Hairdressers Journal
Hairdressers Journal




“Most clients demand colour results that need more than one process. It is an ongoing labour of love and calls for the very best in both communication and technique from us as hairdressers to build trust and loyalty from our guests,” says Adele Clarke, OSMO IKON ambassador. Here, the experts share how you can perfect the art of the colour consultation for when your salon doors reopen.


“As the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and getting a client to explain what they like about an image really allows us to understand their vision,” says James Taylor at Mousse House of Hair, a Balmain Hair Couture salon. Having Pinterest boards or imagery to hand in the salon can also be beneficial to help the client see what they do and don’t want. “I use picture references where possible as I feel this gives them a much better view of what will happen during the process,” explains Dan Spiller, JOICO color ambassador for the UK, Europe and Ireland. He adds: “Sometimes seeing something can make it a whole lot easier for everyone.” Siobhan Jones, director at Rose & Wild Hair for L’Oréal Professionnel agrees. She says:  “Always use imagery where possible to confirm your choices. Not an image that is ‘kind of’ it, or close to the wanted result. Find one that is the final result. It will cut out any confusion or misunderstandings immediately.”


“Before and after images of clients should be logged so you can use them for references on their next visits,” points out Siobhan. “Before pictures that show clients head-to-toe are best rather than just headshots, as this gives you a better insight into  their character and style. You are not just designing a hair colour, you are complementing and enhancing their personality.” Additionally, sending questions in advance of their appointment gives clients time to think carefully about what they really want. “It will be fresh in their mind and allow them time to think about it seriously and in an environment that feels comfortable and familiar,” adds Siobhan. “If you are able to create a space that is comfortable and inspirational when your client comes to visit you, it will help to shape a positive and conversational-type consultation.”


A swatch test can help clients visualise how the overall effect will look on their hair, points out Lucy Trevorrow, Celeb Luxury UK brand manager and creative colour specialist. “This normally requires a lengthy pre-consultation because taking a swatch of colour to show exactly how the tone will look on your client’s hair before a major transition requires 25 to 30 minutes of waiting time. I prefer using Celeb Luxury, which deposits the predicted tone onto the hair within minutes of applying the Celeb Luxury Colorwash or Colorditioner. It eliminates the development waiting time so you can reassure your client with the right colour almost straightaway,” she says.


“Connection after lockdown is paramount, so this is the perfect chance to get clients and staff immersed into the creative salon experience,” says Gareth Cook, UK and international technical educator at FFØR. “It’s hard to remember what it was like to be a client with little colour knowledge. As we know, clients and technicians have different expectations of how a golden blonde shade should look.  Creative swatch days in the salon will build staff confidence when creating personalised shades,” he says.

“I always keep a number of Pinterest boards grouped together in different categories with different looks and different tones. When a client asks for ‘creamy blonde’ I know that she has a vision in her mind of what creamy blonde means, and it could be icy cool or a warmer tone and I need to see that vision to ensure I get it right,” says Tyler Williamson, owner of ELEVEN Australia Salon Blo Hair Studio, Stamford. “Mood boards don’t just need to be full of hair pictures either. I love to mix mine up with images of different materials, whether it be food or sandy scenery – it’s all about finding an aesthetic that catches your client’s eye and stands out to them as a colour they’re drawn to.”

“I always keep a number of Pinterest boards grouped together in different categories with different looks and different tones. When a client asks for ‘creamy blonde’ I know that she has a vision in her mind of what creamy blonde means, and it could be icy cool or a warmer tone and I need to see that vision to ensure I get it right,” says Tyler Williamson, owner of ELEVEN Australia Salon Blo Hair Studio, Stamford. “Mood boards don’t just need to be full of hair pictures either. I love to mix mine up with images of different materials, whether it be food or sandy scenery – it’s all about finding an aesthetic that catches your client’s eye and stands out to them as a colour they’re drawn to.”

“A quick tip is to use a celebrity reference of a similar age to your client as this will help them to relate to the colour and style,” says Schwarzkopf Professional ambassador, Tim Scott-Wright. He says: “Although Jane Fonda and Jennifer Anniston blondes may be similar in your choice of colour, I wouldn’t show Jane Fonda to someone in their 30s, for instance.”

“When I’m teaching I always encourage stylists to use descriptive words in their consultations as this helps clients to visualise different hues,” says Goldwell educator Charlotte Dullee who suggests using words such as vanilla, cream, milky, honey, biscuit, icy, silver, sandy and beige when discussing blonde to help illustrate the different tones.

“With all my blonde clients the first conversation I have is tone. Many clients think they want it as ashy as possible when in fact they want a bright looking blonde and too much ash can make them feel much darker. It’s also super important to explain how different tones react with light,” explains Matrix artist Michael Convey. “I always use some shiny silver and gold card to match a client’s skin tone and this goes down well with new clients as many of them don’t know whether they suit warm or cool shades,” he adds.

Have you got an experimental blonde client? Retail temporary colour solutions for home, such as colour depositing masks, which can help them switch up their look. “For the more playful blondes, temporary colours that are safe to use at home between salon visits are a must,” points out Andrew Smith, milk_shake European ambassador. “The masks are low commitment and contain treatments for the hair so clients can experiment with one colour then simply let it rinse out within a few washes,” he says.

“Coca-Cola is my favourite way to describe brunette because brown is too generic,” says James Taylor at Mousse House of Hair. “A Coca- Cola shade looks brown and it is quite dark. If you hold it up to the light or a light shone onto the glass, you would see a multitude of warm tones running through it. Coca-Cola still looks brown without being overloaded with warm red, copper or golden tones which are initially visible.”

“Descriptive words for foods and seasons always work well, as the client can conjure up an image and pleasant feelings associated with the words that you choose,” explains Tracy Hayes, Fudge Professional global colour ambassador. However, there are other fun ways to get creative. “I can remember pre-Instagram, when a client asked for a coffee with milk on the side, she would keep adding the milk slowly until she found her brunette shade and then would say: ‘There you are – that is the colour I want’.”

Goldwell guest artist Claire Turner says you must be specific with your brunette clients. “For example, chocolate brown is subjective, but Green and Blacks chocolate is dark brown with a slightly cooler hue. Dairy Milk is a lighter brown with a more neutral hue. Chocolate orange is a warmer brown with an orange hue.”

Jordanna Cobella, Wella Professionals craft expert, advises really painting a descriptive picture for brunettes with phrases like iced coffee, chocolate caramel, cinnamon, muted hazel, cocoa and walnut. Better yet, she says create moodboards with strong trends that feature outside of the hair industry as this will excite your more fashion-forward clients. “Include images of lifestyle, food, fashion and interior design so clients can identify with the boards. It gives a different perspective that hair images may not capture,” she adds. “Drawing on other industries keeps your work fresh and your influences unique.”

“More of my clients want to ‘go grey’ now so it’s important for us as stylists to embrace this shift and help those who want to celebrate their natural colour,” says Nikki Clifford, Wella guest artist and director of NJUK Hair & Beauty Salon.

Here are the questions to ask greying clients during their colour consultation...

1 How often would you like to visit the salon for your colour appointment?
“This will determine exactly where we need to be in terms of working with your clients’ natural highs and lows,” says Nikki.

2 Do you want your hair to look like it is coloured?
“Some clients want to be closer to their natural colour for a softer regrowth and to extend salon appointments, but still want to feel and look coloured, while others will want to embrace their natural colour,” explains Nikki. She adds: “This can determine whether we tailor the lighter areas to create a face frame, which always works well as the areas around the front hairline are usually naturally whiter and diffuse darker toward the crown.”

3 Do you want to remove existing colour, or do you want to grow out your natural grey hair gradually over a period of time with softer highlights?
“Condition is a huge factor when lightening grey hair. If someone has a harsh grown-out dark colour, this can mean a compromise on the hair’s structure if you have to lift the hair three to five shades lighter. This will result in the hair being dehydrated, and when lightening you will be exposing warmth which won’t complement grey/ silver hair,” she says. “I’m always transparent with my guests so I would explain that it could take eight + hours or multiple sessions and it will be very costly.”

4 What is your home care routine?
“Finally, you should talk to your client about the correct shampoo, mask and colour fresh toner to use at home to maintain the beautiful silver tones between salon visits.”

Lynsey Cleland, owner of ALFAPARF hair salon, Hair & Co advises experimenting with sangria and merlot shades to give your redheads a 2021 update. “Try deeper, richer and fuller tones to create the shine and warmth factor that will bring the colour to life,” she says. “This can be as deep as the client likes or you can add panels to develop the richness of the red.”

“I love looking at colour combinations and I like to follow @colorpalette.cinema on Instagram, which gives colour combinations for scenes in films,” says Claire Turner. “There are some incredible combinations that would work well on hair so I love scrolling through it for inspiration.”

“When I’m working with a client who wants a bright colour, I always ask a few key questions during their consultation,” says Ben Russell, Elgon UK ambassador. “I ask about their lifestyle and day-to-day job to see what will be suitable. I also ask if the client goes swimming every day as if so, a bright colour will not work,” he says.

“Food is a huge part of us communicating colour with our clients and potential clients,” point out the La Riche ambassadors based at Vanity Doll Salon. “Using food references makes hair colour seem a lot more desirable, such as raspberry ripple or passion fruit martini. In our salon we offer many sweet treats and fun drinks for our clients and we find it really helps to get those creative juices flowing.”

“Influencers are always a great source of inspiration as many of them change their hair colour frequently. However, explaining that a Kardashian hair transformation often involves wigs is still a surprise for many clients.” says Josh Denholm, Paul Mitchell educator. “Influencers also help us to show how certain hair colours work on different skin tones.”

Revlon Professional global ambassador Mark Leeson predicts mushroom blonde will be a huge trend. He says: “This luxe colour embraces roots adding fine highlights in ash blonde from the jaw downwards for an expensive high shine colour that’s perfect for blondes and brunettes. The key to this look is shine so make sure your clients are using a professional home care regime. You need to explain to clients that pollution from hard water or metal particles from car fumes can discolour hair and ash tones can end up looking brassy.”

“One 1990s trend that’s set to make a big comeback is the money piece,” explains Lynsey Cleland, owner of ALFAPARF hair salon, Hair & Co. “This technique is all about lighting up the front section of the hair and then toning it so there is a lovely blend. It is a change from the warm blonde style that was previously trending on Instagram. The softer ‘money piece highlights’ frame the face so it is an easy way to give clients the brightness around the face while keeping the overall look really low maintenance,” she says.

“We have singers Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish to thank for peekaboo panels with bold sections in standout colours and the vibrant root trends,” says Matrix artist Ria Kulik. “Vivid colours like corals and peaches will stay in demand, but people will be ready to try something new like deep orange or different shades of blue. Blue is the new black,” adds Goldwell ambassador Beverly C. She says: “Vivid colours allow clients to express their individuality. I anticipate new colours will start trending, but each stylist will bring them to life in their own way.”

“I specialise and focus mainly on vivids, but I try not to maintain a rigid colour menu within the salon,” explains Amber Letham, a Crazy Color sponsored stylist. “I feel this helps to personalise each colour service to every client so they feel like they are receiving a unique experience that has been constructed just for them,” she says. “I want my clients to feel special when they sit in my chair with each step of the service being hand-picked for them and not something that can be chosen from a fixed colour menu.”

“We try to think about the names of the services we offer – this really helps clients to visualise the service,” explains Robert Eaton, Wella Professionals technical director. “Colourists often talk about highlights and half a head of highlights, but what does that actually mean? That could be the underneath half, the top half, the ends, which of course, is balayage. You really have to be descriptive on your service menu so your client fully understands what service they are receiving from you,” he says.

Create a bespoke name for each service. It will show your salon’s personality and it will increase your customer’s loyalty to you. “After all, highlights and balayage are available at most salons, but the Cobella Contour, 3D Blonde, and Golden Lights are only available at Cobella,” points out Jordanna Cobella. “Our services feature a combination of the standard techniques and practices. The purpose of our menu is to showcase our craftmanship in hair colouring, product choice and placement.”

This article appears in the March 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal

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This article appears in the March 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal