The perfect hair color consultation.

The primary responsibility for a great consultation falls squarely on the shoulders of your colorist, but you can help by providing a solid "hair history" and visual references.

Clear Communication - Pictures of what you want lower the chances of miscommunication.  Two people's vision of “strawberry blonde” may contain vastly different amounts of red.  If you aren't sure of what you want, bring a few photographs of what you don't want, they can be almost as helpful.  Phones and tablets are great for this, or go old school with scissors.

Hair History - It's important that your colorist have the most complete history possible, because things you don't think about can affect the outcome.  If you’d made significant changes to your hair in the past year, be sure to the your colorist know. The more information you can provide the better.  Highlights added a year ago in long hair will still be in the hair and will affect how the color deposits.  Things like previous color brands, straighteners or perms, products used, hormonal issues and treatments, medicines and more can affect how your hair reacts to color.  Things you wouldn't normally think about can affect the outcome too, like spray tanning around the hairline.  Your colorist should be asking lots of questions and you can help them out by being prepared.  It may surprise you, but one thing your colorist doesn't need is your previous formula.

The Guilt Free Zone - Clients can be reluctant to divulge things they've done to their own hair.  Box color, henna and home solutions like lemon juice or olive oil are things your colorist needs to know.  It's your hair and you have the right to do what you want to it, so don't leave things out because your colorist might look down their nose at it.  Hair history is like Italian race car driving - “What's behind you doesn't matter”, but telling your colorist about it does.

Your colorist shouldn't belittle the work of other professionals who worked on your hair or make you feel bad about your choices.  Your colorist really shouldn't ask who did your hair last unless they love it.

A Plan of Action - By the end of your consultation, your colorist should be able to present you with a clear plan of what you can expect and the steps to achieve it.  Depending on what you want and what you currently have, getting to your desired result may not be possible in one visit and your colorist should be honest about what you can expect.  For major changes, your hair goals may not be possible in one visit and the colorist should be clear about the steps involved along the way.

Lifestyle and Budget - Your colorist needs to know how much effort and expense you are willing to invest in maintaining the look you want.  Are you willing to come in every three weeks for a refresh?  Every six to eight weeks?  Twice a year?  This information will inform the techniques your colorist uses and may result in an honest discussion about what you want versus how much you're willing to come into the salon.  If the two don't jive, your colorist should be ready with options.

When the Consultation Doesn't Go Well - If you're not completely comfortable with the consultation don't move forward with the appointment. There are polite ways to do this and while your colorist may be a bit disappointed, every colorist we know would prefer to have no client as opposed to an unhappy client.

In Summary:

  • Provide as much information as possible, including photos

  • Know the plan and upkeep requirements

  • Be confident with the consultation before proceeding

  • Be Ready to Bail Politely

Kris Williams is the owner of Keith Kristofer Salon and Spa in Austin, Texas, and a Master Colorist for both Goldwell and Wella color brands.air