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Today’s post is a bit different for my blog. It’s taken me a good few weeks to write this as I didn’t want it to be a huge rant and I’ve been quite upset about it all. This is my hairdressing disaster story and what to do if it happens to you.
My hairdressing disaster story – The background
I moved hairdressers about 2 years ago as I wanted to go to a more modern shop. The new hairdressing shop is really popular in my area and I know a lot of people who go there. A plus for me was they use the new (at the time) Olaplex treatment that claims to reduce damage from bleach and colouring.
My hair has been highlighted bleach blonde for years and the new hairdressers took it to full head of platinum blonde. I needed a couple of full root to tip bleaches to get it platinum but my hair seemed strong and healthy. After that I only needed the roots touching up every 6-8 weeks. I experimented with different coloured toners and had grey, silver and lilac hair that always eventually faded back to blonde.
Every time I had it bleached it burned! My scalp would be bright red, tender and sore for a good few days afterwards. When I mentioned it they told me quite a lot of people had the same problem. At the time it made sense to me that it might burn as, you know, bleach. On the skin.
Looking back now I can see there were a few red flags that I should have picked up on but didn’t. Now I can see these are the start of my hairdressing disaster story.
Last summer I had my hair done just before going on holiday. Whilst I was away my hair slowly started to turn a khaki green colour. And the dark green didn’t fade out. At the time the hairdressers blamed it on the sun and had to re bleach my hair from root to tip to get rid of it. When I questioned if this was ok I was reassured as they were using Olaplex every time it was bleached.
At Christmas last year on my first wash at home after going to the salon I realised the colour of my hair wasn’t right and it seemed really patchy. Some places looked like the roots hadn’t had any bleach on at all. So three days after having it done they had to bleach my hair from root to tip to even it back up. I was quite worried about having a full bleach so close to the last bleach and was concerned again about how it would affect my hair but they were very reassuring that it would be ok to do.
There were a few normal trips to the salon until a really major disaster. I had gone for my normal root touch up but after what seemed like a really short time it was being rinsed off. I commented at the time it didn’t seem to have been on for long but was told it was definitely time. As they were blow drying my hair they realised the roots hadn’t taken at all and were bright orange. The hairdresser decided to put a darker blonde toner on to try even it out and it was left on for about 30 minutes. As it was way past the time I should have been home I said I would dry it myself at home. Once I started blow drying it I knew how bad the colour was. The toner had turned my white blonde hair brown and I still had orange roots.
The next day I went back to complain where they offered to re-bleach it all again. I told them again I was getting concerned about the amount of bleach on my hair, although it seemed fine to me there’s always a worry with bleach. This time they agreed and decided it was probably best not to. Unfortunately the only solution was to dye it a really dark brown at the top to cover the orange and I was told the toner would fade out.
Whilst it wasn’t an awful colour and it was a good ombre, I hated it!
After only a few weeks the brown had faded so I had orange patches again and the toner didn’t fade at all. I wasn’t comfortable going back to the salon that had caused it but didn’t know what else to do. So I went, they re-did the top section even darker to cover it and bleached the ends with a “milder” strength bleach to get the toner out.
Whilst I was happier with my blonde again ends I still hated the top section and didn’t want to go back to the salon again.
My hairdressing disaster – what happened next
I gave my hair a good few months break to decide what to do. A new shop has opened in my town and I’ve seen a few people going and recommending it. I had a consultation with them and booked in to have highlights just in the top half to start lightening it.
The highlights were done and they were really happy with how the colour turned out. They also couldn’t believe I had been left with orange roots as the bleach took really quickly in my hair to a platinum blonde.
As they were brushing my wet hair before drying and straightening it they realised there was a massive problem. The lower section of my hair was snapping and coming out in handfuls! It was so bad they refused to blow dry it.
After explaining my hair is naturally very curly so I wash it, don’t brush it, dry or straighten and leave it curly so hadn’t realised it was like this. They took the history of exactly what has been happening at the previous hairdressers. The new salon was shocked to hear how many times it has been bleached root to tip and that toners had been bleached out.
They told me the only option was to cut my hair off above the damage. There was a lot of tears, even the new hairdresser was upset over it. I wasn’t charged for my appointment that day and told as soon as I was ready to book in for it cutting. She even said no matter when I want to come I will be squeezed in and that she would even stay late for me. I was also given an intensive treatment mask jar to take home to use every time I wash it for free.
They wanted me to go get my colour card (the history of exactly what has been on my hair every time) from the old salon and then they would book me in.
My hairdressing disaster story – The colour card
It took me a few days to get the courage to go to the old salon. I was upset and angry and didn’t really want to see them. As it happens I asked for my card and they let me take a photograph of it. They didn’t ask any questions as to why so I didn’t need to have worried.
Now I’m not a hair dresser so this means nothing to me. But the new salon are horrified by the record. It shows 40% strength bleach has been used almost every time my hair is bleached. (The new salon used 6% bleach). Apparently they shouldn’t use 40% bleach any more and it must not touch the skin as it can cause chemical burns. It was painted on my head every single time. It’s also not an accurate record as I know there are times I’ve been that aren’t recorded at all.
Once they saw this they knew there definitely was no other option for it but to cut it all off.
My hairdressing disaster story – The restyle
Two weeks after realising the problem with my hair I was sat back in the chair ready to cut it off. She knew how upset and anxious I was about it so before it was even washed she cut the length off quickly and took it away. It was a shock at the time but I’m glad I didn’t have to watch my hair falling around me.
Fortunately they managed to keep it a bit longer than originally thought and after an hour I had a new long bob.
Although I’m obviously upset my waist length platinum blonde hair is gone, I now love my new style. It is in amazing condition, looks and feels better and is much easier to manage. The new salon has done an amazing job, especially considering the state it was in.
Here is my on the day before and after. You can really see how bad the damage is when it’s blowdried and how thin the ends are from breaking and falling out.
It has really grown on me and I’m loving my cute new look now.
Whilst I’ve lost the length from my hair I do think I’ve been quite lucky. 40% strength bleach can and does cause chemical burns, scarring and disfiguration and it has been on my scalp every time. I’ve also found a new salon who seem much more knowledgable, reputable and really care for their customers and their hair.
I have written a complaint letter to the old salon, as yet they haven’t replied and reported them to trading standards which the new salon advised me to do.
The most shocking past of my hairdressing disaster story is learning hairdressers in the UK are not regulated. They work with incredibly strong chemicals and there are no laws or bodies protecting customers. There is also nowhere to complain to when things go wrong.
My hairdressing disaster story – What to do if it happens to you
There are some things to do so this doesn’t happen in the first place.
- Always use a reputable salon that someone recommends.
- Always ask questions. Ask what is being put on your hair. Ask what strength the chemicals are in the products and if they can use a lower strength of something.
- 40% bleach should not be used and should never touch the skin.
- Olaplex is not a guarantee. Whilst it can help minimise the damage it doesn’t stop it.
- Bleach shouldn’t burn when it is on the scalp. It can tingle and itch but burning is a red flag.
- Bleach should never be applied over already bleached hair.
- Whilst mistakes can happen, repeated mistakes shouldn’t.
- If you are uncomfortable or concerned about something find a new salon.
- A salon quality clarifying shampoo will remove toner. It does not need bleaching out.
And if you realise something is wrong.
- Tell the salon you are not happy and why. Most salons will offer to try and sort it out for you. You are within your rights to ask for another stylist and to ask for a refund, but they are likely to refuse a refund until they have tried to rectify the problem.
- Ask for your record card. Hairdressers have to keep them and under the Data Protection Act you are entitled to a copy. (My hint is to take a photograph of it. They are unlikely to give it to you as they will want a copy for their records and leaving it a few days to be copied means it can be changed.)
- Go to a new salon for a consultation. Take your record so they know exactly what has been done. Take their advice. They have access to professional products and knowledge of what can help. If they suggest a product try it. And if they suggest, like me, nothing can be done to save your hair take their advice and cut it.
- Invest in professional quality products even once it has been cut. It is likely to still need some extra care for a while.
- Report any problems to trading standards. If they are left to carry on more customers could end up with the same problems as you.
- Warn people. I’m not saying go all out but if you know people who go there tell them what has happened to you. It’s up to them what they do after they know.
Have you ever had a hairdressing disaster? What did you do about it? And I’d love to know what you think of my new look and your thoughts on my hairdressing disaster story.