Color is a Journey

I’m blessed to have clients that understand that title. I’m thankful that through showing pictures and descriptions, more and more people understand that it’s usually not possible to achieve exactly what they desire in one sitting. Could it be? Yes. But at what cost? Let’s break it all down.

I specifically tell new clients that their “hair goal” may take several sessions to achieve. If you have ANY kind of previous color on your hair, it’s going to take extra time to lift through it. If your hair has high porosity, its going to take time. If your hair has chemical damage, its absolutely going to take time. Have I had clients, with previously colored hair, lift perfectly? I have. But it’s rare!
Porous hair is broken down into three categories: low, medium, and high. Porosity simply means how much moisture your hair can retain. Chemical processing and excessive styling heat can change this, and sometimes your porosity is hereditary.
1. Low: the cuticle of the hair is flat, and even though it can be more difficult for moisture to get into the cuticle; once it does, it will not escape. So that conditioning treatment, those creams and oils you’re using, will last!
2. Medium: the cuticle of loose, but it easily accepts moisture. This is the most ideal kind of porosity: easy to manipulate, but healthy enough that with proper care, it will remain strong!
3. High: the cuticle is completely open, making it impossible for moisture to be retained. This means that color will grab very quickly, appearing too dark; and then shortly thereafter will be pushed out again because the cuticle has too many holes for it to pass through. Zero retention.

If none of that made sense, think of your hair as a door with a screen door. Low porosity, the front door is slightly cracked. It’s hard to get a breeze through, but it is possible to feel the air. Medium porosity, the door is ajar, but the screen door is closed. Allowing the breeze to freely flow through. High porosity, the screen door, and the door are wide open. Air rushes through, but there’s no boundary to control the air flow, or the bugs!

My first concern has been, and will always be, keeping the integrity of the hair healthy. If someone sits down in my chair, and wants a drastic change; it can happen, but over time. I never promise to deliver the exact picture they showed me. “Pinterest hair” (as I call it) is usually edited, or the tone isn’t actually what it appears to be. Further than that, I’m not that stylist and can’t recreate the exact image because I don’t know what they did! That’s why I use the term “hair goals” because it’s something to aim for, but my clients are aware it will not be a replica!

Over the course of 3 years, we had fun along the way. Not pictured: pink and lilac!

“Good hair isn’t cheap, and cheap hair isn’t good.” It’s a motto that I repeat to clients all the time. Does that mean, that as stylists, we are trying to get more money out of you? Absolutely not. It means that I care about you, and the health of your hair, and I will not push it past the limit. I’m blessed with clients who trust me, implicitly. And know that I will always do what’s best for the hair. I will also tell you “no.” If I know its not achievable, or if it will clash with your skin/eye tone; I will always be brutally honest. Because, again, your hair is more important to me, than money.

Subtle changes during appointments can make a huge difference.

Another thing I tell new clients, “we’re on a journey together. This is a working relationship, which means communication has to happen.” Relationships are a two-way street. Confusion can easily happen from behind the chair, to in the chair. If someone’s confused, or unhappy, or concerned; I want them to speak up! And I will always take the time to listen and explain.

Toner? What’s That?

If you’re a client of mine, chances are you’ve heard me say “let me mix up your toner, and then we’ll rinse you out.” Toner? What’s a toner? You may have heard it called a “gloss” or “rinse” as well. They all do the same thing: manipulate the hair to imitate a certain color.

Let’s talk the basics…when you lift the hair with lightener, you are removing pigment, and exposing the undertone. Everyone has these pigments in their hair, it’s just a matter of how much. The chart below is a perfect explanation of how much is present depending on how dark or light your hair is. The darker the hair, the heavier the red. The lighter the hair, the less red and more yellow/golden.

When I first started doing hair, I didn’t understand color theory. And that was mainly due to a lack of education during cosmetology school. Let me be blunt: certain schools do not dive into this. Other schools do; and I had a rude awakening when I graduated and got behind the chair.
So I read articles and blogs, I watched videos, I researched, and I asked for help. I spent a couple years afterwards, doing trial and error. Slowly experimenting, always learning.

Fast forward ten years, and here we are. When using lightener and exposing the underlying pigment, this is why its important to lift to the correct level and formulate accordingly. Now back to the main topic of this blog: toner. Once you’ve lifted to the level you need, toners help enhance or dilute the underlying pigment.

Platinum, ash, golden, copper, etc. they’re all colors. They have to be created or enhanced with toners. If someone wants platinum or silver, combative colors will be applied to eliminate yellow, or golden tones (blue and violet). If you want copper, golden, or warm tones, the same thing applies…but it’s not as intense as if going blonde. Here’s the difference: you need only to lift to the level needed. If a brunette sat down in my chair with level 3 hair, and wanted a copper/golden tone; I need only to lift her to a level 5 or 6, because of the underlying pigment! We’re enhancing that tone, not trying to eliminate it.

If you’re still reading this, then let me throw in this last bit of information; and it’s something that I think is the most crucial when lifting. There is only so much you can do in each session without causing major stress or damage to the hair! The picture above is a prime example of the phrase “I don’t want to push your hair over the edge.” In a later post, I will explain in detail the “why’s” of lifting. But for now, I think this is a good stopping point! Confused yet? It’s okay, because that’s what a colorist is trained to know. Leave it up to me to get you to your desired hair goal! Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day; great color usually takes multiple sessions to achieve.

Hello World!

“I get to do what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was six.”

That’s a sentence that I say, pretty often. Whether that’s to a client, who’s curious about how I got into this career…or to myself, when I’ve just been put through the ringer at work. How many of us get to live out their childhood dream?! I do not take it for granted, either. This is what sums me up in a few words: a daughter, a sister, an Aunt, a Christ follower, a business owner, a stylist.

So here I am, 10 years into this business; and I’m more excited about it now than I was when I first started. In 2009, social media did not have the same impact that it does now. Not even CLOSE. How lucky am I that I get to display my work for the world to see, and communicate with my clients this way? I strive to create relationships with all my clients, and I’ve been successful; but thanks to this site, I get to take it to a whole new level.

A blog…this is the newest level that I decided to dive into. Another way that I can connect with my clients, my followers, the world. When I’m behind the chair, I like talking my clients through the process, explain what I’m doing and why. That’s probably because I’m a control freak! When I was a teenager, I was always so anxious to get my hair done; I would have this vision in my mind of what I wanted, and usually left with something that was close, or just missed the mark completely. I talk through what I’m doing; because that was never done with me. I never had a stylist talk to me about how the colors work, why they were using the products they close, why they decided to use a specific toner, etc. I want to give that to my clients! Not only do I want them to leave my chair feeling beautiful and confident in their new look; but I want them to leave with some knowledge.

The BEST compliment I can get, is to have someone sit in my chair, and say, “do whatever you think needs to be done. I trust you.” I trust you. Those are the important words to me, and they hold much value.

I’ll be writing about my experiences behind the chair, exploring product reviews, sharing color knowledge…the options are endless! I’m excited for this next chapter, for this blog, for this chance to connect with you guys on another level!