A few years ago, salon colour menus were stuck in a rut, with uninspiring colour descriptions like ‘T-bar’ and ‘half-head highlights’ that don’t speak to the consumer. These techniques were one-size-fits-all colours that didn’t take the individual client into account and which made colour a chore.

At the same time, social media was taking off and the advent of Instagram meant clients were seeing trends first hand and at the same time as the experts. Trends are things that keep us interested in the world of hair, they can inspire us, define us, help our businesses grow and make money. Whereas a few years ago trends would filter down from the catwalk into a magazine and eventually onto the high street (remember that brilliant scene in the Devil wears Prada?), that has all changed with social media, especially Instagram, Pinterest and online fashion sites. I’ve personally done well by introducing a perceived trend, Balayage, to the UK market – in fact is was already an established technique in France and the US, it just hadn’t caught on in the UK.

One of the reasons Balayage took off here was because the colour market was ripe for disruption, and social media created the perfect storm to communicate this. Women didn’t want to spend ages in the chair to come away with stripy uniform highlights, they want quicker services that grow out naturally and look super flattering. This is what was happening in the states – no A-lister would be caught dead with a stripy highlight and everyone from Jennifer Aniston to the Victoria’s Secret models were wearing bespoke, hand painted colour that touches the hair where the sun would naturally. I’ve now taught balayage to thousands of colourists worldwide and they all testify to the fact that it keeps clients loyal and has increased revenue. Balayage is one of the most popular courses AND it’s something that clients can’t do at home, so it reinforces the professional nature of good colour. So is social media always a positive thing for salons?

In a word, no! That’s why it’s essential that as salons we understand it, we exploit the positive elements of it, and we counter the limitations of it.

In this fast paced world the word trend is being thrown around at everything: 2 posts on instagram that catch the eye suddenly become ‘the latest trend’ in the media when in reality it’s just not true. To me it feels forced, there’s no room for it to be nurtured until the next fast thing comes along.

The Balayage or freehand movement has totally changed the global hair market and you can see that evolving on social media. While 2017 saw us race through every trend under the sun (pastelage, unicorn, glitter, neon, watermelon…), the reality for me is that the placement and application of colour is what makes something stand out. Salons are businesses, we need to make money, and while bright multi-coloured hair might score a thousand likes on Instagram, you can bet you won’t get a thousand clients asking for it. Why not? It’s not wearable! Of course, it has its place, and it works for some clients, but the majority of the clients who sit in your chair want a beautiful, flattering colour that looks healthy and natural. What they were born with, but so much better!

So for me, staying ahead of your client means knowing your techniques inside out, and being able to look at the instagram picture they bring in and tell them with confidence that it’s filtered, it’s not possible to achieve that colour on their base, or it’s possible to achieve but in more than one appointment, or you can work with them to create something that will be more flattering and bespoke to them.

So, use social media to your advantage, know what’s going on (you don’t want a client knowing terminology that’s new to to you), promote yourself through it (hashtag your work on instagram and use facebook’s targeted ads to find clients for example) but don’t be a slave to the microtrends. Education is key to ensure we’re producing beautiful hair with brilliant placement and clever colour choice which will never go out of fashion.

And embrace the opportunities new technology brings: I’m launching my first ever video on demand this year so now people can learn with me even if they can’t make it to a physical class, and I use facebook live and instagram to stream my stage work – the online world means there’s never been a better time to learn

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