Trust is the Basis of Any Relationship

This may seem like a long rant from a crazy stylist, but stick with me. I think you'll see how I'm trying to help you here. Yes you, you know who you are.

The past couple months, I've had the opportunity to fix some pretty bad haircuts (and color services) for new clients. As I consult with them and try to understand what went wrong at their previous salon, it gives me an opportunity to analyze the stylist/client communication process and to figure out how the, uhmm, whole mess happened in the first place.

Well, I've figured out what happened to some of you. (Not all, but some.) And I'm here to tell it to you straight. Here it is...

You are your hair's worst enemy. Really, you are.

I understand it's scary to trust someone with your hair. I understand that people have bad experiences. I understand that some stylists out there are not as trained or educated as they should be. Believe me, I know these things. I also understand that your previous bad experiences can make you leery, nervous, obsessive. I get that. Really, I do.

At some point, however, you have to relinquish control. You have no choice. You have not been trained. And even if you kinda have, you can't cut your own hair. Believe me, if you could, I would.

Sadly, from what I have seen in my zillion years of experience as a stylist, and an instructor, and a salon consulatant, my professional opinion is this....

Often, your technical and specific instructions to the stylist are what's ruining your hair.

Countless customers come with information that hinders their situation more than it helps. This is even more true when you pass that information on (usually in the form of specific rules or directions) to a young or inexperienced stylist. This is the worst combination. You with your zero cutting and color knowledge, giving specific directions to someone with only a tiny handful of knowledge and even less confidence to tell you that what you're saying won't work. What usually happens is that these stylists follow your instructions, exactly. And you end up with a mess.

Generally, we don't need to know what tube or number or brand or type of color you think we should use, what perm we should use, how many inches long each of your layers should be, or what angle to hold our scissors when we cut certain parts of your hair. We also don't need to know which of our tools we should use to cut your hair.

We just need to know what you want your end result to be.

What we're really trying to figure out by talking to you is what you like and don't like about your hair, and how you want it to look. If you start throwing out what you think should be done to achieve that end result, you are putting your hair in serious jeopardy. You are second guessing what your stylist has decided to do to get the best result, and it makes them second guess themselves. Then, instead of doing what they've been taught to do, they go with what you told them to do. And then neither one of you is happy. It sounds crazy, but I'm telling you that I've seen it happen. Many stylists will just do what you ask, even if they don't have a clue why.

How can you end up with what you really want? First off, ask for a referral from someone whose hair you like. The majority of my clients first came to me by recommendation from another client. Many of them saw one of my clients at the gym, or a grocery store, and just asked them who does their hair.

Next, make sure the stylist consults with you before they start doing your hair. As you talk, you will get a feel for how the stylist works, and if they're listening to what you're saying. Sometimes figuring out this communication perfectly will take you a couple tries, but you should know very quickly whether they care to understand you or not.

Use pictures if you have them, but don't forget to ask if the style you are describing will work with your hair, and your lifestyle. When doing color, make sure that what you're asking for will not significantly compromise the integrity of your hair, or ask if it can be better achieved over time instead of in one appointment.

If you're unsure of the stylist, start with something simple. Just get a trim, or a style. This will give you time to talk about what you would really like to do in the future, and to ask lots of questions.

Have questions that you don't want to ask your stylist, or something else you want to share? Please feel free to comment on this post, or email me at: michelle(at) and I will respond to you directly.

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