Jun 1, 2022

Hair Color Specialist: How To Find The Right Colorist

Finding a new colorist is tricky, but we've got your back! Here's how to get it done.

Formulate user Gina wants to know how to find an awesome hair color specialist:

I got a big promotion and I had to relocate. I moved from New York City to a much smaller town. Well, technically it's a city but compared to New York it definitely feels like a small town! My colorist didn't have any connections to this town so she couldn't refer me to anyone there. There are a decent number of options of salons and most of them have good reviews. I'm still nervous about finding a new colorist, but I need to find one ASAP because I'm due in the chair. I saw my New York girl for years, she's brilliant, and we had a great relationship. She knew me super well and knew what I wanted almost before I did. How do I even start to find a new hair color specialist? I feel like I've been spoiled since I came from someone so awesome, I'm totally lost.

Thanks for writing, Gina! Congrats on your big promotion - that's awesome news! We'll do our best help you find a new hair color specialist who will help you look great for the new gig.

To find the right hair colorist, you need to take your time. Entrusting your hair color to just anyone can be risky. Start slow, and don't feel guilty if you need to try out a few different hair colorists.

Getting Started

So, where do you look for a great hair colorist? Here are some suggestions:

  • Check reviews. Pay particular attention to write ups that talk about the kind of hair color you want--highlights, red, etc. If someone says on a review that they're unhappy with the result of their color service, at the very least make sure that this person didn't receive the service that you want to hire this stylist for. Also, see if the stylist or the salon replied to the negative review - they might have offered a way to make things right. Great customer service is important when you're trying to figure out who you want to color your hair.
  • Go to an educator. Googling "hair color educator" nets you someone who trains other hair colorists. Hair color educators have received additional training from hair color manufacturers, and they're also vetted by the establishments where they teach. They might be extra expensive, but they're also more skilled. If someone is claiming to be a hair educator, don't be afraid to ask them who certified them to teach, and where they taught before. They should easily be able to provide details.
  • Find a board certified colorist. Any licensed barber or beautician can legally color your hair. Cosmetologists and Barbers are tested on basic aspects of hair coloring in board exams when they are first liscensed. However, additional education is needed to become a board certified hair colorist. A recognized "Board Certified Hair Colorist" is an easy way for the consumer to recognize a hair colorist that has achieved a higher level of capability in hair coloring. You can find board certified hair colorists listed at https://www.boardofcertifiedhaircolorists.com/. 
  • Use your network. Ask friends and relatives whose hair color you love where they get their hair done. This is especially useful if it's similar to what you want. A bonus for them is that their stylist will appreciate that they referred you.
  • Check Instagram. Check the stylist's Instagram to make sure that they can provide the service that you want - you should be able to find multiple photos of services, ideally with befores and afters. If you know you need someone with special expertise, i.e., you're a brunette who wants to go blonde, your hair is badly damaged or you're interested in doubling up on chemical services, make sure they've worked under those circumstances multiple times. 
  • Check out hair color manufacturers. The salons they list on their websites all have pros who've received training in their hair color lines. A few to try: goldwellusa.com, redken.com, matrix.com and wellausa.com.

The Consultation

Once you have a name and number, book an appointment for a consultation. Bring photos and questions. In addition to talking about your own hair and asking for ideas, ask about the colorist about their training, and how often they take advanced classes and workshops. 

 Your First Appointment

Start with something simple--color that is just a couple shades from your own, a few highlights or a root retouch. If you like what you're getting, return to the colorist. If it starts looking green, brassy, or otherwise prematurely icky, it's tine to look somewhere else for a different colorist.

As Time Goes By

Color chemistry is tricky. You can only find a great hair colorist by seeing how he or she adjusts your hair color over time. Your color pro should discuss maintenance, home care, budget, skin tone, eye color, seasonal changes and your hair health. If you need true color correction--for instance, if you're starting with a home bleach job--one or two tries should tell you if you've found someone you can count on.

Be honest with your stylist. If you know you'll want to occasionally color your hair at home to save money, let your colorist know and ask for advice. If cash is an issue, you could see a more expensive colorist for major changes and a junior colorist at the same salon for retouches. The more expensive stylist will handle the tougher tasks, and will also be able to coach the more junior stylist on application techniques.

Build the Relationship 

If you're paying for a pro, you should feel confident enough to ask for new ideas.. If you're always asked, "Do you want the same thing we did last time?" request ideas.

Send Referrals There is no better way to show your appreciation than to refer others to your colorist. Show off your new shades on your social media, write a Google review, or simply tell friends the old-fashioned way--by word of mouth. Also, be sure to review your hair colorist online. Many salons reward both you and your friend when you make referrals, so don't be shy about sharing.

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