Eradicating errors at the colour bar |
Hairdressers Journal
Hairdressers Journal


Eradicating errors at the colour bar

In the corner of almost every salon backroom is a bucket that slowly fills up with product that is wasted due to overmixing. This bucket doesn’t tell the whole story as wasted product is often quickly washed down the sink in shame. It doesn’t show the true expense either as low-cost lightener is often mixed with more expensive toners. It also misses the product that is squandered with overapplication. 

The true cost of wasted product

Data collected by intelligent colour system Vish shows that between overmixing and overapplication, salons are throwing away nearly 40% of their colour inventory – far more than what’s in your bucket. Shockingly, the same data taken by Vish from thousands of stylists and tens of thousands of formulas mixed over the past two years reveals the cost of product used per service ranges from £4 -£16. Those mismanaging colour are using and paying for six times more product than their waste-averse competitors for the same service. Can you imagine the negative impact these unnecessary costs are having on your profitability?

Overmixing versus overapplying

Overmixing to avoid returning to the colour bar mid-application is widespread. It is better to have too much than too little is the mantra of many stylists. Skilled stylists might be able to predict pretty close to the amount they need, but even those with years of experience will still over or under mix. Let’s face it – sometimes the maths is hard and it’s just easier to round it all up when under pressure, even if it does lead to waste. For those overapplying product and saturating the hair with product because it’s in the bowl, the costs are invisible until you take an inventory. No matter how carefully waste is collected in a bucket or bowls are weighed at the end of a service, you can’t capture the waste or cost of overapplication. The real problem is it’s hard to estimate the quantities required. Detailed record-keeping might show percentages, but not compute for overapplication, variable times between appointments or a change in porosity.

Monitoring product use effectively 

The only way to monitor product use effectively is to measure and record all colour dispensed each day. Data allows salons to appreciate how much product is needed for each service and this helps to monitor costs. The data needs to be current and it needs to measure all colour used – not just what is collected in a bucket to be recycled. An intelligent system like Vish will record each formula precisely, down to a tenth of a gram using a Bluetooth scale. This gives stylists the option to mix from a client’s previous appointment using the exact formula without anything left over. Stylists can create freely, do something new or adapt from a client’s history by using the data to coach and not dictate. Once you have the data it’s possible to incentivise the team with goals and rewards for careful colour management and breed greater enthusiasm for reducing waste. Once there is a culture of learning, experienced stylists can guide new colleagues away from overapplication and drop costs dramatically. Teaching the team to use less by tying it to their own profitability and making it easier to monitor use, will all drive unit costs down and make colour as profitable as retail. 


Josh is the co-founder and CEO of Vish Ltd. He has spent most of his career working in medical research and technology. Josh has applied his expertise in data analysis to the hair colour industry. He helps salon owners make data-driven decisions to increase revenue, and streamline their businesses. Vish Ltd.’s leading colour management software includes a suite of systems that effortlessly revolutionises how salons and stylists run their colour business. Vish was created to help salon owners and colourists solve the universal problems facing the hair colour industry – colour waste, ambiguous pricing and profit margins. Data-driven and intelligently automated, Vish is integrated with multiple point-of-sale systems to make life easier for the entire team.


This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal

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This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal