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How to talk to your hairdresser.

“My hairdresser didn’t listen to me.”

How many times have you said or heard these words?  I assure you they did, they either just misunderstood, or for whatever reason chose not to act on it.  This blog post is going to help you understand how to talk to your hairdresser so you never have to utter that phrase again.

If you’ve read my previous post, you have hopefully managed to find a hairdresser who is suited to your needs and will not do the latter.  If, however, you are just opting for whoever was offering the best Groupon, this communication might be a little harder.  Either way, as a stylist behind the chair every day, hopefully my experience can be helpful in navigating you through the challenging art of talking to a hairdresser.

Take control if necessary.

So, you’ve just sat in the chair having already been offered an array of drink choices and reading options, and now some stranger is stood behind you fluffing up your hair enquiring as to what you’re having done today.  This is the worst-case scenario as a lot more salons now train their staff to put more focus on their consultation, as this is a huge part of the salon experience. Unfortunately it does still happen though. 

The best thing to do in this situation is to be the one to take control, it’s quite hard to have a conversation through a mirror. I would recommend turning your chair to face the stylist or requesting to do so, this will help you feel more comfortable to talk to your hairdresser.  Eye contact is vital so once you have initiated this you will have made it clear to the stranger behind you that you are engaging in a proper conversation.

Take pictures for reference.

And by this, I mean at least five images.  Pictures are obviously fantastic at translating what you want, even if you have five images that are completely different Even if you like the fringe in one, the way the layers fall in another, and the length in an alternate one, they are still useful. We are visual people, so I can’t stress the importance of photos enough when you are trying to talk to your hairdresser.
I’d also always recommend taking pictures of specific things you don’t like. These can include images of hair disasters you have had in the past if this is something you feel comfortable sharing. These are a great way to break down barriers and have a laugh with your stylist – I can guarantee they’ve had a few awful hair dos themselves!

Avoid using the lingo.

The hardest thing to understand as a hairdresser is when a client tries to use hairdressing terminology. The classic example being the request for x number of layers (FYI, that’s not how it works).  Do try and avoid doing this if possible when talking to your hairdresser, if you are using terms incorrectly it can lead to a lot of confusion.  Remember they are a trained and qualified professional, so please respect this. 

Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist about any terminology they use that you don’t understand.  In the same respect that you should avoid trying to use the lingo, we really shouldn’t be getting too technical with you unless necessary or you ask for a further explanation.  Also don’t feel embarrassed to ask if a certain colour would suit your skin tone, or if a certain length would be flattering.  I have often found clients apologetic about asking these questions as they feel it sounds ‘vain’ or ‘neurotic’ – that’s the whole reason you are in the salon, to be made to look your best, so never feel shy to ask. 

If you are concerned about your hair type or the manageability factor of a certain style, it is vital to bring this up now as at this point you know how your hair behaves better than the hairdresser. It’s always good to ask if you will need advice on how to dry and style your hair at home.  It’s also important to be honest about how much time you can commit to drying and styling your hair each day.  There’s nothing worse than walking out of the salon feeling like a million dollars, only to never be able to recreate it yourself.

Be yourself.

As much as a haircut and colour must be complimentary to your natural tones and features, it also needs to work with your personal style.  If it so happens that the only convenient time you could make an appointment is after work, make sure you wear your favourite work attire that day and make a point of telling your stylist if your usual dress sense is a lot different to your appearance that day.  I’d also recommend avoiding the classic ‘active wear’ outfit that many people don on their days off – whether you are being active or not – as while I understand this is extremely comfortable, it does not give your hairdresser a good gauge on your real personality and style. 

The point I’m trying to drive home here is that you really want to let your hairdresser see you as a whole person. I often ask new clients if they want their hair to ‘whisper’, ‘scream’, or ‘shout’, because as much as you may have some beautiful images of what you’d like, it needs to suit you as a person and we as hairdressers need to know how much of a focal point is your hair to you when it comes to your style. As much as being able to talk to your hairdresser is important, sometimes it’s not just what you say that will have an impact on your final result.

Relax, & enjoy the coffee.

The temptation now is to sit and watch and question every snip your hairdresser makes throughout the rest of your appointment, but if you’ve had a thorough consultation and have had a good talk with your hairdresser you needn’t worry, they will have already made a game plan in their head and will now execute it accordingly.  Make sure you have shown and discussed your photos and questioned everything you aren’t sure about. If you feel necessary then ask for a recap of exactly what their plan is so that you can enjoy the experience.  Don’t let them begin the service until you are comfortable and understand what’s about to happen.

Enjoy your visit, salons are designed to be comfortable and relaxing spaces, so once you’ve mastered the art of talking to your hairdresser you can relax and enjoy the experience.

The Hair Bones Blog

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