Friday, June 14, 2013


One of my favorite sayings is: “If a hairstylist is coloring your hair, then you probably already know that what you really need is a haircolorist.” While every hairstylist wants to do color (because that’s where the money is) very few have the artistic ability, plus the required understanding of chemistry, required to be a good colorist. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them for thinking they can trial and error their way into occasionally lucking out and giving their client a satisfactory result. And even those who may get lucky once, rarely are able to satisfy the client on subsequent visits, as the texture and color of a client’s hair is never exactly the same from one color service to the next. In fact, I have built my career on corrective haircoloring, because over the years I have spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on continued education to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to correct hair color mistakes made by undereducated stylists who fancy themselves “colorists.”
The problem starts with licensing requirements and the educational system in place in the United States. In most other parts of the world, one becomes a hairstylist by apprenticing in a salon and studying under a salon owner and other experienced, well educated staff members. This period of apprenticeship usually lasts for two to three years before the apprentice is promoted to Junior Stylist or Stylist and allowed to service clients. In the United States, however, one wishing to become a hairstylist must enroll in a State sanctioned cosmetology school and complete a certain number of hours of education (in Florida it’s 1200 hours) in “cosmetology” which also includes instruction in manicures, pedicures, waxing, and facials. So of those already too few required hours, not all of them are dedicated to the study hair. Once the student has paid tuition, completed the required number of hours, and passed  the State exam, he/she is granted  a cosmetology license which allows him/her to cut, style, color and chemically process hair, all with less than a year’s experience, most of which is theory and little of  which is  practical hands-on  experience. To make matters worse, because there are so many salons in any given area, all of them looking for stylists to fill their chairs, students who have just graduated are offered “a chair” instead of an apprentice position. Often times the salon owner is a business investor and not an experienced cosmetologist and all staff members also were given a chair right out of school. Therefore, there is no one to mentor under; so even after years behind the chair, no improvement in the quality of work is possible.
So what, then, is the quality you are looking for in a hair colorist that you will not find in most licensed hairstylists? Continued advanced education.
How do you find someone who has committed time and money to honing his/her craft in order to excel in hair color? Start by reading their online bio on their salon webpage, seeing if they write a blog, looking at their Facebook page to see if they have posted about educational events they have attended. Then, call to schedule a color consultation. Most salons will offer a complimentary consultation, and those who charge will usually apply the cost to a future service. The consultation will be your chance to get a feel for the salon and the colorist and to ask important questions.
More on the consultation in my next blog.

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