Beth Minardi on 'Salt-and-Pepper Hair'
The following response comes from internationally acclaimed salon colorist, educator and product consultant, Beth Minardi. She is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in all phases of coloring.
A fellow colorist, Melissa, had a client with salt-and-pepper hair who wanted to have more "pepper" put back in without any warmth. The client used to color her hair, but stopped five years ago. Now the client wants to add some "black pieces" into the hair. The client then changed her mind and requested "gray pieces." Finally, the client decided on highlights.
Melissa ended up placing partial highlights on top, using Wella Koleston 8/03 and 20-volume developer. The roots ended up a strange burnt orange with some bright orange strands running through the hair. As expected, the client hated it and things got ugly.
Melissa asks if there is a formula for lowlighting dark pieces into this hair type, which would look "pepper" and not have any warmth.
The cause of this problem was really the client "dictating" and changing her mind during the service. Let's break this down: First of all, let's deal with the dictating. It leads me to ask-who's the expert here? This client has arrived in your chair because you are the color expert. You, the expert, should be guiding and leading the client.
As far as the client changing her mind during the service, it's like being on an airplane from Texas to New York and then saying, "Hey, I want to go to Canada." But, I understand what happened here. The colorist panicked and became confused. She ended up creating something neither the client or colorist could live with.
All of this could have been prevented with an in-depth, comprehensive consultation. The corrective consultation deserves more time. I actually give my clients a contract re-iterating what will be done and what the price will be. This removes a lot of guesswork and prevents any confusion.
To best handle this client's situation, I would suggest mixing equal parts of Wella Color Touch 4/0 and 5/1 with Emulsion 4% for the regrowth area. This will create a light, neutral brown root. Do not apply an "all over" formula to the hair shaft. Instead, mix Color Touch 5/1 with Emulsion 1.9% and lowlight the hair in foil or paint throughout the head in order to erase the unwanted brassy strands. After wrapping the last foil, process the hair under heat for 15 minutes, then cool for an additional 15 minutes before rinsing, shampooing and conditioning the hair. You will now have a more blended salt-and-pepper result with minimal pieces of light gray hair peeking through the neutral brown hair. Although this treatment does not completely cover the gray, it provides a blended look which many clients enjoy wearing.
Remember, you are the professional. Your confidence and expertise should be the most powerful part of both your consultation and your service. Both you and the client will end up in a better place. Never begin working until the client is 100-percent sure of what you are going to do.