We’re pretty sure everyone’s left a salon at one point in their lives feeling dissatisfied or underwhelmed with their new hair.

When you don’t get the same thing as what you had in mind it’s easy to feel frustrated at the person cutting or styling your hair for not just “getting” what you were asking from them.

Look at it from their perspective: Most people who come in are vague in conveying exactly what they want and you have to make the most of their descriptions by basically guessing what they’re asking from you.

Look, hair stylists aren’t aliens that speak a different language. You just need to be precise with your language and ideally have a visual aid to help them out.

The whole process should be a collaborative effort between you and your hair stylist. That’s why the first thing you need to understand is that…

Communication is Key

This is the most important rule. Actually, you could say this is the only rule.

When you sit down with your hair stylist ready to make a big change to your hair, it’s absolutely crucial you properly communicate exactly what you’re looking from them. Make their job easier by eliminating as much guesswork as you can.

Don’t leave the salon with regret ever again!

So first things first….

Before You Do Anything — Get A Consultation!

Chatting with your stylist before you even get your hair shampooed is a MUST. Even if they’ve cut and styled your hair hundreds of times before, unless you’re getting the usual done (and they know what that is), you need to voice any concerns or questions you have before anything else happens. If you’re getting something new done or by someone who’s never worked with your hair before a consultation should be mandatory.

This isn’t some long drawn out process. A quick 5-10 minute review while you’re in the chair and they’re getting to touch and see what your hair is like should be enough.

But let them know ahead of time that you want a few extra minutes for your appointment to talk about your hair because they might have someone scheduled right after you and time could be tight. Give them the heads up so your hair gets the attention it deserves!

When you get there, wear your hair as it normally is. You want them to get a great feel for what you’re working with in your everyday life.

Here are some things you should discuss:

  • Facial features you want to highlight or de-emphasize. Have you figured out your face shape yet? This can help you identify features to balance out. If you have cheekbones you want to pronounce or a jaw you want to soften tell your stylist about it.
  • Have you recently got any treatments done? Let them know. You don’t want them to risk damaging your hair further. Anything done in the past year is recent enough to mention.
  • How long you spend on your hair each day. Are you usually rushing out the door? You don’t want a hairstyle that’ll take 30+ minutes to get right. If you’re a low maintenance type of person with your hair, don’t get a high maintenance hairstyle!
  • Show them pictures of what you like and don’t like. This let’s them get a vibe for the type of hairdo you’re looking for and what you’re definitely NOT looking for. Even better if you can point out specific things you like or don’t like about each style.

Unsure of something? Ask for advice! That’s their job after all — to get your hair looking great.

Tell them about your current routine. Is there any way to improve it? Do they have any product recommendations for you?

This is why we always stress working with a pro who either has your hair type or has lots of experience cutting your type of hair. Ideally they should be both. These people will be best equipped to answer your questions because they’ll understand the little things and what works best for your hair’s specific needs.

A Two-Way Street

Any good hairstylist will steer you away from trouble if they think your idea isn’t the best for you. Maybe you don’t have the right hair type for the style you want or they think it wouldn’t suit your features gracefully. It’s important to consider their opinion because they’re trained to make people’s hair look great.

Of course you know your hair best but don’t feel like they’re personally attacking you if they think there’s a better way of doing something. Communication is a two way street. Which also means that if they’re just flat out ignoring your wishes and concerns — it’s time to find a new hairstylist.

So be open to suggestions and new ideas — some you may not have even considered.

But don’t feel pressured to style or cut your hair in a certain way. A large part of this is trust. If you trust their opinion that’s great but rarely is it a good idea to give them the freedom to do whatever they’d like with your hair. You don’t want to become a practice dummy for a new hairstyle they have in mind. If you know you won’t feel comfortable with a specific hairdo, don’t get it even if they insist.

Why Being Vague Is Never a Good Idea

While they’re cutting your hair, don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel concerned about what they’re doing. They’ll be glad you prevented a hair disaster by letting them know sooner rather than later.

This is why you need to be extra careful with your words. The more descriptive or visual they are the better.

Telling your hairstylist “short” or “shorter” is never a good idea. Even giving them a specific measurement often isn’t enough. Your idea of 3 inches might be very different than their idea of 3 inches. Use your fingers to pinpoint exactly up to where you want your hair to be cut and make sure it’s clear that you don’t want them to go any further beyond that point.

Don’t rely on names for hairstyles either. Asking for a bob or bangs? Besides bringing a picture, be more specific with your words. There are too many variations making it unlikely they’ll get it exactly the way you want. Say things like “I want softer bangs” or “I want to avoid any hard lines.” Hairstyle names aren’t universal and the person styling your hair might not even be familiar with the term you’re using.

Following these tips will make sure you never leave the salon with disappointment ever again.  Make your hairstylist a trusted partner and you’ll be well on your way to hair that’s the envy of everyone around!