"OTP": Open to public
"BSS": Beauty Supply Store
Ok, let's just take a few minutes and talk about the "elephant in the room" of the hair industry. This post has been a long time coming. Some of the following are my experiences and some are from other stylists.
My first negative experience with an OTPBSS happened when I first moved back to Regina. I had a lovely client with 85% grey hair, the first few appointments were correcting past work, she had lots of banding (different shades along the hair shaft) and over processed highlights (that I imagine were placed there to correct the banding). Soon she had beautifully even colour and I could see the excitement in her eyes. A few appointments later she mentioned to me that she had a friend who kept offering to do her hair at home (and it wouldn't cost her nearly as much!), she seemed offended by these comments and let me know that she wouldn't be going that route. One day she came into her appointment and her hair was altogether different, there was banding again! She never said, but I had to assume that she was coerced into letting her friend (who I've affectionately nicknamed "the kitchen magician") retouch her colour, and her hair was compromised again. It took us several appointments to get her back to where we were before the "botched job" and restore the health of her hair. The issue here isn't that she "cheated on me", I don't own your heads- but I 100% care about every strand on that head! The issue here is that she was promised a cheaper alternative that ended up costing her more in the end, and that makes me sad.
What does this have to do with Sally's Beauty Supply? Any one who fancies themselves a "hairstylist" even without proper training, can go into Sally's and buy hair color, perming solutions, decolorizers etc. They don't need a license. It's important to note that these are not salon quality products, they are rarely better than the Shoppers Drug Mart specials, but they are available nonetheless.
1. They may not be licensed OR trained professionals
The employees that work there generally are not trained hairstylists. Most of them have not had ANY training on their products or chemicals they sell. I went to an OTPBSS recently to experience it for myself. Every recommendation I was given was incorrect, some more harming than others. I soon found that if I asked about a product I was told that it would work for my hair, every damn time. Even though it absolutely didn't. I was encouraged to buy shampoo and conditioner that would weigh down my hair and completely ruin the training I've done for it. When I asked for a hairspray that wouldn't feel sticky or crunchy but had maximum hold, I was pointed to hairsprays that would make my fine hair break if I tried to brush it through.
Can you still buy products from one of these stores? Sure you can! Just be sure you do some research of your own. A lot of people have misinterpreted my words here, I never said you can't buy your shampoos/hairsprays etc.... Use caution when you do, make sure you are getting the right products for you!
2. They don't know the difference between permanent and semi permanent colour
This is a HUGE problem. And the biggest cause for those expensive colour corrections. Most of my colour correction clients come to me straight after they've tried a product from an OTPBSS. Client A. tried toning her blonde highlights, but was sold permanent hair colour and 20 vol developer (TWENTY FREAKIN' VOLUME), which resulted in the colour lifting all the natural dimension in her hair to a horrible shade of pumpkin orange and made her highlights golden. Her FIRST colour correction took 6 hours, at $100/hr plus products to maintain the integrity of her hair, it was a hefty price tag after trying to save money by toning it herself. Client B. just happened last week, she called the salon with a hair emergency and I happened to be open because my client hadn't shown up. When she got there I was shocked by the state of her hair. It had been bleached 5 times, there was breakage, it was uneven and spotty (which means several spots around her head were missed completely). It looked like a home job to me, maybe a self project, maybe she had help. After she/they realized they were in over their heads she headed to an OTPBSS for "professional help", this is when things got EVEN WORSE. Whatever she was sold to tone her hair, was not the right recommendation. It was nearly beyond help when she sat in my chair, it was TRAFFIC CONE ORANGE. I pulled out every trick in my book to help her, with the restrictions I was given. She left the salon with a darker more natural looking blonde, and after several treatments her hair was feeling better, but she still has a long road ahead.
3. They may not be qualified to colour match
When I asked the retail associate to recommend a colour that would cover my roots and match my existing colour, I could tell she was uncomfortable. She gave me three suggestions, one would have turned my roots nearly black, one would have given me hot roots (lighter & warmer(or.... brassy)) and one would have turned my roots a muddy green shade of brown. All three would have required a colour correction OR I would have had to live with banding.
4. Photos like these show up in my newsfeed
This morning while enjoying my morning scroll, I came across a horrifying photo:
It was captioned: "This poor girl came to me crying, a friend who "used to do hair" had put 50 vol with bleach from Sally's on her, bunched it up on her head and put under a cap. I took my time to save as much as possible for her and of course used Olaplex!! This is the before & after."
While the after photo is absolutely gorgeous, it's noticeably shorter, there is breakage and she was forced to go much darker. From the comments below the photo, it was a pain staking process that took HOURS and cost her hundreds of dollars. And again, her hair journey won't be over. It will take months to repair her hair, and she'll never be able to lighten her hair again, until she has grown it out.
*IMPORTANT* The photo on the left could also happen with just 20 volume developer and the wrong lightener. Please don't bleach your own hair at home. PLEASE.
5. They offer poor colour advice (this is an understatement)
Don't get me wrong, I am not shaming the employees. They make do with what education they are given. The problem is they are expected to give expert advice for expert situations. Client C. came to me with muddy green hair, she went to an OTPBSS and was recommended 1 shade to take her from blonde back to brunette, the client mentioned that she wanted to be a cool brunette without any trace of red or orange, so the OTPBSS employee recommended a cool shade of brown, meant to cancel out warm tones in already brunette hair. The result, GREEN HAIR. She's all fixed up now, but paid about 4 times what she would have paid if she had gone to a professional in the first place. Client D. went to an OTPBSS asking for a rose gold formula and eventually left with three different shades that she was told to alternate throughout her hair. They were all permanent shades of red and copper. So she ended up with red and copper lowlights throughout her hair. She hated it, and it required a colour correction to reverse.
If you've been dreaming of a colour change and aren't sure you can afford it, go see a colourist for a complimentary consultation. You may be surprised that you can afford it! Or they will always give you options. When a client comes to me with a large order but a smaller budget I ALWAYS work with them to give them options. Sometimes we divide it over a few appointments, or sometimes we come up with a plan that still gives them the change they are craving for the price they can afford. There is always a way! It's worth the consultation and it's free!
**UPDATE**: I only wrote this for my future clients and friends to save them from something that seems to be happening all too frequently. I find it interesting that one reader labeled me a "stuck up bougie stylist" because I mentioned the hefty prices of colour corrections. I understand completely that paying $100/hr for a colour correction isn't ideal for everyone, but it's simply what it costs. Colour corrections can take HOURS, some times DAYS. If you want your hair corrected and keep it on your head, unfortunately that is the cost. If you are comfortable shaving your head and moving on then so be it! Stylists do not force colour corrections on anyone. Are we meant to donate our time, and expensive products/resources because you thought box bleaching your hair at home was a good idea? No, of course not. So do you. Get a colour correction, or don't. These are the facts. **