Here’s How to Avoid Getting a Bad Haircut
If you’ve ever silently watched in horror as a hairstylist chopped off three times the length you wanted or left the salon feeling $100 poorer yet utterly unsatisfied with your new look, then you know exactly what I’m talking about: bad haircuts. But just as nobody wants to receive a haircut they hate, no stylist wants to spend their time and effort giving you a cut you’re unhappy with. Still, despite the best intentions of both sides, these unfortunate mishaps can sometimes feel unavoidable. The good news? There are plenty of ways to help prevent your new look from being anything less than perfection.
Whether you’re going for just a trim, a more elaborate cut, or an entirely new look, it just takes the right type of communication and a comfortable level of honesty in covering the necessary bases with your stylist before you even step up to the proverbial plate (hey, you can’t exactly expect your stylist to read your mind). We consulted several trusted experts for their must-know tips on how to make the most of every appointment in order to leave the salon with exactly what you wanted when you came in. Study up now so the next time you’re sitting in a salon chair, you won’t find yourself with fingers crossed, leaving it up to chance.
1. Honesty is the best policy
First things first, you’ve got to be honest with your hairstylist. Yes, they’re the ones with the expertise and knowledge, but they can’t know how to give you exactly what you want if you don’t tell them upfront. Being honest about the cut you want isn’t the only important part — you need to be honest about your hair care and styling routines, as well.
“Like a doctor who needs to know your medical history to treat you properly, stylists need to know your daily grooming habits to determine the best cut and color,” explains hairstylist Edward Tricomi of the Warren-Tricomi salon in New York City. “So, when asked if you blow-dry every day, tell the truth. The cut you want may be high maintenance, and you won’t get the same effect if you air-dry.”
2. Your lifestyle matters, too.
Sure, your haircut looks amazing post-professional blowout, but how will it look day in and day out when the styling is (literally) in your hands? This is why lifestyle factors, such as how often you work out and wash your hair, matter too. Before your stylist picks up their scissors, it’s wise to also “discuss your day to day,” says Teddi Cranford, an NYC-based hairstylist. “Are you a wash and wear girl? Do you get blowouts regularly? Work out regularly? In general, [it’s important for your stylist to] get a sense of your personal style and work environment.” This way, they can work with you to figure out what type of cut makes the most sense for you on a practical basis, as well as an aesthetic one.
3. Show more than tell.
Explaining what you want is one thing, but physically showing your stylist — whether with your hands, a picture of what you want, or both—will give them a visual reference to go off of. “Avoid talking in terms of inches,” Tricomi says. “Measurements might be scientific, but they’re subjective when no one is pulling out a ruler.”
Instead, try pulling your hair up to the length you want, or showing with your hands the exact point you want your strands trimmed to. If the cut you want is hard to act out, bring a photo. “Stylists are visual people. Showing a photo or a magazine picture of the look you want is practically foolproof [and] especially crucial when dealing with color,” Tricomi says.
4. Go slow.
If you’re considering trying out an entirely new haircut or style, one way to ensure you don’t end up with a cut that’s not at all what you wanted is to go slowly. “I recommend transitioning hairstyles slowly,” says celebrity hairstylist Kiyah Wright. “Don’t go with a big chop, just go slowly…[working] shorter over time.”
5. Pay attention in the chair.
While haircuts are supposed to be relaxing — especially that shampoo scalp massage — you should also keep a watchful eye on what’s going on up top. “It’s not the time to flip through a magazine, make calls on your cell, or slip into a catnap,” Tricomi says. “Watch in the mirror, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or make suggestions.”
6. Cut your losses before they cut your hair.
If you take all of these steps pre-cut and your gut is telling you not to go through with it for whatever reason, simply speak up. “If you can’t come to an agreement or if you’re not comfortable with your stylist’s suggestions, tell him politely that you’re not ready to make a change, and then seek a second opinion,” Tricomi advises. “As in every type of relationship, some stylists and clients just rub each other the wrong way.”
Keep your cut looking it’s best between appointments
Of course, “the best way to maintain your hair in between haircuts is [by] using great products on your hair,” Tricomi relays. You know the drill: Use quality shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in styling products that are formulated for your hair type and concerns. Perhaps most importantly, remember to protect your strands with a heat-protectant cream before using any hot tools.
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