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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Why we always need
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
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 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
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
Bring lunch, it's a
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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!