Hair Colour – Expectations vs Reality

Hair Colour – Expectations vs Reality

Hair Colour Inspiration – Expectations Vs Reality


We love our clients and all of the crazy hair colour ideas they throw our way. Bright and interesting hair is our lifeblood at Live & Let Dye and we do a LOT of it. We always try our very best to exceed expectations and give you results you’re still raving about months later, making you the hair envy of all your friends…..but we aren’t magicians.

Unfortunately, when it comes to colour work and inspiration photos that clients will bring in from the Internet, what you see isn’t always what you can actually get in real life. Most people are aware of this and use them as an idea of the colour they want to achieve but there are still quite a lot of people that are a little misguided. This is totally understandable as usually people don’t understand the process a stylist has to go through to get your colour the way you want it. So we thought we’d help you out a little.


During the consultation process, we make sure to fully inform you that there are things that just aren’t possible to achieve in one appointment. We explain the process multiple times, clarifying what we’ll do, what you’ll walk out with today, and, if necessary, what we’re aiming for in a few appointments time.

If you come in with black hair and the photo you’re brought in is pastel purple, there’s no product in the world that will make that happen in one appointment, unless you get a wig or opt for pixie cut! Thanks to the likes of Kim Kardashian with her ‘3 hour’ black hair to blonde hair appointment in Paris recently, we are expecting a sudden increase in your average persons unrealistic expectation.


Kim Kardashian before blonding
Kim Kardashian before blonding
After a supposed 3 hour appointment.
After a supposed 3 hour appointment.


There is nothing we would love more than to click our fingers and give you exactly what you ask for, instantly. But there are chemical processes and scientific principals behind what we do. This kind of makes us crazy hair scientists!

We can make your hair white blonde faster, but what use is perfectly coloured hair when it’s in a pile on the floor?

The faster you go blonde, the more damaged your hair is going to be. There’s a REASON Kim’s hair is tucked down the back of her collar in the blonde photo! How fast your hair lightens depends on a few things. The colour of your hair at the moment (it really doesn’t make a difference if you naturally have blonde hair but you’ve been colouring it black, because its still black right now!), the strength and condition of your hair and, if we are bleaching it all over like Kim’s, how much bleach you can physically take before your scalp starts to burn…..yes burn…we’re talking CHEMICAL burns, which are nasty!

There is only a certain amount that your hair will lighten in once bleaching. After that it will just stop lightening and start to dry out. At this point we have to wash it off, dry your hair and apply more before the process starts again. If your hair is in good condition, it can usually take 2 bleaching’s in one appointment. Sometimes people can take 3 but that’s usually thicker, very healthy hair. The finer the hair, the more careful we have to be, no matter how healthy.

We check every 10 minutes or so by pulling the hair that is covered in bleach to ‘stretch’ it’ to test the elasticity. The stretchier the hair is the more damaged it is becoming. It literally feels like vermicelli noodles. This is the point of breakage and no return….so we NEVER let it get his far because every time you wash your hair, it will feel like this and this is when it will break off.

I hope that explains a little about the process.


When it comes to the expectations you have regarding hair colour, have a really good look at the photos you’re getting inspiration from. Most brighter or unnatural colours will mean you have to get pretty blonde to achieve (read more about this in our Bright Hair Blog)

A few questions to ask:

  • Does it look like real hair? Is sitting a little too perfect or too straight and could possibly be a wig or extensions?
  • Are there any signs it’s been photoshopped? (eg check for pieces they’ve left out and forgotten to photoshop, usually its more obvious around the hair line, her hair reflection in the mirror is of brown hair). It’s a little more difficult to tell sometimes when they have amped up the colour just a little. This is easily done with an iPhone where you go to the edit and slightly increase the brightness then slightly increase the colour saturation….give it a go yourself!
  • Have you seen this model in multiple colours?

Sometimes its really obvious like the turquoise picture at the bottom…but some are  little more difficult to pick.

Check around the hairline for bits they've left out...also her scalp is blue!
Check around the hairline for bits they’ve left out…also her scalp is blue!
One minute she's blue....
One minute she’s blue….





Next minute she's pink! She also come in purple!
Next minute she’s pink! She also come in purple!


Check out the turquoise shadow around her face and neck!
Check out the turquoise shadow around her face and neck!
  • Is the person a model? Models don’t have pastel hair. It’s not really ‘commercially viable’ for a model, especially not in mainstream campaigns. Most modelling agencies don’t allow their models to colour their hair bright colours.


Some of these seem like obvious questions to ask but sometimes you just don’t think about it and it can help you narrow things down a bit!

Annoyingly, you also have to look out for commercial photographs advertising salons. It is widely know in the hair industry that salons use wigs or hair extensions when doing photoshoot’s to advertise their salons. This isn’t to trick people but just because its often hard to find willing models to let you do the colours you want to shoot OR hard to find models with hair that it is POSSIBLE to do the colours you want on.

Just to let you all know NO PHOTO’S THAT LIVE & LET DYE USE HAVE HAD THE HAIR PHOTOSHOPPED OR DIGITALLY ENHANCED AND NO WIGS OR EXTENSIONS HAVE BEEN USED! Also, all the client photo’s we post on Facebook are posted without enhancing the colour. Because we don’t want to mislead anybody.

Of course there’s nothing at all wrong with bringing in a photoshopped photo as inspiration.  Any photo at all is better than nothing when it comes to showing us what you like and don’t like. It’s just that we don’t want you setting your expectations impossibly high as we want ALL our clients to leave with a smile.