Last week, I went in for a haircut and my stylist and I got onto the topic of bad haircuts. Her strong belief is that bad haircuts happen because stylists and customers speak two different languages. The customer has one vision of how her hair should look, and explains it as best she can. The stylist interprets those words to create her own vision, and hopes the translation is close.
So how do you guarantee that you never leave the salon with a bad haircut again? Here are a few tips for talking to your stylist.
Bring a Photo. If you’re seeing a new stylist or you want to make a change in color or cut, bring a photo. That way both people are looking at the same vision and can discuss what you like about the cut and how you envision it looking on your head.
Don’t Choose Red Carpet Photos. Celebrity photos of red carpet styles or modeling shoots don’t work. Why? Because those styles often include extensions, retouching, and hours to create. Instead, grab street style shots from Pinterest or Instagram, or a photo of the celebrity out-and-about.
Stop Talking in Inches. Have you ever seen a hairstylist break out a ruler and say, ‘So you want two inches off?’. No, you have not. So stop talking to your stylist in inches. Instead, point to the spot where you would like the hair to stop. For example, “I’d like my hair to touch just below the shoulder when dried and styled (point to spot).”
Make sure you specify you want it that length when the hair is dry. If she cuts it that length when the hair is wet, it will dry shorter.
‘Just a Trim.‘ My stylist and I have a very good relationship; but stylists are like surgeons, they’re cutters. They don’t want to give you a trim. They want to give you a cut. So if all you want is a light trim, be very explicit. If I’m growing my hair out, I ask for a ‘baby trim’ with just the ends cleaned up. I also explain that I’m looking to lose as little length as possible.
Be Realistic. If your hair is chin length, you’re not walking out of that appointment with a lob. If you have stick-straight hair like mine, you’re not going to get the same wavy, thick look as Priyanka Chopra. So if that’s the look you want, ask your stylist how close you can get to that look.
Break the New Stylist in Gently. Do not go to a new stylist and ask for a full makeover. What if she’s not a good fit for you? What if he isn’t as experienced as you were hoping? Instead, ask the new stylist for a simple haircut. If you seem to have a good report, and you get a cut you like, book an appointment for a big change.
Talk About Lifestyle and Maintenance. So you just got an amazing wavy lob with the perfect caramel highlights, but you only have 20-minutes to get ready in the morning and can’t afford to have your color touched up every six-weeks. Well, I hope you took a picture because you’ll never see that hair again.
It does you no good to ask for a style that you don’t have the time, money, or skill to maintain and recreate. If you need to learn how to curl your hair, book an appointment for a style on a non-busy day (not a Saturday) and ask her to teach you. Can’t afford to maintain your color? Say something. Unwilling or unable to spend time on your hair everyday, don’t fall back on a ponytail. Instead, ask your stylist if there’s a cut that would be easier to maintain so your hair tie isn’t your best friend.
Don’t Make Changes on Saturday. Want a different hairstyle? Breaking in a new stylist/colorist? Don’t go on Saturday. This is usually the salon’s busiest day, and you’re not going to get the time you need to make a change. Go when the stylist isn’t in a rush, like the end of the day on a Tuesday.
The Words You Should Never, Ever Say. Never tell your stylist that they can do whatever they want unless you mean it. Never say you’re ready for a big change unless you mean it. I once watched a girl run from a salon in tears because she told her stylist she ‘wanted something different’ and got a wedge bob where her elbow-length hair had once been. So give free rein cautiously, or not at all.