Sep 21, 2021

Corrective Hair Color 101

Get all your corrective hair color questions answered by the experts

We've received countless requests from readers for an article about color correction. And we hear you!  To answer some of your color correction questions in-depth, we got in touch with two industry experts. Keep reading for the full interview with Samantha Goldberg and Tammy Rapp.

Formulate: Could you please introduce yourselves?

Samantha: My name is Samantha Goldlberg and I am a T.V. Personality/ Lifestyle/Beauty Celebrity Contributor and licensed cosmetologist for over 34 years. I am a color specialist and enthusiast so I enjoy projects like corrective color. 

Tammy: My name is Tammy Rapp and own a horror-themed hair salon in Upland, California, Little Shop of Hairdos. 

Cool, thank you! Let's start out with a definition: what does corrective hair color mean?

Tammy: Corrective hair color is the process of removing unwanted previous color, or even multiple colors, and achieving and improving all over color. 

What does that entail?

Tammy: Usually a two-step process of using professional color remover and/or back-to-back bleaching foils. Different areas of the hair require different chemicals. Once the unwanted color is removed (which takes several hours) then we move on to what the clients want their hair to be. 

So why would someone need corrective hair color?

Samantha: It may be that a client used color at home which is a hard thing for licensed professionals to hear. While the kits seem easy, they aren't always that great.

Tammy: Please always have your hair done by a licensed professional cosmetologist in a licensed hair salon.

What goes wrong with the color kits? Why would you not recommend, say, dying blonde hair black at home?

Samantha: If you are a blond and you decide to go the blackest black and dislike it, it is a LONG process to remove this color. This particular shade has so much pigment that it is hard to remove (or as we say to say, "lift") the dark color to a level more acceptable to the client.

Yikes, that sounds unpleasant. How long does color correction usually take?

Samantha: It depends. It can take 3-8 hours and can be damaging to the hair. 

Tammy: We usually spend about 4 hours but can take up to several appointments depending on the hair goal.  

Ooof, that's not fun.

Samantha: No it isn't. Now, I won't place the blame entirely on the color kits as many stylists and colorists make mistakes. For example, sometimes we have a client that wants platinum blond hair and we try to give them what they want when we shouldn't. 

Okay, so sometimes stylists make mistakes too. What can go wrong in the salon?

Samantha: There is much to this process. If you're going blonde, potential success depends on the percentage of volume (meaning peroxide and bleach blended together) and the level of color your hair begins at (for example level 1 would be jet black and level 10 would be a golden blond almost going towards platinum).  The peroxide and bleach lift the color pigment of the hair (sometimes by accident) and remove all pigment from the hair. This makes it looks white and much like a rice noodle in some cases. There is immediate damage to the cuticle. That means that you'll be unable to add other colors to the hair unless you have much dark brown pigment. 

Oh, that sounds terrible! It sounds like it'd be challenging to fix.

Samantha: It is, even for experts. Sometimes the hair won't grab the color during color correction and it takes hours to get the hair to grab anything. The correction process for this issue can take 6-8 hours and might involve coming back in a day to complete the rest of the re-application of color. 

Does it help if you know what the client originally did or had done to their hair before you get started?

Tammy: Yes. Before the appointment starts a thorough investigation is performed to find out exactly what was done to the hair that made the outcome the way it is. The stylist wants to know everything, what's been used on the hair, to determine the safest course of action that can be done to keep the integrity of the hair intact. So be honest! We won't judge you we just need to know what's safe to do, without your hair breaking off. 

How much does color correction usually cost?

Samantha: The cost of color correction can start in the mid $200's and cost close to $500-$600 depending on how damaged and how long the hair is.

Tammy: The price depends on how long it takes. In California, we charge anywhere from $75/100 an hour. 

All in all, color correction sounds like a pain to go through. How can someone avoid it, so they get their dream color right the first time?

Samantha: My suggestion to avoid color correction is to ensure you have a good colorist. Also, take it slow with the color changes you make with your hair. To protect the integrity of the hair gradually darken the hair until you find the best shade for you. If you want to go lighter, gradually lighten to a shade that doesn't require bleach in it's formulation.  This is important, since once you bleach the hair to the extreme of no pigment it's a pain for both you and the colorist to add back in.

Tammy: Please, please do not use YouTube as your personal class in cosmetology. It most likely will end tragically with hair breakage and horrible splotchy unwanted color. We see this often and once it gets this bad the only we can help is by cutting it off. Absolutely NOT worth it. 

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