Call it your Claire from Fleabag moment. You’ve gone in for a new hairdo and come out with a style that, even if not as extreme as the "pencil" look, certainly falls short of what you were expecting. There’s layers where there shouldn’t be layers, a brassy finish instead of a golden hue, and that’s before we get to the length, which is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
We’ve all been there — and it hurts. After all, who wants to splash well-earned cash to look worse than before they entered the salon? Bu all hope may not be lost. Below are a few tips from experts within the industry on how to style out different nightmarish scenarios, or, if that fails, how to reverse the effects as soon as possible.
1. You went in for a new shade and see no difference
This sucks. You’re pumped about a new colour and sit back ready to enjoy the transformation. The hair dryer goes off and you stare back at the same person who walked in two hours ago, only £80 out of pocket. What’s going on?
“If [you were] unsure whether to go for a different colour, maybe the stylist opted for a safer option so you can build the colour over time,” explains Lynsey Bolo, colourist at The Projects.
Whether it's this or something else, there are ways to intensify the colour ASAP. Thank god. “Use a colour-saving or brightening shampoo,” Bolo says, until you can return to the salon to get it looked at again.
2. You went in for blonde and came out with brassy, dull, or custard-coloured hair
Ah dear. Not quite the beachy look you were aiming for, right? Stock up on silver shampoo to “eliminate yellow or brassy tones,” says Bolo, bearing in mind that, for people with dark hair or colour build-ups, it was always going to take more than one sitting at the salon to get the blonde you want. Any colourist worth their salt should have told you this during the consultation.
3. You hate your new balayage look
That rooty balayage look is so effortless on others that it’s a shock to realise it’s not on you. If visible roots are the problem, “go back to ‘normal’ highlights,” says Leonie Jones, a balayage specialist working for House of Manes.
Of course you might actually want a rooty look but dislike the shade. As Jones tells me, it’s unlikely someone with a “dark-box dye” will convert to ash blonde balayage in one sitting. Most likely, it’ll go a warm gingery shade, which some people hate. In this case, silver shampoo is your friend. Or you could style it out: “Waving or curling the hair can help create texture and disguise patchy colour,” adds Bolo.
4. They’ve completely misunderstood your hair’s texture and, in the process, damaged it
You’d be forgiven for thinking that, in 2019, all salons should work with all hair types, but sadly this isn’t the case. And the results can be frustrating to say the least.
Harry Casey is an afro specialist and senior stylist for Jamie Stevens Hair. As Harry explains, women of colour tend to leave their hair natural or opt for some sort of relaxation treatment. “The only concern with colouring natural hair is maintaining your curl pattern, as this shouldn’t be altered in colouring process," Casey says. "When colouring chemically treated hair, i.e relaxed hair, you have to be really careful because if you use a product like bleach you could cause damage or, even worse, burn the hair off."
Casey advises finding a stylist who has worked with your specific type of hair before. "They have a deeper knowledge into knowing what’s achievable and what isn't."
5. Your ‘just a trim’ request has turned out to be a major cut
If only 'a trim' could be measured with the exactitude of algebraic equations. After all, what is a trim? An inch? And what is an inch in finger measurements? Because the hairdresser's is always least twice the size of mine.
Stylist Phil Smith reckons the key is to show EXACTLY how much you want off. And remember that the hairdresser is assessing the health of the whole head of hair, not just the dead bits at the end, so it might be comforting to know that, despite being the wrong length, your hair is in good nick.
Washing and drying it at home after the salon appointment might make it feel more like "yours" again says legendary hair stylist Jamie Stevens.
Failing that, I'm afraid all you can do is accessorise and style it out until the hair grows back.
6. Your new fringe is not what you wanted
In this scenario, the best hope you have it to go in prepared. Sure, that fringe you saw in a magazine looks like it’d suit you. It so Parisian and chic. But don’t be fooled — that’s how they draw you in. “There’s not a fringe to suit every face shape,” says Smith. Listen to your stylist’s advice and, if in doubt, start long and delicate and go shorter next time.
If it's already too late, take advantage of the free fringe trims that some salons offer and, if you’re the type to meddle with it yourself (aren’t we all?), spritz with dry shampoo so it stays fresh.
7. The layering they've put in is not doing it for you
You’d be forgiven for thinking layers are a hairstyle. But, according to Smith, they’re a "technical section of the haircut." And technically they can go wrong: too short and they widen your face, too long and they drag your face down, and if your hair’s thick, say hello to unwanted depth.
For those in layer hell, Gina Conway Aveda Salons' Artistic Director and Head of Education Padraig O'Cathain recommends having them re-cut and softened, bearing in mind that curly or wavy hair might go into "shock" and, "jump up more than expected, settling after a couple of weeks." Good to know.
8. You've dyed your extensions and they look worse than ever
You’ve found the perfect length extensions but want to switch up the dark shade to make it super blonde. It sounds achievable enough but, well, you know where this is going.
“This takes a huge amount of bleaching work,” says Harry Casey from Jamie Stevens Hair. “The hair extensions have already gone through a chemical process to ensure they’re fit for use and sometimes the hair will start to break off or become elastic due to the number of times you have to lift the hair extensions to that high degree of blonde.”
Better instead to pick extensions which are already blonde and have them toned down by a stylist, making it more affordable and longer lasting.
9. Your blow dry is all wrong
Too much shampoo, too little shampoo, too little product, too much product, too much time under the hair dryer, too little time under the hair dryer. Yep, blow dries are a balancing act, says blow LTD Senior Stylist Natasha Harrison. There is some hope though.
“If the blow dry is too big or too curly, gently loosen the hair with your fingertips in a brush-like movement, pulling down gently," Harrison suggests. "If it’s still too much, use a soft bristle brush."
If all else fails, make like Braliz ambassador Jack Merrick-Thirlway and “wash and start again.” Preach.