There are two kinds of “I love it!” moments at the end of a hair appointment — the first kind is when you genuinely mean it. There’s a huge smile on your face because you’ve never felt better and can’t wait to grace the ‘gram with your new ‘do. That’s the dream, right? The other kind, however, isn’t so pretty — that’s because you’re desperately trying to hold back tears as you muffle “I love it” through the pain. We’ve all been there. We’ve all fibbed to a stylist about how we love the cut and color they just gave us, hollowly praising it while secretly vowing to never come back again. Then we inevitably blame ourselves for what was possibly just the result of bad communication. But what if you could take some pre-appointment precautions to make sure you never have one of those moments again?
We tapped Elizabeth Jane Jones, a seasoned stylist in Austin, Texas, to make that wish come true. As an independent stylist, Jones has seen it all, from out-there pastel hair hues to virgin hair and everything in between. She knows that struggle can be real for clients who are too afraid to speak up over a less-than-perfect-look, so she gave us the scoop on exactly how to prep for your next salon sesh. This way, you can walk out of your appointment feelin’ fly, not like you want to cry.
STEP 1 – HUNT FOR INSPIRATION PHOTOS
Okay, so this is obviously the fun part. Whether it’s a co-worker with a killer cut or a celeb with lust-worthy locks, find a person or a photo that is #hairgoals. If it’s a person you know (or even a complete stranger!), compliment them and ask if you can snap a pic to show to your own stylist. Imitation is the best form of flattery, after all. If you love a certain celeb’s hair, poke around on Pinterest or stalk hairstylists to the stars’ Instagrams to find a few photos. “Always walk into an appointment or a consultation with at least two or three inspiration photos. It’s the easiest way to convey exactly what you’re hoping for,” Jones said. “Bring one for cut and a couple for color.”
STEP 2 – STALK YOUR STYLIST’S WORK
It’s time to get your Harriet the Spy on and do a little investigating. Scroll through a stylist’s Instagram profile or portfolio site to get a feel for what their strengths are and what styles they churn out the most. Compare them with your inspiration photos until you find a pretty close match. “The number one mistake a person can make when prepping for a hair appointment is not doing enough research on your stylist,” said Jones. “You are now able to shop for your hairstylist and learn so much about them and their work before even contacting them. Take advantage of that!”
STEP 3 – SET UP A CONSULTATION
According to Jones, this step is a biggie, and if you only do one thing on this list, make this it! Your consultation is your chance to unleash your inner crazy and ask *ALL* of the questions you’ve wondered about while doing your research. You know which questions we’re talking about. They sound a little something like this: “Is this color going to totally fry my hair? Will it look good on me? Should I get bangs?”
Also, this is not the time to worry about whether you’re being polite enough or not. “Do not hesitate to ask for what you want — it’s your hair and you have to wear it,” Jones said. “You should always feel confident and comfortable enough to express how you want your hair to look in a stylist’s chair.” If you feel like you’re getting pushed or bullied into a cut or color you’re not *loving,* it’s okay to say “You know, I actually had something else in mind.” When all else fails, if you’re still getting a less-than-stellar vibe, there’s no shame in not setting an appointment after your consultation. Trust your gut and remember, you don’t have to set an appointment out of obligation.
3 Questions to Ask Before a Cut:
1. Would you recommend this haircut for my hair texture or density?
2. How should I be styling this haircut to get the “salon fresh look” every time?
3. What’s the upkeep or maintenance for this haircut?
3 Questions to Ask Before a Color Session:
1. Can you break down the process step by step? How many sessions will I need to achieve this color?
2. Does the salon offer any bond-building products (such as Olaplex) to prevent further damage and keep my hair healthy?
3. How much should I expect to spend for this color?
3 Top Tips for Success at Your Consultation:
1. Wear your hair to the consult like you do every day. That way your stylist can get a feel for what you’re most comfortable with and where your part typically falls.
2. Make a mini list of all the treatments you’ve done to your hair in the last few years. Think highlights (from a salon or at home), keratin treatments, color and cuts. (It’s a little cringe-worthy, but sometimes it helps to flip through old Facebook photos to re-spark your memory.)
3. Don’t be afraid of offending your stylist. If you want something low-maintenance that won’t require too many salon trips a year, trust us — your stylist will not take offense. “Life happens, and coming in every 4-6 weeks is unrealistic for many people,” Jones agreed. “Your stylist should be happy to help come up with a customized game plan for your lifestyle and your hair, even if that means coming into the salon as little as possible.” And if you’re not loving the color your stylist suggested, speak up from the very beginning so that you don’t end up with color you’re not absolutely in love with. This is your chance to set the expectations for your hair appointment, so don’t be afraid to say your piece.
Now all you have to do is walk out of your appointment and *SLAY.*
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