A no-frills approach to hair color

"We dye. You dry."

That motto aptly describes the service provided by Tint Hair Color Studio in Santa Monica. With its clean, minimalist décor, pared-down menu of services and dry-it-yourself and no-appointments-required options, Tint offers a no-frills approach meant to make service fast, convenient and affordable.

Open seven days a week, the salon provides seven hair color services from $49 to $85, plus a conditioning treatment for $25 and an optional basic blowout for $35. Services include base color, toner, two highlight looks (the natural California Girl and a bolder Random Act of Highlights), a combination of highlights and lowlights called Balancing Act, the signature Tint root touch-up to hide up to two inches of regrowth, and a Youth Rinse (recommended for men) that "adds natural-looking color, while blending in existing gray."

Graying hair and its perpetual color maintenance helped trigger the salon's concept. "I'm 55, and a lot of my clients and my friends are all gray," says Dana Clark, who co-owns Tint and the nearby Dino-Clark Salon on Main Street with business partner Frank Dino. "So they were saying, 'I'm coming in every few weeks and paying $85 to $100 to get my hair colored, just for the roots.' And we thought maybe there's something there."

"In the beginning, we were just going to do roots and simple highlights," Clark says. "But then we had people come in and say, 'Oh, but can you do some lowlights?' So we sort of evolved from that and now we've got it fine-tuned." More complicated color processes, such as ombré highlights and color corrections, are referred to the duo's Dino-Clark Salon.

"We like to refer to it as 'color on demand,'" Dino says. "You come in and within an hour max [for base] or an hour-and-a-half [for highlights], you are taken care of."

First-time clients have a complimentary color consultation with Dino, Clark or one of two other master stylists. Then one of four technicians executes the personalized formula, which is recorded for future visits. After the color treatment, clients are provided with a dryer and accessories, including brushes, clips and styling products, for do-it-themselves styling.

With no competition to build a clientele, technicians are instructed to "have as little interaction with the client as possible," Dino says, with the goal of maximizing efficiency and enhancing a customer's relaxation time. "They're not trying to entertain you, to have you come back to them, because there's no need to. The product sells itself: It's good hair color and good service."

"It's a lot different from a blow-drying concept," Dino continues. "Because any woman will go to a blow-dry bar and try it. And if you don't like it, you can shampoo your hair out, right? While here, you don't swap your color out that fast. You've got to be told by another woman that this place is good."

"We wanted it to feel high-end, but not with a high-end ticket," adds Clark. "Everyone's watching their money these days."

While services start at $49, Tint's Frequent Dyer Card (stamped at each visit) gives the client one free color service after 10 paid visits. Two more Los Angeles locations are slated to open in 2013.

Tint, 1422 B Second St. in Santa Monica, 310-395-5888, http://www.tinthaircolor.com


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