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Technical insights to common coloration challenges.

Hairdresser and client
Close up of bleach being applied to hair with brush tool

Hairdresser tips to consider when dealing with neutralizing and correcting color in the salon.

A new hair color captures imagination and expresses a client's unique personality – it's a very personal journey. Which is why, as hairdressers, it's our job to ensure we find the correct shades and treatments to reveal a client's individual beauty.

As always this starts with an expert color consultation to assess things like color needs, hair and scalp diagnosis, application approach, post-color care and a maintenance routine; thankfully our 5-step color consultation guide will empower you to deliver an amazing client experience on every level.

But when it comes to successful coloring, what are some of the more technical aspects to consider – and what if something goes wrong?

Whilst every hairdresser can achieve excellent color results with the right training and knowledge base, there are occasions when the results are still less than perfect. In each case it is essential to understand the reason for failure to prevent future mistakes. Coloring hair is not a mystery; there are good, technical reasons for every stage in the process and solutions to all color challenges – here are two of the more common:

Hair color brushes
Close up of an eye


Unwanted tones often appear when lifting hair to a higher level. This is particularly true when lightening dark hair, as it contains a higher amount of pheomelanin.

Pheomelanin is resistant to lifting more than 4 levels, therefore a lightening process is often required. When lifting, the size of the pheomelanin is reduced changing from red to orange, then to yellow before it finally dissolves.  

Since brown-black eumelanin dissolves more readily, the pheomelanin shows through more strongly towards the final stages of the lightening process. This at times creates unwanted warm tones. So, getting the mixing ratio and development time correct is crucial to achieving an accurate target result.

Other examples of unwanted tones may arise through incorrect color choices. This change in tone corresponds to the color circle theory, enabling you to see clearly how any two colors combine to form a new color.

Specific neutralizing shades or toning products are especially useful, such as GOODBYE YELLOW and GOODBYE ORANGE. For hairdressers these intensely pigmented shampoos provide simple and quick in-salon toning services with pigmented care, ideal for neutralizing, pre-toning, or color corrections. At home, they provide the perfect solution for tonal maintenance, 1-2 times per week.

Hairdressing color bowls and tools


There are two important factors to consider when a color correction becomes necessary or is requested. The first is how to handle the situation with the client and the second is how actually to achieve the desired target color.

The Client

A client may have returned a few days, a week or even longer since their last color treatment requesting that the color be changed, or they may have come directly to you after a disastrous treatment at another salon! The client may have been completely satisfied with their previous color but just want a change, or they may have been dissatisfied with their previous color. 

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Before proceeding with corrective color, it is important to analyze the existing hair. If the client has had their hair colored at your salon before, then the previous results will be on their record card. Use this as the basis of a new consultation:

  • Clearly identify why the client wishes to have their hair color changed. This may be self-evident or require some tactful detective work
  • Perform a new color analysis and record the results on a new record card
  • Remember to ask the client what color process they have had if this is not on their existing card
  • Discuss with the client any issues that have arisen from the color analysis, for example their chosen target shade may not be achievable. If this is the case then try to offer an acceptable alternative, explaining why the original color was not possible, for example the hair may not be strong enough in its present condition to apply bleach
  • Finalise the new color treatment, explaining the coloring procedure as well as any time or cost implications and aftercare
Hairdresser applying bleach to clients hair
Tip: a service is not about individual products, it’s about the total look. It should create an experience for the client as well as value for the salon. Try upgrading your color services with our Color Enablers Support Kit to address the needs of client hair, skin and scalp condition to provide perfect and successful color results.
Hair Sealer products

The Correction

There are three corrective procedures that can be applied to hair:

  • Changing the tone
  • Lightening the hair
  • Darkening the hair

Once the hair has been analyzed you will need to decide which of these procedures to use; it may be that all three are necessary. 

Whenever corrective measures are taken clients will appreciate a positive problem-solving approach. Always focus on the end result and use the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with your client and follow up by offering after-care treatments.


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We are here to empower you to meet every client request! Explore our seminar offering with dedicated color and backbar seminars, designed to help you deliver bespoke results – whatever the challenge!

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Master any in-salon service by staying on-trend with the latest coloring tips and tricks and essential product knowledge over on the ASK Education eAcademy.