Your name is called. The stylist comes to bring you to their chair. The polite “How are you” is exchanged, and then the moment has come… ” What do you want to do today?”, “How do you want your haircut?”, ” What did you have in mind for your hair?” The question can come in many forms, but the meaning is the same.

I have been a hairstylist for 10 years. I ask some variation of that question an average of 12 times a day. I’m not doing the math on that, and I don’t expect you to either. Needless to say, I’ve had this conversation a lot. The consultation is pretty much half of the haircutting process. The entire haircut hinges on both the client AND the stylist being on the same page. Which can be frustrating and difficult sometimes.

Have you ever played telephone? Think of hairstylists as you would a police sketch artist during the consultation process. The more details of what you want the better. If you have a photo, bring it. That’s ideal. I have had some clients tell me that they had experienced a stylist being snotty about bringing a picture. Do not let that dissuade you, that stylist has an attitude problem. Take care of yourself first. At our core hairstylists are people pleasers and we want everyone we work on to be satisfied and happy with the work we have done. So here are some quick tips on how to get the most out from your consultation, from me to you.

1. Plan ahead. Have an idea ready before you leave to get your hair did.

2. Be realistic and open minded to possible compromises on the style you have in mind. If you are hoping to leave with Amanda Seyfried hair but you have hair like Cameron Diaz, you will need to to be willing to work on a different interpretation of your desired outcome.

3. Be specific. If you are saying cut an inch off the ends, have the stylist show you what that means. Example, ” I just want, like an inch off the bottom. Can you show me what that looks like?”

4. Don’t worry about hurting feelings. If you want more layers or your bangs just a bit shorter, say so. We are big kids, and its our job to give you what you want to the best of our human ability. So don’t be shy! And if you are met with attitude, shrug it off, don’t let yourself be intimidated by a crankypuss.

5.  Enjoy it! Getting your haircut can be fun. Stylists have so many stories and opinions on a crazy amount of subjects, talk to us. Ask them what was the most dramatic thing they’ve heard a client say, what was the last movie they saw, or what a hair splinter is. I highly recommend the last question for an interesting conversation starter.

Have you ever had a bad consultation experience? Did it lead to a disappointing haircut? Have you ever left the salon without speaking your mind?

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