Full disclosure Please!
In my many years in this industry, I have observed that in at least nine out of ten cases where there is a problem in the salon involving a client’s hair, the cause can almost always be traced back to a failure in the communication process between client and hairdresser, rarely something technical or skill based alone. This is never more so the case then when someone wants to make a dramatic change to their hair colour. It is extremely rare these days to find anyone without some level of colouring in their hair, as one very famous stylist once quipped “hair without colour is like a face without make-up”.
Their are indeed physical limits to what can be achieved on any individual head of hair and the more extreme a journey one takes their hair on, some degree of damage is an inevitability.Hair once treated with colour will, depending on the extent of colouring, often need a little extra care compared to hair in a virgin, non processed state.
Your stylist has a responsibility to explain to you what is possible on your hair to achieve your desired effect without creating a level of damage that corrupts the beauty of the resultant colour. It is not his responsibility to give someone what they may have requested if he believes it may be unsuitable or too damaging to perform the services to achieve your desired look, he always reserves a right of refusal. This is for the client’s protection as much as it’s for the salon’s protection.
Having stated this, there is also a degree of responsibility on behalf of the client to give a full and detailed breakdown of the current hairs colour history in it’s entirety. Here’s a little example of someone who was in the salon recently and failed to inform us of “all” her colour history.
The client in question had hair to her shoulders, her hair was last coloured about two months ago with a medium brown colour she had been having done over the past year or so. Her natural colour which we could see at the roots was a light brown/dark blonde shade. We later found out that for many years before going brown,she had been having her hair regularly highlighted blonde to give her an effect that was closer to her childhood colour.
We also later learned that a year or so ago she decided that she was sick of the high maintenance involved in the upkeep of blonde so she had her previous stylist colour her blonde hair, medium brown.
Anyway, I guess that was fun while it lasted but now she missed her blonde look so she visited Gold to get her shoulder length hair light again. If we had been doing her hair for the past three or four years consistently then we would have known exactly what we had to deal with.
However, as she was a new client, we needed a full and complete picture of what had been happening on her hair over the past couple of years. I think she had felt like she must have been having this brown colour done longer than she thought so when quizzed about her colour history she told us that she had been having this colour done for years and years. Therefore we approached her colour as a two step process, to lighten the new growth at the roots with one formulation and remove the darker colour from the rest of the hair. ( at this stage we didn’t know about the old bleached highlights in the ends)
Anyone with shoulder length hair, has hair that is approximately 2~3 years old. So with hindsight, this client’s hair breaks down into 3 categories of colour and condition as follows The first 1~1 1/2 centimetres at the root is virgin non coloured hair. (condition normal/healthy) The second 12~14 centimetres in what we call the mid lengths, is hair that has been coloured darker over the past approximately 12 months. (condition slightly processed as hair was only darkened and not bleached in the process)
The remaining section down to the ends was heavily highlighted hair that has been covered by a permanent darker colour. ( Bleached hair that is highly processed, fragile and at risk of major damage or breakage if again re-bleached)
Now, as she was a new client in the chair requesting the stylist to make her hair blonde, the stylist asked many questions to get a clear understanding of the history of the current hair, by appearance and touch alone, we may not be able to ascertain whether or not under this brown hair we have before us, the hair has been previously bleached. High quality conditioners and treatments can hide a multitude of sins and present hair in a much healthier state than it really is!
I cannot remember the amount of times that in this kind of situation the client has failed to remember that she used to be blonde a year or two ago, or had a perm, straightener etc…
So although we asked all the relevant questions in the consultation, we soon found out when applying the colour to lift the darkness out of the ends,to our surprise the previously bleached hair suddenly reappeared, processing at a greater accelerated rate than the hair that had only been coloured darker and had no previous bleach on it.
To get a successful result on this kind of hair would usually require a minimum of three steps of processing for the various areas, the virgin roots will lighten easily as it is always easier to take natural pigment from hair as opposed to chemical pigment, the mid lengths will need something stronger to remove the build up of the brown chemical pigment in hair that was previously natural hair but without highlights, this section of hair because it is in a relatively healthy state is by far the most difficult to get back to a blonde .
Last but not least the ends will need to have something strong enough applied to take out the pigment from the previously bleached, coloured over hair, but not something that is too strong for highly processed hair. No matter what colour the hair on her ends currently presented as in the salon,
it is now and always will be, regardless of it’s current shade, bleached hair. This is only one of many scenarios that professional hairdressers deal with daily, and just as it is important to tell your doctor if you are using another medication or that you have allergies, it is always of the utmost importance to let your stylist know about any little details of your hair’s history, regardless of how insignificant they may seem.
Oh, as a footnote, for that particular client everything turned out O.K. in the end, although after rinsing the first colour application off and now having to deal with blonde roots, orange mid lengths and blonde ends, things got really interesting.
Fortunately for her we have the skill set to make the colour even in the end and she left blonde and happy, phew!
Without the heads up from her about the old bleach lurking underneath the brown colour in her hair ends, a certain degree of luck prevailed which is not something anyone colouring hair professionally really wants to rely on.
This story relates to a specific colour service and head of hair but the message is the same for whatever you may be having done to your hair, anything you know concerning the history of your hair over at least the last couple of years, we also need to know about, you can never share too much information!