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Colour Lab 12

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on August 2, 2012

colour lab 12 torontoColour Lab 12 is the first salon in Toronto that is exclusively about colour. No cuts, styles, perms (do people still get those?), trims, or anything else unrelated to hue. Just as Doll Bar is to extensions and Fuzz Wax Bar is to waxing, this salon is sticking to one thing, and striving to do it impeccably well.

colour lab 12 torontoThe idea belongs to Raphael Ness Azran, who I meet in his new salon along with colourist-colleagues Meghan and Shu. Raphael tells me he was literally born into the hair industry (both of his parents are stylists), fostering his skills at the Sassoon Academy out in California before returning to Toronto to work at various salons. "It's time hairdressing had a wake-up call," he tells me is his sleek new Rosedale spot. The salon has a bit of a black/white dichotomy going on, with a Coco Chanel quote on the wall reading, "The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you."

colour lab 12 torontoRaphael says that he spent some time reflecting on the hair industry overall, paying special attention to the wrongs and rights of colour. "There are a lot of mistakes going on," he says. "A lot of burns, a lot of over-colouring, and the process sometimes just take too long."

colour lab 12 torontoThe approach Colour Lab 12 takes, he says, is almost scientific (hence the "lab" in its name). Clients can either book an appointment or walk right in, then choose from a menu of options that include the "Balancing Act" of highlights and lowlights ($85), the "Virgin Tint" of semi-permanent colour ($65), or a "Sun Kissed" ($55) natural look.

colour lab 12 torontoThe stylists then convene on the best approach (while consulting with the client), following by mixing some of the 95 Goldwell products in stock. The colour is set with the help of Colour Lab 12's climazone processors, which, according to Raphael, accelerate the waiting time to somewhere around 15 to 18 minutes.

colour lab 12 torontoBut best of all, in my opinion, are the three iPads waiting for unoccupied client hands. "We didn't want to do magazines," Raphael says. "We have one iPad for each chair; you can go on Facebook, Flipboard, whatever you want." Just don't forget to log out, of course, less your colour experience be marred by an unwelcome falsified status update.

colour lab 12 torontoAfter the colour is washed out, clients can opt to blow dry their hair themselves (saving time and money) at Colour Lab 12's blow dry station. This strikes me as a fantastic idea, especially since restlessness usually strikes me around the wash-out phase. The station has brushes, products — pretty much anything else you need, allowing you to dry as much or little as you want before heading out the door.

colour lab 12 torontoThe salon also has its own line of sulfate-, phosphate-, and SLS-free shampoos and conditioners, all of which are produced in Ontario and priced between $20 and $24 per bottle. The line has been designed, of course, to enhance and protect coloured hair. And for all your cut and styling needs — yeah, probably best to head down the road.

Photos by Jesse Milns



newwwwwwwwwwp / August 2, 2012 at 01:26 pm
Great idea but those Rosedilians won't support a place that doesn't cut and blow-dry a customer's hair with a colouring service. That's just how the neighbourhood goes.
Hypatia / August 2, 2012 at 02:26 pm
I don't know - there are some people (self included) who are happy with their cut but can't find a place that does colour right.

My last cut and colour was at House of Lords, and even though they are pros ... my purple hues were faded red in no time.

Although I know all colour fades, it was like a slaughtered a pig every time I showered. And I followed all their instructions.

After watching my money quite literally go down the drain, I'd pay a premium if they could get this one thing right.

sprite replying to a comment from Hypatia / August 2, 2012 at 05:31 pm
Hypatia, if you can get your hands on it, Joico makes a semi-permanent in bright purple that really holds it's colour for a long time. I loved it in my red-brown hair.
Vicky / August 2, 2012 at 05:53 pm
Ha Ha..I went yesterday and loved it. I'm going to be blogging about it shortly too. PS took the same photos!!
SJ / August 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm
I got my colour done there Saturday and they did a great job. They took the time to figure out just the right mix for my colour and nailed it the first time out. The quick curing time was a bonus, as was Raphael's step by step explanation of how the colour technology works. The geek in me loved the insights and it gave me confidence that he really knew what he was doing.

I love being able to separate cut from colour and do each as needed, and like someone else said the great cutters aren't always great at colour. It's cost effective, too.

Location is convenient for anyone downtown on the subway, just a few steps from Rosedale station, so if Rosedale residents don't like the do-it-yourself drying the rest of us downtown can keep them busy.
m henck / August 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm
This salon is not the 1st only colour . About 20 years ago Susan Martin opened a colour salon Also Rodney [Look ahead had a salon at Bayview & Steeles had 8 colorist and ther was a waiting of 2-3 weeks toget an appointment Also,ther was the Queen of colour Lily Jakel and she had about 15 colour techs and that was at least 25 years ago .Another famous woman BETTINA ROTH;infact she is well known in North America &Europe again colour only .Infact she is very famous for her wonderful Hi/Lights
m henck / August 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm
If the salon does good work not too expensive they will be verY successful in that upscale area .Hi/Lights are very important in that area .I live 3 blocks fron the salon I know what the woman want :however if the work is very good and consistant they will come from all over the city
I wish you well
Vanessa / September 8, 2012 at 01:20 pm
Love this place!!
Got highlights there recently and my hair looks amazing. They fixed my hair!
Louise / October 13, 2012 at 06:42 pm
This is the best place to do your hair colour. I told the how I wanted my ombre and they did just what I told them to do. They even got the exact colour that I wanted. They aslo have really good and friendly staff in there.
Disappointed / October 22, 2012 at 03:27 pm
I had an absolutely TRAUMATIZING experience at Colour Lab. I have never written a negative social media post in my life, but my experience at Colour Lab was so awful I need to warn other unknowing people who might be allured by the appealing advertising above and on their web site.

I wanted to change my colour from blonde to more brunette, keeping overall blonde highlights, which should be a bread and butter request for a 'colour only' specialty salon. The results: the definition of Disaster. On my first of two days at Colour Lab, my hair turned out red and looked nothing like any of the seven or so pictures I had brought in to show him (think Jennisfer Anniston) to ensure we were on the same page - as we all know colour talk can be subjective.

Raphael ultimately decided to apply a colour reverser in my hair the next day, which caused my hair to seize up and become densely matted! I spent over 2 hours in a chair as they tried to brush the mattes out of my hair, and ultimately Raphael said he had nothing more he could do except cut out a chunk of my hair. Needless to say, this was a tremendously traumatizing experience and I was crying like a small child as he snipped my locks off.

The worst part of this whole experience was that after almost 9 hours in his salon (over 2 days), with the results of now orangey hair with chunks cut out, Raphael tried to blame the whole experience on me and my 'overprocessed' hair! He was arrogant, unsympathetic and for someone who owns a 'colour only' hair salon, seemed to lack any insight into the vulnerable experience of being a woman colouring your hair. He was ultimately extremely rude and too egotistical to accept his own wrongdoings.

I have to mention that while I was there, there were other unhappy clients as well, even though Raphael claims that 'all 350 customers have been satisfied'. I wonder whether he actually listened and heard their responses to his colouring, or just maintained his 'I know best' attitude.

This salon has only been open for four months, and I really believe that Raphael is riding on the notoriety of his parents' salon and social media attention due to his location and appealing exterior. The truth that I saw at Colour Lab is that Raphael lacks experience, understanding of women's hair and ultimately caused me days of extreme hair trauma that has left me shocked and outraged. I even had to cancel birthday plans because I couldn't go out in public. What is worse, I heard him on his phone afterwards talking about me - still trying to defend what he had done to my hair and saying it wasn't his fault. He is clearly immature and has a sense of entitlement that has been handed to him on a silver platter.

DO NOT TRUST YOUR HAIR TO THIS SALON - PLEASE! I don't want anyone to go through what I had to endure. And for anyone reading this, I am not a person to embellish or try and be negative – I usually am quite forgiving. This is one hundred percent truth and I just want to warn others to protect their hair.
sheila replying to a comment from Disappointed / November 6, 2012 at 07:33 pm
You sound like a nightmare that no one could please- What's the guys family life got to do with it? Sounds like your issue is more than hair-related. Glad you weren't MY client!
CZ replying to a comment from Disappointed / December 28, 2012 at 07:54 am
I don't believe the comment from "Disappointed" is actually from a real client... it sounds more like someone is bothered by Colour Lab's success! I've been going to Colour Lab ever since they opened, and I'm there often. NEVER had any problems with them. If they weren't great, I would've gone somewhere else. I'm an actress, so looking my best is part of my job.

Raphael does NOT act like that. This is why I think the previous comment is bogus. I've dealt with him many times and have seen him talking to other clients, he's a really nice and patient guy who knows what he's doing (he'd never cut someone's hair!!!!). He's also very honest. I once booked a treatment as an add-on to my colour appointment. He told me my hair didn't really need it and taught me things I could do with the products I had at home.
eee / April 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm
I've gotten my hair colored here a few times and they always do a good job. No complaints and I plan to return! Not sure about the person who had that bad experience. Her experience doesn't strike me as the way Color Lab works...
ZEEZEE replying to a comment from Disappointed / June 3, 2013 at 01:49 pm
Complete bull. Point, Blank, Period. He doesn't act like anything you have said and honestly you sound like you have some growing up to do.
Mary / July 5, 2013 at 01:16 pm
Wasted my time and money in this salon with poor customer service. Not recommended.
cl / July 19, 2013 at 10:13 am
I'm a huge fan. I'm a dirty blonde that needs a bit of help brightening things up. I've been highlighting my hair for years. It took anywhere between 2-5 hours and cost over $200 and my hair was super damaged. Raph recommended an all over colour/ wash and dismissed myths of how it would grow in, etc. Now I can go on my lunch break for a root touch up (required every 8 weeks now instead of the previous 5) and for less than $80. Smart man. Happy client!
Lisa / July 24, 2013 at 05:02 am
I had my hair done recently at Colour Lab. I opted for the virgin tint. The staff was warm and welcoming, they were very knowledgable and helpful in determining your needs. Rather than having your own stylist, it was a team effort which I didn't mind. I was with Raphael for the most part. Being an apple junkie, I love that they had iPads for your convenience. The blow drying station was also a plus. Overall, a good not great experience in my opinion.

The salon space felt small, especially with a stroller inside. Thankfully, I came alone otherwise there was no designated waiting/seating area. Lastly, $65 not including tax and tip is pricey for a demi-colour. The prices for highlights looks more justifiable in price. I enjoy the atmosphere of your typical salon with coffee in hand and a scalp message, which is probably the reason I didn't enjoy it as much. If your the on-the-go type of person and budget conscious, this would be a good experience for you.
Heather / September 4, 2013 at 04:49 pm
I feel the need to address the above comment. "Phillip" has been calling our shop for weeks, harassing the staff, making references to the "Jews who own the place" or the "Fags who work here" We have asked him to stop calling, but he seems to have endless time on his hands. He walked in to the shop one evening as we were closing for the day and proceeded to knock retail items on the floor, he was ranting on about wanting his hair coloured "Right now" but not by "That fag" He was asked to leave by one of the 3 employees who were there, there were still a few clients finishing up and he said "F them do me" He was not touched, and FYI, our door is hydraulic, couldn't slam it if we wanted to...
Bella replying to a comment from Disappointed / January 16, 2014 at 08:19 pm
I'm a colour specialist. I do not work at Colour Lab. However i couldn't help but read your comment and feel EXTREMELY IRRITATED because i LOATHE clients like you. First of all "disappointed" going from blondish to brunette-ish, or however you put it, requires for warmth to be filled back into your hair!!! OTHERWISE YOUR HAIR WILL GO GREEN!!!!!!! Would you rather have walked out of there with green hair?!!! I dont think so!!! Perhaps if you would have just shut-up, persevered and continued the work in progress with your colourist, you would have been happy in a few visits. Sometimes it takes more than once service to achieve the look you're going for, especially depending on what you're starting out with. Why do you think celebrity colourists like Johnny Ramirez or George Papanikolas require their clients to be in the salon for 5-7 hours?? Because it takes time!!! Patience is a virtue, learn it!!! Do yourself a favour and colour your own hair!!!
ash replying to a comment from Hypatia / April 14, 2014 at 11:48 am
house of lordes trashed my hair! they have kids running the place, whom do not have enough experience.
downtown lady / July 3, 2014 at 07:17 am
I went to this place on a few occasions
at that time they had a colour technician who was very good and my hair looked and felt great
then on my LAST visit I found out she had left

the owner did my hair and he and his new hire were too busy watching videos on their computer monitor also this time my hair didn't turn out so great
Trish / August 18, 2014 at 02:10 am
I went to colour lab and to be honest I got the best highlights I've had in years and the all over semi colour was a perfect match the staff aka the kiddies are sweet and nice to chat with, and I too don't believe the comment from disappointed above, for the reason that they turned a client away who came in and was not listening to what she was being told about her hair she thought she knew it all so they didn't want to deal with her they actually told her to go someplace else!! Coloring hair is a science and should be left to professionals..... I had a wonderful experience and actually I'm going this week to have my hair did again at colour lab. I would recommend this place, just keep in mind if your gonna do a dramatic colour change it's a process and Do listen to your colorist, they usually know what they are talking about !!
Nicole / October 2, 2014 at 12:29 am
Today was my first time at Colour Lab (I was at the Bay Street Location) and it was an absolutely fantastic experience! Raphael and his staff created a warm, friendly and welcoming environment. I am naturally a dark or dirty blonde and I have had highlights done at various salons in the past - none that I have ever been very satisfied with. I also don't love the upkeep that can be required with highlights, but still wanted something to lighten things up. Also, I was TERRIFIED to be doing anything different to my hair. Raphael listened to my concerns, calmed me down, and we discussed the possibility of an ombre being what I needed. I was worried about the harsh lines that can be created by an ombre dye job, but I was assured that this would not happen. Raphael was patient and really took the time to make sure that everything turned out well. It was obvious that both he and Rebecca truly cared about my satisfaction with their work. It turned out great. The colour is gradual with no harsh lines at all and the placement is perfect. Although I intentionally opted for a style with minimal upkeep, I plan to return to Colour Lab the next time I do need any colour work done. Not only is the salon incredibly chic, classy and clean, it was also a lot fun!
finally given up on this place replying to a comment from Disappointed / December 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm
I know this is a little late, but I agree with Disappointed. I have given up on Colour Lab after visiting over 5 times and finally realizing that the staff here does what they want, not what you want. And because they are very friendly, it makes you feel like you must be wrong if you're not happy with the results. I, like Disappointed, was trying to get a light brown with blonde highlights kind of look, but left instead with full-on orangey blonde. The next time I went back to get it fixed, they wouldn't even admit that it was orange, so I just went back to dark brown since they didn't seem to understand the difference between the colour that I ended up with and the pictures I was showing them.
But the thing that I finally realized that made me decide to give up on them once and for all was that if I'm going to pay exactly the same as at all other salons in town, I would like to be offered a coffee, tea or even a glass of water while I'm having my hair done, and I would like for someone to dry my hair for me! If they're not going to have those things, the price should be significantly lower. I'm never going back.
Gill / April 7, 2015 at 03:32 pm
Thank you dissapointed for your review. I truly sympathise with you. I was thinking of checking the place out..but will not now. Why? Because I have had hairdressers ruin my hair enough times...and even though some think they are the bomb and know it all I have made them fix the mistakes with my color direction. Only then does it come out right and then they have the nerve to talk all rude because now they are bitching about how much product they used! Listen up colorist in the industry...if you can't do it right then stick to cutting instead of making people feel horrible when they leave. And all you professionals posting about clients like "disappointed" it's only because you can't color for shit.. (like ignorant Bella up there) I don't know how color lab is but people go by reviews and some just can't risk getting stuck with a bad haircolor job...way too many for me.

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