I, like many other ambitious blondes, have had lots of unfortunate experiences with bleach. Whether it’s the result of at-home solo aspirations with an $11 box of color, or in a salon with a professional and a $300 head of foils. If you screw up your hair at home, it’s easy to blame the product. If you screw up your hair at a salon, it’s even easier to blame the colorist. But is every colorist under sun failing to give us the towhead tresses we’re after, or are we failing to communicate with the right words?
In terms of legitimate mishaps, I’ve had my hair over-processed, under-processed, fried, melted, butchered—you name it. All of these experiences have made me a weary client. I’m always waiting for someone to screw up and prove me right as if colorists are only out there to ruin our hair and lives. Except lately, a bigger part of me has a feeling that I’m part of the problem.
After talking to Sara Gilmore of Sara June salon in Brooklyn, New York, I started to get a better sense of why I’m always unhappy with my color. See, I think I know color lingo. As it turns out, I don’t. When I say “ashy,” I really mean not orange. And when I say natural highlights, I actually mean balayage. I realized that I’m guilty of using phrases I don’t understand. I’ll pick up a few things each time I go to a salon and try to use it as a shield or weapon, depending on my demands.
But as it turns out, I’m not the only one who doesn’t know how to speak color. Sara explains that clients come in all the time, using the wrong words, misunderstanding the larger concepts, and majorly underestimating the power of bleach. After a lengthy and apparently very necessary process of going through Pinterest boards with Sara, we both felt comfortable with our level of communication and were on the same page. Oftentimes we bring in pictures of celebrities and think we want their hair, but really like something entirely different about the picture. Which is exactly why Sara was sure to have me detail my reasoning.
After going through this process, I knew exactly how my hair was going to look before she even mixed the color, which is, by the way, how it should always be. That part where they shake your head out under the towel should never be a shocking reveal. Because if you know how to speak color, which you should if you’re getting it, you’ll know how to ask for what you want. Here are Sara’s color 101 pointers: