• Getting the cut/trim you want at a salon, by Teacherbear

    Originally posted by Teacherbear, 03/04/2010 What to know, say and do so that you get the cut/trim you want (from a hairdresser). Communication is key.
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    I would like this article to list and suggest some things to know, say, and do when you are at the hairdresser's so that you get the cut you want. I hope this empowers those who continue to use hairdressers so you get the results they desire.

    If you are really anxious about what the stylist will do, make an appointment just for a consultation. I did this before I got my first perm (many moons ago). I was going from just below BSL to shoulder length, then getting a perm (a la Kelly McGillis hairstyle from Top Gun). The stylist consulted with me. I went back a week later to get the cut and a week after that I returned for the perm. I was VERY please with the results. I returned to her until I moved from the city. Mom started going to her and continued doing so until the stylist retired, some 15 years later!

    If you like someone’s hairstyle, ask who the stylist is.

    Tell the hairdresser/stylist that you are growing your hair out.

    If you are nervous or anxious, say so. I suspect most hairdressers will be a little more careful and explain more of what he/she is doing.

    Take a photo of the style you desire. Be realistic. Is your hair similar (in texture, thickness, etc) to the hair in the photo? (My request for the Dorothy Hamill wedge was NOT practical for my very fine, medium thickness, wavy/curly, light brown hair). Ask the stylist if that look is reasonable for your hair, keeping in mind the amount of time you want to put into styling your hair. Know that even with similar hair, the outcome of the cut may not look “exactly” like the photo(s). Be reasonable in your outcome expectations.

    If you are concerned about how your hair will be washed (or the type of products a stylist might use), you can wash your hair at home prior to going to the salon. They can then wet if it needs to be wetted down prior to cutting. Either go in with clean hair or allow them to wash it. Do not expect them to cut x-day old dirty hair. Very likely health laws will not allow them to work on dirty hair. If you choose to have them wash it, you can ask for your hair not to be piled on top of your head.

    Know that your stylist may not be a huge fan of using oils or henna or many of the other items many LHCers use on their hair. The appointment for getting your hair cut/trimmed may not be the time to “convert” the hairstylist to what many of us believe as “more healthy treatment of hair.” In my opinion, not everyone needs to be “converted.”

    You can take your own comb/brush if you are very selective. If you think the hairdresser is brushing/combing your hair too vigorously, say so. Better yet, ask to brush/comb it out yourself. Many hairdressers will not want to take the time to detangle long hair as many of us prefer to take.

    You can take your measuring tape for before and after measurements. If you want, ask the stylist to measure your hair before starting on the cut and afterwards.

    Consider understating how much you want cut: say 1 inch, if you want 2 inches; say 0.5 inch if you want 1 inch; 0.25 if you want 0.5 inch; etc.

    You can brush/comb out your hair in front of the stylist. This will give him/her an idea of how you treat your hair.

    If you have a sensitive scalp, say so. If you don’t like the scalp massage, say so. If you plan to walk out without the styling and/or blow drying, say so. Any other things you do or don’t like, you got it, say so! The last time I had my hair trimmed I told the lady I didn’t want it styled or dried. By the time she finished trimming my hair, it had already started to dry which means it started to curl. She complimented me on the wave/curl pattern. I think it surprised her how well she thought the air-dried-look looked on me.

    Do you want a dry cut or a wet cut?

    Do you want your hair cut with scissors or a razor?

    Do you want your hair thinned? Layered? Textured?

    How much do you want cut off? Use the measuring tape to establish the length you want cut. You could also show how much you want cut by showing the length on your comb or finger. Have the hairstylist show you their understanding of the length you meant. Be specific. If you say “bra strap length” the stylist might interpret that as where the straps hit your shoulders, the upper edge or lower edge of the torso strap. Don’t leave it to misinterpretation.

    Ask the hairdresser to show how much he/she cut (first snip) before proceeding.

    Tell the hairdresser how you usually wear your hair (or plan to). Tell him/her how much time you want to spend fixing your hair in the morning/at night, if you want to use styling products, if you want to use heat (or no heat). Tell the hairdresser what your goal is (length, grow out chemical damage, etc).

    If you have piercings, you might want to inform the stylist of the location of the piercings that could be injured during the haircut (cartilage, conch, etc). I’m sure he/she doesn’t need to know about EVERY piercing you have! You might want to remove your necklace(s) too (if that applies to you).

    Pay attention to what the stylist is doing. If you don’t like what the stylist is doing, ask for him/her to stop. Ask for a manager if you need to. You don’t want to wait until it is too late. One chunk of hair that has been cut too short is much easier to deal with than an entire “short cut”.

    Be polite. It is ok to walk into a salon with your hair on your shoulders, but don’t go in with a chip on it.

    If you are a talker, know that involved conversations might distract the stylist from being as careful as you want him/her to be. This doesn’t mean don’t speak or rebuff the stylist for talking a bit.

    Don’t use vague terms or indecisive terms. When asked what you want, don’t say phrases like “I don’t know”, “that’s ok”, “whatever you think”, etc, unless you don’t mind being a bit surprised. I’m not a stylist, but if I were, I’d want to help an indecisive person out by doing what I think best.

    Look at what the stylist is doing. There are a lot of mirrors in most salons. Use the one in front of your chair or the one across the aisle if you need to.

    Know that your hairdresser will likely attempt to sell their salon's products. Don’t be surprised if the hairdresser isn’t enthusiastic about you using alternative cleansing, moisturizing, or conditioning methods.

    If you find a stylist you like, stick with him/her.

    Make sure you and the hairdresser know what your “terms” are:

    Trim: some hairdressers take "trim" to mean "cut off all of the splits you see - up to the least split area" when you might mean a dusting.

    Dusting: he/she might know what it means, but define the term yourself. If you want only a dusting of ends (hence “dusting”) to be on the floor when he/she finishes tell him/her that.

    S&D: your hairstylist most likely will not know what you mean. Again, define what you are talking about. Personally, I've never had a hairdresser do anything that remotely approached what *I* call an S&D, so I don't even ask.

    Never, please, please, please, NEVER say "do what you think is best" or "surprise me" unless you honestly and sincerely like being surprised.


    Personally, my worst hair cutting experience happened because I did not communicate my wishes and expectations. One of my best experiences was because I *did* express exactly what I wanted.


    I know we have a number of hairstylists as members here and we have a number of members who are very pleased with their experiences with their hairdressers. I invite everyone to share other ideas that will help empower other community members to get their desired results from their next visit to the hairdresser.

    In summary, communicate and be kind.



    If you are willing to do your own trims (especially if you are seeking an all-one-length – or a slight variation of it), then you might try Fey’s Self-Trimming instructions.
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