There’s something about fall that makes you want to change something about yourself. Beyond trying a new lipstick or nail polish, nothing reads “hello autumn” like a brand new haircut. However, a great idea can quickly take a dive when you and your hairstylist aren’t on the same page. To help you avoid a complete disaster (and heartache) at the salon, we’ve rounded up expert advice so you can transition from the salon chair to the real world with minimal drama. Read on for major reasons why your cut didn’t turn out the way you wanted — and how to avoid them in the future.
1. You tried out a new salon or stylist.
“Before you set foot in the salon, do your research. Stalk their website and social media outlets,” advises Leona Wilson, owner of LW Salon. “Even go as far as trying to find pictures of your actual stylist, which can help you anticipate whether they are trendy or classic.” She also advises booking a consultation in advance. “Arrive a bit early so you can feel out the vibes of the salon. Who is coming in and out? What does their hair look like? Have people been waiting for a long time? These are all tell tale signs if this is the place for you.”
2. You didn’t go for a consultation first.
A hair consultation is almost like a first date: It sets the tone for whether you want to continue or run for the hills. “During the consultation, your stylist should have a sense of confidence while discussing your cut,” shares Paris Fashion Week regular, hairstylist Jawara Wauchoupe. “Not only should they refer to products you are familiar with, but also explain in detail what your service will entail.” Make sure to ask as many questions as possible. Essentially you are interviewing your stylist for a position. “The most important question to ask is: Will this hairstyle look good on me?” reminds Wilson. “Clients often want a style that may not suit their lifestyle or hair texture.”
3. You forgot to bring an inspiration picture (or two).
“Stylists are truly visual individuals,” shares Wilson. “ Your interpretation of ‘choppy’ and your stylist’s can differ greatly. An inspiration photo can help you avoid that.” She recommends not only bringing pictures of of what you want, but what you don’t want as well. When looking for inspiration images, look for pictorial references of someone with your hair texture and type. “If you have an afro, it won’t help you or your stylist if your reference image is someone with straight, blonde hair.”
4. Your stylist has no idea how to handle your hair texture.
“If you have super tight curls and the stylist attempts to comb/brush your hair from roots to ends, get out of that chair!” shares celebrity hairstylist and L’Oreal Professionnel master session artist, Rodnei Ferby. Another sign to head for the hills? If you have very thick hair and your stylist doesn’t section it before attempting to blow it out. Wilson advises using the salon receptionist as your first point of contact. “He or she should be able to make recommendation of who to see based on your needs.” Once you are paired with your hairstylist, ask for images of styles created on similar textures to your own.
5. You opted for a cut too hard to maintain at-home.
“You should always be 100% honest with your stylist about how much (or little) you’re willing to commit to your cut,” says Wauchoupe. “Sharing this information can possibly change the direction of your style.” High maintenance styles often require more money and more time. Ask yourself: Does this fit into my lifestyle? Ferby agrees, noting, “Before you leave the salon, schedule your next maintenance cut or trim. For shorter haircuts, ask your stylist for any tricks and quick styling tips to make sure you look great even on lazy days.” Wilson reminds clients, “Remember you’ll be the one looking bad, not your stylist.”
6. You were too scared to speak up for yourself.
During your consultation and actual cut, you should reiterate the look you are going for. When the scissors come out, it’s not the time to zone out on Instagram or read the latest issue of Vogue. Pay attention to how many inches are coming off and the technique your stylist is using. “If you truly hate your hair, your stylist should fix it sans charge,” shares Wauchoupe. The key is politeness and honesty. “Discuss the areas of the cut you’re unsatisfied with, like areas that are too long or too short,” says Ferby. “Some fixes might require a few weeks in between if you have to grow your hair back.”
7. You decided to cut your hair on a whim.
A new cut might take a few days to get used to, so you’ll need to give your new style some time. “You should never decide to make a big change during an emotional period like a break-up,” warns Wilson. “In most instances, you’ll end up regretting it.” If you decide to do something drastic, try to “live in it a little” for a least a week.
8. You didn’t read the salon reviews first.
Ferby is a fan of vetting salons or stylists via reviews before booking an appointment. “You can’t always determine someone’s skill set from a review alone. Ask to see before and after pictures of the stylist’s work, look on their personal website or even speak to current clients.” In the salon world, a referral is often more prized than a review. “Stop girls on the streets whose hair your admire and ask them where they go,” explains Wilson. “If you must solely base your decision on reviews, make sure they are consistent. One bad review doesn’t mean you will have a bad experience.”