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How to communicate with your hairstylist

...and go home with the hair you envisioned.


What's worse than experiencing a hair job gone wrong and having to pay for it. Unfortunately, hairstylists are not mind readers and, despite your efforts to communicate to your stylist what you want, sometimes it gets lost in translation. And if you're the non-confrontational type , you tell the stylist you love it, dish out a couple hundred, and walk out the door.

Let's talk about communication!

Bring Visual References

A picture speaks a thousand words. Photos can be lifesavers. Because it can bridge the gap between the stylist-client communication issues.

Bringing a photo of yourself at a time that you truly loved your hair is always a winner. Tell the stylist what you love about your hair at the time.

If you're going for something new, bring a photo from the internet! Be sure to mention what you do and don't love about the photo. Include cut, color...get very detailed.

Use the Right Lingo

First, a disclaimer: It's the hairdresser's job, as a professional, to do a thorough consultation with the client to make sure their needs and expectations are met. You as the client shouldn't have to worry about saying or asking for the right thing...that being said....

There are certain adjectives to avoid, especially when you get into tricky territory like bangs. Instead of using vague words like "shorter" and "longer" (your version of shorter may be entirely different from your hairdresser's), be more descriptive. For example, say how many inches you'd like off, or if you want a hard or soft cut. If you want layers, don't just say you want short layers or long layers—let your hairstylist know you'd like short layers in one place and longer layers in another. Interpretation of vague descriptors can lead to not getting what you want.

Speak in Terms of Problems and Solutions

In addition to saying what you want, specify what you don't want. For example, don't just say you'd like more layers, add that you don't want your hair to look flat. Both are equally important

Know What You Want Before Going

A huge red flag to a stylist is indecision. If you are indecisive it is not the right time to be booking an appointment. And a good stylist may send you home, if you haven't made up your mind. No one is happy if the targeted look was not clearly identified, and in turn, the results are neither satisfying to the client nor the hairdresser. If you are on the fence about a change or look on come back another day when you are ready. Bottom line: To get a look you love, arrive at the salon with clearly defined objectives.

Keep an Eye on Your Stylist

We instinctively relax at the salon while the stylist is at work, but it's not a good idea to check out completely or stay head-down with your phone. Watch what your stylist is doing so you can ask questions if you feel they aren't going in the right direction.

Hairstylists would rather you say something than nothing. "If you are uncomfortable at any point, you should definitely communicate as soon as possible. A good hairdresser will listen and make you feel taken care of.

Be honest but tactful—try leading with something like, "I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear," or "I wanted something more like this—let me explain it better." You and your stylist need to be on the same wavelength, and if that offends them, maybe they're not the right stylist for you.

Do Your Research

The key to finding a great hairdresser happens before you sit in the chair. Look at reviews, dive into their social media, and check out the salon in person.

You can also call ahead and ask if a stylist is available for a consultation; that way, you can confirm compatibility before you rush into a commitment.

You'll also see if your communication styles jive.

Hang out for a moment after the consultation and observe how they interact with other clients as well.

In Conclusion

Communication is a two way street, for sure. But as long as we, the client, can make sure we've done our work, you'll feel much more confident moving forward. We often get in our own way, especially when we feel antsy to get that new look pronto. If you feel that rushed feeling to "get it done" and you haven't done the necessary research. Take a moment to check in with yourself and ask- why am I in such a rush? (Pssst. It's never a good idea to get your hair done under those conditions.)


Salon Bilancio

1414 Fourth Street

San Rafael, CA


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