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Great (unrealistic ) Expectations

by Bill Trotter  ·  September 29th, 2017

How our industry has changed. Colorist or private detective?

As a colorist for over 34 years I have seen many changes in my industry. I am a Master colorist. There really isn’t anything I haven’t seen. What has turned out to be a new development is all the new technology I have to use to keep up with the times. We get message from our websites and Facebook pages. My clients all have my cell number. I can make appointments and chat with new client via, phone, iPad or web pages. I hate learning new technology but it is a necessity. Clients are sending me selfies and inspirational photos before they show up for their services. I do like a client that is prepared and knows what they want.

Due to the massive amount of hair color sitting on grocery store shelves, a lot of women think trying on a new hair color is as easy as trying on a new sweater. Nothing can be further from the truth. I now ask about a clients hair history. Now I am a detective. Why? Because for some reason women think box dye just fades away and their hair is otherwise natural.

An initial ‘detective’ conversation to determine history might go something like this:

(I can see that a client’s hair is too black to be natural.)
I ask, ‘Is your hair colored?.’
Client: ‘No its not.’
Me: ‘I think it is. When was the last time you colored your hair?’
Client: ‘That was ages ago.’
Me: ‘Like how long ago was that?’
Client: ‘Wow, at least six months ago.’
Me: ‘Was it done professionally?’
Client: ‘No I picked up a box color at Walmart.’
Me: ‘(Damn) sigh….. Ok, so what was your hair like before that box dye?’
Client: ‘I had highlights for years but was tired of the maintenance so I just colored it back to my natural.’
Me: ‘So when was the last time you had highlights?’
Client: ‘At least a year ago maybe more.’

Now it’s time for me to do the math. If this woman has 14 inches of hair and her last highlight was a year ago that means she will have six inches of new growth, and eight inches of old highlights with a box dye to cover up everything.

Now this is the part that most hairstylists have an issue with – saying ‘No’. No you can’t get to this level of blonde without damaging or even destroying the hair all together. Yes, this insights the client, and they may even say, ‘Well, I can’t live with this color. Can’t you just try?’ I have fallen for this many times because I do want to help but my experience says….. Caution ! This won’t turn out as planned.

Now I have to disclose my feeling on this issue and really tell the client the truth. Your color may not lift right out of your hair. It may take as much as three consecutive appointments to get to some shade of blonde. There will be some dryness and damage. If you wish to proceed be prepared to see some very warm highlights after your first visit. You will need ola plex treatments after all of your color services.

Getting rid of box dye is a process. Proceed with caution. It is up to me, as a professional, to explain the dangers of stripping out old color and that the results may not be what the client is looking for after just one visit. If I feel the hair is already too degraded, it’s my job to politely say no, I can’t perform this service. I’m afraid your hair will just be too damaged. If the client insists, I tell them that I’ll need to send your hair home with them in a paper bag.

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