What is a Color Correction?
Stylists who work in a professional salon have an arsenal of options when it comes to formulating the perfect hair color for each guest. We carry multiple types of color, bleach, toning and corrective tools to ensure our results meet each guest’s needs, while ensuring the health and integrity of the hair. After all, Vidal Sassoon said it best: If you don’t look good, we don’t look good!
With that said, many guests come to us to “fix” what either they did at home over the course of many months or years, or what another stylist did based on the guest’s desire at the time. In these situations, we typically find multiple bands of different colors and tones, uneven re-growth, brassy highlights or faded lowlights throughout the hair that need to be corrected or “evened out”. Then, we must explain to our guests that what has been done to the hair over the course of weeks, months or years may take more than one visit to the salon to correct.
EXAMPLE #1: Sally visits us and has used box hair color for many years to cover her gray and comes to us seeking to go back to her “natural” hair color, which is much lighter than her current box color shade. Because box hair color is progressive, it tends to darken over time, especially the ends, which is what most people realize after coloring their hair at home for years. They use the same color, but somehow it just keeps getting darker! In order to correct and lighten Sally’s hair, a stylist may choose to do one of many things including but not limited to partial bleach highlights, all-over bleach or a color remover process prior to formulating professional hair color to her more natural shade. Depending upon what process has been done, she may take up to a week or even as long as 1-3 months to see her desired result. This is due to the fact that the stylist cannot predict with 100% certainty how the hair will react to bleach or a color remover process and the fact that the first time formulating and applying professional hair color over box hair color may not give a perfectly accurate result. It also depends upon the health, integrity, strength and porosity of the hair. Therefore, the stylist must explain to the guest that again, what has been done to the hair over the course of weeks, months or years may take more than one visit to the salon to correct.
EXAMPLE #2: Jane has “fashion color” she applied many months ago. The hot pink that she loved for many months prior has faded off to a nice pastel pink but she is now ready to go back to being a caramel blonde and she does not want to cut any hair off. This situation is very difficult and requires a lot of work to reverse direct dye fashion colors. Bleaching this hair does not always work and can cause irreversible damage and breakage, not to mention creating a more difficult canvas for future color deposit. Many times the stylist will scrub the hair with color removers and bleach combination but the color just doesn’t disappear. It is almost the same as trying to remove a wine stain from 4 months ago that set on a white shirt. It’s almost impossible. In this situation, the stylist must do her absolute best to use the tools in her arsenal to protect the integrity and health of the hair while coaxing it back to a more natural shade. Usually, that means counteracting the fashion shade with other hair colors and by using her expansive knowledge of the color wheel and color formulation. Cutting off much of this hair is generally a good idea and speeds up the process, but if that isn’t an option, then the guest is committed to a longer than normal process.
In our experience at Hair Crafters, sometimes we even have to correct our own work when a guest desires a more dramatic color change. The positive side of this, however, is that the stylist and guest can discuss change at each and every appointment and prepare the “canvas” well in advance. We recommend the following for people contemplating a more dramatic color shift:
- Ensure your hair is healthy and strong and can withstand any process that requires bleach. Bleach causes damage to the hair, weak strands, breakage and loss of elasticity and porosity. Over-processed hair also damages the cuticle, which causes faster fading of hair color.
- Strengthen the hair by using products your stylist recommends: extra conditioning treatments are key, at home or in the salon. Professional salon products are formulated to target problem areas in order to get faster results. Ask your stylist what s/he recommends for you!
- Get your hair cut! Evening out the ends will help the overall outcome of any new color service to make it look its absolute best. Remember, longer hair can have more than 1-3″ of dead ends that will affect the outcome. Guests must be understanding that losing an inch or two or three is necessary in the color corrective process.
- Ease into your color change if you’re nervous about a big shift! Have your stylist make subtle changes over a longer period of time.
- Have clear expectations that your color change may not come after one appointment.
PHOTO EXAMPLE #1: Maitraya recently had a guest who had received “banded” highlights from another salon. She came in to the salon first for a complimentary consultation and the service was done in one visit over the course of many hours. Maitraya was able to lighten select areas and then deposit color for an all-over, more even tone. Gorgeous!
PHOTO EXAMPLE #2: Laura also recently had a guest who desired “fashion color”. This particular process required multiple steps and was achieved in about 5 hours. Bleach was applied in multiple stages to achieve a light enough tone to deposit the purple and violet shades. In the future, if this guest wants to go back to a lighter color, reversing this process will take multiple appointments over many months to achieve. However, if she wishes to go darker, it may require only one or two appointments to achieve the correct tone.