Are You Coloring For Your Client’s Freshly Tan Skin or Eye Color?

Have you ever gotten thrown off by a client’s “fake” tan skin and then consequently used the wrong color on their hair? We have all been there before, especially with a new client – they might have too much makeup on, a dark tan or maybe they are insistent that they want a certain color. This can be an even bigger problem during the summer months when your client might be fake baking, lounging by the pool or spray tanning to get that darker glistening skin. It is important to remember that what might work today with their current makeup or tan will not necessarily work tomorrow when the makeup is washed off and the tan has faded.

You are the expert and even if your client is pressuring you for a specific color it is up to you to determine if that color will work for them everyday, not just today. I teach a simple 4-step process to help you determine what color you should use on your client’s head. To follow my recommendation you will need to transport yourself back to the basics you learned at Cosmetology School. But I promise that if you follow these steps you can find the perfect color for your client and retain them as a customer for a long time


Step 1: Look at the palm of your client’s hand and determine what undertone they are. You do this by holding up hair samples in one color from the 4 shades that represent the 4 undertones. Remember the basic undertones are blue, green, red or yellow. It should be clear which shade looks best against their skin, but I have one more step you need to complete to double check yourself.

If you are having trouble identifying the correct undertone or determining what shade to use, go look at your basic beauty color wheel. The beauty color wheel starts with four colors – that is the undertones I am talking about.

Step 2: Next hold the same four samples up to their eyes. Pay close attention to how each color might effect change – look at both the eye color and the whites of their eyes. You will notice immediately what tones don’t match. For example, a brown eye with yellow tone in the white portion of the eye will not look good next to a hair color with blue tones in it.

 Step 3: Now that you know what undertone is best for their skin color and eyes, it is time to determine which color shade in that family is closest to the color he/she requested. For example, if your client wants to be blond  – find the shade of blond closest to what they described but within that undertone category that you have selected as the best option for them. Then show the recommended color to your client to get their thoughts.

Step 4: If the color you are recommending doesn’t match the color your client is requesting, you will need to consult with your client further. As a rule of thumb you and your client will be happier if they go with the color that matches their skin undertone. Encourage your client to agree by explaining how this new color will make their natural features pop more and how it will attract people to their eyes verses your skin.

Bonus: Have you already colored your client’s hair and it does not look quite right because you did not follow my 4-step process?  Then go back and follow steps 1-2 and add either lowlights or highlights that fits with their natural skin tone. This will hopefully save you a client. In the future take the time to follow the consultation steps.


And for all of the Clients out there reading this…you have some responsibility in making sure that you get the correct hair color. 1. Communicate with your stylist if you have been tanning more than normal. 2. Go into a session with your stylist with an open mind – you might be naturally a dark brunette and you can still be the blonde that you desire, it just might be a slightly different shade.

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