Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The first time you go to a new hair colorist is akin to going on a blind date. You're both a little nervous but also hopeful and excited for what's to come. It can be the beginning of a long relationship or you may never see each other again. In the worst-case scenario, there will be tears — or screaming. If you've ever been to a salon for hair color and left with results that you don't like or didn't expect, then you know how awkward and miserable getting up from the chair can be. Many of us are at a loss as to how to handle this situation — some even regrettably thanking their hair dresser with a big tip — but there is a right way to handle a disappointing dye job, and it doesn't have to involve crying all the way home.
The best way to avoid a hair-color disaster is to do everything you can to get the results you want. While this may sound like a no-brainer, the first step requires careful communication with your stylist. Before the dye touches your scalp, you want to have had a thorough conversation about the color you're hoping to get. Here are some specific strategies to get the color of your dreams:
Bring a clear picture. The picture should be someone with similar skin tone, eye color, and natural base color to yours.
Don't use technical terms — like warm and ash — that you may not really know the meaning of. Use universal examples of color, like honey, chocolate, or butter.
Research the colorist you're seeing to be sure they do the type of work you are looking for. If you want blue hair, then consider choosing a young, funky salon that specializes in these hip, modern colors and not a conservative shop with a mostly older clientele.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
If you've done all of the above, and the color is not to your liking, then calmly collect your thoughts before you express your dissatisfaction to your colorist. In relaying your disappointment, you'll want to be careful to explain in detail what you dislike because if you think the color is wrong, then you should be able to articulate exactly what's wrong with it. For example, is the color too dark? Is it redder than the picture you presented?
Generally, when a client's color is not exactly what she wanted, I can fix it with a gloss or an extra couple of highlights — if the issue is properly explained to me. Avoid getting emotional and blurting "I hate it!" It'll be awfully hard for your stylist to try and remedy the problem if you're unable to identify what that problem is.
Once you've identified the issue, I recommend giving your colorist just one opportunity to get the color right following the mess-up. Everyone deserves a second chance, but if after round-two of hair color, you're still dissatisfied, it's unlikely that another go will leave you with the color you want.
If you've reached this point, I recommend politely returning to the front desk and speaking to the salon manager. The manager may set you up with another colorist, but if you object to having more chemicals put on your hair and opt to deal with it yourself, you should refuse to pay for the services. Accept the salon's apologies and walk away before you risk more damage.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it's totally reasonable to expect that your colorist will get your color right on the first try. If the color's a little off here or there, that's understandable, but if the stylist's first color attempt needs to be fixed at every touch-up, you should probably start looking for a new hair colorist.
I would advise you to keep in mind that if you've been to every great colorist in your town and no one ever gets the color right, it may not be the pros that are the problem.
Fortunately, hair color is easily changeable. Achieving your dream color might not happen as swiftly as you'd like, but it can and will happen.