While colourists can create transformations, you can’t always make miracles happen. “Colour correction is all about expectations,” says Tracey Devine-Smith, ASP global ambassador. “Be honest with your client and manage the process through deep consultation and patience.” Simon Tuckwell, Balmain hair ambassador, agrees.
“Overpromising and under-delivering will result in an unsatisfied client,” he says. “This is why it is so important to be honest about what is achievable.”
To manage expectations, it can be useful to be open about the worst-case scenario says Nicola Bond, senior technician at Trevor Sorbie Manchester for L’Oréal Professionnel Paris. “I like to have the worst-case scenario known in advance,” she says. “There is technical way to best achieve a result, that has been developed over years to find the gentlest and longest lasting results.
There is no need to compromise on time, just ensure you're charging for it.” Speaking of cost, being open with the client will ensure there are no surprises. “Being totally transparent with price makes it so much less stressful for them and me,” says Symon May, colour specialist at The Chapel.
“We charge by time using Vish Colour Management to capture every gram of each formula mixed, ensuring the itemised bill is easy to explain,” he says. As well as cost and knowing your worth, set a realistic timeframe for their colour journey. "I think one of the biggest mistakes that colourists can make during a colour correction appointment is to focus too much on achieving the desired result in a single sitting,” says Clayde Baumann, British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional Colour Technician of the Year and Wella Professionals ambassador.
Prioritise hair integrity
To give yourself the best possible start to your colour correction, Elgon ambassador Ben Russell recommends going through the client’s hair history.
“I always like to know what colour they have had previously to understand what is underneath the shade that they have right now. This avoids any issues further on down the road,” he says. However, clients are not always honest, so conduct some testing!
“Once you have the client’s colour history, perform a compatibility test, an elasticity test and a porosity test,” says Zoey Olechnowicz, ALFAPARF Milano educator. “The results will give you a good idea of whether the hair can take the service, while a strand test can also be helpful to limit any nasty surprises,”she says.
COLOUR CORRECTION SECRETS
1 PREVENTING HOT ROOTS The most common cause of hot roots is usually due to not measuring the peroxide, says Lesley Stitt, global OSMO educator. “All peroxide used needs to be measured well and correctly. For correcting hot roots, you may need to look if the correct peroxide has been used. That can mean you’ve used too high a volume of peroxide so you need to use a lower volume of peroxide.”
If your client is after a balayage service, it can only be as good as their base. “Remember balayage is a highlighting technique and the rules of colour that you would apply to every other colour service apply here as well,” says Jack Howard, Denman ambassador. “If a client has heavy banding, or wants a colour change, that needs to be addressed first and charged for before you start your balayage service,” he says.
For overloaded ombres, Tracy Hayes, Fudge Professional global brand ambassador shares her technique for a more seamless result. “If an ombre look becomes overloaded, this could be caused by too frequent colour applications or if the previous applications have been executed a little too heavy handed,” she says. “A good way to make the colour appear more seamless is simply by using the client’s natural colour (or base colour if the hair is tinted) and apply it either with a balayage technique or with a loose highlight foil technique through the ends, to break up the colour block.”
Colour correcting blonde clients? "Think of your colour wheel when looking to cancel unwanted tones,” says Matrix artist John Anthoney.
“When working with colour, you could apply a pre-tone with a violet base, like Anti-Yellow from Matrix, to help cancel those tones. Then go ahead with your tone of choice for a beautiful result,” he says. And if the hair has taken on too much? “Colourists have a few options available to them based on the overall end result,” says Luke Dawson-Browne, sales and technical education consultant manager for Salon Success. “I would start with a clarifying shampoo to see if that can shift some of the over deposit.
If that doesn’t work, you could then perform a gentle bleach/lightener cleanse – this should definitely shift the over deposit,” he says. “If those options scare you then return to colour theory, the colour wheel will be your best friend. Just like formulating to neutralise yellow/ orange the same rules apply – always go opposite!”
2 BEATING BRASS "Any problems with brassiness will always stem from where the hair has been lifted to,” says Jack Baxter, Baxter salon and Redken advocate. “If it’s lifted to the correct base before you go to tone it, then you’ll never really fight with it. If the base has been lifted to the correct base then haircare like Redken Color Extend Blondage will work as its intended to.”
When faced with a patchy home colour job, an important first step is to try and achieve an even canvas. “Using ELEVEN Australia Porosity Equaliser spray is a great start and will allow you to achieve a more even colour,” says Katie Groves, ELEVEN Australia colour ambassador. “Patchy brown box dye? Pick a base close to the darkest patch. Time is the key to rectifying a patchy home job and it can then be built upon in future appointments.”
Homecare is also important to help correct and maintain the results of your colour correction. “The product we’re using the most for this at the moment is Schwarzkopf Professional’s Goodbye Orange shampoo,” says Tim Scott Wright, Schwarzkopf Professional ambassador. “It is a highly pigmented neutralising shampoo so works in the same way as a silver shampoo would for blonder hair, but it has a darker blue and green direct dyes pigment to counteract and knock out warm tones in brunettes,” he adds.
As we head into autumn, consider bronze and auburn for your colour corrections, says Lucy Trevorrow, Celeb Luxury brand ambassador.
"When left with unwanted patches of colour blocks, colourists can rely upon the GemLites collection from Celeb Luxury to add extra colour,” she says. “It can be used to transform previous balayage, highlights, medium blonde/brown hair. By sending your client home with Amber Copper Brown Colorwash, this will maintain the bronze shade.”
3 ADAPTABLE VIVIDS "When clients first come to us after vivid home dye it’s normally very stained,” says Verity Waite. “Not only do the Pulp Riot semis fade true to tone, so they look just as amazing when they fade to a pastel version, but I can completely remove them back to their original base with no compromise to the hair,” she says.
Colour correction can be tricky when you’re working with vivid hues – especially when you’re correcting home colour. “The best way to correct a vivid home colour is to work with the existing tone,” says Amber Letham, Crazy Color Color Squad ambassador. “The last thing you want to do is make your job harder by doing additional damage to the hair,” she says. “Work with what your client’s got but improve upon it and try to do some repair work. This gives you the opportunity to work with their hair for one appointment, while evening out your canvas for the next session.”
When colour goes wrong
Sometimes the best-laid plans can go awry. “Unfortunately, colouring hair can sometimes lead to a result we did not expect to see,” says Dan Spiller, Joico colour ambassador for Europe, UK and Ireland. “If you are checking a client's colour during the processing time and notice it’s throwing out a different tone or the condition appears to be at risk, it is vital that you are honest,” he says.
“If you are upfront they will value and trust your judgement when it comes to correcting the mistakes made. For less experienced colourists, get advice from your salon's colour expert.”
It’s also important to consider any product build-up, which may affect the outcome of your colour. “Always colour on clean hair that has no product residue, especially at the root,” say the Directions ambassadors at Vanity Doll Salon. “Lockdown has seen clients use products such as root touch up sprays, which are essential to remove prior to colour.” Feeling more clued up on colour correction now? Happy colouring!