When Is a Color Service Considered a Color Correction?

It’s sometimes tough for colorists to agree on what would be considered a “color correcting” service.  What does it entail, exactly? Will you be balancing out uneven color, changing tone, changing levels? We asked two hair color experts to weigh in on their definition of a “color correction” and to talk about how they consult with the client knowing that there are so many variables including the complexity of the situation, the condition of the hair, the hours needed and product to be used…well, it gets complicated so these two master are going to break it down for us.

David John @davidjohnla is a colorist at Sally Hershberger in Los Angeles and Chad Kenyon @chadkenyon is a colorist at Ramirez Tran, also in Los Angeles.

MODERN SALON: How do you define a "color correction"?

DJ: I would define it as an aggressive or extreme change in someone's hair color. Going from lighter to darker (which is not as big of a deal) or from darker (most likely tinted) to lighter (I'm going to need to clear a full day schedule).  Most likely it is a difference of three to four shades.

CK: The term color correction refers to using any and all hair coloring services required to correct previously colored hair or to restore hair’s integrity.  


MS: What questions will you ask in your consultation?

CK: The questions I ask all new clients are…What is your hair coloring or chemical service history? Have you used henna, because the metallic salts in henna can have a dangerously negative reaction when mixing with lightener? Do you know which hair color products or color lines your previous colorist used? Have you been using Olaplex at home or has your colorist been using Olaplex in your color formulas? Any known allergies to any hair coloring services or hair coloring products? When was your last haircut? I require all of my clients get a haircut or at least a dusting prior to hair coloring so you have a clean canvas on which to create. In the case of a color correction, an additional dusting or texturizing may be necessary at the end of the hair coloring correction. 

DJ: I would ask when was the last time she colored her hair? How long has she been coloring her hair? If she plans on cutting it or if she wants to keep the length? 

I would explain that it is not an exact science because everyone's hair, at every step, will react differently. It's also great to communicate as you are going through the process and tell her what to expect from each process and what the plan is after each step.

MS: How do you talk cost?

DJ:  I would ask her if she has a budget that we need to work with and if she has the time in case it takes a while. Obviously, I would want to keep the integrity and health of the hair but sometimes I have had to ask if it is more important for her to have the color she wants or healthy hair.

I will always try to do the process that is the least harming to her hair, first, and that will be the most cost effective for her. I like to give them a range of the cost from the low end to maximum. Same with the time.

MS: Do you need extra time for a color correction?

CK: Always. I generally have four or more clients going at a time so I make sure to be doing fewer clients when I have a color correction in my chair. I do work with assistants so they can keep an eye on things when I’m not directly on top of it but color corrections definitely require even more time and focus than usual.


 MS: How do you manage expectations?

CK: Under promise, over deliver.  I walk my clients through every step and I make sure that they are 100% on board with how many services it may take to get them to their required results or if we can even get there at all. There is a lot of power in kindly saying ‘no’ to clients that have impossible hair coloring situations. I sometimes let the color correction client know that ‘this isn’t my specialty’ or ‘I want you to be happy, so I want to introduce you to a colleague that will better suit your needs.’

MS: What are your go-to products for a color correction?

DJ: For going darker or for filling hair, I like to use Redken Shades EQ. For removing artificial hair color, I like Effisol by L’Oreal. It’s also sometimes possible to use clear and 30 or 40 volume in whatever color line you use to lift and lighten hair.

CK: Olaplex N°1 in all formulas is an absolute must for me all day, everyday. I also use Olaplex N°s 2, 4, and 5 in the salon and make sure clients use Olaplex N°s 3-6 at home in between services so I have a stronger canvas to paint on the next time I see them. 

 Redken Shades EQ is a must for color corrections and not just because of the fact they’re super easy to work with or the fact that there are endless tones in all levels (level 10 out soon!), Shades EQ delivers a low pH color that smooths down the hairs cuticle and this is almost always key to making progress in color corrections. 

MODERN SALON would like to have the final word on why a color correction service can be so expensive and why you, the stylist, are the expert at determining what's what.  And our final word is…fillers, pigment, tone, underlying color, double process, developers, oxidizing agents, base color, cap technique, complementary colors, foil, glaze, soap cap. 

You get the idea.  Your expertise, knowledge, education, skill, time, and energy all come into play when you are doing a color service and no matter what you call it, you should charge, accordingly.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.