Communication is key between colorists and hairstylists

July 10, 2011 | 10:17 AM
When a salon is departmentalized, colorists work strictly on color and hairstylists specialize in hair cutting and hairstyling. But, as we learn in school, color placement greatly relies on knowing the finished look in mind. Color is meant to complement the shape and style -- so communication from stylist to colorist is key.

"The importance of communication needs to always revolve around the expected end result," says Fabio Sementilli, Creative Director of Education and Shows for North America P&G Salon Professionals. So who makes the call? Whose vision is executed?

"Traditionally the cutter/stylist leads the way and must be able to decipher the order of operations after the consultation," Sementilli says. "As a rule, the cutter/stylust is the one who determines whether or not the colorist or cutter begins working on the client."

First Chair: What's it like coming from a school setting performing all hair services and then moving into a departmentalized salon?
Fabio Sementilli: Graduating students are so new in the industry and the learning curve that they haven't yet built a strong attachment to either system. When the majority of graduating students find a first job, most begin with assistant/support duties so they don't necessarily begin applying their craft immediately -- giving new grads time to adjust. The transition from full-service stylist into departmentalized stylist/colorist only becomes difficult if the new professional is forced into a department not of their choice.

First Chair: Why do salons departmentalize?
Sementilli: When hair color became a more prominent service in the salon, in the late '60s and '70s, the work of a stylist was much different. They were working on more clients per day because the main service was 5-10 minute roller sets. Fast pace and speed was critical -- the fix to a slow color service was having assistants begin to apply the color. As the shade selection was much more simple than they are today, along with very simple than they are today, along with very simple application techniques. Now, departmentalization is popular because it minimizes risk for salons. If a stylist has a full roster of clients, he/she becomes both a valuable and dangerous asset. If they leave the salon, they hurt the business. By separating the two core services, cut and color, there is less risk to the salon of losing the client if the service provider leaves.

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