Color Correction

Many people have heard the term “color correction” tossed around in hair salons, or seen it on a service menu perhaps. But most people (even many stylists) have never had to actually experience the process. And most people (including many stylist) don’t really know what can go wrong, or why, or why it’s so dang expensive (I charge $200 an hour with a minimum 4 hour appointment for severe cases, and that does not include a guarantee). So I thought you might like a blow-by-blow description of Monica’s recent journey from black, to slightly lighter red-brown. And by the way, it was a full two day process if you want to figure the price tag.

From what I know, she has been coloring her hair black for several years, and in very common occurrence in many stylists’, life she was doing it in a way that we wouldn’t perform on a client, lol. Like many other professions it’s “do as I say, not as I do”! Her hair was on the porous side, meaning the hair is sponge-like, and like a sponge it will suck up a lot of “off” tones (grabbing) usually a color we call poop green (honestly, every stylist I’ve ever known has used that term), and release a lot of color (fading), but it won’t let go of all of it (staining). To make the situation even better, when she mentioned that she was looking for a true “blue-black” but had never managed to find one, I suggested putting a blue Pravana temporary color over the top. That was the fatal mistake. And following, is the reason we have a policy in our salon that we don’t attempt removal of black unless it was a recent, and terribly bad, mistake. Removing an older black is usually not successful, because the color “sets” so deeply you generally don’t get a good tone. But what the heck, we’re professionals!

Monica started out on her own at home. We had discussed the procedure, she decided to try the Kenra dye-remover (no bleach involved at this point), and then after lifting to a reasonable red tone (when removing black it’s pretty much impossible to lighten with a dye-remover past red) she would do a bleach wash, otherwise the dark color molecules will re-oxidize to a very dark brown when applying a toner. At this point in the process she had a decent red, and the job was looking pretty successful. After all that work she took a nap, and woke up with dark muddy green hair.

Now, let me tell you, in 25 years in the hair business I have never seen hair spontaneously re-oxidize so quickly, or at all after a bleach wash, or to dark emerald-green! At this point we decided we should fix it at the salon. I had an extremely rare half hour break in my schedule that morning, so we did another bleach wash with a low volume activator. Perfect! until about 15 minutes later. Ever seen Elphaba’s hair in Wicked? Very dark emerald-green/brown. We tried another dye-remover, with heat. Red…then green. She went home with green hair. I don’t like to fail. Don’t get me wrong, I do fail, it’s the best way to learn, but I don’t like to, and I don’t quit.

She was going to do more later that evening, and around midnight came the Facebook status update. “Ohhhhh shit”. I assumed her hair had fallen out, and didn’t sleep much that night, ha! She was smarter than that, however. She had done test strands, and a google search. Pravana “temporary” colors can’t be removed. At this point I have to stop and say, what the f@*k?! It can’t be a temporary color if it can’t be removed! Well, in fairness to Pravana, turns out it doesn’t actually say “temporary” anywhere, no wonder I love how long their dark blue lasts in my hair. Lesson learned. The blue color overlay isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s just somehow managing to fade to emerald-green. There’s another fun fact; her hair starts red, and oxidizes to green. I would have thought that was physically impossible. Red and green make brown, where the heck is the yellow in this equation?

Never react, act. It’s words I live by in the salon. It’s served me well. I’ve done the Heimlich maneuver on a former employee, I’ve dealt with a hemorrhaging client unknowingly having a miscarriage, and I’ve dealt with my own color mistakes. Believe me when I say in the thick of the moment they both feel the same! In the final analysis they are not, of course, but in the thick of it, oh yes.

Our last attempt was to take a pure red pigment through the hair, we used our new Kenra permanent pure red pigment additive to stain the hair, virtually neutralizing the green, then sealed it with an application of Kenra demi color light copper blonde. Viola’, or should I say, thank god! A very decent red-brown, shading down in an Ombre fashion to darkest red-brown. Yes in the sunlight it still has a little bit of an ash tone in some of the ends, but overall it’s actually rather pretty. To make matters a little more amusing, after the fact of course, I just saw a girl on a bike ride by with the same color! We’re trend setters, lol…