blue hair weirdness (aka first world problem)
October 2, 2020 12:11 PM   Subscribe

The last three times I've had a hair appointment my hair color comes out completely wrong, through no fault of my hairdresser. She is stumped but not that bothered by it because eventually it fades to the right color. I am bothered by it though and am not sure how to fix this going forward. Looking for advice from hairdressers/hair professionals/beauty professionals.

I have black hair and for the last three years I've had dark blue lowlights. Up until this year, when I would go to the hairdresser for a color touch-up, the color would come out looking dark blue - somewhere between navy blue and shark blue. It would fade to a lighter blue as the weeks went on and eventually end up in a dark cyan zone.

This year, each time I've had my hair done, the color comes out looking straight up purple. Like a dark violet. Or a navy with major purple undertones. Its bizarre. My hairdresser has not changed the brand or color dye she uses on me. My hair will stay in this purple-blue zone for weeks, then fade into the dark cyan eventually.

Her POV is that the pigment deposit is so rich that it comes out looking purple in my hair, and thinks that since it eventually fades into blue we shouldn't worry. My POV is this shouldn't be happening if she's using the same dye she's always used, I don't want purple hair, and I don't like having to wait for my purple hair to fade to dark cyan - I never get to actually have the shark blue hair that I want in this process. I love my hairdresser, she's one of my best friends, but it annoys me that she has been shrugging this off. I don't pay her to dye my hair dark violet, I am paying her for dark blue hair, and I don't get blue hair at all until it's already faded and in need of retouching.

She has said that she will only use a different dye if my hair never stops being purple between appointments. I get her rationale on one level - my hair does end up blue, eventually - but I don't like having purple hair for two weeks before getting the blue hair that I go to her to get. I don't really understand why I should have to put up with a hair color I don't like, even if only for a while, just because eventually it turns blue. Hair appointments aren't cheap.

Yesterday I got my hair done and it came out the purple-est it's even been since this problem started happening. She gets super defensive when I bring it up, saying that after she rinsed my hair the sink was blue, and when she tests the dye on a paper towel it looks blue, and sending me photos of dye tests and blue sinks and like dude, I don't think she is secretly dying my hair purple, I don't need to see the smurf prints in her sink or bits of paper towel with my dye on it looking blue as proof. I just want to walk out of her salon after an appointment WITH BLUE HAIR. Not purple hair that eventually turns blue.

This is tough because we're friends, I've never had a problem with the service she provides me until this year, and I don't want to make things ugly between us. But at the same time, she isn't doing my hair for free, and hair appointments aren't exactly cheap, and I don't think it's ok for me to pay as much as I do to end up with hair I don't like.

How can I address this with her? I have told her that I would be willing to try another brand, or a slightly different shade of blue that's still in the same zone of shark blue that I like, just to avoid this purple thing, but she's weirdly resistant to changing the dye she uses just because my hair always fades to blue in the end (and not light purple). I don't know what words I need to use to get her to understand that the next time I come in for an appointment I do not want to leave with dark violet hair, no matter how it fades. Is there a script I can use? Are there other dyes I can suggest to her? Are there better ways to describe the family of shades of blue hair that I actually like and would prefer to have in my hair instead or dark violet? Where is the communication breaking down here? Do I need to be more firm? I am at a loss, and my hair looks like one of Prince's velvet suits right now, and I am irritated.

Help me help her help my hair?

posted by nayantara to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To clarify: the parts of my hair that are dyed are bleached first. So this is another reason why I am so confused about the color suddenly being weird. She's applying blue dye to bleached hair and it's coming out purple and she's like welp that's weird oh wells and I'm like ???!!?
posted by nayantara at 12:13 PM on October 2, 2020

Having had blue hair (blue color applied to bleached 5N dark brown hair) this is a mystery to me. Sorry to say but I think your best bet is to get a consultation at another salon that does a lot of non-natural color work and see what they think, or if they can recommend another blue product that won't come out purple. If you find another product that works better for you, one possibility might be to simply buy it yourself from a beauty supply place & ask her to use it. IMO it would be so awkward for her to refuse to use something that you bring in that I feel like she would go along with it, just make sure you bring the instructions as well.
posted by zdravo at 12:16 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

It sounds like she really doesn't know how dye works very well, and instead of admitting that is getting defensive and blaming you. I'd honestly just look for someone else because she doesn't know her stuff on a thing that's a big part of her job.
posted by augustimagination at 12:18 PM on October 2, 2020 [12 favorites]

It sounds like she might be using it too concentrated and/or leaving it in too long.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Possibilities from a non-professional who has dyed her hair many colours:

- Even if she's using the same dye, I guess it's possible they've changed their formula?

- Different bleach outcome affecting how the hair holds onto the colour?
posted by greenish at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2020

- Different bleach outcome affecting how the hair holds onto the colour?
This was my guess. Does she bleach your hair before applying the dye or is it all done in one go?
Also, do you notice ANY difference in the different lengths? (say, if the amount of re-treatment affected the outcome, then the roots should be less purple than the tips).

At any rate, "it turns blue eventually" is completely unacceptable. And the way you describe it I don't think your communication is the problem. This seems really odd - you wouldn't think twice about this if she weren't your friend. So I think your best option is to preface your request with some of what you said here "I don't want things to be weird, you are my friend, I've always been happy...." but then make an unequivocal demand for blue. hair. straight. away, the end. You're the customer and you're paying her money!
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:44 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm a bit shocked that she gets defensive when the objective truth is that your hair, using the same dye and process, is now a different color than it used to be. If I were her, my first call would be to the company that makes the dye to both ask about a formulation change and also troubleshoot this result. Hair color companies have staff dedicated to this kind of customer service.
posted by quince at 12:52 PM on October 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Since she's a friend, I'd probably give talking it out another go. I do not think you're obligated to though.

I'd start by explicitly saying "I know you're using the correct dye and doing everything that worked before."

Then give the out:" I have no idea what's changed, maybe they've altered the formula without telling anyone or maybe my body chemistry has shifted(not a clue if that's possible, but the point here is to point the blame somewhere else), but something is different now. "

Then show you're will to let her figure it out: " you're the expert, but i understand that dye can be tricky. I'm happy to try something a different to get us back to where we were before. I know it may take a while to dial it in again, but I'm ok with that*."

I'd also end it with a we can call this off: "If this stresses you out, I'm also happy to start scheduling with someone else if that's what you want. You're my friend first and I don't want to be a client you hate dealing with."

* This may be a deal breaker for you. I'm actually pretty whatever about my hair and like changing things up. And even if you're generally like that, but she's burned you out, then I'd just start scheduling with someone new.
posted by ghost phoneme at 12:59 PM on October 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

So they dye is blue, but your hair isn't picking up the colour, that's pretty clear. Have you changed any medications between the period when your hair was happily blue to the present purple issue? This sounds SO much like a meds issue -- thyroid, birth control including hormonal IUDs, and chemo can all cause this. So can antibiotics.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2020

(Not a hairdresser/beauty pro)

FWIW I think the reason she is kind of blowing this off is because you are friends. If you were just a paying client, she would probably feel more obligated to appease you, but since you're friends she may figure that you will just keep returning out of loyalty. This doesn't make her a bad person, per say, but it is neither good friendship nor good business practice. Even if this turns out to be a "you" problem, I'd expect my hairdresser to be offering up suggestions and open to trying new things, not just shutting it down. If this was someone you'd never been to before, you could show them a picture and ask "how do we accomplish this?" Maybe you've already tried that? But it sounds like she has already decided that her means of accomplishing this is fine.

I think your words are not the issue here, unless you've never stated the following to her before: You want to walk out of the salon with blue hair, not purple hair that fades eventually to a different blue than you requested.

If she doesn't have any solutions that can help with that, your aim is to preserve the friendship by taking your business somewhere else.
posted by sm1tten at 2:46 PM on October 2, 2020 [7 favorites]

Its possible that your hair is too stripped to absorb the color correctly if she is rebleaching each time. All dark blue dye has red in it, to bring it into that spectrum from cyan (the pure color). The dye she uses may also have changed formulas.

I also recommend getting a second opinion, preferably at a salon that uses a different brand of dye, to see if they can fix the issue.
posted by ananci at 7:43 AM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

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