A disgruntled client of yours just walked into your salon. Last night, she tried to dye her hair herself but to her surprise and dismay, her hair didn’t take the color! It seems like most of the dye just washed right out, leaving a slightly reddish tint to her naturally medium brown hair.

What do you do? Since you’re the professional, she’s asking you to redo it for her, but you know can’t simply apply the dye again and hope for the best. Here are some causes, solutions, and ways to avoid this annoying (and time-consuming!) problem.

Your client may not have enough protein in her hair to absorb the color. To remedy this problem, use a neutral (colorless) protein filler before you dye to increase the porosity of her hair and make sure the color is absorbed evenly. In the following weeks, she should continue to use the neutral filler, or a colored filler that helps prolong color. Be sure to remind your client that hair porosity can change over time, so just because her porosity has been normal before doesn’t mean it’s the same now.

If her hair is damaged due to the excessive use of heating tools or dyes, have her use a deep conditioning treatment for a few days (or weeks) before dyeing. You should also suggest she cut her ends off, since they’ve received the most amount of coloring and styling, and therefore are the most damaged. Cutting them off can help prevent fading, especially since color will fade faster at the ends if they’re damaged, giving your client an ombre look they might not have been going for.

Build up:
Product build up keeps patches of hair from absorbing color, so always make sure to clarify to avoid patchiness. Ask if your client has recently used henna dyes or gloss treatments, as those coat the hair, not allowing strands to receive the color.

Make sure you’re using the proper developer. If your client is going darker or staying within the same shade range as your natural hair, a 10 volume developer will work. If they’re going lighter by 2 shades or so, a 20 volume developer should do the trick. As a professional, you can use stronger volumes (usually 30 to 50) if your client is trying to go from, say, a medium brown to a light blonde. Just be aware of the shade difference so you don’t under or overdo the developer.

For more information on dyeing hair extensions specifically, visit our helpful blog on the subject. Happy coloring!