There is no doubt when it comes to beautiful colour a clean base is key to achieving successful results. However, in reality this is rarely the case. Box dye, styling damage and environmental factors such as water quality and pollution can all impact hair quality and results.
Considering the overall quality of the hair during a consultation is important for every colourist, as damaged and sensitised hair can result in colour penetrating too easily into the shaft and then become overabsorbed, or grab unevenly. “This can lead to flat, dark colour patches (not true to tone), possibly quicker colour fade and an uneven end result,” explains Charlotte Harding at Pulp Riot.
“Whilst breakage is the worst outcome, metals can also cause uneven and unreliable colour results,” explains Andrew Jose, Revlon Professional ambassador. Adam Reed, editorial ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel Paris, agrees. “I have always been aware of the impact metals in water can have on hair. Metals found in the hair fibre can interact with the oxydant in colour causing breakage and a less reliable colour result.”
Therefore, to guarantee reliable colour and prevent breakage, you have to neutralise the metals before you start a chemical service. Thanks to the latest innovations, it is becoming easier to understand the damage to the hair base and how to counteract it, allowing stylists to create optimum results.
Understanding metal levels
“Coppers can be found in almost all waters. Even the cleanest, purest water from a tap will contain metals caused by pipe erosion,” explains Adam. “With every wash, copper can build up on the hair fibres. You can identify copper levels by the way it shows on your hair – blonde hair may present a green hue and darker hair can look dull in colour and lifeless.”
Understanding the levels in your local salon will allow you to assess the level of effect it will have on the colour. "The levels of metal vary in hair dramatically and it total can depend on the area where you live. Every shower, swim or hair wash could be adding metals to your hair without you realising," adds Niamh Hayden, Matrix artist ambassador. “Colourists need to constantly be aware of the type of water their salon uses and of any possible contaminants to prevent any adverse outcomes during the colouring process,” explains Carolyn Newman, Insight UK ambassador.
The harshness of water differs in every area of the UK, which is why the innovation behind L’Oréal Professionnel Style My Hair Pro app is a fantastic tool. hji.co.uk
It can tell you the copper levels in your local area, which then allows you to evaluate which pre-colour treatments will work best.
But it is not just the salon water that can cause issues, it can be at home too. “It is worth having a conversation with your clients about copper piping,” says Jordana Cobella for Wella Professionals. “As it could be worth investing in a shower head filter to minimise the risk. Secondly, an element called EDDF or EDTA is designed to encapsulate the metals on the hair to reduce any adverse effects when colouring in the Wella Professionals range. This technology is also present in System Colour Save Shampoo and Invigo Brilliance – so these are retail options for clients living in an area with copper piping.”
It is worth considering that it is not just the water that can have an effect, according to Charlotte, “The level of metals present in the hair vary dependant on age and sex of the client. The hair of a younger woman tends to have more metal present than more mature woman. And men tend to have less metals within their natural hair colour.” She continues, “Natural colour, such as red heads, also can contain higher levels of metal.”
Consider overall hair health
According to Ashleigh Hodges, colourist at Davines the key is hair mapping during the consultation, “I check the porosity, elasticity and condition of hair throughout the head from the nape to the hairline, as well as through the lengths, roots, mid lengths and ends. That way you know what formulas needs to be applied where.”
If you’ve identified it’s the porous, sensitised hair shaft that could cause the negative colour response you should also consider the scalp. “In my salon we pride ourselves on being healthy hair and scalp enthusiasts,” says Stacey Whyte for Schwarzkopf Professional. “To create a healthy clean base, we must know about the client’s hair health, this can be carried out by analysing the client’s scalp. The Schwarzkopf Professional Smart Lab Analyzer enables us to have advanced technology at our fingertips which allows us to analyse the client’s inner hair health, including the hair health score, colour analysis, bespoke treatment plans and aftercare, which means we can create a hair journey plan for the client in order to achieve the most healthy results.”
If you’re aware of high levels of metal, or suspect pollution and other environmental factors could be impacting the colour application it may be worth mentioning a pre-appointment care regime to clients. “Working on a healthy, clean base is vital to colour longevity,” says Simon Tuckwell, Balmain Hair UK ambassador and creative influencer. “Using treatments before the colour service means you can work on healthy hair rather than trying to treat it after.”
This can be completed in the salon and at home. “I find the best way to counteract metals is to use a detoxifying or clarifying shampoo such as FFØR’s Purify:ACV Cleanse consistently for one week prior to fresh colour application,” says Dylan McConnachie, creative director D.G.M Collective & FFØR brand ambassador. “This is so important in areas with hard water or old copper pipes which can contaminate the water.”
Simon also stressed the importance of closing the hair cuticles the end of the colour service, “This helps to bring the pH levels back down,” he explains. “The Balmain Hair Leave In Conditioning Spray has a pH 3.8 so is perfect to help seal in that colour.”
One of the latest in-salon treatments is the L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox. “This treatment is a gamechanger in giving the power back to the colourist and being able to predict how hair will react,” says Adam. “The pre-treatment spray is used to neutralise excess copper before colour is applied. Once the hair has been coloured the Metal Detox Shampoo is used to gently remove the excess copper and colour. Clients can then continue to treat hair at home with the shampoo and Metal Detox Mask to cleanse and protect hair.”
Adam believes prevention is key, and when used in combination with at-home products it has been found to reduce the damage caused by 87 per cent. “Encouraging clients to combine masks, oils and treatments into their routine is the first step, I recommend using the L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox Masque and Serie Expert Absolut Repair 10-in-1 Oil to keep hair nourished, protected and healthy in between salon appointments.”
Post colour procedure
It can be challenging to keep track of everything once you have completed such a thorough consultation, as well as pre and post treatments. That’s when management services like Vish are beneficial to the smooth running of appointments. Vish enables you to record each visit without relying on written note keeping once you put a colour plan in place. “It also ensures any formulations are correct, removing the need to think about quantities or ratios; it does all the maths for you,” explains Timothy Howard, chief innovation officer at Vish Colour Management. “So even if it’s a new client, technology gives you a head start on creating beautiful colour.” It can also help colourists understand when something goes wrong.“ And lastly, if the service doesn’t go as planned, referencing the formula captured on Vish could shine a light and provide a teachable moment.”