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5 Steps to Master the Hair Color Correction Process

Mastering the hair color correction process
When a client is unhappy with the result of a prior service with a different stylist and books an appointment with you to fix it, we call it a color correction.

As a stylist, color correction services can sometimes be nerve wracking. Not only are you tasked with making revisions to someone else’s work, but you’re also often addressing existing damage or breakage and avoiding causing further damage. To be successful, you need to have a firm understanding of the color correction process as well as confidence in your fourmation and technical skills in order to create a final look that your client will love.

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To help ease the stress that can come along with a color correction service, we’ve broken down the process step-by-step so you can be prepared for anything.

5 Steps in the Hair Color Correction Process

1. Set expectations.

The very first step in a color correction service is to conduct a thorough hair consultation. Listen to your client to understand what went wrong and set expectations for your service. Meeting them face to face in your salon will help them connect with you and see that you genuinely care about their experience.

Setting realistic expectations is a key piece of an effective consultation. Going over pricing and possible costs involved including products they will need to invest in will make for a smoother payment process at the end. If you are unsure of how much it will be because of the situation, then be honest about that. Make sure they don't have expectations that are not attainable for the circumstance—this goes for what they can expect their hair to look like when they leave your chair and how much they should expect to spend. Come up with a plan that works for both of you.

2. Evaluate the hair.

Next, thoroughly evaluate the condition of the client’s hair. Measuring porosity, damage, moisture retention, and protein left in the hair is a must before even attempting to correct something. Once you have a better understanding of what happened, where you're going, and what needs to be done to get there, you can perform a strand test.

If you have any inclination that a hard water treatment will be necessary, then it’s important to complete this portion of the service before you conduct a strand test. Any minerals or build up in the hair can greatly affect the outcome. It can also cause lighteners to swell and overheat, leading to further breakage and damage to the hair.

3. Choose a technique.

Once you have a deep understanding of the process that will take place, it's time to choose the technique you’ll use to achieve your goal. It’s easy to over complicate this choice, so the best thing to do is simplify what needs to be done. The hair has already gone through trauma, so more often than not the first session for correction is a way to even out the canvas and prepare for the next appointment.

There are situations where you’ll be able to fix something completely in one session, but even still, working off of someone else’s foundation can be a challenge. Sometimes the answer is a simple melt or smudge to soften everything. And, adding a beautifully toned gloss to address any tonal issues will really make a difference. This way, you’ll prevent adding more stress on the hair by avoiding the need for a lightener.

As always, try not to knock down another stylist throughout this process. Remember that you weren’t there for the initial consultation and service, so you can't pretend to know what went wrong. As stylists, we have a responsibility to be respectfully truthful to our clients and one another.

4. Choose a gloss.

Once you’ve chosen and executed your technique, it's time to pick a final gloss that compliments the client’s skin tone. When color correcting, this sometimes can’t be decided until you see the final lift of what you’ve worked through. It’s a great time to bring your client back to the chair to discuss their options. Going over this again will help calm them down and reaffirm their expectations of what they'll be leaving with. Even though this was discussed in the consultation, things can change throughout the appointment when doing a correction.

Bring out some pictures and the swatch book to explain what tone will look best and last the longest. Remember that warm tones have much more longevity than cooler tones. Also keep in mind that most people don't want to see brassiness, not necessarily warmth in general. A toned warmth is so much different than orange, gold or brass. Even keeping just a ¼ of your formula warm will help that gloss stick!

5. Finish and style.

After applying your gloss, finish and style the client’s to make sure everything looks as it should. This is an example of a time when you never want to send someone away with wet hair. Always double check your work when it’s dry and send your client home with proper products to support the finished look.

Before the client leaves, book their next appointment so they are guaranteed a spot with you and feel appreciated. Get them excited for the next appointment and show them what your goal is for them. Doing so will focus your relationship on future goals rather than focusing on the issues still at hand. This helps people understand the process and trust you more.

Overall, color correcting doesn’t have to be so scary. Taking one step at a time and slowing down is the best thing you can do. Corrections are notorious for a one-time appointment, so focus on building that relationship to guarantee someone will come back. This is when they will experience your best work and also gain extreme loyalty to you.

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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