Why can’t my hair stylist get my hair color right?

Why can't my stylist get my hair color right?
Why can’t my hair stylist get my hair color right?

Have you ever wondered why your hair stylist never seemed to get your hair color correct? It is either too light, too dark, too brassy, the wrong tone; it has dark or light spots in odd areas of the head, or it is too dull looking. I am here to shed some light on this never-ending  problem.

I have been a hair stylist for 24 years, and I have lived in different states, and I have found this to be a trend across the board. So, what is the reason for this? There are many reasons for this, but I find there are three main reasons for this.

Education or lack of

The main reason is, education. Just because a hair stylist has his or her license or has done hair for many years, does not mean they are educated in their field. I have found that many stylists have not had any continuing education or professional training since beauty school. Does this really matter? Yes, it does. Let me give you an analogy to make things clear. It is like when you first get your learner’s permit to start driving, you know enough to pass the test to get your learner’s permit. However, you don’t have enough knowledge to pass the test to get your license. Passing the state boards of cosmetology is kind of the same thing, consider it your learner’s permit. Now, imagine getting the rest of your knowledge from others who only have their learner’s permit. Kind-of scary, right?

When I was in beauty school, I was taught three basic haircuts, a basic men’s short cut, a women’s basic short cut, and a women’s long layered cut. By the way, no one has ever asked me for the long layered haircut I learned in beauty school. If they would have, I would have declined, it was that bad. As for color, I learned how to apply color, not how to formulate my own color.  The job of the beauty school was to teach the student’s what they needed to know to pass state boards. So imagine all those people working in salons today and getting the rest of their knowledge from their peers, it’s like the blind leading the blind.

However, most states require continuing education to keep your license active, but not all states. Sad to say, but Virginia is one of those states. (Be sure to check if your state requires CE) This is a huge problem. Clients are going into salons expecting they are going to get a stylist who is highly experienced and knows what they are doing, they are expecting a “specialist.” Continuing Education should be required in all states to ensure every single stylist knows what they are doing.

So what happens if you are looking for a hair stylist, and you happen to live within a state that does not require CE? Do research on salons and the stylists, check with the state board and see if the stylist and salon’s license is active, check reviews with reliable review sites, call and speak to the salon owner and ask what their CE policy is and when they have had their last CE class, make an appointment with your stylist for a consultation and ask them when, what and where their last CE class was? Make sure their classes coincide with the services you will be getting. Thus meaning, if you are a color client, then you want someone who is a “certified specialist” in hair coloring. Especially in color correction because chances are your current hair color will need to be corrected.

Condition of the hair

Okay, let’s say you did your research, and you found the perfect stylist; she has the education needed to do your service; she is highly experienced; she has raving reviews, and you have seen her work. You have now gone to your new stylist a couple of times, but your hair color still isn’t what you expected. The chances are; it’s the condition of your hair.

Things that affect the condition of your hair are; using store bought hair products, not using the correct products for your hair type, and the biggest thing is not conditioning your hair properly.

Let’s address the store bought products first. Store bought products are watered down; they are filled with glycerin to make hair easy to comb through, but it builds up on the hair making hair dull, flat, lifeless, and it also strips out the hair color you paid big bucks for. Why would you spend big bucks for a hair color and not buy the products to maintain it? It’s like buying a new car and never taking it in for service.

Now choosing the correct products for your hair condition and hair type. There are so many products out there, and it makes choosing one difficult. Here are a few simple rules to follow when choosing which product is right for you. First take a single strand of your hair and wrap it around your fingers like you are going to floss with it. Now hold the hair, so there is no slack in the strand, lightly pull hair a few times and see if it stretches and returns to normal. Try this on a few strands from different areas of your head. If they hair stretches and returns without breaking or staying stretched out, then your hair is good condition. If not, then your hair needs to be repaired.

For hair that is in good condition, you can use almost any professional product on your hair. If you have color treated hair, use products for color treated hair (you can switch off with moisturizing products as well). If your hair has a tendency to be frizzy, then use products for that hair type, etc.

For hair that needs to be repaired, there are several things and professional products you should do and use. One you should deep condition your hair weekly (at first). I always recommend protein treatments first. This is different than your everyday conditioner or the ones that say leave on 10-15 minutes and rinse. These are not enough for your hair at the moment; you need real protein. The hair is made of protein and moisture; therefore, it needs both to survive and stay in good condition. If your hair is in good condition, you can do almost anything to your hair, and it will not matter. Your hair is made of three layers, and when your hair is damaged it pokes holes and damages these three layers causing hair to become brittle and break off. Protein helps to repair the hair from the inner-most layer of the hair (medulla) out to the outer layer of the hair (cuticle); it fills the holes and starts repairing the damage. Moisturizers work from the outside layer (cuticle) to the middle layer (cortex). It is not powerful enough to penetrate through the cortex or the medulla; it can only go as far as under the cuticle. There it smooth’s down the inner cuticle and the outer cuticle sealing in the protein. After the first month of doing protein treatment, I usually recommend switching off between protein and moisture for another month or two. Then just as needed. By then you will know what healthy hair feels like, and you will know what your hair needs.

Once your hair is in good condition it will be naturally smoother, your natural curls will come out and be more manageable and more universal, your hair will be naturally shiner, your hair will be less likely to tangle, your hair will stop breaking off, and your hair color will look more like the magazines. You see, the condition of your hair matters just as much as the knowledge of the stylist.

Not knowing or using the correct terminology

Not knowing the correct terminology or using the wrong terminology can be devastating in the overall outcome. Even though this should be rectified during the consultation, unfortunately this is not always the case. If you are unsure of the correct terminology, let the stylist know that you are unsure of the correct terms. Using the correct terminology and especially the correct terminology for the area you are in can make a huge difference. Hence the word bang in some countries means, in a polite way to have sex, while the word bang here is different. The word fringe in other areas means bang, but to us, it means textured hair around the face. So you can see where this can get a little hairy. Excuse the pun. Ha

I hope this helps you understand better how hair works when it comes to hair color and other chemical services. As much as we, as hair stylists, would like to be magicians with magic wands, we are not. We can only make hair look as good as the hair condition it is in itself. The better the condition of the hair the better the hair will look.

Feel free to comment.