Color Correction for hair: What It Is and Why Stylists Need to Know

As stylists, we’ve all been there—a client calls your salon with a hair emergency. They’re unhappy with a service they received elsewhere (or even did themselves) and it’s your job to fix it.

There’s a lot that goes into color correction, from communicating with the client, to addressing damage to the hair, formulating a new color, and more. If you’re new to the process of performing a color correction service or simply want to boost your confidence in your skills, there’s a lot to learn to prepare yourself for these scenarios.

Here’s a closer look at what color correction is, when it’s necessary, and a handful of tips for stylists.

What is a Color Correction?

In general, a color correction service is performed in order to remedy a previous color service that the client is unhappy with.

A color correction service can fall into many different categories. The most important thing to understand is what the client is actually feeling went wrong. For this reason, effective communication is essential during this type of service. The client has already been through something somewhat traumatic, and to both listen and translate for them is key.


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For instance, a client might sit in your chair and say, “I feel way too bright.” But, there are many reasons they may feel this way. Is there not enough depth? Is the tone too bright all over? Are the pieces around their face too wide? Do they feel washed out and need to be warmed up?

Breaking this down for your guest will better help pinpoint the issue and minimize the back and forth during the correction process. Some color corrections are simple fixes and others may take a year to perfect.

When is a Color Correction Service Necessary?

When someone is not liking any part of their color, we call it a color correction. But an intense color correction is sometimes necessary when you need to do extensive work.

This can take multiple sessions and sometimes many hours to fix. It’s a great idea to have a thorough hair consultation before booking a service like this. If it's possible to have someone send in photos of what they’re currently experiencing, you may be able to troubleshoot over the phone. If you are not comfortable doing that as a stylist, then you can easily have them book a consultation. This can also help you ensure that you don't have to do extra services like a hard water treatment, protein treatment, or a test strand.

Color Correction Tips for Stylists

1. You’re the expert.

Remember that you are in charge of the appointment and know what’s best for the client’s hair. It’s vital to take their personal experience and what they are frustrated with into consideration, but in some cases people will try to tell you what’s best for them. The first step is to calm them down and then explain the process and the reasons why something may or may not work. Reassure them that you want to help repair the situation in the best way possible.

2. Simplify the process.

Take one step at a time and simplify as much as possible. Color correcting can be very challenging, so slow your thought process down. The salon is such a busy environment and we are used to working at a fast pace, but that is not how this type of appointment should go. Book extra time and establish a connection with your client first and foremost. Building trust will help give them confidence in you.

3. Free yourself from pressure.

Remember that in most cases you are fixing someone else’s work and it's not your responsibility to carry that burden. You are simply there to help the client and do the best you can. It’s easy to feel pressure to fix everything right away, but truthfully you are just the bridge to getting to where they need to go.

4. Be confident.

Stay confident in your color formulation skills as these scenarios are when you need them most. Adjusting tones, filling, and adding depth or brightness are just a few of the many things you face in color correcting. Don’t ever be afraid to do lots of strand testing, even for glosses. When hair is that unstable, it can have varying results. Always remember to work on what’s in front of you, not the entire head at the same time.

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 new Confidence Behind Formulation 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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