You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Corrective Color & Fantasy Tones

Dear colorists,

We like to picture ourselves as miracle workers. We like to keep the curtain closed between us and clients. We like to show off insane before and after combinations.

We shouldn’t just post our before and after shots. We don’t have to put formula notes on it, but we can to help other colorists. But the biggest disservice we’re doing by posting just a before and after shot is letting clients maintain unrealistic goals.

We should be posting more information. We should be posting how long it took to get that result. We should be posting when we have inconsistent toning issues based on clients hair porosity. We should be posting pictures of clients whose hair won’t do what we expect it to because of pre-existing hair dye.

When the only pictures clients see our pictures of success with no understanding of what it took to get there or the possibility for it not getting to the end result they desire all we are doing is making it more difficult for ourselves when clients come in with expectations of hair coloring changes that cannot be done.

I will relay a few examples of client difficulties…

I once had a client with box black hair dye on her hair grown out approximately six to eight months who brought in a before-and-after photo from someone’s Instagram account showing their black hair and then a pastel lavender shade as their after. I tried to explain to the client that this is simply not something that could be done in one session. I tried to explain to the client that this is something that may take multiple sessions, multiple passes with different colors, a lot of deep conditioning, and a lot of time. The client refused to take no for an answer and insisted that I make a solid attempt to get her that color that day. I have a special form that I make clients like that sign. It tells them that there is no guarantee of pricing nor is there any guarantee of any results or quality of hair. Most of the time this form scares clients out of their demands. Sometimes it doesn’t. In this case the girl continued to insist. 12 hours later she was blonde, not lavender, I could not remove enough gold, and despite using large amounts of olaplex in every pass through her hair was still fried. I posted this before and afters on my Instagram account years ago when this occurred. I did end up removing them based on the negative commentary about my lack of skill due to the obvious damaged texture of her hair. I regret removing the photos. And if that situation ever occurs again I will post with an explanation. I later took a closer look and realized that the before-and-after were taken 6 months apart with the stylist having actually posted pictures from each of the other sessions as well.

Another example, an amazing colorist that I work with on a regular basis recently had a client come in with incredibly dark dye on her ends and approximately three inches of regrowth. The client claimed she had not colored her hair in years, but lines of demarcation don’t lie. She wanted all of her hair to be a lighter color. Typically the level of dye on her end would have been unlikely to be problematic, but this wasn’t color, it was henna. It was explained to the client that no amount of lightener or pigment remover available in salon were capable of removing henna. The client did not believe the colorist, and she refused to admit to having dyed her hair more recently. Working off the information we had we did the best that we could. The colorist used multiple formulas and multiple color removers to try to break through the henna stain on the lengths of her hair. It was unsuccessful. Her ends did lighten slightly but not to the client’s desired end result. Her regrowth did lighten further, but in order to maintain blending additional color was applied to prevent “hot roots.” At the time we thought the client was pleased, as the colorist really had done everything in her power to warn the client and then to do the service and then to maintain an even result. The colorist even felt bad about not being able to get to the desired result and provided the client a discount on their service. The client then went home and wrote a Yelp review against us. Next time a similar situation occurs we’ll probably just turn them down.

They say that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and they are right.

Clients, now more than ever, can go online or on various social media and instantly find pictures of what they want to do. These clients not having any cosmetology backgrounds training and colorists not posting information on the difficulty of achieving those results continues to lead to misinformation, upset colorists, and upset clients.

So please, continue to tell your clients what can and can’t be done, and when you post particularly avant-garde photos be sure to tell people how much work it really was.


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