It's no secret that highlights have transformed pretty dramatically in the last handful of years. We used to simply be able to call up the salon and ask for a full or partial highlight and the stylist knew exactly what that meant. Now we have balayage, babylights, strand-lights, microweaves, mini-foil, handpainted, face frame, shadow roots, the list goes on. With the change in style, so, too, changed the techniques that we use. And therefore our timing. And the way we do our consultations. And just about everything with how we approach dimensional color. So what does that mean for the client?
When I first started doing hair I would just schedule a new client based off of what she said she wanted on the phone; partial or full highlights. Now, I have to have an additional, separate consultation prior to the actual service because there are just so many options when it comes to getting one's hair done. For me, I like to start that process right off the bat with a consultation form on my website. If you call me to make your appointment, I'm going to email you the link to fill out the form so that I have a base to go from. Then I ask questions - what kind of maintenance are you willing to put into this color? How light? How dark? All over or just around your face? Do you like the rooted look or do you prefer highlights to go to your roots? How dramatic of a difference from what you have now? The list goes on.
Because there are so many options, and every stylist has a different technique they use, most of my guests spend about 3-4 hours with me the first time I color their hair. And it's not necessarily because they want a big change, but it's because I want whatever I do to look good with whatever was done previously; and also, you're switching stylists for a reason, right? During that first visit we also work together to come up with a plan for keeping your color looking great. Depending on what we do that can mean a few highlights every 1-2 months, or it could mean a full head overhaul twice a year with only cuts in between. I also am pretty adamant about what products you use on your hair. Quality products help with the longevity of your color, and that's important. I view each client as a walking advertisement for me and my services, and the last thing I want is for the color to look faded after only a week or two of wear.
I'm sure by now you've guessed that with all these changes and with all the time spent on these new looks, the cost is also different. It took me a long time to figure out how to price these services. For some clients I'd put highlights all over and spend about 30 minutes because the highlights were so spread out, and on others it'd take two hours of back to back foiling. Both could be considered full highlights because I've worked through the back, sides, and top of the hair but they are two dramatically different results. Enter: Hourly Pricing. Although I do list a specific price for my color services, they are based on an hourly rate. If that full highlight service takes longer, the hourly rate applies. Likewise, if it takes half the time, the hourly rate applies. It's taken what was once a "cookie cutter" approach to color and pricing and made it into something truly customizable.
What to ask for
Well, that depends on your stylist. My recommendation is to use photos to show what you like and even what you don't like so that you and your stylist can be on the same page. Ask questions if you need to, and make sure it's a two way communication between you and the stylist. And trust in the stylist's technique. Even if the last stylist you loved did foils only and this stylist does only hand-painted highlights it doesn't mean that the result will look different. It may even look better!