Before I found the right colorist and started dying my hair, I had major fears that the person I went to would mess up and my hair would turn out all wrong. Now that I know a little more, it turns out I was just as likely to make a mistake as he or she was, since the way hair is taken care of prior to an appointment can affect the outcome almost as much as the bleach or dye the colorist applies. If you're looking to color your hair, but have experienced that same anxiety regarding the risks, you might as well start with making sure you're doing all you can to help the process — cue three important things your hairstylist wants you to know about coloring your hair, according to the best of the best, aka my colorist, Michelle Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a stylist at Mimi's Salon in Belmar, NJ, known for very Instagrammable 'After' shots featuring perfectly tousled waves and the best color you've ever seen. Granted, I've been featured a time or two in these Instagram posts, so maybe I'm biased, but you can see for yourself, they're pretty amazing. Gonzalez and the other Mimi's girls use a technique called hairpainting to ensure they create beautifully blended color every time.
This is my hair the last time Michelle did it (and it looks so fab, IMHO):
And here's the hairpainting process in action:
Gonzalez also includes a ton of before-and-after shots on her page, and I dare you not to be impressed by her skill level:
If there's one thing Gonzalez knows, it's color — and color correction, and how to maintain color once you're obsessed with it, and above all, how to prep hair for said color. So when she took to her Instagram Story and posted what she felt were the top three things to do to ensure your color appointment is the best it can be, I took notes (okay, I just screenshotted her post) so that I could keep her advice in mind for my next appointment. And, because I'm generous, I've transcribed her tips below for you.
Please come with clean hair.
"There's an old myth that dirty hair takes color better than clean hair. This is false," Gonzalez insists. "The oils in your hair dilute the bleach and color, causing it to not fully do its job."
Personally, I've been known to show up to my appointments with some very greasy strands, justifying not washing my hair because I know I'll get it washed professionally that day. Turns out, this is a major no-no, and since I certainly don't want anything messing with my bleach, I'll definitely be giving my strands a thorough wash next time around.
The bottom line? "Clean hair allows the product to go on more evenly," insists Gonzalez. Noted.
Clarify! Clarify! Clarify!
And while we're talking about cleaning hair, let's make sure you're using the right products. Michelle is a master hairpainter, and if you've ever experienced the technique IRL, you'll know it's done on dry hair, not wet. Because of this, it's important that clients consider the water that was used to wash their hair before coming to the salon, since it can play a major role in the final outcome.
"If you have well water or have been in chlorine at all, it's best if you either buy a clarifying shampoo and use it before you come to the salon, or schedule a treatment at the salon prior to your color services," explains Gonzalez. "The buildup of minerals affects the hairpainting process immensely!" The R+Co Oblivion Clarifying Shampoo ($24, randco.com) is one of my go-tos, and I happen to know that Gonzalez likes the brand a lot, too.
"Putting bleach on hair that is filled up with minerals can cause unpredictable outcomes," warns Gonzalez. Like what, you ask? "The hair might get too hot too fast and rejecting the product, or the color appearing greenish or dull, keeping you from getting your desired color." No thank you!
Don't keep anything from your stylist.
"Colored hair does not lift as evenly as virgin hair!" says Gonzalez, which is why you need to take your colorist through your entire hair history before letting him or her whip out the bleach.
"If you box dyed your hair two years ago, it didn't 'wash out,' she explains. "The molecules from the dye are still very present and will affect the bleaching progress."
Real talk: I've been getting my hair colored for a little over two years now, and I didn't know most of this stuff when I first started. Dying your hair is definitely a learn-as-you-go experience, but being as prepared and informed as possible at the start of the process can only help guarantee better results. Shout out to Gonzalez and other stylists for keeping us informed so that our hair can look fab!