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How to Prep Hair to Prevent Damage When Coloring

Prepping hair to prevent damage when coloring (SALT Society)
We’ve all seen it before—a client pulls out their phone, points to a Pinterest board labeled “Hair Color Inspo,” and expects the same results at the end of the appointment. The recent surge in haircare social media has made a major impact on the coloring industry as a whole. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are flooded with influencers posting hair dye names and suggested techniques for colorists.

But there are no guarantees when it comes to coloring hair. It’s a very delicate process that needs to account for a number of factors. If a stylist doesn’t prep properly, not only could the client end up with a less-than-desirable color, but it could also cause severe hair damage in the short- and/or long-term. No one wants to disappoint clients, so it’s essential that you make all the necessary preparations for their hair before starting the coloring process.

Looking for ways to ensure a successful coloring session? Here are 4 ways you can prevent damage to your client’s hair when coloring.

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Ways To Prevent Hair Damage

1. Recommend a Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner

Not all hair products are created equal. As a stylist it’s your job to educate clientele on the best methods to maintain their hair health. Position yourself as a resource by staying up-to-date on the most recent shampoo and conditioners that can address your clients’ specific hair needs.

One recommendation you should always make for clients with regularly colored hair is a strengthening shampoo and conditioner. Also called fortifying shampoos, these products contain additional protein and vitamins that are meant to hydrate hair and prevent breakage. If your clientele has concerns or complaints about color-treated hair texture, remind them that using strengthening products, or even leave-in conditioners, are important parts of maintaining healthy hair.

2. Encourage Patience

Coloring requires patience on both sides of the salon chair. These sessions can be extremely time-consuming, so it’s important to practice patience on your end to maintain professionalism.

Your clients may not want to keep that same composure though. Be prepared for them to become increasingly impatient if their desired results take more than one session. After all, no one wants to sit in a salon chair all day! One way to encourage patience is to let your clients know that the reason for the slow progression is to prevent damage and maintain their comfort. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know!

Check out the difference between one versus four coloring session results.

Preventing hair damage (before and after)

3. Study Your Client’s Hair

No stylist should go into an appointment “hair blind.” A firm grasp of hair anatomy may not seem that important going into a coloring session, but without it, how can you expect to achieve the best color for your client, or even help improve their hair’s health?

Hair anatomy diagram

Keep this in mind when working with different hair types. As a stylist, you want to fully investigate your client’s hair history before mixing and applying chemicals. Ask questions like:

  • Is this your first time coloring/bleaching your hair? If not, how many times per year, and for how many years?
  • Have you attempted to color your hair at home?
  • How often do you apply heat to your hair?
  • How many times do you wash your hair per week?

The first two or three questions are really important to pin down before mixing color. One of the biggest causes of hair breakage is over-processing, and you want to make sure your client’s hair isn’t already in a fragile state before potentially making things worse. They might be disappointed, but it’s your responsibility to protect them—and their hair—from themselves!

4. Avoid Excessive Heat

This tip might be difficult for clients to accept. With the new rise in popularity of loose, beachy waves, more and more women are opting for styling tools like a curling iron or beachwaver. And while the results are stunning in the short-term, every stylist knows that this heat can cause serious damage to hair, especially when color-treated.

When hair is colored, it’s in a very vulnerable state. Think about it—hair dye doesn’t simply stain the outside of your hair, it breaks through multiple barriers of the hair shaft to ensure permanency. Applied heat to newly colored hair is almost like rubbing dirt in an open wound. It can lead to future damage that could persist long-term.

prepping for hair damage

Not all hope is lost though! While heat should be avoided at the early stages of coloring, there are products that can protect hair from the potential damages of direct heat. These are fittingly called “heat protectants.” As a stylist, you should always use a heat protectant on your clients’ hair and encourage them to follow the same routine at home.

Break the Cycle

Hair coloring is one of the leading causes of hair breakage for women, but that doesn’t mean those with color-treated hair have to suffer the same fate. Break the cycle of hair damage and start these meaningful conversations with your clientele from behind the chair.

Check out our community page for other resources on hair coloring to see how you can take your color melting to the next level!

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