Got the “Retouch Blues”
There was a time (I wish I could say) when we hairstylists would see a client with grey roots and dollar signs would flash in our eyes. Even though a simple root retouch would be the least expensive color service on the menu regular visits every four to six weeks would add a good bump to our yearly service sales. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making money at ones chosen profession and we hairstylists work very hard for our pay; but there always seemed to be something about root retouch services on grey hair that rubbed me the wrong way. I think it is because we hairstylists think of ourselves (and are even perceived by others) as artists; highly creative people that are contributing to the world of fashion and pop culture. Hair is our canvas and we believe it is meant to be used to beautify our clients and express individuality and creativity. Grey hair has long been looked at as an impediment to that; something that we had to take care of before we could really beautify the world. I for one hate getting into ruts or a routine, especially one where I feel I’m playing a part in perpetuating a needless stigma.
I’m a grey haired person. I plucked my first one out at twenty-one years old and I was salt and pepper grey by thirty five. I had strong genes for it as both my parents went grey quite young. This is the case for a lot of people who will live over half their life with grey hair! Somewhere along the way as the ideal of youth became dominant in our culture, gray hair became a curse to be eradicated. But times they are a changin’ and I for one think it is long over due.
I already hear you thinking: “men have always been immune to the grey hair stigma, men look distinguished with some grey, women just look old”. We’ve all heard this a million times and it always rubs me the wrong way too, but I always seem to hear this lament when a client comes in and is toying with the idea of growing her grey out and wants me to talk her out of it. Which I always would of course but I have a confession to make…I don’t anymore. There has to be a better approach… enter the new generation of clients and hairstylists that are unwittingly it seems, shaking it up.
To the younger crowd grey just seems to be another color. If they want grey streaks, ombré or even a full head there are a plethora of young stylists willing to take up the challenge. The level of creativity coming out of salons these days is unbelievable. I blogged about that here. It got me to thinking about applying some of this creativity to some of my grey retouch clients. The first step was to rid myself of this either/or mentality of covering grey or looking old and start to do consultations in a new way. I felt I needed to blaze a new trail in the direction of working with the grey not against it. As clients that come in with a natural hair color they want to alter by adding highlights or demi-color, so too we should look at grey hair as just another color to enhance or be creative with. There are a lot of new creative posibilities.
As a hairstyling community if we are afraid of losing business or feel threatened by no more retouch clients I think that’s a little like feeling threatened by ombré making your regular highlight clients come in less frequently. I firmly believe that our industry is strongest and most profitable when we work together using our creativity and skills to offer the best options and services for our clients. Working with grey hair instead of against it is the best way forward.
By Renn VanDyck
Élan Hair Studio