Abstract It has been known for some time that a shear field can impart enough energy to a liquid system for it to exhibit a phase change. Not as well appreciated is the fact that non-Newtonian solutions can be driven into a quasi-phase separation due to the vastly different shear rates between the bulk and near-surface regions. Using a variety of scattering techniques we have probed the interfacial and near-surface region of a system of wormlike colloidal particles under flow separately from the bulk. We find that the hexagonal phase which forms under flow near the surface, does not persist into the bulk. We also present data showing substantial differences in the kinetics of alignment and relaxation of the two phases.