When it comes to coloring your hair, there are two camps: the at-home box color brigade and those who swear by the salon. If you’re a box color gal (or fella), you might not see the value in paying someone to do what you can achieve at home. But that’s just the thing – unless you’re a trained colorist, you can’t. Read on to find out what makes professional color worth it.
What makes salon color different?
The biggest difference in the professional color process is customization—and it all starts with a one-on-one consultation. “Salon color is customizable to each individual guest’s needs and desires,” says Matt Smith, Senior ImEdge Designer.
A pre-service (complimentary, of course) conversation with your stylist can make all the difference. With a few questions, they’re able to determine not only what you like and what you don’t, but also important details about your lifestyle that can help them select both the right shade and technique for your color. “At William Edge, we do custom consultations based on your natural hair color, skin tone, face shape, and personality,” says Mindy Paredes, William Edge ImEdge Designer. “A professional is able to adjust tones and levels of color to give you the perfect outcome.”
This means you don’t just go blonde. Instead, you attain the perfect shade of icy champagne or golden wheat, imagined and created to perfectly suit your coloring and your lifestyle. It means you don’t just cover grey—you receive an assessment from a professional who expertly blends and conceals, leaving you with dimensional, flattering color uniquely suited to your hair type and texture.
What do I gain from working with a professional colorist?
As fashion and beauty professionals, colorists tirelessly monitor the industry’s reigning trends, techniques, and products. And not only are they aware of them—they’re constantly pursuing advanced education to ensure they’re able to deliver the same results to their clients, beautifully. “At William Edge, we are continually given in-salon education,” says Paredes. “We work on live models and practice on mannequins whenever we have down time.”
Right now, for instance, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of sun-drenched, natural-looking color on the heads of celebrities and trendsetters alike. These lived-in looks are achieved through specialty techniques like balayage, in which the color is hand-painted onto the hair. Stylists spend years honing these skills, and continuing education allows them to deliver trending styles as soon as the client requests start pouring in.
You know what they say: if it were easy, everyone would do it. (And by “it,” we mean bear a passing resemblance to Blake Lively fresh from a tropical vacation. #sunkissed)
What am I risking when I use box color?
You don’t close your eyes, reach into your closet, and hope you grab something good. Everyone’s hair takes color differently, so when you DIY, you’re essentially looking at a swatch and hoping that the end result measures up. (Ever ordered a red dress that turned out to be more of a fiery orange? Far more tragic when it happens to your hair.)
And when box color goes wrong, it goes terribly wrong. (Let’s not even talk about bleach burns.) “You are risking damage and dryness—and the results will vary from what you think you’re getting,” confirms Crystal Wakitsch, Senior ImEdge Designer. Color correction is not an easy process, and it costs far more than if you’d just gone to a professional in the first place. Save yourself the tears, your hair the damage, and your wallet the unbearable sense of emptiness, and place a call to a colorist.
Will coloring my hair damage it?
No—not when it’s the right color. “Aveda color is up to 99% naturally-derived from plants and flowers, and full of botanical oils and conditioners designed to leave the hair healthier and shinier than it was initially,” says Jennifer Provencher, ImEdge Designer II. After all, you should never have to sacrifice healthy hair for gorgeous color.
The difference is perhaps most noticeable for those who have experienced previous damage with DIY color. If you’ve been coloring your hair at home and choose to try the salon route, you’ll notice more shine, softness, and luster (think: hair made for a shampoo commercial) than you’ve seen in years.
Can hair color make me look younger?
Maybe you’re greying a bit and not quite ready to own it. Or maybe you are, but you want to do it right. Maybe you’re just tired of seeing the same thing year in and year out. Just as lackluster hair can age you, the right color can take decades off.
Hair color can be applied to create the illusion of thickness, to cleverly mask a few pesky greys for months at a time, or simply to stand out against your skin tone and prevent you from looking washed out. And while you might assume this requires all-over color, a good colorist can make it happen with a few well-placed highlights.
Furthermore, color professionals’ knowledge of trends and techniques enables them to adapt the looks of the moment to your personal style, meaning you always look fashionable—without feeling like you’re struggling to fit into your niece’s jeans.
How do I make sure I get what I want?
When you work with a professional, your dream color is more attainable than you ever thought possible. Even better, he or she can recommend a similar shade when necessary, perhaps better suited to your coloring or needs.
And as Descartes would agree, it’s better to show a picture than to explain one. To help hit the mark, we recommend you bring at least one inspiration photo when you meet your colorist for the first time. A photo is a common language that does not allow the same room for interpretation that words sometimes do (albeit unintentionally).
When seeking inspiration, try searching for hashtags of hair trends on Pinterest or Instagram—for instance, we’re currently obsessed with #opalhair and #firehair. Seeking something on the natural spectrum? We recommend you explore #colormelt, #balayage and #babylights.
So, what’s the bottom line?
A good color service can simultaneously reawaken you, refresh you, take years off, and be the perfect unique expression of your personal style. Even the best kits on the market damage your hair, fade quickly, and can’t compare with the depth of color and longevity of professional color. It’s not easy to become a certified colorist, and the skill attained in those years of training and experience can’t be measured.
With a box, you’re paying for the chemicals. With a professional color service, you’re paying for expertise, creativity, understanding, chemistry, precision, customization, safety, certainty, and artisanship. You become a walking work of art, whether you walk out of the salon with gorgeous mermaid hair or with the perfect shade of rich chestnut brown—one that makes your skin glow and your eye color pop.
Why leave that to chance?