is if someone applies a brown over the top of a red for example, that the red is gone. No it's still under there. Or someone who uses ‘wash out’ colours thinking it will not make a difference to the hair. Yes it does.

Henna is a very underestimated problem in the world of hair colour. Most people consider henna to be a completely natural alternative to the usual colour services, causing no harm or effect on future colour services. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Yes henna is a completely natural product (with the exception of some brands from the supermarkets and chemists who mix all kinds of nasty chemicals in there), but it is full of metallic salts and used alone, will not cause any major problems at all, although you are rather limited in colour choice.

The problems start when people who get bored of the brown orange, or red orange, or red brown orange, decide they would like a change and grab a box off a shelf or visit a colourist. Put simply, henna does not mix with hair colour AT ALL. And we're not just talking about it not working and being stuck with it, we mean CHEMICAL REACTION.

All colours and lighteners, including tone-on-tone colours (quasi), work, in part, by oxidising the hair. It is this oxidising process that is not compatible with the metallic salts, compounds and chemicals present in henna. The only exception to this would be true semi-permanent colours, which of course do not lift hair, cover greys or have enough strength in them to change a tone dramatically. The vast majority of hair colours, both sold in supermarkets and used in salons include this oxidising process, most people, unless you're sporting the bright neon colours which tend to be semi permanent, have never had a colour applied which doesn't oxidise the hair.

Applying a regular hair colour on previously henna coloured hair can cause a devastating chemical reaction. The best case scenario would be a little breakage and damaged dry hair which will not lighten, still not a good place to be. Worst case, the hair bubbles, steams and disintegrates, a bit like applying body hair remover to your head.

Either way, it's another ‘once it's done’ scenario, you can not remove henna from the hair once it is applied, the only way to get rid of it is to cut it out. So if you're thinking of using a henna hair colour, be prepared to never touch regular hair colour again for a long time.

 

It's not just henna hair colour that can cause people problems; ‘black henna’ tattoos also contain extremely high levels of PPD, the main chemical to blame for allergic reactions to hair colour (there's actually no such thing as black henna, since henna is naturally red or orange. The use of PPD is strictly limited to hair colours by law, and only in very small amounts. Unfortunately, the ‘black henna’ tattoos popular at some fairs and beach holidays contain PPD illegally in what can be dangerously high amounts). Having that much PPD applied to your skin can cause pretty serious allergic reactions alone, but the biggest problem you may get is the inability to ever have a hair colour service again. That much exposure to PPD can ‘sensitise’ you to the chemical, meaning a previously safe, regular hair colour (with lawfully monitored, extremely low levels of PPD), now causes you to have a serious allergic reaction. As a colourist, my attitude is it's better to be safe than sorry, I'd recommend staying away from henna all together.

 

Percentage of White hair (or grey) changes the ball game

How much white hair is on the head (if any) is another thing a colourist needs to find out during the consultation. White hair can be a blessing or a curse, it can make a colour much easier, or much harder to achieve depending on the desired result, and will often need to be coloured with products especially designed for white hair.

 

We love photos!

It really helps when a client brings in a photo of the colour they want, not only does this cut out a lot of time trying to describe a colour or technique, it also saves any misunderstanding or confusion with colour choice. What is a beautiful strawberry blonde to one client, is a bright ‘ginger’ to another, a ‘natural blonde’ to one person is a light brown to another, and with the rise in Internet searches for the perfect hair colour, we often hear clients request a colour or technique that means something completely different to what they actually are.

 

I wouldn't like to guess how many clients I've had ask for highlights, only to see the look of confusion on their face when I describe how highlights can look on the hair, all because they have typed highlights into Google and pictures of an ombré have popped up. They'd be a lot of unhappy clients if I just nodded and done what was asked!

 

 

It may need to be a work in progress

For numerous reasons, the customers desired colour may not be achievable in one salon visit, sometimes a successful colour correction can take 2 or 3 visits to get exactly where it needs to be, or even months of regular, smaller salon visits to get there gradually. Some corrections will need a hell of a lot of aftercare advice be taken with treatments or toners needing to be done as much as every 2 or 3 weeks for the first few months after the correction and strict aftercare routines to keep everything on track.

 

There might be a wait for an appointment

Most colour corrections, especially the complicated big jobs are carried out by Senior Stylists and Colour Specialists only, simple applications of colour such as root retouches, full head colours and toners are carried out by our junior team, although which formulas are used and how they are applied is decided by a Senior. With the greater knowledge, experience and training comes years of building a much larger clientele than the junior team, so Seniors tend to be very busy with customers who book weeks and months in advance. Getting an appointment that takes up to 4-6 hours in one day isn't something we can pencil in at the last minute (unless we have had a late cancellation for an equally large service), and fitting it in around pre booked customers is no easy task. We will always try and work around our customers as much as possible, but we can't cancel one customers appointment to book in another!

All our senior team work with an assistant who carries out their basic services under their instruction, which allows far more flexibility and availability to everyone, but even they get fully booked.

Different services take different amounts of time to complete, which is just one of the reasons why we have such a lengthy consultation process as we need to know how long a stylist will be booked out, especially with colour corrections as a client may need anywhere between 3-5 separate services booked in with stylists, all with various development and processing times that need to be booked accurately.

 

There's nothing worse than finding out the customer I have booked in for a 30 minute root retouch actually needs a 60 minute full head of highlights, when I've got another customer already booked in straight after her 30 minute time slot. There's no way I could cancel my next customers appointment, and I can't run 30 minutes behind for the rest of the day, and even if I could, the same customer is booked in for a cut and style 45 minutes after her initial 30 minute appointment, but that would be running 30 minutes later too, the same time I have another customer booked in!

 

All our senior stylists run a wait list alongside their columns so in the event that a client cancels, another clients appointment can be brought forward if they preferred. This not only helps reduce clients waiting times, but means the salon can keep its cost down.

Being on the wait list isn't always a guarantee however, and relies heavily on clients who need to cancel doing so with enough notice for us to contact the clients on our wait list and make any other arrangements. This leads perfectly onto our next subject:

 

Why we always need a deposit

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not cancel with enough notice for us to contact a client on our wait list, many don't even bother to cancel and just don't turn up for their appointment, others do attend their appointment, but let us know then and there they have changed their mind and would only like a much smaller service than the time they have been booked out for.

Time really is money for anyone in the hair industry. And by not turning up to an appointment or cancelling a service last minute, a client costs a stylist money, time and money which they can not get back.

This is especially true with colour corrections where up to 6 hours of a stylists time will be reserved for just one customer, booking in the bespoke service for just the right amount of time is difficult, but trying to book other clients into those time slots when a correction has cancelled, that's even harder.

In our experience, many people have no problem at all attending a 30 minute appointment with their stylist for free, but also have no problem taking that time from them, then not showing up for a 4 hour appointment.

For the salon to be able to afford this amount of losses, we would have to charge a lot more for all the services we carry out. We don't want to do that, so we make sure we take deposits whenever we need to reserve a large time slot for a client.

 

There's literally nothing worse than finding out the day before, or worse, on the day that I have 5 hours booked out for a client that isn't coming in, especially when I know how many other clients, particularly those I've known for years, have tried to book in with me and been told I have nothing available, or the clients on my wait list who could have been booked in if only they'd had a little more notice. At the end of the day, most people wouldn't do this to their doctor, and most dentists charge when a patient doesn't turn up for their appointment, my time is my livelihood.

 

These deposits are non refundable other than to be used against the same service, date and time that has been carefully booked for a client, and will be taken off their final bill.

We don't only take deposits from clients we think “look” like they will let us down, we do it for all correction appointments, so please don't be offended.

 

We all have budgets and limits to what we want to pay

Large appointments and lots of products mean colour corrections are by far the most expensive services we offer.

We know quite well our services are far less expensive than most salons offering the same quality products and services, in some cases less than half the price you'll pay a metro ride away across the river.

But this does not stop the services being expensive, and although a particular service may be the only real option for a client, we will always include their budget into the consultation as part of the decision process.

Aftercare and follow up visits are just as important as the big one, this is another thing that needs to be considered when choosing on a treatment plan and colour style, as deciding on a routine that will require a strict home care regime and salon visits every 2-3 is definitely not ideal for anyone who struggles to afford 6 weekly trims.

We all have budgets, especially in this day and age where a lot of people tend to be more careful with their money, and let's be honest, for most people their salon visits are a luxury. I'm always honest with a client when it comes to pricing up a service, having a budget of how much they want to spend on their hair is nothing to be embarrassed about, and the last thing I want to do is make anyone feel like they are priced out of a good hair colour. If I know what a clients budget is during the consultation, and there's a service that goes well above that, I'll offer an alternative service within that budget, it's really not an issue for me. Equally, if a clients budget only covers them for a 6 weekly spend of £50, planning a hair care routine costing £100 every 6 weeks isn't going to work, their colour will look awful for longer than it will look amazing, and that's not what I'm about.

 

We urge all clients to let us know in the consultation how much they can spend on their hair not only for the initial correction, but also the upkeep of it, that way we can plan a routine that keeps the hair looking great without stretching beyond their means.

 


Bring lunch, it's a long day

Colour corrections can be pretty simple and incorporated into a single process service sometimes , however, the bigger jobs, like going from dark to light can take 4-6 hours depending on the services needed and hair type. We will tell you how long your visit will take during the consultation, if you have other appointments or resignations, let us know and we'll schedule a more convenient time for you. There's nothing worse than feeling rushed because you need to be out by a certain time or a parking ticket is running out. We want to achieve the best result possible, and if that means we need to throw in an extra treatment or toner, we will want what is best for your hair and will never agree to cut corners to get a customer out earlier than planned!

 

Be prepared for a ‘no’

As you can see, there's a lot of things your colourist needs to consider before agreeing with you a course of action for a colour correction. Sometimes, the colour that a client wants just isn't possible, this could be down to the condition of the hair or previous colours on the hair. Sometimes there's a albeit much slower, but much kinder to the hair way to get the colour they want, without sacrificing the hair condition.

 

I try to be as honest as possible with all clients, realistically, if the hair will only lift 1 or 2 levels lighter when they wanted 3 or 4 levels of lift, do they feel it's worth spending all that time and money? Equally, there's been times I've known the person in front of me quite well and know for sure they aren't going to like the end result, no matter how much they love the colour swatch or person in the photo, so I'll insist I they save their money, and the damage to their hair. There have been many times I have said no to clients begging me to carry out a service, I've been told “I don't care if all my hair breaks off, I just want to be blonde!”, “if I don't like it I'll just bleach it myself at home!”, and I've even been told; “a doctor told me never to get another hair colour applied because I'm allergic to them, I sued my last salon because I had a reaction, but I want to try again, so I want YOU to colour it and I'll just sue you if it happens again!”. I genuinely believe any self respected colourist would say no to taking someone's money as payment for a service they KNOW will not be in the clients best interest, and I try and make this perfectly clear in all my consultations. (Also, I think you'd have to be a bit of an idiot to do something you've just been told you're probably going to get sued for!)

 

It's sometimes a good idea to have a ‘plan B’ for the colour you want, or at least be flexible with the desired outcome, that way, we can try and find a better solution rather than just saying no. We'll always discuss the expected outcome during the consultation, and it may just be that we'll need a couple of visits to get it just right.

 

Aftercare and maintenance is equally important

Part of the job of a colourist is to advise on aftercare. This isn't because we need to sell, it's not to make money, it's to ensure our hard work and a clients well spent money doesn't go to waste.

So many people are more than happy to take our advice about colour, yet as soon as we talk about what shampoo they should use, they see it as a hard sell and would rather listen to the advice of a supermarket shelf or TV advert endorsed by the latest celebrity. (Do you really think an actress earning millions of pounds uses shop bought shampoo?)

 

If a client comes to me for advice, I'm more than happy to give it to them, whether they listen is a different matter. Too many times I've carried out a beautiful colour service, both me and my client are over the moon, I've done my side of the bargain; I've used the best products, carried out the technique perfectly and educated the client on how to keep their hair looking perfect until their next visit. To my horror, the client arrives in the salon 5 weeks later looking like they've done a DIY job, their colour has faded beyond what a root retouch can correct, the ends are frizzy, they've burned their feathers and all that hard work has disappeared. What's worse, is I was the last person to do their colour, so the client automatically sees it as my fault that the colour is such a mess and hasn't lasted as long as I said it would. So when I ask if the client has followed the advice I gave her in the last visit of how to maintain her colour, she tells me she bought a cheaper version of what I recommended from the ‘special offers’ in the supermarket, or worse. It's heartbreaking.

 

I'm not going to go into detail here about the issues with supermarket products, that's  another blog in itself, but if a colourist tells a client they need to use something to keep their colour looking good, it's usually because the client needs to use something to keep their colour looking good.

Fair enough we are aware of a lot of salons going in for the hard sell, forcing products in a clients hand making them feel uncomfortable or even adding them to their bill until they tell them they don't want it, again, awkward and uncomfortable, but we do not do that. We just don't want our hard work washed away down the sink.

Appropriate aftercare advice will always be given during the consultation, if we tell a client their colour will last 6 weeks, that's on the basis they are following our advice, that guarantee is void if they play the supermarket gamble.

 

Yes, we really do want to know if you don't like it!

If you've read this far, you'll know by now how important the consultation is and the depth we go into when discussing a colour. Most of the time, if a client wasn't going to like their colour, we would have found out long before the products were even applied, when a consultation is done properly, both stylist and colourist will know exactly what is going to happen and what the end result is going to be, if the end result is a shock in the mirror, either both parties missed something, or something went terribly wrong.

It's a rare occurrence, but if the latter is true, and something did go wrong, it will be the stylist who knows about it first, and if that is the case, we will do everything we can to correct the issue immediately, we wouldn't even wait for a client to bring up the problem, we'd just fix it. It would be completely irresponsible to allow a client to walk out with something we know isn't up to the standard we aim to achieve, and yes, any problem caused by our mistake will be corrected free of charge.

However, there is also a grey area when it comes down to a client not liking their colour; sometimes it doesn't matter how much we have discussed results with a client, how many pictures or swatches of colour have been looked at or how much a client has said they want something, either straight away or weeks later, the client may decide they have changed their mind.

Is this the colourists fault? Not really, but it's surprising how many people think they can get a free colour service 6 weeks after their appointment because they fancy something different and say it's a complaint.

Other clients might just say nothing at all, maybe feel embarrassed that they changed their minds after all the work done to achieve their colour, to be honest, we would be more upset a client didn't say anything than if they told us they wanted a change!

Most colour corrections are massive changes, especially if the client has had the same colour for years. It can completely change a persons look, and takes a while to get used to, and we understand people change their minds or want a little tweak here and there. There's no sure way to find out how you'll feel with a brand new colour, unless you wear the same colour wig for a few weeks, so if you change your mind, that's fine, we can always alter whatever it is that's bothering you, most colour corrections need to be tweaked on the first few visits afterwards anyway, but like with the initial consultation, we don't know unless you tell us!

 

So there you have it, the basics of colour corrections, what it involves and the importance of the consultation. Let us know what you think, has this inspired you to take the plunge or turned you off the idea all together? Either way I hope it's been helpful, I hope to see you soon in the salon!


60 Comments to Colour Corrections - The Myths, facts, Fears & Truths:

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