Color Consultations: Why The Swatch Book Is Important!

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I know there is a lot of discussion & opinions about using the swatch book in your consultations.  There is always the view of “You will never get a 100% true to swatch color on a client! That is why you need pictures!” I believe in using both pictures and the swatch book! Sometimes clients have a hard time picking out one or two colors from a picture. Or they get very upset that they don’t look exactly like the picture. I am not against using pitures but I am a firm believer in using the swatch book! Let me explain why & how!

Showing a new client or a current client who is wanting a color change the swatch book allows you to determine if the client likes warm or cool colors.  I always bring the book out and say “Ok, we are going to go through this book and when you see a color you like, even if you do not want to see it on your head, let me know. You can even say ‘I like this but I don’t want it on me because…. (insert reason why)”. This allows me to see what colors the client is attracted to. In some cases what level the client is attracted to.  Most cases you will find the client is attracted to either warm or cool tones and even more specifically what tones in that category. Your client may be drawn more to golden tones or copper browns.

Another way to use your swatch book is to determine what your client perceives as warm and cool tones.  I once had a new client walk into the salon complaining that she just had her hair done the day prior and it was still too brassy and she HATES brassy and no one can get her hair right and she wants a cool blonde!  We’ve all been there. Her hair was most certainly not brassy. It was about as cool blonde as one could be. Before dismissing her as a crazy person who forgot her meds, I sat her in my chair pulled out my swatch book and said “Let’s look at some swatches and when you get to the colors that you want to see on you let me know.” We start flipping through the book. We get to the cool colors and she hates them.  However, when we arrived to the golds she loved them! Golds are what she considered cool colors.  Now, all the previous stylists did nothing wrong formulation wise. She just needed someone to listen and take the reigns on her color issue.  I did professionally inform her that the reason she was having issues with stylists was because her definition of brassy is the opposite of what it actually is and that is likes golden blondes.  It was a simple toning fix.  I’ve had clients inform me they hate red & everyone makes them red.  Turns out red to them is gold.  Some consider copper to be red.

Another way to utilize the swatch book is to determine how dark is dark to your client.  A level 6 or 7 can be black to a very platinum blonde client. While the same level 6-7 can be considered platinum to someone who is a level 3.

I never promise the client that they will turn out exactly like a 7.3 (7g).  Typically, clients don’t end up liking just one swatch. I usually say “I really like this color for you but I can tell that it is a little much, so I am going to mix this color and this color to customize your look!” Clients usually love that explanation! They don’t want to necessarily be in the dark, nor do they 100% understand what it will end up looking like.  They like to have a ball park in my experience!

At the end of the day color is all about perception with clients! It is our job as the professional to determine what the perception is with each and every client! My goal with this blog post is to give you some tips on how to utilize a tool that you already have, the swatch book, give you another way to unravel the mystery of the client, & help you!


Hair Cut Consultation Questions/Tips

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You may be asking yourself “Why are these questions important?”.  They all you, the stylist, to gather information to best recommend your client a cut/style, products, & services.  Some of these questions may seem like simple no brainer questions, but when put together they give you an array of information to help you deliver better results to your clients.  Let’s dive deeper into each question.

*What do you dislike about your hair?
The answers to this question will inform you what to CHANGE & in some cases what NOT to change.  “I do not like how it flips up.” This is a common complaint.  The hair usually is sitting on the shoulders to cause the flip.  A client may be asking for his/her length at this length but not liking the flip.  It’s a perfect time to explain why the flip happens & to offer solutions (letting it grow or going a little shorter). A client may respond with “I hate my bangs. They are too short.” In this instance, the answer tells you what NOT to do.  The purpose of this question is to find out what the client dislikes about his/her hair so that you do not give the client something he/she does not want.

*What do you like about your hair?
This answer will tell you what NOT to change.  A client may respond with “I LOVE my bangs!”, if so you may need to clarify if the client wants to trim them up or leave them alone. Some times a client had bangs cut too short & though it is time for a trim up, the bangs do not need to be trimmed for they have grown out to the perfect length.  ALWAYS clarify.  This question allows the client to inform you of what she likes & does not want to necessarily change.

*If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your hair?
This question allows the client to be authentically honest with you.  Maybe your client with the short pixie would love to have hair down to the middle of her back but does not want to go through the grow out process.  If this is the case, you can simply inform her how to best grow it out & at what length you can do extensions.  This questions lets you see what the client’s DESIRE style would be if the client didn’t have any restrictions on waiting for hair to grow, the texture of hair, or amount of hair.  A client may say “I’d love to have thicker hair!”. This is the PERFECT opportunity for you to recommend a thickening mousse, cream, or serum & a root lifter! What you are looking for with this question is not just the desired style but also how to get your client to that desired styled rather it be with products or other services!

*What would you like your hair to do?
This question is usually answered in the above questions, but it is still important to ask because you may not get the answer from any other question or not a thorough answer. It allows the client to better articulate exactly what he/she wants his/her hair to do. ” I want it to stand up on the top.” “I want it to flow from the front to the back.” I want it to move more.” “I want it to go under.” Sometimes the solution is educating the client how to use hot tools and/or products. Most of the time it is explaining to the client how you plan on cutting their hair. “You want it to stick up on the top. I am going to cut it long enough it still lays down, but short enough that you can style it the way you described.” It’s about gaining more information about the client’s desires.

*How would you like to style your hair?
Does the client want to use hot tools, put it up in a pony tail, braids? If she desires a short pixie but wants to flat iron or curl it you need to explain why the 2 desires do not fit & offer a solution. ” I can always cut it shorter so let’s cut it at a shorter bob, that way it is shorter than you have now, but long enough for you to style with your desired hot tools.” Sometimes how clients want to style their hair & their desired look do not match.  you may have a client who wants to put everything into a pony tail but desires it to be a short bob.

*How do you normally style your hair?
This tells you exactly how the client wears it. Pulled back, down, to the side.  Sometimes clients come in parted on the wrong side.  It is important to know so that you can understand if this is the way the client has always styled his/her hair.  If they have always styled it a certain way & plan on to continue to style this way, then the desired cut may not be the best option.  Also, if the client rarely uses hot tools & the desired style will require hot tools, you will need to explain how the style will look air dried.

*How much time do you want spend styling your hair?
This is crucial. The client’s desired style may not fit his/her time frame. If a client wants to spend no more than 5 minutes then a sleek bob (depending on client’s thickness & texture) may not be the best option.  You can create the best cut for the client’s facial features & bone structure but if the client can not re-create the look at home he/she will become frustrated and will consider it a mediocre style at best.  Clients need to be able to re-create the style with ease at home.

*Do you want to use product?
If the answer is no then you must inform the client that his/her desired style will not be doable. If he/she uses a lot of heat but does not want to use a heat proctectant then more than likely the desired style is not achievable.  One can not use a lot of heat without protection and expect healthy hair.

You must unravel the mystery that is the client & his/her desires.  You must know how much time & product the client wants to put into the style that he/she desires.  If the desired style & time to style it do not match up, the client will have to forfeit either the time or the desired look.  If the client desires the style more than time than he/she will wake up sooner to style the look.  If the client desires his/her time more than the style, then the client will choose a different style.  The questions are to help you, the stylist, to unravel the mystery & make sure you are giving the client the style that fits his/her desires & lifestyle the best.

Why Hair Treatments Are A MUST!

There are many types of hair treatments.  Let’s break them down into 2 categories: Salon Treatments & Home Treatments.

Salon Treatments come in a variety.  There are treatments prior to a color to remove minerals from the hair, equalize porosity, add moisture, protein, & other necessities your hair may be lacking.
Let’s talk about treatments that remove minerals first.  These minerals can cause a chemical reaction with your hair color. Where do you get this mineral build up from?  Swimming in a pool, the ocean, or a lake.  Your well water & even your city water can contain minerals that will cause a reaction.  These pre-color treatments give your colorist a clean slate & helps ensure the integrity of your hair & color.
Another type color treatment is a porosity equalizer.  These treatments can go into your color bowl or on your hair before a color service.  This type of treatment is great for anyone wanting to go 2 or more shades darker or anyone who is predominately blonde and/or damaged who is wanting low lights or all over color.  If your hair is very porous it will not hold color very well. This can result in your hair not taking color at all or only a percentage, your hair not taking the color evenly- the color on your roots is nice & right but towards the last few inches of your hair your color is faded even though you just had it done.   A porosity equalizer treatment helps ensure your color takes evenly from roots to ends & that the color stays.
Treatments that add moisture, protein, & other necessities put back into your hair that you are lacking.  Dry hair results in static hair, & lack of protein results in weak hair.  Usually these in salon treatments are products that are not sold for retail because they are highly concentrated.  Some hair care lines do not have an exclusive salon only treatment.  But the salons who carry those types of lines will use the retail on back bar.  Now, I know what you are thinking “Why even offer an in salon treatment if I can just buy it in the salon?”. Well, the answer is simple: Not everyone has the time to do a treatment at home, or they simply do not want to do a treatment at home.  Sometimes just coming into the salon & receiving an in salon treatment is more convenient for some.

Now let’s talk about at home treatments.  At home treatments can be anything from a mask you leave on for 20 mins, to an oil, to a shampoo you only use once a week or so.
At home masks usually replace your conditioner once a week or so. Typically you leave them on between 5-20 mins.  Please talk with your stylist about what type of mask you need & follow their instructions. Do not use a protein based mask every day.  Protein will dry your hair out & cause your hair to break! So always read directions & listen to your stylist!
Oil treatments are either pre-shampoo treatments or leave in treatments.  Pre-shampoo oil treatments are applied to dry hair, processed for 5-30 minutes (depending on the brand), & then shampooed out.  Leave in oil treatments are applied after you have already shampooed & conditioned.  Pre-shampoo oil treatments are great for those who like to treat while drinking coffee in the morning, before they shower, shampoo, & get ready for the day.  Pre-shampoo oil treatments are typically used once or twice a week. Leave in oil treatments are less concentrated, can usually be used daily, & are applied after shampooing/conditioning.
Treatment Shampoos are typically used once a week or so. They are highly concentrated, so you must not over use them.  They can be ultra hydrating, ultra repairing, used for dandruff, brightening gray or blonde hair, & used for oily scalp.  If you use them too often you can cause more harm than good. Once again talk with your stylist.
There are also treatments you can sleep in.  They usually hydrate, repair, & regenerate.

Now all of this information is a generalization.  Depending on the brand your stylist recommends will depend on how & when you will use them.  This is why it is important to talk with your stylist.

Call your stylist & try a new treatment!



5 Consultation Tips For Stylists!

As a stylist I have developed a few consultation techniques as a result of failing to thoroughly communicate with clients.  We’ve all been there. We all learn from our mistakes.  We also learn from other stylists’  mistakes and from them informing us of situations where they made a mistake.  Situations also occur when a stylist asks a few more questions or picks up on subtle clues.  Today I want to share some of my consultation tips that I’ve learned and fine tuned through the years.

First tip: do more than a 15 minute consult. A lot of stylists will say that if the consult takes more than 15 minutes, you should pass on the client as the client probably can not be pleased.  I have found that clients (whether they are new to the area and looking for a stylist or are a referral) don’t want to feel rushed.  When consulting on color, the client’s hair language is not our language and it can take some time to decipher what they want. I’ve had clients who have come in saying their hair was too brassy even though it was on the cusp of being violet.  Turns out, their definition of brassy is cool instead of warm.  In cases like this, the reason why the client has been to everyone in the tri-state area is because no one has taken the time to figure out exactly what is wrong. I personally book consults for 30 minutes. They do not all take 30 minutes, but I’d rather have more than enough time especially with a new client. During a consult, we talk about the desired look, the price for the current service, maintenance price, maintenance schedule, length of appointments, etc. After discussing it all, I repeat back our agreement and take notes on it all. I have found that not rushing through a consult results in fewer communication errors and can make the client feel more relaxed.

Use your swatch book! When doing a consult for color, I use my swatch book. I know a lot of colorists do not.  Let me explain why I do. I love red. To me, there is no such thing as too much red! But to someone else, gold might be too “red”.  I will tell the client “I’m going to show you some colors.  I want you to pick out colors that you like, whether you want to see it on your hair or not. If you see a color that you like but it’s too dark or too light, let me know.” We then start at the beginning and work our way to the back.  Typically clients will pick out all cool colors or all warm colors.  They will also inform you what levels are too dark, what colors are too warm or red, etc.  Many times I’ve had someone bring me a picture of a red color and then tell me they do not want red but love the picture. I show them the swatch book and ask them what is red to them and it’s typically gold or copper. I’ve also had a client tell me she wants “almost black but not black”. I’m thinking a level 4 (black not black), I show her the swatch book and she picks out a level 7.  Because she was light, her black was a darker blonde.  Had I not shown her the swatch book and gone with a level 4, she wouldn’t have paid or rebooked. I’ve had a client come in tell me that her highlights are always brassy, yet her hair was very cool. I showed her the swatch book and asked her what colors were brassy to her. She picked out all the cool colors. I asked what colors she liked and she loved the golds. She had a hard time finding a stylist because her hair vocabulary doesn’t match a stylist’s hair vocabulary. I nicely informed her that in the hair world, the word brassy means warmer colors, and that’s why she was having the issues. Once I establish what colors the client likes, I will pick out 2 or 3 colors, discuss with the client and then inform them that I will be mixing a couple of colors together to make the color unique for them and also to better fix whatever issue is happening.  More often than not, a client may really like one swatch but it may be too gold or too dark or too light.  Maybe the client likes a level 6 copper but wants  to see some gold in it as well. Or maybe your color line doesn’t have a level 6 copper but it has a level 5 and 7 copper. So your client may ask “this one is too light, this one is too dark is there something in the middle?”  I have also found that with pictures that clients bring, they still say ” I like this but it’s too gold,” or ” I like this but its too dark.” I’ll bring out the swatch book to see what “too gold” and “too dark” is to her.  For me, showing the swatch book gives me more information and helps me decode the client’s hair language.

Have client bring in multiple pictures! I also like for clients to bring in pictures.  When I have a client who wants a new look, I will tell them “Bring me at least 4-5 pictures. You are not going to find one picture that has the cut and the color. If you see a picture of someone with all over blonde, but you like the color of blonde bring that and let me know that’s your highlight goal. If you see a picture of a girl with shorter hair but you like her bangs, bring that to me.” This is very helpful because I can’t be told “I like her bangs but I want them shorter and more to the side, and I want more highlights than she has also more lighter and maybe more cooler….” and the next thing you know, what she’s describing is nothing like the picture. And if you do the picture, she won’t be happy because her highlights are lighter, and if you do what she describes she won’t be happy because it does not look like the picture.  When she brings in multiple pictures she can’t focus on how the model in the one picture looks.  A lot of clients want to look younger and more fit (don’t we all), so they bring in their ideal look. The ideal look isn’t just about hair, it’s the whole package. Having clients bring in multiple pictures not only helps nail down the exact look – length, bangs, layers, base color, highlights, and low lights – but also helps keep the client focused on the hair of each picture instead of the model’s body. If the client does not bring pictures or they have only one picture with multiple things they want different, I will ask questions about how they want to style it. “Do you want to blow dry this style?” “I know you said you wanted to wash and go and you want more volume. In order to get the volume you want like in this picture you will need to use a root lifter and blow this dry.” “Do you still plan on blow drying this new style the same way as you blow dry now? If you want this look, you will have to style it differently than you are used to.” Clients see a picture and think “oh I love this!” but maybe their schedule doesn’t allow them to spend an hour blow drying and curling a new style. Or maybe they’ve always blown their hair back and now they want a style that has to be blown forward.  They may not realize that it has to be blown a different away or may not be able to blow it forward since for 30 years they’ve blown it back.  I also ask “How often do you want to come in to maintain this look?”. If she wants a root to end blonde, but only wants to come in every 12 weeks, I need to explain why we need to discuss a different color style. I may discuss ombre, or highlights under her part line.
I want to make sure that no matter what look I create for her, the client can style it at home.

Talk about pricing during your consults! If it’s a corrective color, figure the price at a higher point.  If you estimate that if would cost $200 if all goes right, figure what that price might be if all goes wrong. Or add an extra $100 to the price. I may figure the color will be $200 but I will quote at $300. I will say “I’m going to figure high for the service, $300. That will be the most it will cost. ” I do this because I have, in the past, quoted a firm $200 and then things happened that I didn’t expect. But, since I had already quoted a firm price, I couldn’t charge any more. The extra $100 is a safety net for me as the stylist. Quoting high for the client prepares her and her finances for the service.  If you do not talk about price prior to performing the service, your client may not be prepared to pay $250 and will be upset. If everything is absolutely perfect until she goes to pay and she is unprepared for the high bill, the perfect experience is now a sour one, and the chances of her coming back will be slim. If you quote her $300, and she informs you that she can’t spend that in one appointment but her budget allows $200, you will need to have other options for her.  Instead of a full head of highlights & lowlights, you can suggest either a full head of highlights or a partial head of highlights & lowlights.  Do not let her walk out of your salon without giving suggestions for alternatives. Don’t confuse giving other options with lowering your prices.  Giving other options is just that, suggesting other services in her price range. It is not doing $300 worth of services for $200.  After pricing her for the big service, give her prices for future appointments.  It may cost a client $300 to fix her color and have her leave with a base color, highlights, and a cut, but it may only cost $150 for a root touch up and cut 6-8 weeks after the big appointment. Let her know that. She may think you will charge her $300 every 6-8 weeks and that may be a turn off.  She may be willing to pay the $300 for the color correction if her maintenance price is less.  Inform her of how long it will take for the first big service and then maintenance services. It may be she can’t schedule a 5 hour color correction on a Friday, but she can schedule her 2 hour maintenance appointments on Fridays.

TAKE NOTES! Please take notes! Write down what her hair looked like when she came in for her consult, her desires for her color and style, your plan of action, the estimated price for the initial first service, future/maintenance prices, estimated time for service, etc. I have learned the hard way about writing down prices.  Please write down the prices you discuss with your client.  This keeps you and her honest.  I’ve had clients say that I told them it was a certain price when I know I did not but had nothing written down.  If you decide to charge for a partial highlight but take the foils down to her hair line in the back because she has very fine, thin hair, write that down to jog your memory. Write down how her color looks prior to the service, after the service and her reaction.  If you haven’t had the experience of someone being so in love with their hair that they are crying tears of joy and hugging you, only for them to talk to your salon manager or owner the next day demanding their money back, you most likely will at some point in your career.  Having notes that she was happy helps your owner and manager handle things in a better way that may not involve in a full return (depending on your salon’s policies). You can never take enough notes. Seriously. If you only take away one thing from me today let it be the note taking. Note taking covers your butt. It jogs your memory, it keeps everyone honest, it helps you formulate, etc.

These are just things that I’ve learned over the years that work for me.  I hope these tips are insightful and helpful to you!

If you are a stylist and have other helpful tips please leave a comment!

How To Have A Consultation When Looking For The Right Stylist!

Looking for a new stylist can be frustrating. Will he/she listen to my wants? Will I be able to get my wants in one appointment? Will things be explained? Will he/she be nice? Hopefully the following tips will help you with

When looking for a the right new stylist it is important to discuss your chemical service history, your current complaints about your hair, your end goal, pricing, and how often you desire to come into the salon. These things will impact your end goal and possibly change your end goal.
-Some chemical services can not/ should not be done if other chemical services have been done in a certain time frame. You do not want to put bleach on your hair same day you relax or perm. Depending on the health of your hair, bleach may not be an option for you changing your end goal to a different look. If your stylist is not informed of your chemical history, your stylist can accidently cause more damage.  Think of your chemical history as informing your new doctor of all the medications you are on.  Just like certain medications can not be taken at the same time because of interactions, chemical services can not always be done in the same appointment or ever.
-Your current hair complaints about the color being too gold, too red, too ashy, too heavy, too flat, lifeless, etc gives your stylist a direction where to take your color and/or cut.
Your end goal may be achievable in one appointment or it make take multiple appointments.  If the end goal is achievable in multiple appointments your stylist should take notes on what you currently have, your chemical history, your current complaints, your end goal, and a plan of action.  Of course your stylist will inform you of the plan of action.
-Price.  It is okay to ask about pricing. Sometimes we stylists get wrapped up in our plan of action thoughts that we forget to talk price.  If you are set on paying a certain price please let your stylist know.  You may pay a higher price upon your first appointment because your color may be a color correction, but appointments after the first may be less.  Ask your stylist how much it will cost to maintain the color you are wanting.  How often you desire to come to the salon and the price range you are looking for may result in considering a new style.
-Discuss how often you are wanting to come into the salon to maintain the color or cut. If you desire to come to the salon once every 5-6 months your price (depending on your look) may be the same higher price of your first appointment.  If you have long hair and desire a color with 3+ colors as well as coming in to maintain every 5-6 months you will be paying a higher price.
After all has been discussed you may feel that you’ve really connected with this stylist and proceed to schedule your service.  Or you may feel that you did not connect but you really enjoy the salon so you may want to schedule a consultation with a different stylist in the same salon and that is ok! If you did not make a connection with the stylist or feel that he/she is on the same page as you and you do not enjoy the salon enough to try another stylist, it’s ok to go elsewhere.  Finding the right stylist can be a challenge.  If you are moving to another area, ask your current style for your color formula or at least permission to give his/her number to your new stylist so the two of them can discuss your color and cut.  Sometimes this is best as things can get lost in translation or if the new stylist is not familiar with your other stylist’s color line and has some questions.

I hope these tips are helpful!


Such a Slacker.

It has been such a long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy like the rest of everyone. But the past year I’ve done a lot of soul searching.  One of my goals is to keep up with this blog better.  To write helpful hair tips for stylists and clients.  Tips that I’ve learned as a stylist to help stylists and clients to be able communicate in a better way.  The first two topics I will be covering will be kid cuts & communication.

So stay tuned! I promise you will not have to wait a year for the next post!

Wedding & Prom Preperation

Wedding and prom season is still a few months away, but you should start prepping for it now.  If you are wanting a specific hair color for your event, talk with your stylist now about it.  It may take months to go from dark hair to blonde hair.  Your hair may need to do a series of treatments to get it to a healthy state.  Healthy hair will not only take color better, it will make color look better, and be easier to work with when styling for special occasion hair styles

If you are not seeing an aesthetician, you should be.  If you have problematic, acne prone skin you should be seeing a skin care professional now.  It takes time and multiple treatments to treat problematic skin.  Your professional skin care provider will assess your skin, make a treatment plan, and recommend products to help with your treatment plan, and to maintain healthy skin.

A lot of people make the mistake of treating hair and skin issues just a month or few weeks before the big event.  This can cause more issues. Don’t wait! Make consultation appointments, discuss your wants, needs, your timeline, and work with your hair and skin care professionals on treatment plans.  Let your stylist know what kind of color, and/or style you are wanting for your event.  Show him/her a few different pictures of what you are looking for.  Certain styles may not be doable depending on how fine, thick, heavy, long, and health of your hair.  Let your aesthetician know about your skin concerns, listen to him/her on what he/she is seeing and work together on a treatment plan.  You may need two or three treatments to help with your skin, or you make need 6-12 treatments depending on what is going on with your skin.   Write down all of your questions.  Request more time when reserving your consult appointment to make sure all of your questions are answered, your stylist/aesthetician can do a thorough consultation and make a plan.

Heat Protectants!

Do you blow dry your hair? Curl it? Straighten it? If so you need a heat protectant! Not all protectants are the same.  Look for one that you can use on wet hair when blow drying, as well on dry hair when using a hot tool (blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, etc). I have seen non chemically (color, relaxer, etc) treated hair that has more damage than chemically treated hair.  The reason?  Heat.  Even blow drying your hair can cause damage, dry.  When using a heat protectant, apply all other hair products first.  Hydrators, root lifters, styling products, and then lastly apply your heat protectant.  I recommend using one when blowdrying and again on dry hair before flat ironing, or curling if you have a lot of blonde highlights, and/or already have a decent amount of damage.  Talk with your stylist about heat protecting products!