These pros have been creating next- level hair colour for decades, so they know about your hue challenges—and how to help you solve them.
The Experts: Andrea Nguyen, owner Ivory Noir Salon, Calgary; Loretta Tom, master colourist, salon Haze, Vancouver; Denis de Souza, co-owner of Mare Salon, West Hollywood
With all the trendy pigment shades available, are you finding that more colour correction is required when clients didn’t get the lilac, mint or pink hue they had hoped for? What is the process of colour correction for these shades?
Andrea Nguyen: Lighter instead of brighter. Find out how committed to this colour they are, and let them know they need to go darker. I would do a strand test to find out how easily the colour can be removed from the client’s hair. Within 25 minutes, you will see where the pigment is going and if it does get lighter or brighter.
Loretta Tom: Oftentimes clients are told they can tone it out, but that is only a temporary solution. Whatever the colour hair is lifted to, is the colour that will be exposed, which means that in order to not be brassy you will need to lift that brass out.
Denis de Souza: For more pastel shades—anyone who wants to be bubble-gum pink for example—getting that colour to stay is a challenge. In order to achieve that pastel shade, your hair has to be lightened a lot, so it’s hard to maintain that colour.
What are the steps to walking a client through the colour correction process?
Andrea Nguyen: Find out the previous history of the hair. Ask if they’ve had colour in their hair over the past year, and dig deep about what they did before and what they want now. Then, talk about expectations, in terms of colour, and make it more of a visual discussion than verbal conversation: it’s important to know what they like about the photo. It could be a long lob they want for example, and have nothing to do with hair colour.
How do you work with correcting the brassiness of a brunette who has had their hair lightened?
Andrea Nguyen: Keep expectations low. Let them know that it will be a process and, for the most part, it takes two or three sessions. Find out if they will be okay with hair colour being warmer in the meantime. Bonding agents like Olaplex are able to use a higher developer and hair will tend to stay healthy, so we now have clients with higher expectations.
What is the word on correcting box colour? Is there a secret?
Loretta Tom: Box colour can be very unpredictable. Often, it can lead to banding and create an imbalance of tones in the hair. Treating these cases requires a lot of patience and more often than not, multiple salon visits to achieve the desired shade. Managing expectations is extremely important, as the integrity of the hair can often be compromised when the colourist or client tries to make changes too quickly.
What is the biggest challenge with blondes?
Denis de Souza: Avoiding demarcation lines, which are often called banding lines, is most challenging when it comes to achieving the perfect shade of blonde. Precision, what level to lift the hair to, and knowing which products to choose becomes very important, as does knowing when to push the boundaries and when to stay within the limits. Formulating the proper toner for neutralization is also key.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of working with clients who want red?
Loretta Tom: For clients wanting red hair, it’s very important to determine the proper hue. As red is very striking, you want to make sure that the warmth, ashiness or neutralness suits the skin tone of the client. My tip for stylists trying to achieve red on a dark-haired client using colour is to add some ash into the formulation to give a truer red, as lifting from darker shades can make the red look slightly orange.
Grey-haired clients can be challenging, not only for colour but for hair texture. Can you speak to the texture challenges and keeping hair healthy through the process?
Loretta Tom: Grey hairs are very coarse and wiry, and are usually extremely stubborn to colour. Colourists often will resort to a more pigmented colour line, or a darker shade to achieve coverage, however this means their hair colour will be darker. When the client decides they want a change, it becomes very difficult to lift out and correct their colour. No matter your colour line, knowing what hues to use, in terms of the level of lift it will give to the hair, will help when you’re working with clients who want to go lighter.