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Changing your Hair Colour – Colour Correction

colour correction

If you’re considering dying your hair, when consulting with a new hair stylist, there’s a good chance one of the first questions they will ask is whether your hair is currently dyed or coloured. The reason, according to Lily Jackson Hair and Makeup Director, Jules Peacocke, is that colouring hair can be complex.

“It takes a great amount of understanding to correct problems in hair colour and should never be undertaken by a person who has little or no colour education,” Peacocke says.

“The stylist must understand underlying pigments and levels of colour as well as chemical reactions that can take place when put together on your hair.”

The level of complexity varies and can depend on the natural colour of your hair, the type of hair colour used, how much time has passed since your hair was last coloured, whether you coloured it yourself using box colour from the supermarket and of course, what colour (and style of colour) you want to achieve. To understand just how complex hair colour can get, read our blog post on a unique colour technology called Elumen, and another on the problems you will encounter using box hair colour from the supermarket or chemist.

Peacocke says new clients who come to Lily Jackson for a new look, often come with hair that has already been coloured or more than six weeks from their last treatment. And if they are keen to introduce new colours to their hair, it often means a colour correction takes place.

While colour correction can be complex, there are steps you and your stylists can take to minimise impact on the health of your hair and achieve some great results.

What is colour correction for hair?

A colour correction for hair takes place when the current colour of the hair needs to be ‘corrected’ or changed in a systematic and staged process in order to achieve a desired look.

Colour correction is key to doing the ‘groundwork’ for introducing new colours to your hair. Similar to a primer that prepares your face for the application of makeup and increases its longevity, colour correction can increase the effectiveness of a hair colour.

Colour correction is for all hair: dark hair going to light or light hair going dark

For example, a client with dark hair who wants to try the pink dip dyed look also known as ombre, may require colour correction to lighten their hair so as to increase the visibility and vibrancy of pink on their dark hair.

Similarly, colour correction is required to repair mishaps of previous dye jobs, perhaps done at home or with a stylist who may have made an incorrect colour selection and did not judge the processing time correctly. In some cases, clients may neglect to tell their stylists what is already in their hair or, it may be that their previous stylist was not so honest about what was being used on their hair. This can increase the chances of errors taking place.

Often, lack of maintenance in between visits can also result in colour fade, which will require colour correction. For example, hair that has been lightened or coloured red, has a tendency to become brassy if left too long between visits. Like an apple that discolours when peeled and cut, hair colour also changes when exposed to the environment or poor hair care products are used.

Changing your hair colour the right way

Another thing to note is that because everyone’s hair reacts differently to hair colour, there are no guarantees on the results. However, your stylist can work with you to create a plan to minimise the impact on the health of your hair and to achieve the look you’re after as best they can. This is where a comprehensive consultation becomes important.

“Results are never a given, and the damage that we are trying to fix sometimes can be in the extreme.  We are very clear about managing client expectations and going for the best we can do in the situation.  This often means that we might take two or more visits to achieve the look desired by the client but this means that their hair health is in a much better place to recover from an issue and gives them the confidence to make a new start to achieve their goal,” Peacocke says.

Creating a plan

In any makeover, it’s important to take the time to chat to your stylist about your hair’s colour and colour history. At Lily Jackson Hair and Makeup, we will chat to you about any recent hair colour used, how you currently feel about the colour and what you would like to achieve. Assessing the texture of your hair and how it has reacted to dyes in the past helps us understand what needs to be done.

In cases where there has been a lot of damage to the colour and condition of your hair, as mentioned by Peacocke above, it may be advised to break the process up into separate stages. This approach means your hair transformation takes place over the period of two or more visits. It is less harsh on the hair and also allows your stylist (particularly if you are a new client) to assess how your hair absorbs and holds the colour.

Dark to light hair

A master colourist will want to know as much as possible about your hair history, especially if you have long hair and it is carrying the “history of your past colours”.

Be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

  • What chemical treatments have you had in the last 2-5 years?
  • What is your budget?
  • What kind of commitment are you willing to make towards maintaining your hair in between visits?

Asking these helps us understand what needs to be done and assess how long it will take to achieve the desired look.

Light to dark hair

You may think going from light to dark is an easy process but your hair’s ability to hold onto the colour pigments can be compromised from years of bleaching.

“Clients mistakenly think that dark hair colour pigments will just cover blonde hair easily. But blonde hair that has been bleached is often porous and it can be like pouring water into a sieve. The condition of the hair has been so compromised that often the best thing to do is have a really good haircut to remove the damaged ends and follow up with a keratin treatment.  Naturally some colour will hold but the client will probably need to return more frequently for toners or have the colour taken through to the ends more frequently than otherwise would take place,” Peacocke says.

What to consider when getting your hair coloured or chemically treated

There are some things to consider when changing the colour of your hair. These may be useful to chat to your stylist about during your consultation.

  • Lifestyle: Do you regularly swim, blow dry or straighten your hair on heat? These can change the colour of your hair dye quickly. Speak to your stylist about how often you will need to reapply colour or how these factors may affect your hair.
  • Home maintenance: Our stylists can provide you with some advice on how to maintain the colour of your hair at home and improve the overall health of your hair. Home maintenance will increase the longevity of your hairstyle, help avoid brassiness or keep your hair from becoming too dry.
  • In salon treatments: Keratin treatments are a great way to improve hair condition and should be seriously considered in the lead up to a colour correction. Stylists can also apply protein based hair treatments or treatment serums at the basin. As a bonus, we often don’t allow ourselves the time to sit still for 10 minutes with a towel on our head so the salon is the perfect place to allow yourself this luxury for your hair health and mental time out!

How much does colour correction cost?

How long is a piece of string?

The short answer is that it will depend on a number of factors including the current condition of your hair and the look you want to achieve.

“Colour correction can be expensive and will depend on what is required in terms of the product, time taken and type of application process,” Peacocke says. “Sometimes we are applying 3 different types of hair colour with different processing times to counteract different colours in the hair from different colouring processes. Which means that clients can be in the salon for upwards of 4-5 hours if the change in colour is significant.”

The importance of getting a Strand Test

Our stylists can talk to you about their recommended approach and present options based on your budget. Prior to commencing any work, we often insist on doing a strand test.

Strand tests are where small hair strands are inconspicuously removed from different areas of the head and colour tests are performed on the hair strands to see if they can withstand chemical processing.

“If the results of the strand test are poor, that is the hair starts to break, we just won’t do what the client has requested. It would be irresponsible. In other cases, the end goal is definitely achievable for the client but it is actually more cost effective to go for a more expensive option at the outset.

“We often see clients spend three to 10 times as much than the original cost of a colour correction just to recover from bad hair colour experiences at home or at cheaper hair salons.  We love making clients fall in love with their hair (and hairdresser!), but fixing someone else’s mistakes certainly keeps us on our toes and adds a lot of pressure to an experience in the salon which should be chilled out and stress free,” she says.

Hair colour inspiration

Thinking of a hair colour makeover or transformation?

Take a look at our Fairy Floss Hues Pinboard for inspiration or find out more on current colour trends Fashion Grey, Ombre Hair Colour, Freelights and our favourite creative colour technology Wella Professionals.

Also check out the Sapphire and Emerald Highlights Hair Transformation Video.


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