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4 Tips to Help Stylists Gain Confidence for Formulation

Hair color formulation process
When it comes to being a successful hair artist, few skills are as important to develop as formulation skills. And yet, so many stylists lack confidence in their abilities, arguably holding them back from so much success!

The truth is that formulation can make or break your final look. As just one example, you could perform the same placement on ten different clients, each of which wants very different results—and customize it through your formulation. In that regard, knowing how to properly formulate can empower you to turn one basic technique into a plethora of end results.

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On the other hand, you could have perfect technique, placement and lift, but ruin it all with a badly formulated gloss. No stylist wants to go through that, so they often play it safe by picking basic tones. The problem is, you're holding yourself back from a huge world of color.

Gaining confidence in your formulation game will encourage you to try new things. Here, we’ll discuss how you can understand your own fears around formulation and offer tips to help you develop your skills and build confidence.

Christine confidence behind formulation

Understanding Your Formulation Fears

There are many reasons that stylists worry about formulation. Below are just a few examples:

  • Lack of knowledge in color theory: A lot of stylists hesitate because their knowledge in color theory is questionable. When you are not confident in your own knowledge, it makes making mistakes very easy.
  • Creative vs. Logical Mindset: Formulation uses a different part of the brain than technique and most stylists are extremely creative, so the struggle with understanding formulation is greater.
  • A propensity to “wing it”: When you are unsure of something, you kind of just “ wing it” and hope for the best. It is so important to fully understand your what and why with formulation. If you don’t know why you’re mixing something together, then it may not be the best idea. Building confidence around color theory will help you to know your “ why.”

Do any of these scenarios sound like you? Understanding why you lack confidence in your formulation skills will empower you to take the corrective actions necessary to grow your skills and your confidence.

Common Formulation Mistakes

Before we get into the tips that will help you improve your formulation skills, it makes sense to quickly review some of the more common formulation mistakes that stylists make:

  • Not glossing with the correct level: This is a big issue. If too light of a gloss is chosen, you will get no movement in tonal shift. It will just slightly close the cuticle, but the result will not be the actual tone you were looking for.
  • Analyzing the level of lift when the hair is too wet: The hair can shift 3-4 levels between wet and dry, so it’s important to towel dry the hair to make sure you’re picking a gloss that will actually give the result you’re looking for.
  • Putting the same gloss on every client: Stylists can get into a rut and not want to think about things, so they pick the same gloss for everyone. The problem is each situation requires a different formula. There is no “one size fits all” magical gloss, however, a lot of stylists wish for this because formulation is so overwhelming to them. Strengthening this part of your skills will open your options greatly!

Example of properly formulated color

1. Acknowledge the areas you’re uncomfortable in.

Admitting to yourself that you struggle with that specific technique or skill will allow your mind to start absorbing more information. The worst thing to do is pretend you're fine and never ask questions. Not one person is the best at everything, so always learning and trying to do better is necessary for building your career.

2. Step out of your comfort zone.

If you're someone who generally glosses with the same thing over and over, try something new. Try it on people who trust you and will be open to change. If this makes you uncomfortable, grab a mannequin and test out different formulas to see how they react. Brunette mannequins are great for this because they tend to lift pretty rough, so there’s a lot of room for many different options.

3. Learn all different ways.

Some people learn better watching someone else and some doing it themselves. Maybe you’re the type that just likes to listen. There are all types of classes available for you to expand your knowledge in this area. The hardest part about formulation is it is complex, so you will benefit from each type of class and every way of explanation. Never box yourself in thinking you only learn one type of way. Try something different if you haven’t quite grasped it yet.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

It is easy to make a mistake and want to erase it from your mind, but thinking about why something happened is so important to furthering your understanding of formulation. Your response to your mistake says a lot about where your confidence is with color theory.

Yes, there are times when things happen unexpectedly because of chemicals and build up on the hair, but what’s more important is that you know how to correct it. If something happened and you were lost as to what to do next, do some research to help understand why. If you stop at the mistake and never challenge yourself further, you will never have the answer.

Have you been struggling with your confidence when it comes to formulation? Building confidence in this area is the key to becoming a better stylist, empowering you to deliver the results that your clients are looking for. Sign up for the Salt Lab course with Christine, where you'll learn the fundamentals of color theory and real, tactical skills that will allow you to formulate with the confidence that you need! You can also sign up for our free Successful Smudging Masterclass by clicking the button below.

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