Sometimes sitting in the Colorists’ chair can conjure an anxiety paralleled by a trip to the dentist, but it doesn’t have to. In the same way you wouldn’t go to your Doctor and instruct them on what they should use, and how they should use it, you will first benefit by trying to develop a respectful relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you have to let the Colorist ‘do what they want’, it means you should create an interactive dialogue of speaking and listening to negotiate the best services and shades for you. Here are a few tips to arm yourself with good questions and knowledge to make your visit a pleasurable one.
Speak in terms you know
What I mean by this is, do not get overly caught up in trying to speak like a hairdresser. Those who would come and sit in my chair acting as if they went to beauty school (and heaven forbid if they did) were more cumbersome than those who were honest about what little they knew. You can communicate better by saying I want an ‘Irish Setter red’ or ‘Butterscotch Blonde’ than saying, ‘I want a level twelve double process blonde with a toner having a primary pigment of lavender to offset the gold pull potential’. It is better to speak of the desired results than the process to get you there.
Don’t be fearful of bringing in visual aids
Pictures are a fabulous tool to communicate what you want. They are not a menu though! You cannot hand the stylist a photo and say, ‘Yes, I will have the Julia Roberts please!’ It is not that easy. Photos will let the Colorist know how light or dark you desire, shades of color that catch your eye, or even things you really do not wish to see. Just remember, they are only a communication tool, and do not hold the Colorist to matching your real life hair to a crumpled photo you have had in your purse for six years!
Discuss your budget upfront
Hair color is an investment and requires attention to the maintenance or you will not get the full benefits. Some techniques require you to have a permanent parking space at the salon, and others will give you up to a couple months in between visits. It is not just the price you pay on day one, but in each succeeding visit. Sometimes you can stagger the services needed for upkeep, and some require support services such as sealers, refreshers, and conditioners to maximize color care. Ask this up front as you do not want to be two retouches in and have to take on a night job to pay for your new hair.
Find out if you will have to become a ‘frequent foiler’
Aside from the budget, the frequency of visits to the salon for maintenance is essential to keeping your color looking great. If you only show up at the salon every leap-year, you may want to avoid those services that require monthly maintenance. Most colors do require attention every four to six weeks, so you can count on that in most cases. It is better to ask before you go under the dryer as to how often you must return for a tune-up.
Some hair products can thoroughly undo a beautiful color service in an instant. (I will let you in on a secret – in the salon we used to use a certain volumizing shampoo as a hair color removal tool!) Hair products can protect or destroy color in a short manner of time if not properly selected. As color can also compromise the strength and integrity of hair fabric in some cases, it is wise to chat with your Colorist about this. Aside from factoring the cost into your budget, it is a way to protect your beauty investment.
Before succumbing to the allure of the fancy words and adjectives such as ‘delicious vanilla blonde’, the wise consumer takes a practical look into the not-so-glamorous side of color. It is through respectful negotiation with your Colorist that you will gain not only a beautiful outcome, but a true and trusted confidant for years to come.