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Patrick McIvor Guest Blog: Working Smarter

We opened our new private color studio about a month ago and I really wanted to rethink everything about a salon and what I had done in the past at previous salons we have owned or I have helped design. One of the main components of all my salons has always been our color bars. Hair color is always at the core of our salon successes and our color bars have always been the dominant feature at ours studio, both focal feature and the heart of our workflow. But as I am now about to enter my third decade in our industry, I realized my work has also changed, and not just style, but even where I apply color in the salon.

As a young hairdresser in the mid-1980's, demi-permanent colors were almost non-existent and those that did exist where not formulated for pre-lightened hair. Heck, every color was formulated with the expectation that it was for gray or some percent because the only 2 reasons people colored their hair was to cover gray or be blonde. And all color, with the exception of temporary rinses, were applied at the stylist’s station. As haircolor evolved in the 1990's and demi-permanent colors became more widely used in salons, at first these colors were applied to dry hair, either down the strand for color balancing or for toning after lightening the hair. Because the hair needed to be dry, by manufactures directions at the time, toners or glazes as they were now being called, were generally applied again back at the stylist’s station. As color became more main stream and demi-permanent color evolved, technology allowed the glaze to be applied to damp hair and many of us started to apply the glazes at the shampoo sink where the guests where able to remain reclined while their color glaze processed.

I, like many of my friends, began working this way and found myself going from my guest to the color bar to mix up their base color or highlight formula and then back to my station near by. Then when the guest was finished processing they would be escorted to the shampoo sink by our associates and their hair would be shampooed and conditioned before I would come over to see what glaze was going to be used for the final look. Now, to be fair I think glazing is one of the places a colorist can be most creative and NEVER glaze with one color or formula all over. Instead, I love to work with 2 colors, applying one with a bottle all over and then applying a second color with a bowl and brush directly on top of the first glaze, mixing them together on the guests head, at the base to add depth or on the hairline to blend gray better or down the strand for dimension. The fact became I was running back and forth from the color bar to the shampoo area half the time I was coloring and our color bar was convenient to the stylists’ stations but not the shampoo area.

So it hit me. Why don't I split my color bar? Let me keep the colors that cover gray, lift and change tone intensely in the workshop area at the stylist stations and then let's take the colors that are used on pre-lightened hair and put them at the shampoo area. I thought, why do I have my express toners that process in up to 5 minutes at the workshop area? I apply these at the shampoo sink, because heck if I didn't we might not get a sink to get it shampooed in the 5 minute processing time. I also realized my Colorance colors that were level 9 & 10 should be at the shampoo sink, because I use them on pre-lightened hair! Then, I realized my ELUMEN colors! I moved my @10's, @9's and even some of my @8's, so colors like SV@10, GB@9 and NA@8! But that wasn't all. With the new trend of unnatural colors I realized that my blue, pink, violet, yellow and more needed to be at the shampoo color area too, because if it's not pale yellow hair, it's not pink or blue.

The results have been amazing and guests who I have been caring for for years have noticed a difference too because their experience is even more seamless. Now, by splitting my color bar I am never more than a few feet from the colors I need to create. For the guest it means I am no longer leaving them to go get or mix the things I need for their color service. The other thing it has done is it has created time, because I'm not losing time walking away to mix and come back. I have more time with our guests. And, because the guests are not waiting for me to come back with their color, they can get out of the salon a few minutes faster, giving potential new guests a few more minutes to admire your color work.

Here's a link sharing our new color bar:

-Patrick McIvor


Image courtesy of Patrick McIvor