Color Correction Breakdown

I’d like to take this time to breakdown a Color Correction, explain what each step entails, and compare my hourly rate to an A La Carte service ticket. Being a Cosmetologist is equal parts artist, mad-scientist, and business person. I've had no problem sharing the beauty and the chemistry, and today I'm finally going to share the part that I normally hate talking about... The money! Mostly because I hope you can appreciate the value of my work, and also see that my hourly rate definitely gives you more BANG for your buck. *insert wink here* So let's break it down!

Step 1. Consultation Do not schedule a correction without consulting with the client first. You need to see the hair in order to evaluate the integrity of the hair, discuss the client’s short and long-term goals, create a game plan, explain the steps to the client, and provide them with a time/price quote. I charge an hourly rate for all corrections, so this quote is actually an estimate of how long it could take. I NEVER give an exact time; it’s always an estimate. This client was quoted 4-6 hours, and the service was finished in roughly 5 hours. I also explain what it would be A La Carte, and it’s up to them if they’d like to schedule/pay for each individual service.


As you can see from the before pictures… the client had a few inches of outgrowth, followed by a medium-dark brown band, a red band (which we should assume is throughout the hair), and some previously lightened ends that have also been colored over and have now faded unevenly to a golden brown. Remember, even though the color has faded… It’s still in there! So if you colored/lightened over this without removing anything prior to starting, it’ll pop up later, and create more work for you. Example: Attempting to highlight someone that has old red in their hair will result in orange or pink banding (depending on if the originally look was done with permanent color or direct dye).


Step 2. Color Remove My favorite color remover is Malibu’s CPR. It’s gentle on the hair, but gets the job done! You want to remove as much pigment as you can in order to create the best canvas to work on. In this case, since there was red in the hair, I told her to hope for one removal, but plan for two. Red is the hardest color to work with. When you want it to be here, it’s hard to keep. When you want to get rid of it, it wants to stay. Luckily, we got the bulk of the color out with one Malibu CPR, capped, and under heat for 45min. (Color Remover - $45+)

Step 3. Clarify If there’s one thing I would love everyone to add to their ticket, it’s a clarifying treatment! Clarifying the hair gently removes build-up from hard water, mineral water, and medications. For my clarifying treatments, I enjoy using Malibu’s Crystal Gel. Malibu’s Crystal Gel also adds antioxidants and pure Vitamin C, leaving your hair fresh and full of bounce and shine! It’s also something I require during a color correction. Again, to create the best canvas to work on. One thing that isn’t talked about much is that coloring over hair that hasn’t been clarified will allow color molecules to attach on to the hair, but will also allow them to attach on to any minerals that are built up in the hair… So if/when you remove those minerals (by clarifying, or even moving homes and changing water), you will also remove color molecules. You can actually fade your color by doing this! So the best thing to do is to clarify before coloring, so the color molecules will attach on to the hair and stay there! That being said… When trying to remove as much pigment as possible during a correction, usually a clarifier will take out what didn’t come out with the remover. Side Note: Mineral water and hard water build up can make the hair dry and dingy, and turn the hair yellow/green… ruining even virgin hair. Get a filter for your shower head to prevent this! (Clarifying Treatment Add-on - $25+)

Step 4. Reparative Mask Throughout a service, you need to be checking the integrity of the hair in between each step. At this point, I felt like her hair needed a little strength, moisture, and balance in porosity. So I sprayed on the Intense Reconstructing Spray by Enjoy, and applied the Enjoy Hair Mask directly over it. These products have keratin and amino acids in them (strength builders), and provide excellent moisture as well. (Reparative Mask Add-on - $20+)

Step 5. Blow-dry, and Reevaluate You want to blow dry at this point so you can see what you’re working with, decide if you need to do anything else before you start coloring, and of course, so you can formulate your color!

Step 6. Apply Color For this look, I applied Redken's Color Gels! 4N at the roots, 6N at the ends, and melt them together. I chose two different levels to create some slight natural dimension, but also because I wanted to be mindful of the remaining pigment in the hair, and the different porosities. The roots have less pigment, therefore need a darker color to catch up to the ends. The ends are more porous, therefore need a lighter color to not be darker than the roots. Two reasons means two levels apart. Side Note: I normally don't use permanent color, as I prefer demi-permanent, but I always use permanent color during a correction. I want want this correction to be happily PERMANENT. (All-Over Color - $100+)

Step 7. Tone and Bond I chose Redken Shades Eq Gloss 5N w/bonder. Glossing over the hair with an acidic toner will smooth out any slight bands that may be hidden in there. Shades Eq also adds extra shine, which is never a bad thing! I chose a 5N because I want to bring everything down one more level (so that it fades with some richness), and even though it’s lighter than the 4N, color over color goes darker. So now that 4 is a 3-4, and that 6 is a 4-5. I also added step 1 of my bonding system directly to the mix, to help repair the broken bonds from the previous lightening/coloring that she had done at home over the years. After rinsing, I applied step 2 of the bonder. Bonding treatments can be done on their own, and should be repeated when the integrity of the hair has been put in jeopardy. In some cases, standalone bonding treatments need to be done before starting a correction… or any color service for that matter! (Toner Add-on - $25+ Bonding Treatment - $60)

Step 8. Deep Condition This particular client was experiencing some extra dryness throughout her ends, so after shampooing out Step 7, I applied the Enjoy Hair Mask again, and let it sit on for a full ten minutes. (Deep Condition Add-on - $5+)

Step 9. Cut and Style! The Icing on the Cake. You may want to take this time to reiterate what was discussed during your original consultation. Make sure you and your client are on the same page in regards to their haircut. Always listen before anything else, but also don't be afraid to suggest what you feel would be best to help her achieve her goals. Using my Hattori Hanzo Shears, I gave this client a cute shoulder length cut. We decided to go with some short to medium length layers to balance out the volume of her natural curls, and create more symmetry. Along with some longer bangs, and extra face framing, it was the perfect cut for her! She was happy, and so was I.

This style was created using products from Eleven by Australia, my CHI blowdryer, and my favorite Hot Tools iron. (Scissor Cut - $40+)


Grand Total A La Carte: $320+ (starting rate only, final price is based off of hair length/density)


5 hours at $50/hour: $250

Which would you choose?

I hope you enjoyed this article!

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—Megan Christine

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