How to Talk to Your Stylist: Haircuts

How to Talk to Your Hairstylist Haircuts

As a hairstylist, what I hear over and over again is gratitude for listening and giving my clients what they asked for. I hear that because it's important to me that I communicate thoroughly with my client prior to any service I give them. So much can happen in the salon chair, and communication between you and your stylist is the key to getting the hair you want.

Related: How to get what you want from your hairstylist

I see every day the things that can happen when a client doesn't know how to ask for what they want, or when the client and stylist speak a different hair language. Example: when you say "red" in the stylist's chair, you're probably thinking of the warm tones you see (or want to see) in your hair, which can range from gold to auburn to orange and beyond. Most people use red to describe warmth. What your stylist hears the word "red," he or she thinks red. Because in true color terms, "red" is fire-engine red.

I digress: color is for another post. I wanted to give you a very common example of clients and stylists using the same words to describe different things. It happens every day, and it results in unhappy clients (you!) who feel like they can't get what they're looking for!

Below are some tips on how to talk to your stylist to help you get exactly what you want out of a haircut.

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Do some research

Unless you know exactly what you're looking for, do a little Google searching before your appointment. Keep it simple with search terms like "short hair," "medium hair," "long hair," "layered hair," etc. Or, if you feel like you know a little bit about haircuts, try terms like "angled bob," "long bob" or "pixie cut." Visuals will help you figure out what you want.

Save your search results

Pictures provide a clear way for you to communicate with your stylist and avoid misunderstandings, so make sure to save photos of cuts you like and show them to your stylist. You don't have to limit it to just one, either! You may like the length in one picture, the layers in another, and the bangs in yet another. A good stylist will ask you what about each picture you like, but if not, be sure to say it -- don't just show your stylist the picture.

Details, details, details! 

Your stylist needs to know everything about your hair and how you feel about it. How often do you wash your hair? How much time do you spend on it in the morning? How much time are you willing to spend on it in the morning? Does it have any natural curl or wave? Does it get greasy really quickly? What shampoo & conditioner do you use? What styling products do you use? Do you heat style your hair every time you wash it? Do you want to be able to wear your hair up? What do you love about your hair? What really bugs you about your hair? What do you feel like you just can't do with you hair? What do you wish you could do with your hair? It sounds crazy, I know. But all of these things affect your haircut, and your haircut affects all of these things. Example: you don't want a haircut that's going to take 40 minutes to style if you're only willing to spend 15 minutes on your hair.

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Tell your stylist what you don't want.

Not sure of how much to take off, but know that you don't want hair above your shoulders? Tell your stylist. Can't stand the angled bob? Tell your stylist. Don't like what layers do to your hair? Tell your stylist. This is almost more important than telling your stylist what you want. No matter what, make sure you have all the conversation before the cut, not after. Once it's done, it's done.

Don't be afraid to try something new...

...but be clear if you're not totally committed to a makeover yet. Again, what's done is done; we can take hair off, but we can't put it back on. Stylists can get overzealous with the idea of giving you a new style, but we do it with the expectation that you'll like it. And we don't want you walking out with something you don't like. So again: speak up if you're not sure! We can't read your minds.

Don't go running to another stylist if it's not perfect

Sometimes it's not perfect on the first try! It might take your stylist a few appointments to learn how your hair reacts to being cut in certain ways. Hair cutting is an art, not a science; we may have to tweak it a little bit. But we will never get it right if you don't tell us what we did wrong and give us a chance to fix it. Plus, another stylist will know even less about your hair than the first did. Ask anybody who's been seeing their stylist for years: it's a relationship, and it develops and changes.

Understand that not all haircuts work with all hair types

A good stylist will tell you if the picture you're showing her (or the style you're describing) won't look good on you, and she'll tell you why. Unfortunately, we're not magicians; the best we can do is work with what you've got on your head (and what you're willing to do with it at home). Sometimes, what you're looking for just isn't going to work without some compromise.

For Pete's sake, don't be this client...

"I want a change, but I don't want layers, bangs, or any length off."

I hope you've gotten a little something out of these tips — now call your salon, make an appointment, and walk out with the haircut of your life!

Have you ever walked out of the salon thinking, "This is SO not what I asked for!"? Then you need this checklist!

Want the haircut of your life?

Enter your email to get the Perfect Haircut Consultation Checklist + free, full access to the Beauty Resource Library!

Have you had a time when you & your stylist totally did not communicate? Tell me about it below!