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Dyeing To KnowDyeing To Know
July, 25 2005

When it`s time for your clients to cover their gray, show them how exciting the change can be. Here, Brad shares his advice for introducing new clients to color.

Most of the women I see first start to get haircolor when they begin to turn gray. As we age, the body loses pigment everywhere. Hair strands that don`t turn white tend to lose their warmth and become drab. For some women, that drabness is the final straw, and that`s when they make their first appointment with a colorist.

When clients come to you for gray coverage, they want to know that you`re going to make them look beautiful. I explain to my clients that gray hair isn`t bad; it`s just another phase of life. They`ve had one haircolor their whole life, and now it`s time for a new one. This way I make it an exciting change for them. Here are some other tips I`ve learned along the way to help keep your clients at ease while exploring their options.

CONSULTATIONS FOR FIRST-TIME COLOR Look at the consultation as the beginning of a relationship: You need to discover the client`s needs and expectations, and she needs to learn what will look great on her. Be sure to ask her the important questions: What is she really looking for? Which family of colors does she like? Will she come in every three weeks or every three months? Next, consider the haircolor she had as a child, her complexion now, and how much gray she has. Finally, look at photos (never haircolor swatches; these should remain in the dispensary) and together decide on a color family. Think of the consultation as an artistic arrangement: You`re creating the art that she will wear.

FORMULA TIPS While a single color can be great on some clients, I find multi-tonal color the best when working with gray. One way to achieve this is to put highlights in the front or all throughout the hair. I also use a technique I call camouflage color: Instead of totally covering the gray, I pick a formula that lightens hair around the gray so that it almost looks like it`s highlighted. You don`t get a heavy root, and you think it`s part of the color play. Here are some other tips based on shade and texture.

Blondes: An ashy formula will not cover gray. If you`re afraid the end result will be too warm, use a neutral base instead.
Reds: If your client is completely gray, making her a redhead is tricky. If you choose too light a shade, she`ll come out orange. Together decide on what you want, then go a half shade darker. You can also do a patch test in the back. It may sound amateurish, but it`s better than having bad results.
Brunettes: Don`t go too dark when covering grays in brunettes. You can always adjust and go darker, but it`s hard to go lighter.

Coarse hair: Take the formula a half shade darker when coloring wiry, coarse hair; this texture doesn`t take color as well. Ask your client for feedback when she comes back so you`ll know how to adjust it in the future.

AT-HOME CARE Finally, give your client instructions and product recommendations, such as a good shampoo and conditioner formulated for her haircolor shade, to help keep her color looking great between appointments. Ask her to take note of how the color wears; this way, you can give her a time frame for scheduling her next appointment. By following these pointers, not only will you continue to refine your art, but you`ll also show your newly gray clients how exciting and beautiful change can be.
Credit : By Brad Johns: E-mail Brad at


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