One of the things I’ve heard over and over again from new clients in my time as a professional hairstylist is, “Well, last time I got my hair done I asked for this, but I don’t think the stylist really listened because instead she did this.” We can all relate! You walk into a salon with this great picture in your head of what your hair will look like, and you walk out with something that mildly resembles a mullet in the making (or some other haircut that is most definitely not what you asked for).
So why is it so hard to walk out with the hair you wanted? It all comes down to the communication between you and your stylist. Ideally, your stylist will ask all the right questions to figure out what you want, but if not, it doesn’t mean she’s not talented enough to give it to you. Here are a few tips for making sure you get what you want and feel amazing when you leave the salon.
Pssst: Don't miss your bonus at the bottom of this post! I've created a checklist to use before your next haircut to make sure you get exactly what you want from your hairstylist!
Tell your stylist anything.
Avoid the temptation to reply “I don’t know” when asked, “What would you like to do with your hair today?” The less information you give, the more I have to guess, and I’m not a mind reader. Anything will help. What don’t you like about your hair right now? What are you hoping to achieve by getting it cut or colored today? How much time are you willing to spend on it in the morning? You may not know what you want, but chances are you know what you don’t want.
If you sit down in the chair and find yourself at a loss for the words to describe what you want your hair to look like, start with what you don’t want it to look like. Don’t want it above your shoulders? Tell me. Don’t like warm, reddish colors? Tell me. I can figure out what to do, and you’re more likely to be happy with your hair, if I know what not to do.
Visuals are actually super helpful!
Bring pictures! I hear so many people say that they think stylists don’t want pictures, but pictures are the most helpful tools you can have. Different people use words in different ways, but pictures give us common ground off of which to work and give me a concrete idea of the results you’re looking for.
When using a picture of something you're interested in, tell me specifically what you like about that color or cut; I can't read your mind, so I might focus a different element of the photo from what you were trying to show me (say, the chunkiness of the highlights instead of the color of the highlights).
Not all things are possible with all heads of hair.
Be open to the fact that what you want may not work with your hair exactly the way you imagine it. Hairstylists aren’t magicians, but we do the best we can to work with what you have. A good stylist will tell you what you need to know about whether or not a cut or color will work for you and your lifestyle.
Give your stylist the opportunity to get it right.
If there’s one thing I can stress: unless you feel that you really did not jive with me, give me a second chance. Hairstyling is not an exact science, and that’s mostly because your looks are an emotional thing! It’s hard for us to know exactly what’s going to evoke the right emotional response (joy, confidence) when you look in the mirror. But I really, really want to get it right. If I didn’t get it quite right the first time, please tell me! I know it’s intimidating to tell a professional that you don’t like what they did, but the more you let me try again, the better I’ll get to know you and your hair (and the closer you’ll get to loving it!).
I hope that these tips will help you in your hair endeavors because not only do I know the dread of waking up every morning and feeling like it just isn’t you that you see in the mirror, but I also know the confidence that comes from feeling like your hair looks good!
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Have you ever had a nightmare haircut, when you felt like your stylist just didn't listen? Tell me about it in the comments below!
A version of How To Get What You Want From Your Hairstylist was originally published as a guest post on April 9, 2013 on What Happens at Bakertown.