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Not so innocent now are you Henna?

Posted on June 28, 2017 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (63)
As summer months are now upon us and everyone starts jetting off on their summer holidays and visiting summer fayres, and the huge rise of “natural living” with many people looking for more and more ways to reduce the amount of chemicals they consume and apply to their hair and skin, it’s worth remembering the risks of so-called ‘Black Henna’ Temporary Tattoos and “Compound Henna” hair colour which can cause people to develop allergies to hair colorants and cause major damage both internally to your health and externally to your skin and hair. 
Henna Tattoos
While on holiday or visiting a summer fayre, many people opt to have a fun temporary ‘black henna’ tattoo applied on the beach or by the pool. Henna extract is orange-red in colour; however, some tattoo artists offer a much darker ‘black henna’ or various shades of brown.  There is no such thing as ‘black henna’, or any henna colour varieties for that matter and so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos can cause painful short and long-term damage to skin and may cause people to develop an allergy to hair colorants which will prevent them from colouring their hair in future. 
So what is in ‘black henna’?
The truth is that so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos are not likely to be henna at all, but may contain a substance called PPD (paraphenylenediamine) in extremely high quantities. This use of PPD in tattoos and at such high concentrations is illegal in the EU, and it can be very harmful if applied direct to your skin in these types of temporary tattoos. 
PPD – what does it do?
PPD is used safely and legally as an ingredient in hair colorants and only in tiny amounts (usually around 0.2%> of the entire product), but when applied directly to the skin in much higher concentrations in a temporary tattoo it can leave people with a swollen, sore, red ‘burn’. It can also sensitise people to PPD, triggering a painful allergic reaction from contact dermatitis to chronic respiratory complications such as anaphylaxis or toxic shock
It doesn’t stop there. If clients have been sensitised to PPD through a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo, they are very likely to react to PPD elsewhere in future, such as when you use hair colorants. Hair colorants themselves are regulated under the stringent EU cosmetic safety regulation and are perfectly safe to use when the instructions are followed carefully (see our Why We Have Really Toughened Up Our Skin Test Policy, What We Need To Do and Answering Some of The Most Frequently Asked Questions Blog for more details)
But because an allergy is for life, you may never be able to use commonly used hair colours on your hair in future without risking a bad reaction.
Compound Henna Hair Colour
Many people opt for a Henna hair colour instead of a more traditional salon colour believing it to be the more “natural” or less damaging option. However, as mentioned above, Henna is only available in one colour; red orange.
This is because the only colour molecule present in henna which is enough to stain hair is Lawsone, which is only ever a red-orange molecule. Any company, manufacture or brand claiming to offer 100% natural henna hair colour in a range of colours is LYING! It doesn’t exist!
Companies who claim that they use other parts of the henna plant to create these different colours, such as the bark or roots are TALKING RUBBISH as only the leaves of the plant are used to extract the colour molecule, which is only ever red-orange.
Whenever you see a company claim to offer henna hair colour in a range of colours, such as blonde, black, indigo or various shades of brown, there is certainly something in there that is definitely not henna, usually other plants, metallic salts or a whole host of nasty chemicals. Henna hair colour which offers a variety of colours is not natural henna, it is compound henna, which is another product entirely.
Compound Henna and Traditional Hair Colour are a Disastrous Combination!
To create a henna hair colour which is anything but red-orange requires the addition of various chemicals, metallic salts and other plant dyes to alter the colour of henna, thus creating a compound henna.
The most common and the cheapest variety of compound hennas will use a metallic salt  which alters and fixes the dye stain, the most used is lead acetate (though copper, cobalt, silver nitrate, bismuth, nickel and iron salts are also used). Lead acetate gradually deposits a mixture of lead sulphide and lead oxide on to the hair shaft, which is one of the lead causes for the hair to feel coated and become brittle.
Unlike genuine natural henna (which is usually more expensive than the dangerous cocktail compound variety) which does not damage your hair, Compound henna will almost certainly cause you problems. But it doesn’t stop there, as well as the damage these products can do to your hair, they very rarely declare their full ingredient list, so there’s no telling what nasties are in there and what you may suffer an allergic reaction to. Many compound hennas, commonly the darker varieties will also contain PPD, and some contain very little, if any actual henna at all.
The biggest problems however can occur when someone who has used a compound henna hair colour and then decides to use more traditional colouring method. Just like any chemical service, once you have applied a compound henna to your hair, it will remain there until that hair has been cut off. Metallic salts and other chemicals used in compound henna reacts terribly with any kind of oxidising colour, this includes all the regular permenant colours, demi/tone on tone colours and lightening products (bleach), they must not come into contact with each other.
If someone who has had a compound henna application has any form of traditional colour applied onto the same hair, the best result they could hope for is very unpredictable results, such as the hair going purple or green (not the nice type) or not changing colour at all, and their hair becoming dry and brittle – and this is the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would be a fully fledged chemical reaction happening right there on their head, metallic salts and oxidising colours are not compatible, the hair will become hot, in some case start to steam and boil, the smell is horrible and finally disintegrate right there from the point of where the henna was applied. If it was a recent application, this could be very close to the scalp.
Allergic & Chemical Reactions
Allergic reactions to PPD or other chemicals in compound henna hair colour can vary from a small rash to sever hospital-job-near-death situations.
If you have ever suffered a reaction from a temporary tattoo, permeant make-up or henna hair colour, you should consult your doctor before considering any future colouring services. You may be referred to a dermatologist who can investigate the cause of the reaction by carrying out a patch test. This will identify what ingredient has caused the problem so you know what to steer clear of in the future. 
It is also very likely that you will not be able to colour your hair with most types of hair colorants following a reaction as you will have become sensitised to PPD. It is also possible that you may have become sensitised without actually having an allergic reaction at the time of the PPD exposure, the best way to test for this is of course with a skin test using the colour you plan to have applied to your hair.
Compound henna present on your hair, and other metallic salts and chemicals found in some products (Just For Men is one of the worst for this) will also prevent you from having most colouring services. The chemical reaction between those chemical salts and oxidising colours (all permeant, demi, tone-on-tone colours and lightening products) will cause very unpredictable colour results and cause terrible damage to your hair, in some cases disintegrate it completely. The best way to test for metallic salts present in the hair is to carry out an incompatibility test.
The large amount of people who have had a so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo and the misinformation regarding henna hair colour means that ensuring we carry out a professional consultation with both a skin allergy test and incompatibility test before applying any colouring or lightening products is absolutely essential for both the safety of our customers and the business.  


Why We Have Really Toughened Up Our Skin Test Policy, What We Need To Do and Answering Some of The Most Frequently Asked Questions.

Posted on June 28, 2017 at 1:52 PM Comments comments (64)
Your safety is as important to us as the beauty of your hair.
As professional Stylists and Colourists, we take Health & Safety very seriously. We will not, under any circumstances knowingly put our clients or our own safety, the condition of your hair, or the business at risk. 
Additional to this, it is unfortunate that we live in a world where some people seem to be out for anything they can get. We have been subjected to a few cases where a person has maliciously tried to bring a claim against us, and it is only because we have followed the law, our insurance requirements and manufacturer’s instructions that the salon is still open today.
With so many people out there with a "where there's a blame; there's a claim" attitude, out for every penny they can get and the fines and penalties for failing to follow these laws and procedures being enough to close the whole salon down (all of us losing our jobs in the process) we ensure we do everything by the book, some of these laws and procedures may be time consuming and inconvenient, but this is our livelihood, and in times like these, we need to cover our backs.
In the past, we have been very lenient when it comes to skin testing, opting for the option which is most convenient for our clients, but with things the way they are now, we have taken a massive step to toughen up our rules and policies and ensure we will not be put in a compromised position.
What you lose in what may appear as convenience and maybe even the “PC” Health & Safety “gone mad” regime, you will most certainly gain in peace of mind and additional safety precautions. After all, we are professionals, and this is all part of delivering a professional service. Would you trust a Beautician or Lash Technician who was happy to carry out your eyebrow tint or false lash application without a patch test? Hopefully not. On top of this, there’s a lot of misunderstandings and myths around patch testing which hopefully, in this blog we can dispel for good.

Skin Tests - They Are Not Just a Waste of Time, They Are The LAW

It is a legal requirement that we perform a skin test prior to a colour application and complete all the relevant documentation. We have this obligation under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act. It is not us being awkward or trying to waste your time, this is THE LAW. Failure to follow the law can result in prosecution and fines for us and serious physical and emotional harm to our clients. Risks we are just not willing to take. 
As another legal obligation, we must not carry out a chemical service on clients where the condition of the hair is at risk, which is why we will always advise new colour clients or existing clients wanting a big change of colour to book in for a colour consultation prior to the day of their colour appointment. During this consultation, a strand test will be performed to ensure the service will not severely damage the hair and advise on expected results (visit our Blog page for more information on our Consultation Service), we will not carry out a colouring service if we have any doubt about the final condition and integrity of your hair. It is also during this consultation when we will usually carry out a skin allergy test.
An Allergic Reaction is a Very Serious Problem
An allergic reaction to colours, although very rare, will result in symptoms such as itching, burning, inflammation, redness and blistering to the scalp. In extreme cases, it can also lead to scarring to the scalp, hair loss or even balding. The inflammation and itching etc can also travel to other parts of the upper body such as the eyes, ears face and chest.
PPD (paraphenylenediamine) is the ingredient in almost all colouring products from permanent to coloured shampoos, and although it is only present in extremely small quantities, it is usually this chemical compound which results in an allergic reaction.
As well as the external symptoms of an allergic reaction, it can also induce chronic respiratory complications such as anaphylaxis or toxic shock, which in very severe cases can lead to coma, permanent damage or even death. It’s not something to brush off as something trivial. 
There's No Excuse Not To Have a Skin Test
An allergy to hair colour, like any other allergy, can develop at any time, completely out of the blue.
It doesn't matter if you've never had a colour done before or you're a salon regular.
It makes no difference if you have used shop bought "box dyes" or always had your hair coloured professionally.
It doesn't matter if you are having a change of colour or just having your monthly root retouch.
An allergic reaction can happen at any time to anyone. The excuse of "I've always had my hair coloured and never had a problem" does not excuse the need for a skin test – if anything, it increases your need, as just like any other allergen, the more exposure to the product you have had, the more likely you are to become allergic.
And, just like any other allergen, certain situations and body changes have also shown to increase your risk of developing an allergy, such as times of stress, pregnancy, hormone imbalances or certain medication, and this isn’t just with hair colour, it’s with anything. This is how some people can wake up one morning and be allergic to nuts, develop hay fever or can’t use their favourite skin cream anymore because they have developed an allergy to one of the ingredients.
Steer Clear of Henna
If you have ever had a henna tattoo, even if it was years ago (especially "Black" henna which is not only illegal but isn't actually henna), you might be at more risk of a reaction due to the high levels of PPD contained in the product. Many henna products used (especially abroad and at "seaside tents") contain far more than the legal maximum of PPD. This over exposure can lead to you developing an allergy overnight, even if no symptoms of a reaction are visible and prevent you from ever having a hair colour done for the rest of your life.
If you have ever had or recently had any henna tattoos or permanent make-up, we must skin test as your risk on a reaction may be greater, as you may have developed an allergy without realising it. If you have ever had a reaction to skin tattoos (including henna) or permanent make-up, your risk of a reaction is also greater and we will not be able to carry out a colouring service.
For more information about the problems associated with Henna and so called Black Henna, please read our Not so innocent now are you Henna? Blog.
"I don't need a Skin Test for Highlights" - it's a Myth
Some salons will not insist on skin testing for an "Off Scalp" application such as highlights, with the theory that if the product is not touching the scalp, there’s no chance of a reaction. This is a myth and a completely unreliable method of safeguarding.
Firstly, no matter how qualified, competent and experienced your colourist may be, there is still always a risk that a foil may be knocked or pulled (whether that be by your colourist, the assistant when sitting you at the backwash or yourself accidently knocking them while trying to put your glasses on or moving hair out of your face) and the product may "bleed" onto the scalp. Again, a risk not worth taking.
Also, it may sound obvious, but those foils still need to be rinsed and shampooed at the backwash, a process that will naturally see the product come into contact with your scalp, thus creating a risk of a reaction no matter what we do. No matter how “flushed” with water or how careful the removal of your foils is, the product WILL at some point, touch your scalp.
And finally, it is very rare these days that we will carry out a foil highlighting service without a toner, at the very least a Silver shampoo. Both products (even the shampoo) contain the same colour pigments which causes the reaction. Without a skin test, we would be unable to use either, therefore affecting the results we wish to achieve and preventing you from ever attaining the kind of blondes that are the most popular.
Albeit there is no official way to test if you will have an allergic reaction to Bleach, we can perform a sensitivity test where a small amount of the mixed lightener is applied behind your ear or in the inside corner of your elbow.
Everyone experiences different reactions to hair lightener, some sit through the entire service without so much as a tingle, others may find the lifting process unbearable with even the lowest strength developers. Although it is completely normal to experience some tingling, mild stinging and even a slight redness of the scalp during lightening, being in agony and a blistering scalp is not.
Unfortunately, although a sensitivity test may be able to give you an idea how comfortable you will be throughout the service, there is no sure fire way to predict in advance how you personally will react on the day, unlike a patch test for hair colour. As a rule, if you are suffering from an itchy or tight scalp, have any open cuts/abrasions on your scalp, or any skin disorder around the scalp, hairline or neck, we would strongly advise avoiding a bleach application.
Colour Start Patches Don't Stand Up in Court
Some salons use a product called "Colour Start" (we actually trialled them a few years back), a handy little skin test we could post out to clients before their colour appointment so they could skin test themselves at home.
In theory, this product was a great idea; it didn't involve a client calling into the salon 48 hours before their service and they were really easy to use, you just applied it like those little temporary tattoos you used to get in sweets.
However, the reason why we don't use them is that they are not worth the cellophane they are wrapped in. Our insurers, our manufacturers and the law clearly states that a skin test must be carried out using the products we intend to use during the service.
Although Colour Start patches contained PPD, it is not an actual colour and it is not used as part of a service. You could have no reaction to the Colour Start patch yet still have a reaction to the actual colour product, and as we have not followed our insurance policy, our manufacturers instruction or the law, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court.
"Can't I Just Sign a Disclaimer?" - No, Not at All, Another Myth
Some salons will also ask clients who refuse to have a skin test to sign a disclaimer saying they refused and want to go ahead with the colouring service anyway, we even get clients asking to sign a disclaimer just so they won’t have to have one!
This is yet another myth, a disclaimer, no matter how well it is written or how amendment a client is about signing it is not worth the bit of paper it is printed on. It does not stand up in court and means absolutely nothing.
From a legal perspective, it is us, the qualified professionals who understand the risks and potential harm of the product (basically saying “we should know better), a client does not (again this is from a legal point of view not ours!). By not carrying out a skin test, we are breaking the law, voiding our insurance and going against our industry training and manufacturer’s instructions, no disclaimer is going to get around that, no matter whose signature is on the bit of paper.
I suppose it would be a bit like myself (with no medical training) telling a Doctor to just go ahead and carry out an operation or treatment which I insisted I wanted but with the Doctor knowing it was the wrong thing to do. It wouldn’t matter if I signed to say I was happy for the Doctor to do it, if things went wrong, it would still be the Doctors fault because they are one with the legal and professional obligation, everybody would simply be left asking “why did they do it in the first place if they knew it was wrong?”. In fact, when you think about it like that it would make the doctor a bit of a tool.
I’m aware that a Doctor and a Hair Colourist are worlds apart, but in a court of law the failure to follow professional obligation is the same. Any lawyer would simply point out the fact of "you knew the law, you were aware of the risks, had the training and you knew it was wrong; but you did it anyway" instantly sued, not a leg to stand on.
Professional Colour Consultation to Determine If You Need a Skin Test.
During your colour consultation, we will ask questions and view your colour history (if you are an existing client) to determine if we need to carry out a skin test 48 hours prior to your colouring appointment. These questions can also be asked over the phone at the point of booking.
They are really simple questions and ensure that we are not only following the law, our insurance policy and manufacturer’s instructions, but more importantly; safeguarding you as our client from a potentially devastating reaction.
These are the questions we ask, put simply, if you can answer NO to every question, we’re good to carry out your colouring service without a skin test.
What this means for our regular colour customers
Clearly new clients to the salon, people who haven’t had a colour before or anyone who has had any issues with a colour in the past will always need a skin test, but for our regular customers, it’s a little different and can get a bit confusing.
Basically, the rule we have to follow, is anyone who hasn’t had a colour applied within the last six weeks is in the eyes of our insurers and manufacturers “a new colour client”. If you go longer than six weeks between colour applications, we must perform a skin test before each application. If you visit the salon every 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 weeks (to the day, they’re very strict on this) we only need to carry out a skin test once every 12 months, which our computer system will keep an eye out for.
This may all sound a little pointless and has the potential to get a bit silly, such as in the event someone leaving 6 weeks and a day between visits will need a skin test, for the sake of a day, which could happen quite often given how busy we get and people having to book in a little later at times or if something crops up and anyone needs to postpone their appointment back a week.
The strangest thing about this law, is a regular client who is visiting every 6 weeks or less can have their skin test done during their visit, as long as we have completed the relevant documentation to abide by the law. 6 weeks and a day between visits, and the skin test needs to be done 48 hours prior to the colour application. Don’t shoot the messenger!
We always recommend 4-6 weeks between colour applications anyway, more regular for higher maintenance colours such as blondes and fashion colours, so providing you are following the recommended upkeep, you shouldn’t notice a massive change to your routine, just something to sign once a year. Lower maintenance colours such as balayage and ombre techniques require much lower maintenance, usually 9-12 weeks between visits which will result in us having to carry out a skin test before each visit.
What Happens Next If You Need a Skin Test
A skin test really doesn’t take as long as you think, and we want to make the entire process as convenient as physically possible, it’s literally a two-minute job that you don’t even have to book an appointment for. Just call in during your lunch or after work, take a seat and one of us will be with you in minutes. All the team is trained in how to perform a skin test and complete our Professional Safety Card so you won’t have to wait for any particular team member to become available.
We’ll get a small amount of colour mixed up for you, make sure that you have removed any earrings and your hair is clipped safely away from your ear. With a cotton bud, we’ll apply a small amount of colour to behind your ear, wait a minute or so for it to dry then apply a little more, and you’re good to go.
Simply leave the area alone for 48 hours, no washing, wetting, rubbing or covering.
You want to see aNEGATIVE reaction, which basically means nothing happens so we can go ahead with your colouring service.
A POSITIVE reaction will most commonly see the area become red, itchy, irritated and slightly swollen, it may only be a mild reaction but can you imagine if it was all over your scalp and hairline. More severe reactions could include intense stinging, irritation, a rash or burning sensation around the area and even blisters and sores. If you experience any of these symptoms, rinse the area immediately with lukewarm water, in severe cases, contact your doctor. Your priority here should definitely be your own wellbeing, if your reaction is severe or you are concerned in any way, contact your doctor straight away, only after looking after yourself, give us a call so we know that you have had a reaction and we can document the result. Obviously where there is a positive reaction, we will not carry out your colouring service and we would advise speaking to your doctor before considering any further colouring services.
If you are ever unsure of the result of your skin test, we are always here to help and by all means call in so that one of our Senior team can take a look for you.

If you have any questions, concerns or would like any more information about our Health and Safety policy and how we look after the wellbeing of our customers and team, please feel free to ask during your next visit or email: [email protected]

5 Minute Hair Styles

Posted on May 1, 2017 at 11:23 AM Comments comments (62)

Holiday Hair style ideas or Morning rush saviours, whether you overslept or burnt your breakfast, or need the perfect style for relaxing round the pool, don’t make your hair a stress. We have some 5 minute hairstyles that are not only quick, but easy too. They’ll give you that perfect done, but undone, look. Top it off with a few of our Style Link favourites, and rest assured, it won’t be having a bad hair day that will make your mornings hectic or keep you in your hotel room too long.


Products to Use:
Style Link Mineral Mess Maker – not only does it texturise your hair, but it also acts as a sort of dry shampoo, absorbing excess oil.


Products to Use:
Style Link Mineral Airy Builder – it will add some lightweight volume to your hair.


Products to Use:
Style Link Volume Builder – for feather light volume and body, with hold.


Products to Use:
Style Link Gloss Booster – enhances shine and conditions for instant volume and separation.


Products to Use:
Style Link Smooth Setter – add some instant smoothness to your unruly hair first thing in the morning by running the product in your hands through your hair.
Style Link Heat Buffer – make sure you protect your hair from heat for smooth, crunch free styles.


Products to Use:
Style Link Height Riser – the lightweight, fine powder will give you instant volume and separation.

The Ultimate Holiday Haircare Itinerary

Posted on May 1, 2017 at 11:16 AM Comments comments (56)

6-8 Weeks Before you go – Book Your Appointments

There’s plenty of things to get excited about and organise before your summer holiday, don’t forget to plan your hair appointments in advance so you can get in on the days and times that suit you to avoid any cut backs and unnecessary damage to your hair.

Don’t forget we offer free consultation services if you would like to book in with your Stylist for a one-to-one, we can take all the stress off your shoulders and draw up your pre-and post-holiday plan for you.

4-6 Weeks Before You Go – Start Prepping

Prepare your hair for what it’s about to go through, prevention is always better than cure and you’ll want your hair to be in peak condition with optimum moisture and protein levels ready for all the exposure to sun, sea and pool.

Between 4-6 weeks before you fly, start building up your holiday resistance by applying deep conditioning treatments. Everybody’s hair and needs are different, so your Stylist will be able to recommend the best treatment for you along with how often to use it.

Depending on your hair condition, this may include a course of in-salon treatments or take-home masks such as the Biolage HydraSource or ColorLast masks, or a combination of both, at least once per week, sometimes twice. This will ensure you are hitting the beach with the best hair condition possible, ready for whatever your holiday has to throw at it. Try and schedule an at-home treatment the morning or day before you fly for optimum moisture.
1-4 Weeks Before You Go – Get Your Colour Done

Try and get your colour or highlights done at least a week (ideally a few weeks to a month) before you go on holiday to give your colour time to settle and avoid any unwanted tones, make sure to include and intense in-salon treatment with your service.

The sun will lighten your colour so a really good tip is to have a gloss added or include lowlights two or three shades darker than your usual colour, the sun will do the rest of the work for you.

The Week Before You Go - Get Your Hair Cut

Your last-minute salon service should be your hair cut (ideally paired with another intensive in-salon treatment). It doesn’t need to be a total restyle, just the split ends will do as it is those areas that are most at risk of damage and becoming unmanageable while you are away.

Removing these damaged areas will avoid any further damage to otherwise heathy hair and make your holiday styling routine so much easier.

The Week Before You Go – Pack the Essentials

Don’t forget to grab your holiday haircare essentials while you’re in the salon! The Biolage Sunsorials range includes everything you need to keep your hair heathy and protected, and your Stylist can help you decide which styling products are best for you if needed.

Need more tips on what to pack and what to do while you’re there? Take a look at our Top Holiday Haircare Tips for more inspiration.

The Week You Get Back – Cleanse and Treat

All that build up and stray sun cream can leave a residue on your hair post-holiday, give it a little detox by using a deep cleansing clarifying shampoo such as our Biolage Clean Reset and follow with a deep conditioning mask.

1-2 Weeks After Your Holiday – Refresh your Colour & Cut

The sun has no doubt took its toll on your colour and split ends have come out of nowhere, come and visit us for your post-holiday pick-me-up appointment and we’ll take care of bringing your colour back to life and trimming away any holiday breakage.

0-4 Weeks After Your Holiday – Treat

Just as you prepped your hair before you went and looked after it while you were there, your weekly or twice weekly treatments should continue when you get back, and for a few weeks after to make sure your hair is in optimum condition and moisturised.

The Treatments you will need will and how often you should apply them will be very personalised to you, and will no doubt be different to the treatments you used prior to your holiday and while you were there. Your Stylist will be able to analyse your hair post-holiday and prescribe the best treatment plan for you.

Top Holiday Hair Care Tips

Posted on May 1, 2017 at 11:11 AM Comments comments (449)

We all love a good holiday, whether it be sightseeing, taking in the local culture or simply doing absolutely nothing while soaking up the sun around the pool.

However, all that exposure to UV rays, sea salt and chlorine can really take its toll on your hair, pair this with warmer, more humid climes and hair remaining in its wet state longer than usual can be a recipe for disaster.

All is not lost though, looking after your hair while on holiday is much easier than you may think, and below we’ve included our best holiday hair care tips, tricks and advice on how to beat the breakage, frizz, colour fade and how not to go green in the pool!

Book your appointments – Having your hair cut before and after your holiday is essential to minimise damage and remove any damage that has been caused, if you’re a colour client, the time around a holiday sees a big step up with your maintenance programme to keep everything fresh and healthy looking, and that’s before you factor in the treatments to maintain your hairs integrity! 

With lots of things to organises around your busy schedule and a busy salon, we’d recommend booking your pre-and post-holiday services around a month in advance to avoid disappointment or causing unneeded damage to your hair. We’ve put together our ultimate Holiday Itinerary to help you do just that.

Essential SPF – Whereas most people these days are fully aware of the damage and risk caused by the sun to our skin, and wouldn’t dream of jetting off or spending time in the sun without their recommended SPF sun cream, there’s still many who don’t consider their hair as needing protection in the same way, or at all!

UV rays (even in our British summer months) break down the protein in the hair, damaging its internal structure and leave it dehydrated. This is what leads to frizzy, brittle and broken hair, causing further breakage, colour fade and bleaching. Mostly we see that blonde hair will fade and become brassier in the sun, while brunettes or anyone rocking some low lights will also suffer the fade and get more warmth in their colour, all signs that the pigmentation has started to break down.

It’s super important to shield and protect your hair and scalp in the same way you would your face and skin, covering up with a cool hat or vintage scarf is ideal, but we all know that isn’t going to be the case all the time. Just like how most skin care products now contain SPF, there’s lots of products available for your hair with the same protection as well.

If you’re staying in the UK for your holidays this year, or spend a lot of time outside during the summer, you could pair your protection with your usual personalised haircare regime, such as the Biolage ColorLast Shine Shake or the TR20 Miracle Creator which include SPF protection for a great every day shield.

However, if you are spending your holiday in hotter climes, we’d recommend boosting your protection just as you would your sun cream and investing in the Biolage Sunsorials Non-Oil In-Sun Spray for max shielding, protection and moisture.
Rinse Before and After Swimming We’ve all heard the horror stories of the blonde that turned green because of the chlorine in the hotel swimming pool, and yes, it is true that diving into the deep end without following precautions can turn your hair brassy with a greenish hue, and not just blondes, brunettes and natural hair too!

However, it isn’t the chlorine at blame here, it’s actually the heavy metals in chlorinated water, particularly the copper sulphate added to control the algae in the pool water which causes the unwanted tone.

Chlorine isn’t completely innocent however, that and other water purifying chemicals such as bromine can roughen the hair by lifting the cuticle scales as well as the salt in sea water (and lets not even think about what else can be found in there, I’ve heard it referred to as “the world’s biggest toilet” too many times to think too long about it!) acts osmotically, drawing water and moisture out of the hair, are the second biggest causes (second only to sun damage) that cause your hair to become dry, brittle, damaged and suffer massive colour fade.

As with anything, prevention is always better than cure, too avoid any unwanted damage, colour fade or green hue, we recommend using your Sunsorials Non-Oil In-Sun Spray and thoroughly rinsing your hair in clean, fresh water before and after swimming in the pool or sea.  

Your In-Sun spray will provide you with a bit of a barrier between your hair and all the nasty stuff, while saturating your hair with water before diving in will mean it won’t soak up and absorb as much of the chlorinated or salty water. A good rinse after swimming will remove most of the harmful residue and prevent it from drying into your hair. If your hair is very porous, or you have a high-risk colour, we’d recommend popping your Sunsorials After Sun Shampoo in your pool bag for a quick lather to remove any leftover residue, salt and mineral build up that may have snuck in there (it contains a chelating element to bind all these chemicals together to remove them), and always remember to top up your SPF protection after swimming!

A really good tip if you fancy a swim while you are out and about or if there’s no showering facilities nearby is to carry a bottle of clean water with you so you’re never caught short.

Bonus Tip For those of you with naturally very fine and soft hair, all the extra washing and time spent wet can make your hair into a wayward flyaway mess. After shampooing and masking in the evening, rinse your hair with a bottle of mineral water, this will help avoid too many flyways and overly soft hair, making it easier to style. Keep the water as cool as you can bear and you’ll also get the added benefit of extra shine!
Reduce the TensionWe see tension damage on our clients’ hair every day in the salon, but even more so on post-holiday hair. The worst thing about it is it is completely preventable, just by using the right tools.

Tight fabric bobbles, hair ties, hair bands, pins, clips, plastic combs and brushes place unneeded tension on the hair, snag it and cause (in some cases) severe breakage and split hair. This is especially true while on holiday as all the sun and chemical damage can weaken the hair, making it more prone to tension damage and of course you spend a great deal of the time with your hair wet, whether that be flipping your hair into a messy bun by the pool or combing your mask through on the evening. Hair is at its most fragile when wet and can easily be snagged and broken with the wrong bobble or comb.

You only really need 3 things when you’re on holiday, a Tangle Teezer (for combing your hair when wet), a soft bristle brush (for brushing and styling when dry) and some Magi: Bobbles for throwing up into a quick pony or fancy up-do (wet or dry). All three are designed to put as little tension on your hair as possible, wont snag or break your hair and will drastically reduce any damage, split ends and frizz.

Keep Styling to a MinimumThere’s very good reason why beachy waves and tousled hair is all the rage every summer during holiday season; not only is it a break for you, it’s also the perfect vacation for your hair, natural texture and effortless styling are always the key looks, not only does this give you plenty more time to enjoy soaking up the rays or experiencing the culture of your chosen destination, it also gives your hair the much needed break and reduces any further damage and stress styling can cause when paired with sun, sea and chemicals.

Not everyone has the kind of hair you can just spritz with a leave-in and go, most people need a little helping hand to achieve the perfect holiday hair, but it doesn’t have to be anything near the extent of your normal day-to-day styling routine, so leave your straighteners, tongs and hairdryer at home and jump on the holiday hair care wagon, not only will this spare your hair a load of unneeded stress, but mean you aren’t spending any unnecessary holiday time worrying about it.

Plaits, messy buns and ponies are always on trend in the summer months and perfect for your days relaxing round the pool or out on an adventure. They are really easy to do, keeps your hair out of your face and under control and there’s loads of assorted styles and affects you can create regardless of how long your hair is or how fancy you need to look. One quick search on Instagram will open up an entire world of inspiration at your fingertips, go prepared by practicing your braiding techniques before you jet off and you’ll be throwing up envy worthy styles in no time.

Plaits are also the easiest way to create those perfect beachy waves, even if your hair is poker straight naturally. A really easy, no fuss way to do this would be to plait two even sections when your hair is damp before going to bed, leave to dry overnight and then simply release in the morning and voila.

The products you use while on holiday should also be kept to a minimum, no one wants to take half their bathroom with them and really the only thing you need to worry about if your condition and moisture levels. The Sunsorials collection includes everything you really need in your suitcase, but if you need a little more help in the styling department, our advice is keep it minimal.

A good hair oil has a wealth of uses and saves you packing 3/4 separate products. We currently stock 7 different hair oils, all designed for different hair types and needs, not only are they all classed as treatments, helping you along with managing the condition of your hair, but they are also perfect for running through your hair post-plait for those gorgeous beachy waves. Even if you don’t normally suffer from frizz, holiday hair can often surprise you and the right oil for you will tame any unwanted fuzz, hide spit ends and add a beautiful gloss.

If you need something with a little more hold than an oil, or like me are blessed with natural frizz which can easily become uncontrollable in warmer, humid climates, bump up to an excellent quality water soluble wax or cream, like our Style Link Over Achiever, which can also be mixed in with your oil or the Style Link Gloss Booster for varying degrees of shine and hold, turning your frizzy mess into soft, tousled curls or waves.

The star of the show of holiday styling products has got to be a great salt spray like our Style Link Mess Maker for the perfect on-the-beach look. Simply spritz straight on and scrunch for the ideal natural wavy look without any rough touch, or for those with fine, limp hair, throw your head upside down, spritz and get your fingers in there for instant beachy volume.

Stay away from any products that contain alcohol, cheap, supermarket mousses and hairsprays are renowned for using alcohol as a cheaper substitute to the good stuff, the alcohol dries your hair out, making it brittle and break, the last thing you need to add to your holiday itinerary and certainly the last thing you want on your hair in the sun as it can also cause your scalp to burn. Try to switch to alcohol free products a few weeks before you go on holiday and ensure you are cleansing your hair properly to remove any residue and avoid any nasty results. 

Pink Like Shakira

Posted on January 23, 2017 at 9:24 AM Comments comments (60)

Shakira joins a long list of celebs dabbling in this gorgeous cool pastel pink, this ever popular shade just isn’t going away. Every time we think we’ve seen the end of it, someone else pops up sporting the hue.

Like all the pastel colours, this pink must be applied to pre-lightened hair at palest yellow to achieve the best results. If there’s too much yellow left in the hair, the result will be more of a ‘salmon pink’, if the hair will only lift to orange, it won’t do much more than stay orange. For those of you with darker hair that struggles to lift or years of colour build up, pastels may be out of your reach for now, but if you still have your heart set on a pink, a ‘brighter’ neon shade or Jewel tone with a deeper hue is usually enough to cover it. If you’re lucky enough to be natural ‘white’ like the fabulous Helen Mirren (below) you can jump straight to the toner service without the need for pre-lightening.

Shakira was already half way there with her lightening process, having years worth of highlights and balayage, her Stylist simply needed to lift her roots and the darker sections of hair between her blonde (a lot more work than it sounds!). This in itself is a really nice effect as the end result will always retain some of that multi-tonal finish. If you’re more of a bleach virgin or it’s been a while, you’d be looking at a full head pre-lighten.

How difficult or achievable these services will be is entirely dependent on your hair condition, type, texture and previous colour and lightener applications. The release of Matrix BondUltim8 has opened a lot more options for us Stylists and given more peace of mind to our clients as we can now achieve far more with our lightening services knowing the risk to your condition is taken care of, we will almost always recommend adding the BondUltim8 to your service, especially if your hair condition is in any way a concern. A full consultation is absolutely essential as the lightening process and the base level the toner will be applied onto is the most important part of the service.

The toner itself however, is really straightforward, once the right base is achieved, that gorgeous dusty pink is simply applied onto it and then the only thing you need to worry about is the maintenance!

Besides the initial consultation before we even start, your aftercare and maintenance is massively important to keep your colour and condition in top shape. Toners fade FAST and although your roots may only need to be retouched every 4-6 weeks, your toner will need to be refreshed every 2-3 weeks in-between.

How and what you wash your hair with matters, the coldest water temperature and as much time between washes is advised to reduce fading and using a combination of advanced prescriptive shampoos and conditioners with the SoSilver to retain condition and manage the underlying yellow is recommended for most, but your Stylist can prescribe you a personalised  routine.

Depending on which services you need to reach the right base level (especially if your lightening service involves a correction process), the initial service to get you there can be long and costly. The maintenance services however, are not. In fact; the ‘Tone-Up’ service is part of our Express Service Menu and if your just calling in for a quick refresh, we can have you in and out the salon within an hour for as little as £15. The homecare shampoos, conditioners and treatments may seem expensive at first glance, but when you factor in how often you use them and how little you use (honestly, a 20p piece size for short/mid length hair, 50p piece size for mid/long hair) you’ll come to realise they are actually saving you money compared to the supermarket deals and discounts!  Plus the actual benefits you’ll see and feel in your hair is worth far more than a few quid, you’ve invested in your hair with the salon services, the aftercare is your insurance.

Below, we’ve put together some example pre-lightening services and the perfect aftercare bundle to give you an idea of the time and service cost involved for a pastel pink (or any pastel, neon, grey or icy blonde for that matter – it’s the toner that we cook up at the dispensary that makes the difference, the services and aftercare are generally the same), to give you an idea of what to expect basing everything on mid-length, normal texture hair, with the full head toner just like Shakira (there’s a lot more technique options out there, just ask!). Just remember; everybody’s hair and lifestyle is different, we will always analyse this during your consultation along with your budget to offer you something completely bespoke to you. If you would like to find out exactly what services you would need, how much it would cost and the time/maintenance involved for you, feel free to book in your FREE consultation whenever you like!

1.       PRE-TREAT
Pre-service protein treatment (Free)
Option 1 - like Shakira, you already have plenty of blonde in your hair from past highlights/balayage and root regrowth
Full Head Corrective Bespoke Highlights £55 (Including BondUltim8 Step 1)

Option 2 - You have a full head of virgin hair – no previous lightener or you have a previous full head colour no darker than a dark blonde (service and development times will differ greatly but the service will be the same)
Full Head Lightening Service £31 (including BondUltim8 Step 1)
3.       Toning
Full Head Create Toner £15 (including BondUltim8 Step 1)
4.       BondUltim8
BondUltim8 Step 2 £20 (price includes all applications)
Biolage Advanced RENEWALboost (Keratin BioService) £10
6.       CUT & STYLE
Cut & Style (Below Shoulders) with a Graduate Stylist £23 / Senior Stylist £28
Total Initial Service Cost £99 - £128*

Approximate Service Time 5 – 7 Hours

(From left to right) The gorgeous Hilary Duff rocking the very on trend dark roots, Heidi Klum keeping it [relatively] sensible with a spot of under-lights and of course one of our salon heroes; Helen Mirren completely re-writing the rule book with her beautiful pink gloss.

*All service prices are correct at time of publishing, for an accurate quote, please book in for your free consultation.

Colour Corrections - The Myths, facts, Fears & Truths

Posted on January 21, 2016 at 8:18 AM Comments comments (73)

Colour Corrections – the myths, facts, fears and truths

Colour correction, a word that can strike fear into a young colourists heart.

Each day in the salon I hear more and more clients using words and terms once only reserved for experienced stylists, the Internet is a wonderful thing, but it's just as good at spreading false information as it is a resource of learning.

When a trainee hairdresser first encounters colour, it is obviously the basics that are taught first, fair enough, BUT, colour correction is often separated from ‘classic’ colour training and reserved for the advanced students studying their level 3. I'll say it openly, I disagree with that, it causes that divide, inducing fear and uncertainty.

Most colours these days are corrections and the knowledge and skills needed to carry out full scale corrections just as relevant for an everyday root retouch.

If you've ever thought about taking the plunge and visiting the salon for a colour correction, or just simply want to know a little more about how we deal with it and what to expect, but don't know what to believe based on the internet waffle or gossip from friends, read on. This blog is made up of actual colour knowledge, things that all colourists should know and the main questions asked of us by clients in salon, along with confessions of a colourist and an insight of how we do things at ITC. It's not a colour lesson, but some might find they have picked up on a lot of information they would only hear from a colourist, if they asked. Hopefully this blog will explain all, dispel a few myths and let you in on the wonderful world that is colour.



What is a Colour Correction?

When most people think of colour corrections, they imagine huge services, changing from dark brown to light blonde or bright red, but really, anything that involves us changing the formula or application of your colour to correct any issues, or a double process colour when we need to lighten, darken or tone your hair to achieve your desired colour could be considered a correction service.

This could include anything from adding some lowlights to an over processed blonde to adjusting the formula for for a root retouch when a client has gone a little too long between salon visits.

Some colourists would argue that ANY colour service on hair that already has synthetic colour or chemical compound present on the hair would be considered a correction, and only an application on true Virgin hair wouldn't be.


Virgin hair is the term used by stylists to describe hair that has had absolutely no chemical services. This includes all permanent, semi-permanent and quasi-permanent colours, chemical straightening or permanent waving services.


As a colourist myself, having a customer in front of me with 100% Virgin hair is a very rare luxury. More and more people are following the trends and visiting their colourist for the latest cocktails of colour, and unfortunately, the rise in DIY home box colour means more people are also trying the ‘cheaper alternative’ to the salon themselves. This has caused a huge sway in the variety of services we offer in salon, and results in  the vast majority of colours we carry out including a correction in some form or another, whether it be to update a salon colour to the latest trend or ‘put right’ a DIY disaster.



Consultation is Key

We take consultations pretty seriously and have a rather rigorous consultation system in the salon; it normally starts with a phone call or visit to the salon from a client who will normally begin with “can you do [insert colouring technique or service]”, “I would really like a big change” or “I put a home colour on and THIS HAS HAPPENED!”.

First action for us would be to gather some information and carry out some tests. We have created in salon consultation questionnaires which our assistants and junior team are trained to use to gather this information, and take a test cutting from your hair, after which, they will get you booked in for your consultation with a Senior Colourist.


A test cutting is a very small section of hair cut from your root, it's small enough you'll never know its gone and we will always take it from an area you can't see (definitely not from the crown, parting or hairline). We usually take two, from different areas of your head to account for differing degrees of porosity, condition and colour build up to get a more accurate reading. We will then apply the colour or lightener to the hair so we can clearly see the result of the colour, what is (and isn't) possible to achieve, the condition of the hair following the service and make any adjustments to the formula or timings and are able to plan which services are best to achieve your desired result while maintaining the hair condition.


While you are waiting for your appointment, a Senior Colourist will carry out the relevant tests on your test cuttings based on the information you have provided and what you have requested as your desired end result. They will then note all this down along with the results of your tests and the service options available. By the time you arrive for your consultation, we already have plenty to talk about.

Your Colourist will be able to ask any follow up questions and confirm all information is right, and run through with you the results of your tests, discussing with you in more depth what you hope to achieve and what you expect from the service. We can then decide and discuss which services will be most appropriate, how long it will take, how much it will cost, how many salon visits it will take and the aftercare required. You then have the option to get booked in, without the worry of booking the wrong service or not having enough time for the appointment, the consultation is completely free.

This process is a vital starting point for any colour correction, and it is essential both parties are 100% honest with each other, especially when it comes down to the client discussing their colour history (what colours they have had on their hair and when) and the stylist discussing what is achievable and what is not.


One of the biggest issues when colour correcting is the end result not being what the client or stylist was expecting. This is almost always down to someone not telling the whole story, a colour applied a year ago the customer ‘forgot to mention’ in the consultation, or the colourist failing to mention what a product can and can't do.


Carrying out a colour correction, or any colour for that matter without a consultation is going in blind. Sure, we know from knowledge and experience what to expect in certain circumstances and generally what certain products do, but it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. No one wants to find out half way through a lightening process that a colour applied two years ago has just turned your beautiful baleage into a blunt Bob, an issue that could have been easily avoided by taking another service route.


ITS ALL THERE: hair grows on average half an inch a month, or 6 inches a year; so if your hair is 18 inches long (approximately a few inches below shoulders give or take) the ends are 3 years old. EVERY CHEMICAL YOU HAVE APPLIED TO YOUR HAIR IN THE LAST 3 YEARS IS STILL THERE, IN SOME FORM OR ANOTHER, and will effect the services you have, the condition of your hair and the end result. The longer your hair, the longer your colour history. It's far better to know what we are working with before we start applying colours, since once we start lifting or depositing, we WILL discover what's on there, and it may affect the services we are able to carry out and the final result of your colour and condition.


You can visit the salon at any time for a consultation, the initial information gathering is carried out by one of our junior team and can usually be done without an appointment by just popping in. Our senior team however tend to be much busier and an appointment is essential, the Assistant or Graduate Stylist carrying out your initial consultation will arrange that all for you, ensuring both you and your colourist have enough time to get the most out of your service.


There's a lot of factors to consider…

It's not just what a client has asked for that determines which products we use and services we perform. Without going too much into the ins and outs of colour chemistry, these are the basic facts we work with when carrying out a consultation and throughout the colouring service:


Depth matters

In simple terms, the depth of a colour is how light or dark it is. Colourists have a very simple numbering system to determine this, called the International Colour Chart, or ICC for short. This numbering system, 1 being the darkest (black) and 10 being the lightest (extra light blonde) is the same all around the world and all colour manufacturers, even the ones in supermarkets (some systems also use an 11 or 12 to include highlift tints and ultra blondes), and each number is called a level.


Tone matters

Apart from how light or dark a colour is, we also need to know what tone is there. Tone is how we would describe the ‘colour’ in the hair, with warm colours of yellow (Gold), orange (copper) and red (well, red!) and the cool colours; green (very ash), blue (ash) and violet (yep, just violet), and all the lovely cocktails in between!



What's under the depth matters even more

All natural colours are made up of predominantly warm tones, and this is called the underlying pigment, the darker the level, the more warm or red the underlying pigment is. Black and brown hair has a red or orange underlying pigment, blondes have a yellow or pale yellow underlying pigment. This plays a massive role when lifting hair lighter or darkening colour 2 or more levels either way or greatly changing tone to very red (warm) to cool (ash) or vice versa.


Understanding what the depth, tone and underlying pigment of a colour is, both existing on the hair right now and the colour a client hopes to achieve forms the very foundation of the decision process during the consultation.


Knowing these three bits of information is how we know and how we describe what a colour is.


Hair Condition affects EVERYTHING

If a clients hair is damaged before a colouring service, either due to heat styling, previous chemical applications or for health reasons, this is always a big contributor to whether a service can be carried out. I'm not going to lie, every chemical applied to hair, even top quality salon products expertly applied does some degree of damage to hair, we are changing the molecular make up of the hair after all, but it is how much damage the hair can take which matters, it will only take so much before it gives up and makes its way down the plug hole. If the hair is already at that dry, brittle or porous state, we won't be able to use higher strength products, thus reducing what can be achieved, and in severe cases of pre existing damage, we wouldn't do it at all.


Years of home colouring, over bleaching, overlapped highlights and regular heat damage all build up and remain there until the hair is cut or worse, eventually breaks off. For some people, this will be the time they decide to get it sorted with a colour correction, but unfortunately, that can really be the straw that breaks the camels back, it's just too late, the damage has been done, and no amount of corrections can fix that. Prevention is better than cure.


The condition of the hair doesn't just determine whether a service can be carried out however, it also greatly affects how a colour will look, and how much aftercare is involved. The more colours that have been applied and the more heat damage the hair has had to put up with will mean the hair will be more porous, put simply, what state the outside layer of the hair is in. This outside layer of the hair is called the cuticle, and it's made up of lots and lots of tiny overlapping scales pointing down from root to tip. Healthy, shiny hair has flat cuticle scales, and can keep all that lovely moisture and all those colour molecules held in tight, meaning colours will last longer, look more vibrant, and hair will be softer and shinier. Porous hair is when those cuticle scales have started to lift and peel away, meaning the hair can no longer hold on to moisture or colour molecules, leaving the hair rough, dry and dull, and colours will fade much quicker.

Every time the hair is lightened or coloured, part of that process is lifting the cuticle to allow colour in (depositing tint) or pull colour out (lightening), and every time that is done, the cuticle scales become slightly more damaged. The degree of this damage will depend on how many times the cuticle scales have been lifted, the strength of the products used, whether it has been a professional service or DIY, how much heat damage the hair has received and whether the client has been using the correct products or cheap supermarket shampoos, to name a few.

Porous hair needs to be treated with greater care, as few chemical services as possible, regular trims and careful styling. Colours applied can act very differently on various porosity’s and therefore can require various formulas, accurate applications and different development times which a colourist needs to work with, and as for the customer, getting the at home hair care right and listening to their stylist is a must, colours will take a greater upkeep as they will fade quicker, so regular toners, gloss services and refreshers will all be penciled in to their future appointments, even as often as every 2-3 weeks if regularly shampooed.


No, we do not possess a magic wand!

No matter how far the the industry has advanced, or how the products we use have developed, they will still only do so much. Bleach is a powerful weapon when used correctly, but still has a limit of only being able to lift 5-7 levels, this is our speed of light limit, so lightening from a level 2 dark brown to a fashion platinum grey blonde is never, EVER going to happen in one day, (and all that red underlying pigment, not going to happen). No amount of bleaching can remove years of colour build up, and as for colour removers, well, the name for starters; somewhere along the line, it became myth that ‘colour removers’ would do just that, remove the colours that have been applied to the hair, bringing it back to that long forgotten Virgin hair, and providing a wonderful even canvass to start the next colour project on, or even mean there's no more roots to do every 6 weeks because years of colour have just been wiped away, slate clean, hello natural hair.

If anyone reading this has tried a colour remover and believed the promises on the box, you know what's coming.

Could it really be that easy? Of course not. Although colour removers are very different to bleach, the fact is still the same. Once a colour is on the hair, it's there for good until it is cut out, it may have faded to the point it can't be seen, or covered over with another, or bleached to its underlying pigment, but it is still there, the chemical process has taken place and there will never be a way to “virgin’ise” hair.


One of the biggest challenges we colourists face when trying to explain to a client the colour they want isn't possible due to the colour build up already on the hair is when they say; “but I had this done 3 years ago at another salon and they managed to do it just fine!” Or “my friend got this done last week and it worked on her”. Ok, so going back to the idea that your length of hair is like a timeline and everything that has been done to it since it grew out of the scalp is still there in some form or another; 3 years ago, that same head of hair was in a completely different state than it is in now. In the last 3 years it has had countless colours applied, DIY attempts gone wrong, various salon services, a handful of silicone based supermarket shampoos lathered on, daily heat styling and even sprouted a few more greys. The hair on your head right now has a very different history it had 3 years ago. As for the friend comparison; unless you are a genetically identical twin with the same colourist who carried out the exact same services each time and follow the exact same styling routine, once again, there will be two totally different colour histories, and therefore two totally different canvasses to work on with drastically different potential results.


Different products are designed to do different things, but everything has a limit. A high lift tint is not going to look like a bleach and tone service. Slapping a dark brown over platinum blonde is not going to give you the shiny rich result of the colour chart and applying a plum red onto live xxl black is a waste of time, and considering that although these things will not work, the chemicals are still doing their thing on the hair, so the damage is still being done, that colour history is still being added to but without the payoff of getting the result you want.

When it comes to hair damage, this is another “once it's done, it's done” scenario; plenty of products claim to ‘repair’ split ends or “take back the damage” of 100 blow dries, truth be told, that is never going to happen. Sure, using the right products (the ones recommend to you by the person who has done years of training to be able to diagnose hair concerns, not a label on a supermarket shelf), will help to mask damage, making hair LOOK in better condition and help PREVENT further damage occurring, there is only one sure way to remove split ends and damaged areas, and that is to cut it off. Forget all these silly Facebook DIY kitchen recipes. Nothing will glue hair back together again.


If you imagine the hair strand as a piece of rope, made up of lots of smaller pieces of rope entwined. When this rope becomes severed at the ends and frayed (like a split end), the rope will continue to unravel up the length, the only way to fix it, is by cutting it off above the area of damage and preventing it from becoming frayed again.



Skin tone and eye colour matters

Like many things in life, sometimes the things we crave the most are things we either just can't have or aren't as good as they seem.

This is very true with hair colour, as part of the job for a colourist is personalising the colour to every client. Not all colours suit everyone, and a colour that looks absolutely amazing on their friend or celebrity might look horrific on a client.

And that doesn't just stop at how light or dark a colour is, slight differences in tone can make a massive difference to how a colour looks on a person. Reds are a perfect example of this, a client with a fair complexion and blue or green eyes will look amazing wearing a copper red, but a cooler, violet red will drain their complexion, whereas a client with olive or tan skin and dark eyes will suit the violet red perfectly.


Many times, when we consult with a client who was unhappy with a previous colour, the colour itself (application, technique, depth, tone etc.) has nothing wrong with it at all, and by all rights is a really nice colour. BUT, it doesn't suit them, and it's often the tone of a colour we need to correct rather than drastically change the depth or technique used.


During a clients consultation, this will all be discussed and considered along with whether the client predominately wears gold or silver jewellery and what colour clothes they tend to wear the most.

A good tip for anyone looking for their next colour adventure would be to collect photos of people with similar skin tone and eye colour, and then look at the colour they are wearing on their hair. This way, you can get a better sense of what will suit you and compliment your features rather than looking solely for a colour that you may really like, and looks great on someone else, but won't look as amazing on you.


Existing artificial colour (of any sort) effects what we can do

Every colour, no matter if it was a permanent or not changes the way hair will react to future colouring or lightening applications.

We need to know what has been applied to the hair before colouring, even if a customer thinks we don't. From tinted shampoos and conditioners to boot polish and mascara, any artificial colour can affect the next one applied, and it's best for us to know before we find out because there's a problem!

Each time a colour is applied to the hair, the chemical reactions are causing the damage and the tint is building up, this is why people who apply Browns or dark blondes over and over see their ends get darker and ‘flatter’ while the roots, the area with fewer applications, look lighter. And, why people who apply blondes, which are designed to lighten hair, notice their ends becoming lighter and paler while the roots remain darker and appear more ‘yellow’.

Home colouring and bad colour applications are the main cause of the these problems .

Sometimes, a client will think that because they have stayed the same colour for say, 12 months, they have only had one colour on their hair, but if that client has shoulder length hair and would usually apply their colour every 6 weeks or so, in reality, the roots will only have one colour applied, but the length and ends will have up to 9! If she decided to change her colour, the areas of hair with only 1 or 2 applications may lift without an issue, but the hair with 8 or 9 applications? Not likely.


We are used to clients sitting in our styling chair proclaiming their hair is ‘natural’, and they don't colour it, all the while, we can clearly see the signs of colour build up, over processed ends and half an inch of Virgin regrowth staring us in the face. Just because the colour you apply looks a lot like your natural colour, or the box says it washes out in 12 washes, does not mean your hair is natural, it has still gone through the same chemical processes, undergone the same damage and has been permanently changed. Natural hair would be hair with absolutely no colour applied at all.


Another misunderstanding is if someone applies a brown over the top of a red for example, that the red is gone. No it's still under there. Or someone who uses ‘wash out’ colours thinking it will not make a difference to the hair. Yes it does.

Henna is a very underestimated problem in the world of hair colour. Most people consider henna to be a completely natural alternative to the usual colour services, causing no harm or effect on future colour services. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Yes henna is a completely natural product (with the exception of some brands from the supermarkets and chemists who mix all kinds of nasty chemicals in there), but it is full of metallic salts and used alone, will not cause any major problems at all, although you are rather limited in colour choice.

The problems start when people who get bored of the brown orange, or red orange, or red brown orange, decide they would like a change and grab a box off a shelf or visit a colourist. Put simply, henna does not mix with hair colour AT ALL. And we're not just talking about it not working and being stuck with it, we mean CHEMICAL REACTION.

All colours and lighteners, including tone-on-tone colours (quasi), work, in part, by oxidising the hair. It is this oxidising process that is not compatible with the metallic salts, compounds and chemicals present in henna. The only exception to this would be true semi-permanent colours, which of course do not lift hair, cover greys or have enough strength in them to change a tone dramatically. The vast majority of hair colours, both sold in supermarkets and used in salons include this oxidising process, most people, unless you're sporting the bright neon colours which tend to be semi permanent, have never had a colour applied which doesn't oxidise the hair.

Applying a regular hair colour on previously henna coloured hair can cause a devastating chemical reaction. The best case scenario would be a little breakage and damaged dry hair which will not lighten, still not a good place to be. Worst case, the hair bubbles, steams and disintegrates, a bit like applying body hair remover to your head.

Either way, it's another ‘once it's done’ scenario, you can not remove henna from the hair once it is applied, the only way to get rid of it is to cut it out. So if you're thinking of using a henna hair colour, be prepared to never touch regular hair colour again for a long time.


It's not just henna hair colour that can cause people problems; ‘black henna’ tattoos also contain extremely high levels of PPD, the main chemical to blame for allergic reactions to hair colour (there's actually no such thing as black henna, since henna is naturally red or orange. The use of PPD is strictly limited to hair colours by law, and only in very small amounts. Unfortunately, the ‘black henna’ tattoos popular at some fairs and beach holidays contain PPD illegally in what can be dangerously high amounts). Having that much PPD applied to your skin can cause pretty serious allergic reactions alone, but the biggest problem you may get is the inability to ever have a hair colour service again. That much exposure to PPD can ‘sensitise’ you to the chemical, meaning a previously safe, regular hair colour (with lawfully monitored, extremely low levels of PPD), now causes you to have a serious allergic reaction. As a colourist, my attitude is it's better to be safe than sorry, I'd recommend staying away from henna all together.


Percentage of White hair (or grey) changes the ball game

How much white hair is on the head (if any) is another thing a colourist needs to find out during the consultation. White hair can be a blessing or a curse, it can make a colour much easier, or much harder to achieve depending on the desired result, and will often need to be coloured with products especially designed for white hair.


We love photos!

It really helps when a client brings in a photo of the colour they want, not only does this cut out a lot of time trying to describe a colour or technique, it also saves any misunderstanding or confusion with colour choice. What is a beautiful strawberry blonde to one client, is a bright ‘ginger’ to another, a ‘natural blonde’ to one person is a light brown to another, and with the rise in Internet searches for the perfect hair colour, we often hear clients request a colour or technique that means something completely different to what they actually are.


I wouldn't like to guess how many clients I've had ask for highlights, only to see the look of confusion on their face when I describe how highlights can look on the hair, all because they have typed highlights into Google and pictures of an ombré have popped up. They'd be a lot of unhappy clients if I just nodded and done what was asked!



It may need to be a work in progress

For numerous reasons, the customers desired colour may not be achievable in one salon visit, sometimes a successful colour correction can take 2 or 3 visits to get exactly where it needs to be, or even months of regular, smaller salon visits to get there gradually. Some corrections will need a hell of a lot of aftercare advice be taken with treatments or toners needing to be done as much as every 2 or 3 weeks for the first few months after the correction and strict aftercare routines to keep everything on track.


There might be a wait for an appointment

Most colour corrections, especially the complicated big jobs are carried out by Senior Stylists and Colour Specialists only, simple applications of colour such as root retouches, full head colours and toners are carried out by our junior team, although which formulas are used and how they are applied is decided by a Senior. With the greater knowledge, experience and training comes years of building a much larger clientele than the junior team, so Seniors tend to b

Pastel Colours & Fashion Bright's - What It Really Takes

Posted on October 5, 2015 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (108)
Pastel Colours & Fashion Bright's - What it Really Takes

From the pastel pinks to the creative ombre's showcasing all kinds of mermaid inspired colour combinations, pastels and brights have been around for a while now and this season, its all about GREY, all 50 shades of, from a slight silver to deep steel, violte hints to blue hues.

This trend isn't going away, and has transformed from a rather risky colour choice reserved for the extroverts among us, to a salon staple everyone wants a piece of. Due to their popularity, seeing someone with grey, pink or baby blue hair is no longer as shocking as it used to be, and vibrant reds and violets are just as accepted as the more traditional blondes and brunettes.

But with the rise in popularity, also comes the rise of false rumours and false hopes about what it really takes to have, and to look after your pastel hues and fashion brights. In this blog, we delve deep into what it really takes to keep your fashion colour looking fresh and vibrant while keeping your hair in good condition.

Fail to Plan - Plan to Fail
Preparing for your colouring service is just as important as your aftercare, and its important to make sure your hair is ready for what can be a long and demanding service. Start prepping about 2 weeks before  the service; go easy with the styling and try to lay off any heated styling equipment such as straighteners and tongs; treat your hair twice a week with an intensive mask such as Biolage HydraSource mask and run a good quality, highly concentrated oil through your mid length and ends as often as possible, we stock a variety of oils both in Biolage Equisite Oil and Oil Wonders ranges to suit your individual hair type; and if previous chemical damage is a factor, we would recommend booking in for a ProtoPak treatment a day or two before your service to help even out porosity and give your hair some added strength ready for the lightening process. 

Choose Your Colour
Although sticking around the pastel side of the colour depth spectrum means the colour will fade quicker, giving you more opportunities to swap and change your tone, some colours are better at this than others. The 'red' side of the spectrum; pinks, purples and yellows fade the quickest, brilliant if you want the flexibility of playing around with your colour more often, but not so good if you want something to last longer than a few shampoos. The 'green' side of the spectrum however; blues, greens and cool violets tend to stick around for a bit longer but can cause 'staining' issues making it difficult to change your colour as often, but good if you're looking for longevity.
It's also worth thinking about what is really achievable in your initial lightening process, if your hair will only lift to yellow/orange, you can still achieve a vibrant colour, but you're better off sticking to deeper pinks and purples. Pastels won't take properly and at most give you a toned blonde, and blue is a big no no. Blue is potentially the most difficult colour to achieve for some, since your hair needs to lift to almost white to apply, putting blue on top of yellow = yup GREEN, a dirty turquoise if you're lucky. If  your hair does lift to a chilly pale yellow, then you have the monopoly, choose what you will, just be careful to plan ahead if you are thinking about diving right in to the deep, vibrant colours, these will take longer to fade and depending on the shade and your hair condition, may stain your hair for longer than you hoped, if you want something versatile, go for a pastel shade.

Reality Check - There's Going to be Some Heavy Lifting
The actual pastel colours and brights don't damage the hair, they will either contain no peroxide at all or be very low strength, which is why they can be re-applied so often without a worry. However, before the colour can be applied, your hair must be pre-lightened to palest yellow/almost white so we have an even canvas to work with and hair light enough to achieve the correct vibrancy and tone. This is of course done with a lightener, (scary word) BLEACH and is the most damaging part of the process. However, providing you don't have a lot of chemical or heat damage already, look after your hair with good quality products and prepare your hair properly with the advice above, you shouldn't have any issues.
We are qualified and trained to use lighteners and will always choose a formula as low as possible to acieve the desired lift while maintaining the condition of your hair. Please do not try and lighten your hair at home.

Condition is Key
As mentioned above, whether or not it is possible to achieve your desired colour, the quality of the end result and how long your colour will last will greatly depend on the condition of your hair.
Existing chemical or heat damage will increase the risk of damage during the lightening process as well as greatly reducing how long your colour will last and increase how quickly it fades. Having your hair in good condition is paramount.
If you have previous highlights or lightener on your hair, achieving your desired colour may still be possible, but with condition in mind, may mean how long your colour lasts is greatly reduced.
Your stylist is trained to give you professional advice on the products that will ensure your hair is in the best possible condition, we aren't just 'selling'. 
Stylist Top Tip: Use a SPF - this may sound strange or very simple to some, even in the dead of winter, dermatologists recommend SPF protection for your skin to prevent aging and skin damage, well we recommend the same for your hair. When aging of a colour ultimately means colour fade, its worth considering. Biolage ColorLast Shine Shake is a really easy to apply spray that not only contains SPF protection against colour fade, it also feels amazing on your hair, smoothing ends and increasing shine; it's a win win. 

Fade Out - How Long Your Colour Will Last
Another reality check; the lightening process is permanent but the colour is not; your pastel or bright will fade, much quicker than a regular permanent colour and usually within a few shampoos.
How quickly will depend on the condition of your hair and the tone and depth applied. As already mentioned, previous chemical or heat damage will quicken the fading process, depending on how porous your hair is or how well it 'holds on to colour'.
Whether you choose a delicate pastel or vibrant bright will also make a difference. The deeper, truer or more vibrant the colour is, the longer it will take to fade.
Depending on your hair condition and aftercare, colours roughly fade at the same rate, but depending on what the starting point is, or 'how much colour there is to fade' will result in how long that fading process lasts. So if you start with a deep, vibrant purple or true blue, it will gradually fade lighter and lighter each time you wash your hair, fading to a pastel purple or baby blue, then on to a cool blonde. If your starting point is already a pastel shade, it will follow that same process but will fade straight to a cool, slightly toned blonde.
This whole process can take anywhere between 2 and 12 washes, so washing your hair really regularly isn't recommended and if you are always blow drying, straightening, tonging and backcombing while using styling products that can dry your hair and drag your colour out such as hairspray, your colour won't be hanging on for long.
Ultimately, how long your colour will last depends on 5 things; your hair condition, the depth and tone of the colour you choose, how often you wash your hair, the quality of the products you use at home and how strenuous your styling routine is.
Stylist Top Tip: Cold Washes Help - it might not be the most pleasant experience, but washing your hair with cool water does help your colour last longer. Hot water opens up the outer layer of your hair (the cuticle), and since this is where most of the colour molecules of the pastels and brights sit, allows them to escape, resulting in more colour fade. Cool water (as cool as you can bear it) keeps the cuticle closed so keeps those molecules locked in.

The Most Important Thing - AFTERCARE
By now you've probably guessed that keeping your colour looking good and your hair in good condition is high maintenance, you'd be right, it's very high maintenance and requires A LOT of commitment.
As mentioned, the lightening process is permenant, and like any other colouring service, you need to visit the salon every 4-6 weeks for a root retouch which will pre-lighten your regrowth ready for your colour. Leaving your roots for longer causes all kinds of problems such as 'banding', which is far more difficult to correct than it is to get.
During your root retouch visit, we will reapply your colour, however, if you've done the math, you'll know that by the 4th-6th week, your colour would be completely faded out, or if you've been a deeper colour, may still be at the pastel phase.
What we usually recommend is a maintenance visit every 2-3 weeks in-between your root retouch visit, but you may need to reapply more often if your colour and condition demand.
We have our dedicated Toning Menu especially for this purpose, and a toner also features on our Express Service Menu, so you can keep your colour refreshed for £15-£20 and you're in and out within a hour.
Stylist Top Tip: Ask us to Bottle up some toner for you - we understand that visiting the salon every 2-3 weeks isn't possible or desirable for everyone, so as an alternative, we have no problem bottling up some product for you to take home to apply in the shower. It can either be a complete formula you can apply straight from the bottle or a 'neat' version of the pastel you can add to your conditioner for a quick refresh. We do have some conditions to this however; this isn't possible with every colour and it must be done on the same day as your salon visit, in exactly the same way the DIY stores advise you to buy all the paint you need for the same room on the same day to account for slight variations. For some colours, you can buy these at various outlets for yourself to use at home, again this isn't always possible as a great deal of colours are professional use only, and what you may think is the same thing, may not be and lead to a variety of complications. Your Stylist can advise on this.
As well as regular salon visits, the products you are using at home are hugely important to maintain both your colour and condition. For a first timer with very little chemical or heat damage, the Biolage HydraSource is ideal to keep your moisture levels up and keep your hair looking healthy. If your problem is fragile, breakage prone hair, the Biolage FiberStrong will provide you with that added strength needed to avoid any serious hair snappage, and if you have a colour history as long as your arm and aren't exactly a bleach virgin, we'd recommend the Biolage KeratinDose for chemically treated and damaged hair to give you everything you need to maintain a high demanding fashion colour without compromising condition.
Most of the products recommended are all geared towards keeping your hair condition at it's best, without that, not only will your colour be a flash in the pan, your hair may be too!
As for colour maintenance, on top of your salon visits, the incredibly popular TotalResults SoSilver Shampoo can add an extra week or so to the longevity of most pastel colours, simply shampoo and tone for 10-15 minutes to refresh cool tones and neutralise any brassy tones popping through from the lightening process.
I can absolutely guarantee that using cheap or 'designer' supermarket shampoos and conditioners, or the popular 'anti-dandruff' shampoo WILL fade your colour much faster than what it should, and you will notice very quickly the condition of your hair deteriorating. The vast majority of clients we see with excess damage and rapid colour fade are those using supermarket products, and the remaining minority having problems are over styling with heat and/or aggressive styling such as excessive backcombing or hair-spraying.
We can only do so much in salon, but as careful as we are, what you are doing at home will be the make or break.
Stylist Tip: Listen to your stylist when we recommend aftercare! - I cant stress enough how important using the correct products and looking after your hair at home is. Part of what you pay for when visiting the salon is the expert advice and guidance we are trained to deliver - get your moneys worth! Why pay £30-£90 for a professional service only to ignore the advice and ruin it with a shop bought shampoo? One of my favourite sayings: You wouldn't spend a small fortune dining in a Michelin Star restaurant on a beautifully prepared, cooked and presented starter and main course, only to finish your meal with a desert bought from the local supermarket; why is your hair any different? 

So Is It Worth It?
Well that's a very personal question!
Yes, maintaining a fashion colour is expensive, time consuming and hard work, but it is inside this colourful realm where the most creativity and personal expression is unleashed and the effects that can be achieved are amazing.
A lot of people are turned off by the bleaching process, but as mentioned, with the right preparation and aftercare, there's no need to worry.
The other main turn off is the colour fade and lack of longevity pastels and brights provide, but this really isn't such a bad thing. Think about it this way; you love your colours and like to play around with different tones and depth, you jump from blonde to brunette, highlights to ombre all within a 12 month period, within those services you need sections of hair pre-lightened, pre-pigmented and lots of toners to control old tints, and eventually your stylist says 'its just not possible' or 'you need 5 inches cut off!'. Apart from the damage done to your hair in all the lifting and tinting, its very unlikely you would achieve your desired colour.
But with fashion colours, once the hair is lifted, that's it! you can pretty much have any pastel or bright you want, and because the colours fade so quick, you can swap and change your colour every few weeks (within reason) if you wanted to, ideal if you like to try out new colours and techniques regularly, you're rarely tied down. 
And because the initial full head bleaching is a one-off, followed only by lightening the regrowth, you aren't re-bleaching hair over and over like you would be if you were changing permanent colours a lot, and since the colours can be applied as regularly as needed without causing damage, it is far less damage than regularly changing traditional colours.
If you're a fashion follower, you need these colours in your life, they aren't going away just yet. and with colours, tones, depths and techniques to suit everyone, there's always going to be something for you, even if its just a sneaky flash in the fringe!

Laura, Senior Stylist & Manageress
(Who has not only created countless pastels and brights, but also coincidently has been playing around with her own various shades of blue for the past 3 years) 

What Do You Think?
Are you a fashion follower currently flaunting the latest pastel hues with some of your own tips and tricks to conquer the trials and tribulations of fighting the fade? Is it something you have been thinking about for a while but worried about things you have heard or seen? Or are you a classic colourer who sees no need to have such a wild change? We want to hear from you! Post your comments or questions below...