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Take Five with Ian Michael Black

If you take a look at Ian Michael Black’s Instagram page (@ianmichaelblack), it’s easy to see that he’s not afraid of color. As the global artistic director of haircolor for Aveda, Black is known for pushing creative limits, especially when it comes to vibrant hues and intricate placement techniques. Black got his start in the industry in 1999 when he attended the Aveda Academy in London, and he’s spent the past 19 years creating a name for himself as an innovative and fashion-focused master of his craft. 

American Salon caught up with Black to get five essential tips that all hairstylists can apply and appreciate.

  1. Get to know your guest. I think we concentrate so much on the hair, and we need to concentrate more on the client. If I understand my client’s lifestyle and their likes and dislikes, I can do something that’s crafted especially for them rather than just saying, ‘Oh, this color would look nice.’ 
  2. You can never be too educated. You’re going to learn things from people you you relate to, but you learn just as much from people you don’t relate to. I learn something from everything I watch, even if I don’t particularly like it. I store those things in the back of my mind and either flag them as something I would never do, or I think of how I can translate it to make it more my style. 
  3. Don’t underestimate your power. Whenever I give talks, hairdressers ask me, ‘How do I become the next you?’ The world doesn’t need another me, but they could use one of you. Your clients come to you because they like your work and your aesthetic, so don’t be afraid of losing them. 
  4. Trends are individual. Trends are not one-size-fits-all—fashion is a prime example of that. Are you a Gucci person, a Stella McCartney person or a Balenciaga person? Each brand is equally cool, but it depends on who’s wearing it and what their individual taste is. Say the overarching trend is pink hair—for one person, that might mean a bright pink; for another, that might be a pastel pink; and for another, it might be blonde hair with a slightly pink toner. 
  5. Hairdressers are stronger together. Don’t be shy to ask for help. If you have a day where you’re just not thinking straight, don’t be afraid to ask another stylist to come over and share his or her input. Sometimes, having a fresh set of eyes can totally change your perspective on what’s best for your client that day. 
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