So many times in this industry I've consulted with a hairstylist after the fact. After they have created a head of hair color that they are PROUD of, but the guest called two days later asking to have their color "fixed." So many time I've consulted with a hairstylist who has no idea WHY their guests hair did not turn out how they wanted it to, and it is making them absolutely crazy. The most common denominator is that the color service fell short in the consultation. It was doomed from the very beginning due to lack of communication where it counts. So without further ado, I bring to you, 9 questions to ask your guest BEFORE coloring their hair!
#1 What Do You Currently Like About Your Hair?
This will give you a TON of insight into your guests preferences, and non-negotiable's! When asking this question, you give them permission to share what you cannot change about their hair. You will usually hear things like "I really like this piece of blonde right in the front" or "I like how you can really see the two different colors", or whatever else it is that they really love about their hair and want to see remain the same.
#2 What Do You Currently Dislike About Your Hair?
If the first question preserves their favorite parts of their hair color, this question will tell you exactly what they do NOT want to see when their color services is complete. You will generally hear things like "I can't stand how brassy it is" or "I don't like how dark it is". This will continue the process of narrowing down what you will be creating in your color service!
#3 How Often Are You Committed To Having Your Color Retouched?
If they respond with something along the lines of "2-3 times per year" you'll know that a bleach and tone won't fit their lifestyle. If they respond with "Every 4-6 weeks" you'll know that coming in every 3-4 weeks for a bleach and tone might fit their lifestyle!
#4 What Is Your Daily Styling Routine?
This question helps give insight to the care and maintenance of their hair, as well as the daily style of their hair. If they have naturally curly hair and let it air dry, your color placement will be different than if they wear it straight every day. Understanding their style preferences will help to determine the most successful color placement to allow their hair to most often look like their desired end result. In contrast, if they are washing their hair every day and want blonde hair, you'll know to recommend follow up color services to help maintain tone or send them home with tinted shampoos and conditioners to help maintain their hair color at home.
#5 How Often Are You Washing Your Hair?
Is your guest washing every day? Every other day? Once per week? If they are going from blonde to brunette, washing every day will be detrimental to their color longevity. If they wash once per week maybe a demi-permanent color is a better option for their lowlights. This gives us insight to one key factor in color longevity, and helps us to know if they may need to schedule future appointments closer together to avoid their color fading heavily.
#6 What Are You Using At Home For Shampoo & Conditioner?
THIS IS IMPORTANT. As hairdressers if we are not carrying a high quality professional retail line that we believe in, what are we doing?! For colorists in particular this is SO IMPORTANT. This is how we help keep that color a slam dunk at home, and how we set ourselves up for success at their next color appointment. We need to make sure that our guests are using professional shampoo AND conditioner that protects the integrity of their hair, and is formulated to create longevity in their hair color. Furthermore, if they are using one of MANY over the counter shampoos and conditioners that use a wax base, any color service that we perform is for nothing. The color will not be able to penetrate the hair and will literally wash right out. Explain to your guest that hair color is an investment, and that part of the color service is taking home shampoo and conditioner. Add the cost into your price quote if you have to. Just make sure that they are using what you recommend at home.
ADDITIONALLY, if they confess to using an over the counter shampoo and/or conditioner (cough Pantene cough) make sure that before you begin a color service you clarify their hair. This is an added service and should be charged as such! Clarifying their hair and sending them home with professional shampoo and conditioner is the only way that you can guarantee their color service.
#7 Do You Have Any Pictures Of Hair Color That You Like?
Pinterest is a hairdressers best friend and worst enemy all in one. It gives color guests unrealistic expectations as to what can be done to their hair or how their color will look in 6 months without any color maintenance. It ALSO is it's own search engine filled to the brim with different hair colors and color placements. We speak about hair differently than our guests do, just as a neurosurgeon speaks about the human brain differently than the rest of us do. Expecting our guests to be able to verbalize exactly what they want seems like a tall order. Pictures help us to speak the same language! If they have 10 pictures of 10 different heads of hair that look nothing alike, find the common denominator AND GIVE IT TO THEM. Maybe all they're seeing is an ash tone, or a gradation, or maybe the length is the only similarity and they really want a haircut and don't realize it! There is something in common. Break these pictures down and DELIVER!
#8 Is There Anything That You DON'T Want To See Today In Your Color Service?
I love this question! Having been behind the chair for almost 10 years now, the evolution of what people DON'T want to see is so interesting to me. When I first started a common response was that guests didn't want their hair to look all one color. It evolved into not wanting "stripper stripes" (pardon my French). Then not wanting "red" (whatever that means to each person, AMIRIGHT?). And now, the most common answers that I get are not wanting their hair to be brassy, and not wanting their hair to look grey. Guys, I think the ash blonde train is on it's way out and I for one fully support that. GIVE ME A NEW TREND!! This question is wonderful for knowing exactly what you cannot do. Sometimes we get a guest who "just doesn't know" what they want, but 9 times out of 10 they know what they DON'T want, and that can be just as helpful.
#9 In An Ideal World, What Would Your Hair Look Like?
Some people will pull out a picture of Blake Lively, others will pull that damn picture of Kelly Clarkson. I don't even need to get into detail, you all know that picture. It is nice to know what our guests would like their hair to look like if there were no restrictions (example being they pull out a picture of Blake Lively's color retouch blonde but only come in every 6 months for color). It helps us to better service our guests and give them the hair they actually want, rather than hair that they settle for.
By implementing these 9 questions before EVERY color service, for guests new and old, your results will be so much more satisfying! Really listen to your guests, guys. You may be the expert, but they are the contractor hiring you out for a job, and they have specifications! It is up to us to figure out what those specifications are, and to deliver!
If you haven't already, make sure that you subscribe to receive exclusive discounts on my book Dreaming In Color!!