Hair Color Rehab

By Kadi

I spend a lot of my time behind the chair as a colorist performing color corrections and restoring hair to health. While this kind of work is often not the most glamorous, it’s single-handedly responsible for most of my clientele today. You see, in this age of social media, one of the downsides to the industry is there is a lot of window shopping going on. While before clients would find a colorist they click with and develop a long term relationship, nowadays there is a lot of hopping around. Rather than being satisfied, there is now a culture of always looking for the next best thing. Instagram gives the appearance that its a breeze to switch back and forth from blonde to red to brown to pink to platinum, with not a broken hair in sight. Meanwhile, no one is mentioning the filters sometimes being used or the extensions or wigs masquerading as healthy hair. As a result, there is a lot of damaged hair out there, as colorists are under pressure to constantly be producing dramatic makeovers. Everyone wants the before and after shot, and frankly, it’s wrecking everyone’s hair.

After a few cycles of this and at the point where the hair is struggling and fried, a few clients have gotten my name by word of mouth, and I end up doing a color correction and start them on their hair rehab journey. At this stage, the main thing I ask of clients, no matter their hair color or level of damage, is patience and trust. At the point when a color correction is the only option, careful baby steps is key.  The hair is usually quite porous, and the way color is absorbed can be very unpredictable. When hair is over processed, layers of healthy cuticle are gone, and it takes a layering of various products to mimic what would otherwise be healthy, receptive hair. I never go for the quick fix and I never try to do too much in one day, and because of this, the results are long lasting.

One of my biggest hair rehab success stories from the past few years has definitely been my client Sophie Elkus., a well known blogger and creator of style and beauty site Angel Food Style. Sophie was first referred to me by another client of mine, fellow blogger and influencer Sheridan Gregory (who also has her own hair rehab story) . I embarked with Sophie on a mission to repair years of over-processing (and one very unfortunate incident with a candle singeing a section of her hair), and it was only achieved because of a firm trust that we established at our first consultation.


Highbrow Hippie Venice

pre hair color rehab


When we first met, I was frankly nervous to do much to her hair at all. In fact, our initial appointment was me just convincing her to do an intense treatment instead of color. There were so many broken sections that I was nervous to add any fuel to that fire. We decided together to commit to the careful process, and years later we have slowly healed her hair and taken her broken, yellow-tinged, and over-processed strands to first a soft baby butter blonde, to now a warmer, honey-golden blonde.   I was probably truly satisfied with our progress after 4 sessions (about 1 year, with one appointment every 3 months.) But now, with 5 years behind us coupled with and a ton of patience and hard work on both our sides, her hair is now its truly alive with a ton of dimension. 

first we went brighter blonde

The one downside that sometimes comes with a client that is a billboard for healthy hair color, is that there are a lot of requests for that exact color.  Again, the blessing and curse of social media and Instagram.  What I appreciate about Sophie is that she is never shy about telling her followers about the journey it took to achieve it AND to keep it, which helps me to manage expectations.  That being said, I thought I would put together a short punchlist of what to do when you are in need of a color correction.

  1. Be realistic and manage expectations – If your hair is dyed dark with drugstore box color, you’re not walking out with perfect, sun-kissed streaks in 2 hours.  It’s JUST. NOT. HAPPENING.
  2. Bookmark some photos that can be your “working goal” – Have a thorough consultation and ask your colorist’s honest opinion on how long it will take to achieve it.
  3. After appointments, follow your colorist’s instructions for “at home” care – You’ve just spent 5 hours and hundreds of dollars at the salon. Don’t buy cheap shampoo or jump right into a chlorine pool.  You’ll have wasted everyone’s time, including yours.
  4. Expect to pay for quality service – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client balk at the price of a color correction, only to have to explain to them that in the 3 plus hours it took me to complete, I could have done that many clients.
  5. Do not get impatient and salon hop in between color correction appointments – it’s not a safe approach, nor is it fair to your past OR future colorist.  
  6. Be truthful about ALL the chemical services you have had done to your hair – Keratins, Brazilian treatments, etc, they all affect color tone and porosity.  So tell the truth so your colorist can be armed with the right info and in turn decide on the right approach.
  7. Be open and flexible – you may actually find that while you are in the midst of your hair color goal, you may land at a color that actually suits you better.  So pay attention to the different stages.  You may end up with a better and different result than you imagined.

I want to stress that this is only my approach.  I’ve seen other colorists do an absolutely beautiful job with other approaches- sometimes in one day. But again, I’m never interested in a before and after shot just to prove that I’m some sort of magician.  I get way more satisfaction if a client messages me to say that 4, 8, and 12 weeks later, their color has lasted, and is still looking shiny and vibrant. Because the longer you stay in rehab, the better your chances of long lasting, healthy hair color – a win for my clients, and for me.  – Kadi x


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