the issue with instagram

The Issue With Insta: Not Another Salon Urges Clients & Stylists To See The Dangerous Truth Behind Instagram Hair Trends


In the new world of technology, Instagram has been our go-to for finding out every possible new hair trend in a matter of minutes. Every time a stylist tries something new or whacky, and every time a new combination of hair colours or a new hair colouring technique enters the stratosphere, it lands up on Instagram first before going viral across social media.

But now, Sophia Hilton, owner of Not Another Salon in London, is calling out the Instagram hair trend aficionados and causing us all to question what is truly possible in the world of crazy hair colouring.

In a recent Instagram post published on the Not Another Salon Instagram, Hilton wrote an open letter to her clients addressing what she calls a “colour pandemic” that is sweeping the world. She opens her letter by saying “Have you ever felt frustrated after seeing hundreds of images flooding your social media of beautiful immaculate colours, yet somehow your hairdresser can’t achieve it? Maybe you have seen celebrity transformations or hairdressers online performing ‘miracle’ dark to light colour changes? You’re looking for the same results, and rightly so. After all, the results of other people’s hair is everywhere, why can’t it be you?”

Dear clients, There's something you don't know about that's happening to the hair colour industry and you shouldn't be in the dark any longer. Hairdressers are in a colour pandemic. Have you felt frustrated after seeing hundreds of images flooding your social media of beautiful immaculate colours, yet somehow your hairdresser can't achieve it? Maybe you have seen celebrity transformations or hairdressers online performing 'miracle' dark to light colour changes? You're looking for the same results, and rightly so. After all, the results of other people's hair is everywhere, why can't it be you? I'm here to tell you that firstly, so many of these images are retouched, or with the saturation changed to make them look cooler paired with selected angles or extensions to hide damage. But here is the embarrassing part, there's a small percent of hairdressers that are actually doing this themselves! But wait before you judge, let me explain. When other starry eyed hairdressers see these images, just like you, they are wowed. This leads to feeling obliged to compete, they too want to feel they are as good as as the last person- of course. They also produce unrealistic images which again go online with no information of the journey of the client… and so the damaging cycle continues. The next issue is time. The videos you see on Instagram of incredible transformations are never done within the appointment time us normal folk can afford. In fact, most of these clients have paid for a colour specialists attention for an entire day. This means you'd need to be paying what a hairdresser can take in an entire Saturday – ouch! But this is rarely made clear to you. When a regular hairdresser is presented with these images and videos, they feel the pressure to get the same results on a fraction of the money, in a fraction of the time. Sadly, this is leading hairdressers in this country to have a confidence crisis, because they can not and never will be able to compete. Not only do you loose faith in them, but they loose faith in themselves. Read the next post for more info….

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She then goes on to explain that most of the hair trend images populating Instagram are often edited, and therefore can lead to incredibly unrealistic expectations about what is possible for a hair colourist to achieve. And she’s right – even we’ve noticed that a lot of these bold and vibrant hues don’t look like they could exist in real life, and that’s because they can’t. Many of the images on Instagram have been re-touched and had their saturation levels adjusted in order to create these gorgeous, but completely unrealistic, images that we call “Insta-worthy”. In fact, the concern about re-touching images has only recently been addressed with the dawn of the viral jellyfish hair, created by Kansas-based stylist Amber Unruh, who was accused of photoshopping her hair colour posts. The truth is, she used a blacklight in order to make the neon pink hair she’d coloured glow more iridescently.

Another of the problems that Hilton highlights in her open letter is the time-lapsed hair transformation videos that are dominating Instagram. She says that these videos often ignore the sheer length of time it takes to achieve such colours, citing that these colour transformations can often take up to a whole day, and some clients even need to come in for multiple sessions. None of this can be told through a video that lasts less than a minute. She even goes so far as to say that the “colour pandemic” we’re experiencing is causing professional colourists to lose confidence in themselves because they can’t deliver the same fantastic results as the competition in the short amount of allotted time.

In a continuation post from the first, Hilton then goes on to explain that most of the zany hair colour trends on Instagram have not been created with the client’s best interests at their heart either. Instead, she sees colourists caring more about the likes they get for uploading the image and continues by saying that “Countless amounts of these colours are completely unmaintainable, have no future options for change, or cause damage.”

In an interview with Allure, Hilton tells them that it wasn’t one specific event that caused her to write the post. In fact, it was actually down to the struggles she faced day-to-day while running her salon that caused to take keyboard to computer and post about it. She says that up to 50% of the clients she sees on any given day come in with doctored hair inspiration images from Instagram, at which point she has to tell them the truth about how these hair colours were created. “A client will bring in a picture of ice blonde hair when they have a strong dark colour build up on their hair. The realities are that it would take months to a year to get what they’re looking for, but they believe it’s possible because they’ve seen it on social media.”

And Hilton believes she’s not the only one who feels this way either. “Not only am I coming up against those challenges every day, myself within the salon, but I also run a colour academy across the UK and in five countries across the world. Everywhere I see the same issues; hairdressers struggling to keep their heads above water.” And she’s right – her Instagram posts on the subject have been re-posted by countless stylists in the industry, including Seattle-based stylist, Kylie Butler.

Agreeing with Hilton that social media has been the driving force behind her clients’ desire for impractical dye jobs, Butler tells Allure, “I reposted Not Another Salon’s message because I feel like many clients don’t always understand the amount of time and the effort, even the science behind such a large transformation, and it’s our job as stylists to inform them and to educate them about the process.”

She also says that clients come in requesting she used specific bond builders that other stylists on Instagram use. “They see the images online thinking that they can be taken to platinum in one session, and in their mind, it’s this magical product that’s going to get them there. That, unfortunately, isn’t always possible.”

Infamous Instagram hair colourist, Guy Tang, has also addressed this issue in a previous interview with Allure too. “Often people rush to get these colours. Clients are impatient and hurry their stylist.” He then continued to compare dying your hair to bold shades as just like cooking, “If you want a roast beef sandwich, you have to slow roast that beef first. You can’t just put it in the microwave.”

The thing that’s most interesting about Hilton’s open letter is that crazy hair colouring is exactly what her salon is famous for. On their Instagram, you’ll see insane images of hair coloured every shade imaginable, and these posts seem like they’re no different to any other salon offering colourful hair services. But, in response to this, Hilton says, “We won’t create looks that won’t wash well or do any service we believe is going to damage the hair long term.” On top of that, being more conscious than other salons offering these services, every image uploaded includes a full back story in the caption of how they achieved the look, and how long it took to come about, rather than filling potential clients with silly expectations about what’s possible in one appointment.

It is Hilton’s hope that, by tackling the issue head-on and speaking out about this “colour pandemic” engulfing the world, that more stylists will feel empowered to raise their voices on the subject too. She says, “I’d like to see more salons educating their clients as often as possible across social media. I believe we have the power to create enough content to change this and teach clients the realities of what’s going on.” And with the massive social following Not Another Salon has on all of their channels, she believes they have the power to influence other people in the industry to spark up a conversation and a debate on the subject.

“We’ve promised to keep educating our clients at every opportunity and encourage others to do the same. We can change this, one image at a time.”


What are your opinions of the Instagram hair colour craze? And do you agree with Sophia’s message to clients and stylists across the world? Share your opinions with us in the comments on Facebook and Twitter.

The information from this article has been taken from this article with Allure magazine. All interviews referenced in this blog post are copyright to Allure.

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