The Pitfalls Of Using An Image For a Colour Match

Colour matching is a complex process; it requires a great deal of time and knowledge to be able to effectively match the colour of a client’s hair, whether they are blonde, brown, red, or a mix of colours. However, client consultations cost money in terms of time and fuel, and sometimes it may seem simpler to request an image from your client instead of paying them a visit.  Whilst cost effective from a hair extensionist point of view, this is not a good method to adopt for a number of different reasons. If you are or have been tempted to ask for a picture, here are the reasons why you should think again.

Computer screen colour modes

Unless the image has been taken by a professional photographer, and is viewed using professional editing software on a computer that has been calibrated, an image sent from one computer to another will not be accurate due to screen colour modes.  Each computer’s screen colour modes will be slightly different, and when you are looking to match your client’s hair perfectly, it simply is not possible via this method.  For example, an image of a brunette client may appear a lot darker on your screen in comparison with the original image your client sent, or a blonde client may look to have more warm tones in their hair than they do in real life.  The only benefit you will be able to take from an image is the overall colour, e.g. you will know if your client has blonde, brunette, mixed, or another colour of hair, but the specific colours cannot be truly identified until you are in the presence of the individual.

Lighting

As with the computer screen colour modes, by asking your client to send a picture you will have no control over the conditions the image is taken under.  You can of course request that your client takes a picture in natural day light, with freshly washed, dried and straightened hair, however once the image comes through to your email address you will never know for sure if this was the case, or the client may simply ignore your requests all together sending a picture of them on a night out which can make requesting a second image uncomfortable.

iphoneClient vanity

When you request an image from a client, you will also have to bear in mind that nobody really likes to take a bad picture, especially when sending it through to somebody they do not know well, therefore the image you receive may not actually be the best angle that you would require from your client, but is in fact the best angle your client believes she has.  This will mean that again along with the 2 other factors above, you are not getting the best representation of your clients hair colour.

Incomplete assessment

When assessing a client’s hair during a colour match you are not only looking at the colour, but are taking into consideration the size of the clients head, the thickness of the clients hair, the overall style and the texture of the hair.  All of these elements are key to the consultation process, as this will enable you to order the correct amount of hair, and then raise any issues that could arise during the fitting such as a double crown or a high hair line.  Through an image you will miss this vital information which may result in you not ordering enough hair for the client, or not being prepared for the style that you will later be required to blend.

Personalised experience and contraindications

The consultation process is a very important part of your business to client relationship, and should be considered to be as important as the time you spend fitting the hair extensions.  It is a personalised experience where you can begin to get to know your client, understand why they are looking for hair extensions, if they have had them before, and the overall style they are looking for.  In this type of business client relationships are key to regular customers, and therefore you should be taking the time to get to know each and every one on an individual basis.

It is also an important time to assess if there are any contradictions or reasons why the extensions may not be suitable for this client.  Your client may disclose to you that they are pregnant, about to go away on holiday or on medication, all of which could be reasons to discuss whether or not the hair extensions are suitable for your client at this time in their life.  It is unlikely that you will be given the opportunity to do this via email if you have performed the consultation though an image, which could result in your client being left disappointed if on the day you realise you will not be able to fit the hair extensions for any reason.

In practice

polaroidHere we have an example of an image that has been sent in by a client.  Although it would have been requested that this be taken in natural day light, it is not possible to guarantee that this is the case.  The client’s hair is also slightly wavy which restricts our ability to accurately predict the thickness of the hair, and is cut off towards the bottom so we cannot fully see the length.  The hair appears to be a light brown with a hint of red (this may appear slightly different on your screen due to your own computers colour modes) however in real life this may not be the case for this client.  In this instance we could guess that the client has either hair of around a #4, or in the extreme that it is actually redder in real life if could also be a #33, however it is simply not possible to give a conclusive answer.

This image also does not detail to us the size of the clients head, nor does it show the style from the front angle e.g. does this client have a fringe?  Some clients may have hair that is slightly thinner around the front, and from an image like this it would not be possible to tell.

You could of course ask for multiple angles, however whether the client is willing to do this for you is another matter, and it will still not help to achieve a conclusive answer in terms of the clients colour.

Make it a priority

As we have outlined, consultations are a very important time in the hair extension process, and should not be taken lightly.  They are integral to many parts of your business including client satisfaction, client retention, and of course accurate colour matches, therefore if you have been tempted to cut down your consultation time in exchange for online consultations, it would be worth rethinking this strategy for the long term benefits of your business.