Have you ever wanted to color your hair, only for it to not turn out how you expected? This happens frequently when trying to go lighter(especially when going from black and dark brown to another color), blonde, or trying to achieve a non-natural hair color. Can it be frustrating? Yes, it can. When making a pretty drastic change, doing a strand test is the most helpful tool you have, to predict a better outcome.
A strand test should be used when a stylist is questioning the strength and porosity of the hair and to see if it really is possible for your hair to do what you want it to. Ever sling spaghetti against the wall to see if it's ready to eat? Think of a strand test in a similar way. Except nobody slings it against a wall. Or eats it.
How is a strand test performed? There are two simple ways. The first can take place at the time of your appointment(if it's not a major change). Your stylist applies the lightener, color remover or hair color directly to the hair(in an inconspicuous area). You then wait for the result and decide what your hair is capable of and then go from there. This can add to more time in the salon, if you're going to do the service the same day. Usually, we can tell in about 20 minutes if things will be heading in the right direction.
The second is usually the most accurate, as your stylist is able to try out several possibilities on the hair because she/he has more time. Your stylist will remove a few hairs(don't worry, you won't notice) from the nape area of your head, in an area that can't be seen. Your stylist then does whatever is necessary to your hair, as this method provides plenty of time to remove color, tone, add color, use a lightener, etc.
It also gives us plenty of time to develop a plan, if things are going to be a bit more challenging. It also gives us an opportunity to give an accurate price. If I(Bridgette) quote a price, that's how much it will be. So, if I quote $150, and get in there and do 7 hours worth of work and realize I should have quoted $350-well, it's my loss. I realize not all salons do that. However, those salons probably don't do strand tests.
No matter what you do-remember-you can not put color on top of color if you are going lighter. Also remember-hair grows half an inch a month. So, if your hair is almost to your bra, and you want highlights, it's quite possible that there is hair color from 3 years ago in it. So, if you've only colored your hair a "few times"--which I find to be about 4 times a year-that's 12 layers of color I have to get through in some areas, and 8 layers in another and 1 layer in one area. And if you went red, to black, to highlights to red to black to orange blonde to ombre, to purple, to black, well, you can see why a strand test is helpful. Color never really leaves the hair. Thanks for reading this lengthy post about the challenges of hair color!