By Beth Yarnall
They say the difference between a bad haircut and a good one is six weeks (that’s how long it takes for hair to grow out). But six weeks is a loooong time to deal with hair that just won’t do what you want it to or that looks flat out awful. Hair is an accessory you wear everyday. It has to look good. I’ve known clients to forego paying their rent to get their hair straightened or colored. Women can spend thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars a year on their hair. Your hairstylist wants your hair to look good. They want you to come back to them month after month.
So how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment? How can you effectively communicate what you want to your hairstylist and walk out of the salon looking exactly the way you imagined you would?
1) Manage your expectations.
I can’t tell you how many times a client with mid-length, curly, fine hair would hand me a photo of an actress with long thick, straight hair expecting me to create a miracle. Many actresses spend a fortune on extensions and have their hair colored so that it appears to have more dimension (thickness) than it actually does. That glorious head of hair might not even be the work of a talented hairstylist at all, but a very skilled Photoshop artist.
And sometimes the lucky actress has just been gifted with fantastic hair that you weren’t.
If you can’t afford expensive highlights and lowlights, extensions, and you don’t have the time to style your hair everyday to get it to look just like the photo; you’re likely to be disappointed. When choosing a picture to show your stylist, keep in mind the texture (curly, kinky, straight), length, and thickness of your hair. Also be mindful of the actual time you have to spend styling your hair everyday. If you have a wash-and-go lifestyle, don’t choose a photo of a style that requires hot rollers or a curling iron and styling products to get those beautiful beachy waves. Likewise if you have curly hair and you show your stylist a photo of straight hair. If you can’t afford to have your hair straightened or flat ironing your hair everyday is just not an option, choose a style that incorporates your level of curl.
2) Consultations are a must.
If you’re changing the color or texture (straightening or perming) of your hair, get a consultation before making the actual appointment. Especially if it’s a service you’ve never had done before.
Most stylists offer free or low cost (an amount that would be applied to your eventual service) consultations. A stylist needs to see and feel your hair and check to make sure your hair can actually take the process you want to have done to it.
I once had a client whose hair was so over processed it took six months of haircuts and deep conditioning treatments before we could perm her hair. If I’d given her the perm when she’d asked for it she would’ve walked out with what hairstylists call ‘pocket curls’—hair that breaks off at the scalp with the roller still attached that you can literally put in your pocket.
Trust me, your stylist would prefer to have a consultation with you rather than book out hours of their day for a service they’re not able to do because your hair won’t take the process. That’s money lost. Sometimes hundreds of dollars for the stylist.
3) Make sure the stylist looks at and touches your hair before you’re shampooed.
It’s important for your stylist to see how you currently style your hair, if you have any cowlicks or unusual growth patterns that will prevent you from achieving the look you want before she cuts your hair. They’ll want to see how your hair behaves and how it lays when it’s dry. They’ll look at the thickness and texture and check the tensile strength of your hair. Some stylist might even prefer to cut your hair dry if you have a stubborn cowlick or a dense swirl pattern that makes your hair stick up in unusual places.
4) Know what you want before you sit down in the styling chair. And bring pictures!
If you spend the first fifteen to twenty minutes flipping through magazines with your stylist, that’s fifteen to twenty minutes he won’t get to spend on your hair. It’s just as heartbreaking for a stylist to not be able to complete the style, color or chemical process you want as it is for you to walk out of the salon with an incomplete hairstyle. Remember, you’re a walking advertisement for their work. They don’t want you walking out with wet hair or without those highlights that would really set off the cut they just gave you.
It’s okay to bring several pictures if you like the back of one style and the front of another and the color technique in yet another photo. The more info you give your stylist, the more likely you are to get the style and/or color you want.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for your stylist’s opinion or to take their suggestions.
An experienced stylist will know what cut will look best with the shape of your face and what hair color will complement your complexion. Go in knowing what you want, but allow the stylist to tweak it slightly so that you get a style that is crafted just for you.
6) Know how long an inch is.
What is ‘just a trim’ to you? What does ‘below your chin’ mean to you? How short is ‘jaw length’? Know how much of your hair will hit the floor before its cut. Your stylist can always go shorter, but they can’t cut your hair longer. An inch to a person with short hair is often half an inch to a person with long hair. Take your hair in your hand and show your stylist exactly how much length you want taken off.
When I worked in a salon a coworker had a client who wanted her hair cut ‘chin length’. She came out of the bathroom sobbing…loudly. To her, ‘chin length’ meant below her chin. The stylist had cut her hair to her chin—a difference of half an inch that was also the difference between a happy client and an inconsolable client.
7) Be kind and honest.
If something your stylist did for you at your last appointment didn’t work for you, please let her know. She can make adjustments to insure you get the exact style/color/texture you want. And don’t ever walk out of the salon unhappy with your hair and too afraid to say anything to your stylist. He wants you to like your hair. Trust me. You’re a walking advertisement of his work.
And please be kind. Remember, hairstylists are people too. They’re artists who have spent a great deal of time, money, and effort honing their craft. They don’t deserve your abuse or outrageous demands. I said it before and I’ll say it again, your stylist wants the same thing you do—for you to love your hair when you walk out of the salon.
When I worked in a salon we up-charged for attitude. So if you want to give your stylist attitude and be rude, expect to pay for it. Literally.
About the Author:
Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes romantic suspense, mysteries and the occasional hilarious tweet. A storyteller since her playground days, Beth remembers her friends asking her to make up stories of how the person ‘died’ in the slumber party game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, so it’s little wonder she prefers writing stories in which people meet unfortunate ends. In middle school she discovered romance novels, which inspired her to write a spoof of soap operas for the school’s newspaper. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
For a number of years, Beth made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and co-owned a salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons always seem to find their way into her stories. Beth lives in Orange County, California with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dog where she is hard at work on her next novel.
Beth Yarnall’s newest book, Dyed and Gone, releases today, March 25th!
Hairstylist Azalea March is looking forward to a wild weekend in Las Vegas with her friends. Oh, sure, they’re supposed to be there on business, attending the biggest hair show on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. But fun quickly turns to drama. On the first morning of the show, Dhane, the biggest celeb of the hair-styling world, is found dead. As it urns out Azalea’s friend, Vivian, not only knew Dhane, but the tale she weaves of how they met is faker than a showgirl’s uh… assets. When Vivian confesses to the murder and is arrested, Azalea knows there’s no way she could have done it and suspects Vivian may be trying to protect someone. But who? Azalea now has to convince Alex, the sexy detective from her past, to help her prove Vivian’s innocence and comb through clues more twisted than a spiral perm. But the truth is stranger than anything found on the Las Vegas Strip, and proving Vivian’s innocence turns out to be more difficult than transforming a brunette into a blonde.
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