Let me tell you about one of my worst salon experiences ever. Mind you, I have no professional background in hair, so this is coming from a purely client-sided perspective. Back when I was in college, I went to go get a much needed hair cut at another local salon. Because I didn’t have a go-to stylist, the salon booked me with a girl named Star. I’m not joking. I’m not sure if that was her real name or “salon name”, but that is what she went by. Star. And, yes, she did think that highly of herself considering she was an entry level stylist.
Now let me give you a little background on this particular hair appointment. I was in art school at the time, and for anyone who has been on a campus of an art school, you know that pink mohawks and green highlights reigned supreme. I was looking for something fun, different, with a lot of personality. To be honest, when I sat down in Star’s chair, I don’t remember what exactly it was that I told her I wanted. But I do remember her response very clearly. “No you don’t,” she said, flatly, and proceeded to tell me what she thought I should do. I couldn’t believe what she had just said to me. I was so taken aback by it that I didn’t even argue. And that was my mistake.
After a long appointment of listening to her ramble on about how she is a third generation hairdresser and that her particular education made her far superior to her colleagues, I ended up with what I called “Sunday school long layers”. Put some pearls on me and I was ready to hang with the ladies who lunch. It was a far cry from what I had had in my head going in to the appointment. Don’t get me wrong, the cut was technically fine and it served its purpose. And I’m sure my mom was relieved when I came home. But it wasn’t anything like what I set out to do.
So what went wrong? Looking back on it now, and having spent some time in the world of cosmetology, I see that it was simply a poor consultation with both parties at fault. I’m not going to entirely point the finger at her and say it was all her fault. It was as much mine.
This is why the art of the consultation is key to walking out of the salon happy. So here are my tips from both a client’s and hair stylist’s perspective on how to make the most out of your consultation.
- My tip- Do your research
My poor cut could have been avoided had I just taken the time to do some research on what I wanted the outcome to be. So get out your phone and find some pictures. Figure out the length, style, and color that you are looking for. Next, look into the stylists. Did you know that every stylist at Roots has a Facebook and/or Instagram page? Look them up. See what kind of work they have done in the past, and find a stylist who has done similar looks. Look at the descriptions. Was it a full foil? Balayage? Lob? Undercut? It can feel like they are speaking a completely different language, so get to know what words coincide with the look you are going for. And bring those pictures with you!
- Stylist tip- Be honest about what you like and don’t like
Consultations are a conversation. Your stylist isn’t a mind reader. He or she probably doesn’t know that you don’t want to have to style your hair in the morning, or that you prefer you hair to be longer than your collar bone. So talk. And make it very clear what you want. Look at the pictures you brought together and talk about what is working for you and what isn’t. Sometimes seeing an example is a lot clearer than saying it. Also, decide what you are trying to achieve. Are you growing your hair out, maintaining a look, or are you ready for a change? Make it known.
- Stylist tip- Talk about your hair quirks
This is especially important if this is the first time you are meeting your stylist. Does your hair flip funny on one side? Is it pin straight no matter what you do to it? Do you have a colic that affects your part? Tell your stylist. All of these things make a big difference in how your stylist will approach your cut and color, and ultimately the outcome of the appointment.
- Stylist tip- Tell the truth
If your stylist asks you when the last time you colored your hair was, don’t say “it’s been a long time” if it’s been two months. Did you use a box dye? Fess up. Heat style your hair every day? Just say it. What products do you use? How long do you expect to go between appointments? All of these things matter when your stylist is making decisions about how to handle your cut and color.
- Stylist tip- Have realistic expectations
Remember that it’s a process. Some looks are totally achievable in one visit with little work. However, more extreme looks take time to be done correctly. There is no way you are going to go from black to platinum blonde in one go without your hair falling out of your head. Stylists aren’t magicians…close, but no cigar.
- Stylist tip- listen to recommendations
When your doctor gives you a recommendation, you usually listen. Why? That’s what they went to school for, and chances are they know best. So why wouldn’t you listen to your hair stylist? Hair stylists not only went to school to learn how to properly cut and color hair, but, at Roots, they are continuously learning about new techniques and products to give you the very best style that they can. This is not to say that they are going to talk you out of something or into something for their own selfish reasons. It’s about making a look work and what needs to happen in order for it to work.
- My tip- Make sure you are on the same page before you start
Repeat everything you talked about so that you both understand what you expect the final product to be. And just an FYI- a theoretical inch of hair looks like two different things to two different people. Make sure you physically see on your body with a comb how much hair will be taken off before you agree to cut. Better safe than sorry.
- Stylist and My tip- For God’s sake don’t say “I don’t know what I want. I trust you!”
When I brought this up to Amber, my consultant for this blog post, her reply was “I think you would look great with a shaved head!” Point well taken, Amber. (Side note: This was sarcastic, and I do not think Amber would shave anyone’s head in response to that statement. She is actually one of the most talented stylists we have and does stunning work. Go see her sometime!) So, yes, you do know what you want and don’t want. Come with a plan (see Tip #1).
I am happy to say that since starting my journey at Roots I have not had a bad hair experience. I know and love these stylists, and I am very aware of the time and effort that they put into their work. Star, however needs a little help with her consultations. I’m hoping that this tale serves as an example what to do and what not to do during your hair consultation, and hopefully everyone will leave their appointments happy- guests and stylists.
And don’t worry…I have plenty more stories where that one came from….
Jessie, the Marketer