How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

It can be tricky to tell your hair stylist exactly how you want your hair to look, no matter how much talk about layers or length you throw into the conversation. Even a hair stylist you go to on a regular basis can sometimes misunderstand you and give you the bob you never wanted. But talking to your hair stylist doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating. With the right techniques, you can walk out of the hair salon with a style you can be proud to show off.


Part 1 Part 1 of 3:Doing Research Before the Appointment Download Article

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Look for images of styles you like on others. Remember that the perfect windswept look of a celebrity likely took hours to style. So look for styles in magazines or online that you feel would complement your face shape and have a certain cut or color you like. Focus on images of the style that show the front, back, and sides so you can show your stylist the complete look.

  • Be prepared for your stylist to suggest adjustments or alternatives to the looks you’ve chosen. A good stylist will look at the styles you’ve chosen and make sure they fit your face shape and your level of maintenance before they start cutting or coloring.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Bring photos that show your hair at its best and at its worst. This will give you an opportunity to show your stylist what worked for you in the past, and what didn’t.

  • Most stylists work best with a show, don’t tell approach. Bringing photos of your hair in the past will give your stylist visual representation of your past hair styles.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Read up on your stylist before you make the appointment. One of the best ways to make sure your stylist is a good one? Google her name, read her bio on the salon’s website, check out her Instagram feed of previous clients (if available), and check to see if she has positive reviews online.

  • If you have friends who have gone to certain stylist for years and give rave reviews, consider making an appointment with that stylist. One of the best ways to find a good stylist is through a referral from a friend.
  • When you make the appointment with the stylist, note if they have a very open schedule or if they are booked up weeks in advance. The fact that the stylist is busy shows she has a loyal client base that is happy with her work.

Part 2 Part 2 of 3:Communicating During the Appointment Download Article

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Come dressed in your everyday style. Though it may be tempting to pile your unkempt hair in a bun and throw on some sweats, make the effort to dress in your personal, everyday style for the appointment. A good stylist will take into account your personal style and find a hairstyle that fits with your everyday look.

  • You should also do your hair as you normally would, even if it’s full of split ends or looks a little rough. This will give the stylist a sense of how you usually wear your hair and how much maintenance you put into it on a daily basis.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Be upfront about how much time you have for a daily styling routine. Maybe you tend to have busy mornings and only 5-10 minutes to do your hair before you head out the door. Or maybe you’re willing to commit to a 30 minute style routine, complete with blow drying and styling products. The best way to get the cut you want is to tell your stylist how much time you can set aside to do your hair every day.

  • Your stylist can then look over the images you brought with you and determine which style will work with your desired look and your daily routine.
  • It’s also important to talk to your stylist about your work environment. Is it more formal or more laid back? You may end up going with a low maintenance look to match your easy going work environment.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Show, don’t tell. It can be difficult to explain a certain look and not resort to vague descriptors like “cool”, “effortless”, “rock n roll” and “edgy”. Rather than try to find the words, use the images you brought in to show the stylist. Note how a certain actress’s hair is cut, or point to a highlights you like on a certain model.

  • Be specific when you talk to your stylist about length. Use your hands to mark the length on your hair you’re looking for. Avoid vague instructions like “I just want to cut the ends” or “A couple of inches off, please.” The more specific you are about the look you want, the more likely the stylist can achieve that look.
  • Notice if your stylist uses your hair to give you a rough idea of a certain look, such as bangs or a shorter cut. She should be willing to get right into touching your hair and helping you visualize your options.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Use stylist talk. If you do want to use your words, use stylist terms so your stylist is clear about what you want. These include:

  • Layering: Layers are different lengths of hair, geometrically cut into a shape to create movement and decrease volume. Layers should blend into themselves by laying on top of one another, with the shortest layer resting on top of all the other longer layers, creating a nice weight line. Layering is great if you’re looking for a simple style that moves well and isn’t too thick or heavy.
  • Using the razor tool: This is a tool used to remove weight from your hair, increase movement and volume, and add choppiness to a style. Razor cuts are great for thick or thin hair, but they not recommended for coarse or curly hair. If you want your hair to lay smooth or have less volume, a razor cut may not be for you.
  • Texturizing: This means adding different lengths to your cut to give it more volume or to make it lighter. There are many different texturizing tools and techniques available for stylists. As long as the stylist knows what she’s doing when she says she’s going to texturize your hair, it can make your great haircut look even better.
  • Disconnecting your hair: this is when two pieces of hair purposely do not blend together. This is often used in high fashion cuts. If you are looking to accentuate a certain part of your style, like a longer piece of hair on one side, your stylist may use disconnection.
  • An asymmetrical cut: This is when a cut, or part of the cut, is purposely left longer on one side. This is often done in bobs, bangs, and cropped styles, where one side might be tucked behind your ear or left long to give it an edgy look.
  • An inverted cut: This is when your hair is cut shorter in the back and kept longer in the front, also called an A-Line cut. If you want to go bold, you can do an inverted asymmetrical cut with disconnection and layers. But make sure your stylist explains to you exactly how that looks before you commit and that she can explain the look back to you. This will ensure you don’t end up with a lawnmower look, which is exactly as bad as it sounds.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Confirm the style before your stylist starts cutting. Ask her specific questions about what she plans to do with your length, what tools she might use (like a razor), and how your hair will look overall when she’s done. Make sure you are comfortable with the agreed style before she starts cutting. This is especially important if you’ve never been to this stylist before and are nervous about your cut.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Don’t freak out if your stylist isn’t chatty. Hair styling is a craft like any other. It can be distracting for the stylist if she is trying to keep a conversation going with you while also trying to give you a great cut. It’s fine to make small talk and be friendly, but its important to also let your stylist relax and give into a groove.

  • Avoid asking technical questions or micro managing your stylist. Once you confirmed the style with the stylist and she starts cutting, place your trust in her ability and try to relax.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Keep your eyes on the scissors. Rather than dive into the latest celebrity gossip in People Magazine, simply watch what your stylist is doing to your hair.

  • Speak up if you feel uneasy about a certain snip. A good hair stylist will respond positively to your participation in the cut, and try to adjust their approach if you express concern.
  • At the same time, its important to try to trust the judgement and artistry of your stylist. If your conversation with the stylist before the cut went well and you feel comfortable in her chair, you are likely in for a great cut.

Part 3 Part 3 of 3:Communicating After the Appointment Download Article

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Ask questions about maintenance and upkeep. It’s easy to write off salon products your stylist recommends as a way to up-sell you at the end of your appointment. But using the right styling product can make a visible difference, especially if your new cut has layers.

  • Ask your stylist what products they would recommend to upkeep your new look and why. Then, go home and do some research online. You might find a better price on a product or you may discover the salon brand is worth the extra cash.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist for styling tips as well. She should be able to suggest some tips and tricks to make your style easier to maintain and keep looking as good as it did in the salon. Ask about specific techniques, like blow drying or straightening. Or ask her what products and tools she might suggest for styling the cut for a night out.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Give honest feedback a few days after the appointment. Let your new cut settle in for a few days and then give it a good look in the mirror. Maybe you’ve found the right cut for you, or maybe you can’t believe how bad it is. Pick up the phone and contact the salon. Explain your issues with the cut, and your disappointment in the stylist’s work. Try to be honest and upfront, without being rude. If the salon is professional, they will understand it’s not personal, it’s just hair, and they have an obligation to keep their clients happy.

  • A good stylist will be willing to correct the haircut free of charge until you feel better about the cut. But if the cut is really awful, it may be better to cut your losses and let it grow out for a bit or pay for a better stylist to fix it.

How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Adjust your approach to get the cut you want. If you end up with a haircut you don’t love, learn from the experience. Maybe you will look for a different stylist who has better online reviews or who specializes in a certain style. Or maybe you might experiment with a very different look you’ve never tried before.

  • Remember that at the end of the day, it’s just hair! It will grow out and create a blank slate for you to try again with a new stylist, and hopefully better results.
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