Exactly What to Tell Your Colorist So They Nail Your Dye Job

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Snagging the perfect hair color at the salon is a lot harder than you’d think. Going to an experienced colorist is important, of course, but customers also have to do their part to ensure they’re communicating their dye job desires clearly. Because this can be difficult for many (hey, we’re not all professional colorists), we tapped a couple of top experts. Here are their best tips on how to get on the same page as your colorist and achieve the hair color of your dreams.

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Do your research

When looking for a colorist to perform your next dye job, start searching for professionals whose work you admire. “Social media is a fantastic tool,” says master colorist at Davide Hair Studio, Lisa Marshall. “Make sure that [the colorist] does the colors and placements you like. If you can, find your inspiration pictures on their page.”

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Bring pictures

Creative director and stylist at Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, Paul Labrecque says it’s “always good to look at lots of pictures and bring ones you like with you to review with your stylist.”

He notes that using just words and descriptions is risky because it could mean one thing to a client and something different to the stylist. “Photos will help keep everyone on the same page.” Marshall advises that you should bring a few different pictures rather than just relying on one to tell the full story.

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Tell them what you dislike

Of course, it’s important to show pictures and be descriptive about the exact color you want, but it may also be helpful to share what you absolutely don’t want. Celebrity hairstylist Adir Abergel says you should describe both what you like and dislike to help your stylist “create something completely customized to you.”

Marshall advises bringing “about two [pictures] of the specific tone and placement you like, and one picture of what you don’t like!” By bringing examples of hair shades you dislike, the colorist will know what they should avoid, helping to prevent a bad outcome.

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Be specific

Showing a picture without explaining what exactly in the photo you want can lead to undesirable results. “Many times I’ve seen clients bring in pictures of hair so unlike theirs, and I’ve learned it is that hair they really want, not necessarily the color,” recalls Labrecque. He advises clients to be as clear as possible to avoid any miscommunications.

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Tell them about your budget and time commitments

You may have a hair color in mind that you can’t actually commit to with your current budget and time. “Have an idea of your total budget for upkeep with your new look, along with time commitments for touch-ups and what will realistically work for you with your lifestyle,” says Labrecque.

Redken celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham says she always recommends clients talk to their colorist about upkeep, maintenance and pricing. “You want to get the look and your desired color without spending hours every other week/month at the salon or spending a fortune.”

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Bring extensions if you have them

Celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble says you should consider bringing any extensions you intend to wear to your appointment. By doing this your colorist can ensure that your color matches the extensions seamlessly.

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Have reasonable goals

“Having reasonable goals and expectations is always incredibly important,” says Labrecque. For example, he explains that if you’ve had dyed black hair for years, you can’t expect to walk out with ash-blonde ombré after one appointment.

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Schedule a consultation

“Always make sure you book a consultation before your actual color service,” says Marshall. “This ensures that you both have enough time to discuss your goals and map out a plan of how to get there.”

Kimble agrees that having a consultation is an essential step to achieving the hair color you want. “Colorists need to get an understanding of what you are trying to achieve and the current condition of your hair to give you the best results,” she explains. 

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Be transparent

If you’re a new client, the colorist will likely have a couple of questions for you. “The most important thing is to answer everything the colorist asks,” says Kimble. She advises clients to be transparent about products they’ve used in the past, their hair-care routine and general lifestyle. Once the colorist has all the information, they’ll be better equipped to make the best decisions for your hair.

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