We’ve all seen our share of hair fails, thanks to Brad Mondo.
But there are a few Horror Stories that I have from my decade behind the chair that still haunt me at night.
This is one of those stories.
This story took place at my first place of employment after beauty school, a corporate chain salon located inside a popular box store (I’m not sure the legality of mentioning it by name so I’m going to be vague). It happened to be fairly slow that day, and my coworker was working on a client. They had decided on some highlights and a glaze, and a haircut to finish it off. This coworker was very good at her job, and very thorough. My Signature Client Consultation was modeled after her consultation skills. Unfortunately, the client either misremembered or presented alternative facts about her activities that summer, including spending A LOT of time in the pool.
My coworker was very busy that day, and I was shlumping around with nothing to do. I’d tidied up and folded laundry and was about to start dusting shelves when she asked me to keep an eye on her client so she could run across the store to use the bathroom and grab a sandwich. I said no problem and off she went. She hadn’t been gone two minutes when her client grabbed me as I was walking by.
“Sweetheart, can I get some water? I’m getting really hot.”
No problem, I head to the back to grab her some water. I come back and decide to try to lift the foils away from her neck for a minute to apply a cold paper towel to the back of her neck. To my surprise (and utter horror) the foils were extremely hot to the touch. I peeled one open and saw that the lightener had completely liquified and pooled at the fold of the foil, her hair was bright yellow and starting to get gummy, and her hair was (wait for it) STEAMING.
Like, actual steam was rising off this woman’s hair.
I grabbed her water glass and set it on the station and took her back to the shampoo bowl immediately and started rinsing with as cold water as she could stand. Her hair was breaking off in pieces and starting to pool in the drain catch. I was panicking (on the inside of course) and just praying my coworker would come back as soon as possible.
When my coworker came in (she had been gone for maybe 10 minutes, standard processing time is typically 20-30 minutes, but can go up to 50 minutes) she understandably freaked out that I had rinsed her client early. I took her to the back and explained what happened and I swear, I will always remember how the color drained from her face. We then were tasked with a very difficult conversation: telling the client what had happened.
That poor client left with a significant amount of hair missing after that. We did everything we could (this is well before the days of Olaplex) and she naturally was devastated. I sat with my coworker as she sobbed her eyes out, sure that she was going to get fired for this.
In the end, she did not get fired, thanks to her consultation skills and the fact that the client disclosed to us AFTER her hair melted that she had been spending 2-3 days a week in a chlorinated swimming pool. Had my coworker known that, she would have not proceeded forward with a highlighting service that day. (I believe that client actually continued to see my coworker for repair as well!)
Fun fact: chlorine is a type of bleach. Bleach over bleach over bleach will inevitably cause damage, especially when paired with aggressive heat styling (blow drying, straightening, curling), mineral build up (hard water), and metallic salts (box color).
The Incident clearly scarred me for life. I have an extremely thorough consultation, I always use Olaplex, and I prefer to start all of my color services with a MalibuC Crystal Gel treatment.
So what can you do to avoid a Horror Story happening to you?
First off: BE HONEST WITH YOUR STYLIST.
Unfortunately, we are not mind readers. Yes, it matters if you used a box color during quarantine. No, your hair is not “virgin” because it faded off. Hard water and well water can be ultra problematic. Spending a ton of time in pools can (clearly) alter your hair color experience.
Basically: we need to know everything that has been on your hair for the last 5-10 years depending on your hair length in order to get an accurate assessment of your hair.
Secondly: BE HONEST WITH YOUR STYLIST.
Some things are worth repeating. This is important.
Thirdly: Avoid using box color, perms, bleach, and relaxers at home.
Seriously, please leave the chemistry to the professionals.
Dude, some of those chemicals contain LYE, which is an obnoxiously caustic chemical. I’m not just talking about hair color fails, I’m talking about breakage city, hair melting, and honest-to-gods CHEMICAL BURNS on your scalp.
"So Jes, what do I do if something does go sideways at my appointment?"
If something turns out differently than you envisioned it, click here and learn about how to go about fixing it.
This has been my first blog in my Horror Stories series.
Do you want more of these? Leave a comment below!
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