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Talking Colour with Jack Howard

The language you use with colour clients is vital to building trust and loyalty. Using the right words can make or break their view of you, your skills, and can even determine whether they like what you create.

Jack Howard, L’Oreal Professionnel Paris Artist, offers his advice on how to talk colour with clients, including key words to use and ones to avoid.

Don’t get technical

Don’t fall into the trap of using technical language when you are talking to clients about colour. You need to use language that the person in front of you understands. They won’t know a level two from a level seven, or an ash/gold from an ash. They will relate to the language of make-up, fabrics, and food. Try to incorporate these elements into your colour consultation.

Avoid the word ‘dark’ when talking about blondes

Blonde clients are fiercely protective of their colour. One thing I find scares them is using the word dark or talking about adding dark pieces to their hair. In their heads, dark pieces mean stripey hair and that’s something they want to avoid at all costs. I always say I am going to add some darker blonde pieces, which technically means a level seven. Just keep using the word ‘blonde’ whenever you talk about the tones you are going to add. This will lead to a much calmer and more flexible client.

Don’t discriminate based on age

Obviously, it’s important to treat every client as an individual. Don’t make the mistake of assuming older clients don’t want to hear the same key buzzwords as clients in their 20s and 30s. Whatever age the client, I think we should keep the language we use relevant, modern, and fresh. It’s interesting to see how older clients react when you do reference modern trends or influences. Older clients still want to be seen and they still want to be relevant. The language should always be open and inclusive. It shouldn't be referenced around youth; it should be referenced around hair colour.

Don’t use the B-word

I steer away from using the word bleach. Even though we know it's bleach, don't call it bleach to a client. Bleach sounds harsh and aggressive. Use words like lightening rather than bleaching. If a client says they don’t want bleach, do a deep dive and find out why.

Don’t do all the talking

The most important part of a colour consultation is getting the client to talk about their hair and hair colour. Give them some key phrases such as:

‘How do you feel about your hair colour?’

‘What do you like about your hair colour?’

‘When did your colour look its best?

’What don't you like?’

Once you’ve listened, then you can offer your expert opinion and guidance. Plus, sit on a stool facing them and keep their chair higher than yours instead of standing behind them. It’s a subtle power shift that allows them to feel safer.

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