Believe it or not, the incomparable Lupe Voss, Aveda Guest Artist (@lupevoss), was once an extremely nervous beauty school student. What helped her push past her nerves? An unflappable love of learning and mentors with invaluable advice.

Dear “Beauty School Lupe,”

In 1981, you’re going to sign up for cosmetology school at your local City College, dreaming of the countless opportunities that are ahead of you. But even with that uncontainable enthusiasm, you’re still going to be unbelievably nervous.

Questions will swirl around your head at a dizzying pace. What if I can’t learn how to cut and color hair? What kind of salon will I work at? Will I like this as a career? Will I be good enough? Looking back, my best advice is this: Relax. Everyone feels that way when they’re just starting out. And, soak up every drop of education that you can. You’re going to need it.

Fresh out of school, you’re going to be broke, but you’re still going to have a nagging feeling that you need to know more. It’s okay to reach for more classes and continue to learn in whatever way you can. Master the fundamentals of hair cutting and coloring, because as your mentor, Ricardo Dinis, Aveda Global Artistic Director of Cutting, will tell you, “Your fundamentals are advanced classes.”

On the road to mastery, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself and being a successful hairdresser. Your biggest lessons: In the pursuit of excellence, you have to put yourself out there. Being in the right place at the right time is important—even if that means working for free sometimes. And, the fundamentals easily give way to more creative endeavors, but that creativity is only communicable when executed with strong, foundational skills.

You’re going to get some sound advice from incredible mentors that support and love you. Listen to them. They know what they’re talking about.

From Ray Civello: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

From Mr. Pappik: “You can do whatever you set your mind to do, with persistence of mastering your craft.”

From Horst: “Remember why you teach, and know that each human deserves your best.”

From Dad: “Whatever you do, do it at 200 percent or don’t do it all.”

Young Lupe, you’re going to create an amazing network of like-minded craft hairdressers, and you’re going to get to do things that you never thought were possible. Take to heart everything that you learn. One day you’ll have your very own platform for sharing your passion—and you’ll need every last bit of the foundational support that you’re collecting today.

With love,

“Future Lupe”

How-to: Dramatic Color-Change Consultation (Hint - it's all about Communication)

As a stylist, I aim to maintain the strength and integrity of my client’s locks – and I know that you do, too. Because of this, I often find myself cursing the ‘miracle’ that is the Internet – and here’s why: Drastic changes. More often than not, my client’s have unrealistic expectations relating to how fast these changes should occur – plus what type of investment these changes will require. Why? They see celebrity before-and-after pictures.

But the same-day-miracle is rarely as simple as it seems. Often, these changes require over a dozen hours of time and a significant financial investment. Luckily, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can educate your clients about the time required for real change. Read on to discover how to prepare your clients for a multiple-day service – plus make sure that they’re satisfied with their end-results, today.

How to: Adjust Client Expectations

As a colorist, when one of my clients wants to take their hue from a level 2 to a level 10-beige, I’m thrilled – because I love a challenge. But I also wonder if she really knows what she’s in for. This change isn’t as simple as a finger snap – and it certainly isn’t a single process. There are MANY shades that fall between 2 and 10. I’m always careful about the promises I make, and I take care to be conservative in my estimation of what’s possible in a single day. For reference, the before and after results pictured below took 4 days to achieve (no, this is not my master creation).  


It’s Good to be Direct

  • Today’s change will not happen in two and a half hours. Most transitions take eight to twelve hours – and this one will likely be no different.
  • This is the perfect time to tactfully explain your pricing, because after all, color corrections don’t come cheap – and you shouldn’t short change yourself, and end up working for free. Your time is money. It’s best to make your client aware of the investment beforehand, so there are no surprises at the front desk. 
  • It’s ok to say: “This is an estimate of the time required to create this look, and the corresponding price. We may have to add in additional services (such as deep conditioning treatments), which will add time and dollars to your final bill.
  • It’s great to have pictures for reference. But make your client’s aware of any variations that could prevent their results from looking exactly like that of those pictured. Variables include density of the hair, natural base color, underlying tones in the hair, plus porosity.  
  • Make your client aware: how much of a change will they see today? In this case, it’s great to use the Internet for reference. Pull up pictures of expected results, and make sure that they are ok with the transitional color. 
  • Points of difference: Is your client’s skin-tone lighter or more ruddy than the model in the reference picture? Let your instincts guide you. If you feel the color could use adjustments, let them know this, beforehand.
  •  Sometimes, a big change just isn’t in the cards. If a client’s locks are brittle or breaking, it’s good to be honest. Sure, you could loose the client – but in some cases, that’s preferable to client who’s walking around with your work on her hair, which is barely hanging on.

When making a big change, communication is key. Though being direct can feel uncomfortable, it can save you from an awkward front-desk experience – and a frustrated client. So make sure that you’re giving your guests as much information as possible before a big change – and you can be sure that you’ll both be happy with the finished product.  

If you’re frustrated by the rigors of this kind of consultation, consider investing in a ‘Same Day Multiple Services’ course. Hair Color Magic is in conversation with master-colorist Luis Gonzalez (he’s the inspiration for this post!), and is developing a class for our 2017 calendar. Keep your eye out!

With Love,

Color-Techniques 101, Part II: New Growth, Mid-Lengths and Ends

Let’s face it: Working behind the chair can be challenging. Certainly, we all love this crazy lifestyle – but sometimes, hectic schedules can be limiting – and demand getting back to the basics.

While incorporating new and fun techniques can help to break up the monotony of a jam-packed schedule, it’s important to keep a few basic methods in mind. Read on to get my exclusive tips and tricks, and learn how you can streamline your color application techniques – to get the best results, every time.


Highlighting with foils can be tricky. You can expect to run into challenges: From sliding foils to foils that ‘bleed,’ plus uneven lifting, working with foils can introduce a certain amount of unpredictability. Find out how to combat wayward results, here.

  • Take the fuss out of a next-to-the-scalp application: Take your parting, weave, or slice, and over-direct strands away from you. Slide the foil to the scalp, and bring hair over the top of the foil. Slide your foil over your comb, and apply pressure on the scalp. Then, bring the hair down onto the foil and slide your comb out. The hair will hold the foil in place, allowing you freedom of movement.
  • Sliding foils can be problematic. To keep them from shifting, adjust your subsections to the width of the head. If you place a foil in an area of curvature, you’re likely to end up with an unstable foil. After folding the foil, crease one side with the teeth of a pintail comb (find out which one is my favorite, here), using the palm of your hand for resistance. When used in combination, these simple techniques will anchor the foil, and prevent it from slipping and sliding.
  • Though it my seem counterintuitive, it’s important to know that ‘bleeders’ are not created by applying product close to the scalp; they are created by applying too much product on the foil close to the scalp. To avoid over-application of color, use the tip of your finger to wipe off excess product prior to sealing the foil.
  • To prevent the unsightly results that are a product of uneven lifting, make sure to ‘roll’ the hair with product, as described in Part I of this series.


Described as a backcombing technique, the ‘tipping’ technique provides a soft and diffused finished; it’s most commonly used to create an ombre-like finished product. If not executed with technical precision, this method can leave you with a strong line, or a dip-dye effect. Find out how to create soft transitions, here.

  • Determine where you’d like the color transition to begin, and start with a diagonal parting, here. Alternatively, you can opt for a ‘weave effect,’ using three to five ‘weaves’ per foil.
  • Rough up the hair (slightly) with the teeth of your comb. To find out which comb will work best on your clients’ unique texture, go here. Drop the comb into the hair and press up, once. Press up one inch past where you’d like to see the gradation begin; this will be the one-inch border that will help you to create a soft and seamless blend.
  • Apply your formulation to the hair, staying below the one-inch mark.
  • Using a conditioner or clear-base product (blending formula), apply product to the backcombed hair; this will provide you with an adequate safety net. Next, pick up more of the blending formula, and carefully pull bleach into the one-inch border, making sure to ‘roll’ into the hair (see Part I).

By following these simple techniques, you’ll be guaranteed a line-free application, and a soft, diffused finish.

Quick Tip: If the hair is cut at an angle, or frames the face, be sure to work with and not against the angle. Take a diagonal parting, and walk the hair around to the front to see the horizontal line in the haircut; follow the backcombing steps.

Remember: Just like hair cutting, the elevation at which you hold the hair and backcomb ultimately creates graduation and dimension. Follow these simple tips to create intentional effects.

  • For dimensional ends: Hold hair down to the floor and back comb up.
  • For dimensional midshafts: Hold the hair at a 45-degree angle from where it grows, and back comb up.
  • For dimension close to the scalp: Hold the hair at a 90-degree angle from where it grows, and back comb up.

Shampoo out left-behind color

Leaving hair color (even in trace amounts) on the hair can cause porosity issues – which can lead to premature fading. So read, here, to learn how you can properly remove color from freshly tinted strands – and leave your guest looking and feeling their very best, post service and beyond.

While implementing basic techniques can feel tedious, it’s important to remember to ‘begin at the beginning.’ Taking short cuts can lead to less than stellar results – and less than satisfied clients. So, when you’re crunched for time, and booked back-to-back, rely on these basic techniques to give you beautiful results that you can count on.

Thanks for joining me in this two-part series!