Whether its a DIY experiment, or change of heart, or your children cry every time they see your new hair, inevitably everyone needs a hair do over. Its easy to fall into with all the YouTube tutorials, movie stars that color their hair back and forth between dark and light and back to dark. This post is about the process of taking a client from light to dark and back to light again. I want to share with you the journey with all the bumps along the way and the realistic outcomes. This process is officially called "Color Correction" and it costs a lot. Hopefully, I can explain why it costs so much and why we should try to avoid it.
This is my beautiful client Vicky. She is Chinese and has think strong hair. The above picture is an ombre we did in the spring of 2015. It turned out perfect! It was a ashy/neutral tone, which means there was no red or orange color to it. The darker the natural hair color is the harder it is to keep those pesky red tones away. I always use Olaplex with Vicky because it prevents serious damage. Because her natural color is so dark and I took her so light, her hair did have some damage. Not a lot, but the ends were dry and tangled easily. Vicky loves her long hair so the damage is preferred to cutting.
This ombre lasted almost a year.
Once winter hit everyone was going darker and Vicky thought she was ready for her dark hair back. So we picked a really pretty eggplant purple. It looked the best right after we did it and for whatever reason the picture turned out a lot more purple than it looked in person. Its hard to maintain a solid color after such variation underneath. The purple fades to red and the light pieces always look lighter than everything else. Its hard to get color to stick once the hair has been taken so far from its natural color.
Blonde is addicting. Even after thinking you are over it and ready for a change, be careful. Its a really hard habit to break. There's something about it that is difficult to go without. If you are blonde and thinking about changing it up, go slow. Add a few darker pieces. Go just a shade or 2 darker. If you decide you want the blonde back after all the process is not an easy one.
After only a couple months of having the dark back, Vicky was back in The Salon wanting her blonde. She decided instead of ombre she wanted more of an all over lighter look. So the process began.
Doing any major color corrections I use Pravana Artificial Color Extractor. I have used others but Pravana's seems to work the best with the least amount of damage. Usually the hair is a little dry afterwards but a few moisture masks will bring everything back to healthy. The Color Extractor takes out any color that is sitting on top of the hair, so it won't do anything to the natural color. I was trying to get as much of the Purple color out of her hair as I could before I bleached it. The bleach would have taken it out as well, but much slower and left the hair much more dry and damaged. The above picture is after one Color Extractor application.
This picture is after 2 applications of the Color Extractor. See, it works really well! I love that stuff. However, each application takes around 45 min. The hair has to be scrubbed with shampoo a couple of times then the product is applied and the client sits under the dryer for 20 minutes. Then the products has to be rinsed for a few minutes then another round of scrubbing shampoos. So, if you are doing the math, Vicky has been in The Salon for over an hour and half and is only one step into this process.
The next step is the highlights. I didn't take any foil pictures because we've all seen girls with foils in their hair. Vicky looked like that. In trying to avoid as much damage as I could I took smaller sections and gave her what I refer to as "Babylights." This would give me lots of blonde color that would lighten more evenly. Its a slower process but the end result is more even and overwhelming. I also will tell you that I used a color and a bleach formula. The color was a level 7 and it was used to add dimension and depth to the over all look. Both the bleach and the color formula had Olaplex added to them because I knew we were going to need them.
It took me an hour to foil Vicky's whole head and only 20 min for her to process. Then I rinsed and toned which is another 20 min process. I used the Olaplex conditioner as a cutting lotion so it stayed on the hair while I cut it which was another 20min. Then the blowout!
As you can see the end result turned out so pretty! It was even and dimensional. The colors are lovely and soft. It is much more warm than the previous ombre but Vicky's priority is length so there was only so much I could do to those ends to keep them safe. As it is the blowout concealed the damaged ends. Hair can only take so much before it can't take anymore. We ended up trimming a couple inches but the last couple inches Vicky didn't want trimmed are pretty dilapidated.
"What was the point of the Olaplex and the long babylights process if the hair was going to be damaged anyway?"
Good Question! The ends are frazzled, absolutely, but just the ends. Lightening dark hair can leave the hair mushy and dead from root to tip. When that happens there is very little that can be done, other than the painfully long grow out process. And to be honest, Vicky never lets me cut as much as she needs cut so before we started this process her ends were pretty thrashed.
So to recap, after just over 4 hours and a $300 price tag, Vicky had her blonde back. Not the same blonde and not as light but that was just the foundation. In a couple months when she comes back I'll do regular highlights and it will be lighter. And each time after that it will come out lighter and lighter. Whatever you want to do or undo can be done, but its the consequences that need to be considered. The cost. The damage. The time it takes to get you there, sometimes a few months. Not every thing can be done in one appointment. However, the positive outlook says "Go ahead! Try it! What's the worst that can happen?"
Like any good Millennial, I am skeptical of everything and have to prove anything before I buy into it. Every brand has their champs and their weak links. I pick and choose based on what I am looking for. I use a couple products from several professional brands.
For the majority of my color I use Wella Kolestone or Pravana. Alot of my toners are Redken Shades and my grey blending line is Redken Color Camo.
My bleach is consistently Blondora also by Wella. It has won a lot of rewards and I have always liked the results. Under certain circumstances I will add Olaplex. Olaplex changes the bleaching process in a good way but isn't necessary for everyone.
I recently have added a pre color service using the Malibu C treatments. I also have some post and conditional treatments using Malibu C as well.
For damaged, dry or thrashed hair I like JoiCo conditioners. Using it at The Salon helps. Using it at home can be restorative. Its A 10 Miracle Leave-In is another product I use on almost everyone for a lot of things.
I use a lot of different products because I have a lot of different clients. No single thing is what's right for everyone. Whenever anyone comes into The Salon I personalize what I am going to do, what I am going to use and how I am going to use it based on what the client needs and what will give them what they want.
I get this question a lot. Bottom line answer: nothing and everything. Everything does something good. Nothing is going to do exactly what you want it to do every time. More often than not it simply a need for a new technique rather than a new product. Most of us have the bathroom fully stocked with an array of products swearing to fulfill our hopes and dreams. When they don't our hunt continues. Desperate to find that miracle product that will solve all hair problems. These do and don't exist. It all depends on your hair needs.
If you don't know what your hair needs then make an appointment and ask. Or be happy that you are already happy with your hair and don't create a problem where there might not be one.
If you do know what your hair needs are, professional grade might not be what you need. Not all professional brands are awesome just like not all drug store brands are awful. It all just depends. And it is highly up to opinions and preferences. My least favorite professional brand is Paul Mitchell. But I still buy their Skinny Serum and use it on almost every single blowout I do. Paul Mitchell is a very popular brand. Tons and tons of professionals love it and use it every day. Its just not one of my favorites. Now, on the flip side is TIGI Bedhead. That is my favorite line. However I do not buy the whole line. Not every product they make is great or better than others. Its simply my favorite because it has more of my favorite products than other lines. And lots of great smells. Don't dismiss the need for good smelling hair.
Drug store brands are not evil. There is a lot of opinions out there about "sulfides" "parabens" and other official sounding things. It all boils down to what you are starting off with and what you what to finish with. If your goals are not so complicated then don't complicate them with fancy packaging and lists of promises. However, pay attention. Drug store brands tend to be cheaper because they use cheaper ingredients. If you already have fragile or damaged hair drug store brands might make the problem worse. I don't think drug stores brands will or do cause problems, but they can make them worse.
When looking for a new product start by taking inventory of what you already have. Try using them different ways. With wetter hair. With drier hair. With a comb. With your fingers. More of it. Less of it. More often. Less often. Look up a youtube video for that specific product. Chances are you already have what you are looking for. Maybe you need an additional product instead of a different one. That is another difference between The Salon and the bathroom at home. Generally, I use at least 2 products on everyone when styling. Maybe you need to add a pre or post styling product.
So to sum up, what is the best? Anything. If used for the right thing, the right way. Any product can be exactly what someone needs it to be.
Every salon is different. Every person is different. Some salons are boisterous and energetic. Some are more Zen and quiet. The Salon is a more Zen and quiet place. Filled with antiques, cozy seating, high ceilings and hardwood floors it gives a feeling of home. Its a place to relax. Still there are different ways to relax. Some talk out their busyness. Others just need time and space to decompress. If this is you I have a "silent chair" option. This is an add-on or just a note added to whatever service you are scheduling for. This option is a way for you to opt out of the small talk and incessant chit chat that comes along with a typical salon visit. By leaving a note or selecting this completely free add-on it allows you to choose your own salon experience. You are coming into The Salon for a service and an experience. It should only fit that you should be able to ask for and receive the exact experience you want. If you don't want to talk about your kids, work or lack there of then you shouldn't have to. You aren't in The Salon to entertain me. You are there for you. This is an option that you can ask for every time, once or even just half an appointment. If in the middle you want to start up a conversation please do! My goal is to make you feel good. If that means being quiet then we can do that.
Everyone comes into The Salon with a problem. These problems vary from simple to serious. Annoying to traumatizing. Mild to red hot. The emotions that accompany these problems also vary. Annoyance is the primary one. I will occasionally leave #hairritated under these pictures. It can be very funny. Sometimes people just wait too long to come in for a haircut or color change. Sometimes people have tried to self groom at home with less than desirable results. However..... sometimes the emotion coming into the salon is shame.This is never funny. This happens when whatever the problem is it has become so embarrassing that no one wants to talk about it or address it. Everyday there in the mirror loudly stands that problem. Wide and pulsating. Drowning out all else. With downcast eyes and a quiet voice the problem is voiced inside The Salon.
These problems are not the big bad monster they seem. Honest. I promise. There has never walked in a problem so terrible it can't be addressed. I won't promise I can fix it or undo what has been done. What I am saying is that don't get too inside your own head about it. The voices there are much more abusive than reality. Most of the time there is a solution and its not nearly as drastic as you would think. So come on in. We can talk it out and find the solution that fits you. The Salon is a non-judgement zone. Its a place where we can put a little knowledge into a situation to make it much more workable.