Editors Blog: Ian Michael Black Talks Color Correction

Kelsey Murray here, the new digital editor at American Salon magazine. This is my first job in the professional beauty industry, so follow along as I navigate my way through beauty shows, brand events, photo shoots and interviews. This blog is a behind-the-scenes look at my first year in the industry. 

On May 15, American Salon was invited to a private press preview at the Aveda Experience Center in the Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City. The event included an Aveda stress relieving hand, neck, shoulder massage, a makeup touchup, an Aveda haircolor consultation with Ian Michael Black, technical director of the global artistic team, and a dry styling with Ricardo Dinis, creative director of the global artistic team and haircutting innovator.

As American Salon Senior Editor Maureen and I walked into a little oasis on Friday afternoon, we found ourselves sitting in the chairs of the two stylists responsible for creating the color, cuts and styles featured in the Aveda Spring/Summer 2015 Rare Bloom Collection. Needless to say, I was extremely excited. Both pros are well known and respected for their advanced techniques, not to mention their wry sense of humor and quick wit.


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Ricardo styled my freshly blonded, long bob, and afterward, I sat myself next to Ian to chat about haircolor and everything Instagram. His love for haircolor, shoes, positive quotes, and sassy selfies resonated with me. Within minutes, his sweet demeanor and extensive knowledge about color and the Aveda product line charmed me. And while I have only been immersed in the professional beauty industry for a short time, I know his advice for when color goes wrong - is pure gold.

“I always say the mark of a good colorist is if you can do a good brunette. Essentially, it’s easy to make somebody blonde,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s easy to make them a nice blonde, but making them a blonde is not rocket science. To dye someone’s hair red or blue? That’s easy. But brunettes? To make a brunette look interesting and not boring, to make it look even and not too red, it’s a real art.”

Here are Ian Michael Black’s tips for a successful color correction consultation with your client:

First, I say, Okay, you’ve had your hair done by somebody else, you’re not happy about it, lets start with a clean slate because right now, you probably hate all hairdressers. I would. But I remind them that I didn’t do it and I want to fix it. So let’s just start with a clean slate. I take the emotion out of it for a minute and just talk about the facts.

Second, I ask them to explain what exactly they don’t like about it. And we discuss what the priorities are in order to get it to what the client likes.

People always bring photos they like. I prefer they bring photos they don’t like, and I ask them to explain exactly what they don’t like about the hair. Is it too stripe-y, or too much of one color? Then I start to see what their mindset is like.

Finally, after I’ve taken the time to hear what they’re not happy with, I give them realistic expectations. I say to them, “There are a few things we can do.” I give them options. You have to be honest about what you can do on that day and what you can do in the future. There are limits to hair and you have to set the right expectations. Sometimes not everything is fixable, and other times things are more fixable than the person thinks—or even the hairdresser thinks.

About: Kelsey Murray is Digital Editor of  American Salon. She holds a B.A. in English and Film Studies from Salve Regina University in Boston and an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University. Prior to joining American Salon, Kelsey worked as lead fashion stylist and digital media coordinator at Kyle Alexandra Wardrobe & Style Consulting. She currently creates content for her own fashion and lifestyle blog Tickle Me Pink (ticklemepinkstyle.blogspot.com).