Articles > Business > What Would You Do: I Hate My Balayage!
Last updated: December 14, 2022

What Would You Do: I Hate My Balayage!

What Would You Do: I Hate My Balayage! Before and after photo
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Hair on the left by Bernardo Vasconcelos (@bernardohairco).  

Advice From The BTC Community For Avoiding A Hair Color Disaster

At BTC, we love a good What Would You Do, and with close to 700 comments, I hate my balayage might be our most talked about question ever! So here’s the breakdown. A client visited a salon in Sydney, Australia, showed her hairdresser the photo above and requested a similar look. After the service, she said her finished look didn’t resemble the color in the image, and she refused to pay the $200 for the service.


“I asked for balayage and showed them a photo, then expected to walk out with the finished result,” she wrote on Facebook. “I complained and said I hate my balayage and that I wouldn’t pay, so they tried to fix it with more bleach until I was so upset they called security and the cops.”


Eventually, the police told her she had to pay the bill, and later that day, she took to Facebook to share her experience with her friends. In the days following, her story went viral. Since is the largest community of salon pros, we wanted to know: what would YOU have done? So we posed the question to our nearly 1 million Instagram followers, who offered plenty of advice, ranging from how to have a successful consultation, to how they would have fixed the color. Here are some of the best responses.



Master The Client Consultation

“It ALL starts with a thorough and professional consultation!” says Ricki Leigh (@rickileigh516). “Let the client know the steps, processing and the beauty budget. I feel like if there was a good, clean consultation this wouldn’t have happened!” Scott (@scott_kibbhairstylist) agrees. “The hairdresser should have done an in-depth consultation to find the history of the client’s hair and also should have done a strand test, as you can see there was a lot of previous color in this hair.”


Hailey Brick (@hailey.brick) adds: “Pictures are very difficult to recreate…remember to ask your client what they like about the picture (technique, color—sometimes it’s just the model’s overall look and addition of hair extensions) and ensure your client knows what their specific hair type is capable of, how much it will cost and if it will require more than one appointment.”


Lastly, says Ashly Tieman (@ashlyloveslanza), “We, as professionals, are responsible for telling the client what is possible and what is not. I tell my clients ‘no’ all the time, or that we can achieve the look over time. Under-promise and over-deliver is my motto!” 


Clients: Do Your Research

While most BTC members agree that the consultation is the first line of defense in making sure mishaps like this don’t happen, some say it’s up to the client to research the salon and the stylist before booking an appointment.


“Do research before you let just anyone color your hair,” says Tate Cozza (@tatecozza). “Make sure the stylist has a good reputation and has actually done balayage before.”


“Not all stylists are created equal,” adds Jen Singleton (@celebrity_hair_ninja). “Someone can be great at cutting, but horrible at color, and vice versa. It’s imperative that you take responsibility for your own hair BEFORE you let a stranger do it. It’s so easy now with social media to see what a stylist can do before you sit in [his or her] chair.”


Hair client selfie taken during her balayage color service
The client snapped this selfie during her color service.


Expectations Vs. Reality

Another thing to keep in mind? That it’s OK to tell your clients “no” if you don’t think you can achieve the look they want.


“Stylists, YOU are the pros,” says Jen. “You should know your limits and not take on a job you don’t have the skills for, or that is dangerous for the client (i.e. you know beforehand that her hair isn’t healthy enough for the service). Tons of stylists get trapped in the, ‘I don’t want to say no’ mud and this happens. Say no if you have to.”


“Stylists should be honest with themselves and their clients,” shares Camille Crosdale (@fleurir_cc). “If you are not comfortable doing something or don’t have the skillset, refer them to someone who does, and promptly schedule yourself some continued education.”


“It’s very easy to blame the client, especially when they are angry and freaking out,” adds @czechmatelu. “But if this was my hair, I would be upset, too! We as stylists and color technicians have to be honest with our clients and ourselves when a job is above our skill level, period. And in this case it clearly was 100 percent the stylist’s fault.” 



To Refund, Or Not to Refund?

That is definitely the question, and some stylists believe that no matter how the color turns out, it is still the responsibility of the client to pay. “[She] should have done her homework and looked for a true haircolor pro!” says Lisa Blood (@lubbies_81190). “The color looks awful, but she still needs to pay.”


Dana Garmon (@danagarmon) agrees. “Hair is subjective—what one person thinks is blonde, someone else thinks is light brown; what’s good to someone is bad to someone else,” she says. “It’s like asking someone to paint you a picture and agreeing to pay for it and then saying you won’t because you don’t like it. You are still bound by your verbal agreement.”


But the majority of the BTC community disagrees, noting that if a client isn’t satisfied and the reputation of the salon is at stake, it’s better to forego the $200.


“If I did that to a client [and they said, “I hate my balayage!] not only would I not charge her, I would give her a bag of free goodies so she hopefully doesn’t destroy my reputation and online reviews!” says Dinna (@hairbydinna).


“I am a salon owner and if this person was not satisfied and wanted a refund, I would ask her to let a more qualified stylist help fix this and not expect payment until she was satisfied,” adds Sara (@oc_2212). “This is nothing like the picture. Her word of mouth about the situation and how it was handled is worth more than $200.”


“Think about it,” comments Sarinha (@loveisinthehair_bysarinha), “when you’re not happy with your food, they send it back and you don’t pay. What’s the difference with your hair?”


“A professional salon wouldn’t have let her walk out like that and they definitely shouldn’t make her pay,” adds @beautyanthebees.


Finally, says Ruth McGeehan (@thesumofmyparts): “This is bad work. She shouldn’t have to pay. If it was good work but just not what she wanted, that’s one thing. But this is badly done.”


Another hair client selfie - taken after the client got home. I hate my balayage
Another selfie—taken once the client got home.


Problem? “I Hate My Balayage!” Solution.

OK, so the damage is done. And no matter who’s at fault, one thing’s for sure—this client needs a color correction—fast. Now what? Here are some solutions offered up by the BTC community.


“No more bleach just a deeper gloss at the root, and pull down,” says Alessandra Paez (@alessandrapaez). “Then guarantee she comes back every three to four weeks to refresh it.”


“Lowlight Zones 1 and 2, tone out the brass at the bowl, perform an Olaplex treatment and bam!” shares Katherine Vaught (@kat.vaught).


“Shadow those roots deeper, color-correct her already-lightened ends—not too dark—and start her on a weekly treatment,” adds Tammy (@marie_xo_86). “Then advise the purchase of a salon-quality shampoo/conditioner and book for session number two.”


“Perform a Paul Mitchell Keratin Triplex Treatment and tone/color melt with PM Shines,” says Anna Macquillier (@etraude_a).


“Honestly a proper haircut with a long shadowed root and tone would’ve done wonders!” comments Sharon Albitz (@hairstylst16).


“I would weave in a Level 5 and Level 4 to put some of the dark back in,” says Mandy Rodda (@mandyrodda), “then tone the remaining light with an ash and violet Level 7.”


Lastly, Audrey Johnson (@audreyjohnsonhair) says: “Root with Redken Shades EQ 5N and 6NB, lowlight with a Level 7-1 and 7-4, apply 7N and a pinch of 7G and 7NB in the midshaft and balayage the rest of the hair with Olaplex and 30-volume to desired lightness. Tone only if needed.” 


Don’t get caught in this position! Spend time mastering the consultation and stay current with your color education and trends. These links below should get you started:



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