Navigating the minefields of hair color
Have you ever gone to your hair stylist, fully knowing what you want your hair color to look like, but you realize you have no idea how to describe it to her? The result can be anywhere from disappointing to a full-blown hair catastrophe. I’m going to paint you some low lights of a real-life hair horror story concerning a failure to communicate – and then I’m sharing a Q&A with a hair stylist and coloring pro to save you from a similar fate.
Finding a New Hair Stylist in a New Town
About five years ago, I moved to a new town and had to find a new stylist. This is a daunting task because our relationships with our stylists are so personal. Once you find someone who truly gets your style, you don’t want to lose that sanctuary. Like ever.
I looked around for what felt like forever and finally found someone who seemed to have a lot of experience and was the actual owner of a decently sized salon. I decided that paying the premium for his experience would ensure a stellar result. Holy Balayage, was I wrong!
I thought I had communicated what I wanted in perfect detail – some natural, sun-kissed highlights. I could see the vision in my head. I could see myself walking in slow motion out of the salon as the wind blew through my locks and the sun shimmered off my highlights like Jennifer Aniston on the beach. A total movie moment. However, what I got was anything but natural – what I can only compare to a 90’s at home frosting cap moment gone wrong, the look was drastic, chunky, and anything but me. More Cruella de Vil than Jennifer Aniston.
I went through three similar scenarios as I tried to fix the mess that had become my hair – each time cursing this new town I had moved to and the apparent lack of talent or style.
Is it them – or me?
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was conversing with a friend of mine who had been in the hair industry for a few decades and it dawned on me that perhaps it wasn’t the stylist at all. Maybe it was how and what I had communicated to the stylist. Perhaps it was me that had caused my result. The horror!
How to speak to your stylist in hair language.
I have a saying in life – Communication can cause 90% of problems, and it can also fix 90% of problems. You aren’t communicating unless you get your point across to the other person. This is especially important when it comes to “hair language”.
Q&A with Ada Tabaku, Owner of Ada K Beauty
To help navigate this potential mine field that is hair color, I sat down with my current hair stylist of over three years – the woman I finally – and so thankfully – found in my new town. She’s explaining some of the hair styling lingo we can use to describe what we really want. The do’s and do not’s of talking to your stylist. How to talk to him or her in hair language.
LUXYMOM®: How often does a client – new or current – try to explain something they want done to their hair, and you feel like you have to decipher, or you really aren’t sure what they want?
Ada: Believe it or not, it happens more often than you think. Not so much what they want, but the process of getting there. For example, not everyone is aware about the process it takes to actually color hair, so they might want something done that requires more time and possibly sessions, so I try to educate them on what it actually requires to get a certain color or look – so that way we’re both on the same page.
LUXYMOM®: What are some tips you can give us lay-people for describing what kind of color we want?
Ada: My favorite tips to give to my clients when they aren’t sure what color they want, are:
- Study and identify your color complexion. It is such a big factor when choosing a color.
- Also, identify the tones of the color you’re choosing to make sure they’re the best match for you!
I say, think of your outfits, your makeup – we have our favorite tones, whether they’re neutral, warm, or cool, we all have those colors that make us feel our best. Now do the same with hair. This way you would have somewhat better of a direction to go on, and plus you have us on the end to help you understand your skin tones and show you colors that best match you.
LUXYMOM®: What are the most important things you WANT us to tell or show you when we come in for color or a cut?
Ada: The most important thing for us to know is your lifestyle. Are you a busy mom who has no time to get ready in the morning? How often do you style your hair? Are you a swimmer? Are you an up and go kind of girl, or do you take the time to do your hair?
This is extremely important for us to know when choosing a hairstyle for you. This makes sure we don’t give a client that I know doesn’t want much upkeep, a style that does require more work and sometimes more frequent appointments.
LUXYMOM®: What expectations should we have when coming in for color?
Ada: Clear and open communication between the stylist and the client is key. A consultation is an important part of your color service, so take that time to talk to your stylist. It’s the only way we can ensure that our results align with your expectations.
LUXYMOM®: What do you find that people ask for that actually means something else?
Ada: When they make an appointment they ask for a root touch-up only, because to them they only need their roots touched up – but they might be a highlighted client, or more of a dimensional color client – so it would take more than just a root touch-up to refresh the color. So explaining your hair history is extremely helpful to ensure the stylist will have enough time for the right application needed to touch up your hair.
LUXYMOM®: When trying a new stylist for the first time, what can we tell him or her, or bring to them, to make the process of getting to know each other and the client’s wishes, better?
Ada: It isn’t easy trusting someone with your hair, and I know it’s a very nerve-wrecking feeling. When trying someone new, I would say don’t be afraid to talk about past experiences – what was it that made you want to switch stylists or want to go see one if it is your first time. Is it a change, a new look, or were you not getting what you wanted? Also, pictures are great – any inspirational photos. If you have played with color before and have photos to show, go right ahead. This gives us an idea of what you like.