Like any relationship, the one you have with your stylist is a two-way street. The expert behind the chair can glamorize your curly life, but you have to meet your stylist halfway if you want to get the most from your mane squeeze. The future of your curls depends on it!
Here are eight simple rules for holding up your end of the 'do — and becoming the best curly client a stylist could ask for.
Rule #1: Be on time
It may sound stylish to be "fashionably late," but remember that a hair salon is not a soiree. Punctuality counts. Even if you're just a few minutes late for your appointment, it can shove a super-tight schedule into a tailspin. The stylist is left scrambling to catch up, and the last thing you want is a rushed cut or color. So, as the saying goes, treat others the way you want to be treated— and don't be late!
Rule #2: Arrive in style
Since every curly is unique, a stylist needs to see your curl pattern in full effect to create the right style for you. Lose the ponytail, leave your hat at home, and coif your curls before you step into the salon.
"It's really important to style your hair the way you normally wear it, especially if you're a first-time client, because we want to see what you're dealing with," says Kaycee Clark, a curly stylist and owner of Dear Clark Hair Studio in Dallas, Texas. "I also cut hair differently, if they wear it curly all the time, than I do for someone who wears it curly and straight."
So, remember, tell your stylist if you're a curl purist or if you go both ways.
Rule #3: Show what you like
Think of your salon visit as a grownup game of show-and-tell. Before your appointment, grab a few beauty magazines and tear out any curly pictures that show the style you want. Photos can often visualize what you're looking for, more than words can explain it.
"Bringing in pictures is always a great idea, whether it's something realistic for your hair or not," Clark says. "At least it tells me what you like and what you think is pretty. Then it's up to me as the professional to let the client know [my opinion]."
Rule #4: Know what you want
The stylist is there to help you, of course, but the more ideas you bring to the chair, the better off you'll be when you step out of it.
"You don't want to be wondering about hairstyles when you're in the chair, and then in that moment start to go through magazines asking, 'How about this or that?'" says Christo of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon. "If you have not made up your mind, chances are you will not get what you like at the end of the day."
And you don't want to just saunter in and turn over a handful of ripped-out curly images without really looking at them. What do you like about the pictures? Jot down your thoughts and any questions that come to mind before you even walk into the salon.
Once you've done your homework, you're halfway there. You know what you want, you've got the pictures to prove it and you're speaking your mind. Excellent.
Rule #5: Listen (Really pay attention)
Experts say this is a critical rule for any relationship — whether you're listening to the one you love or the one who styles your curly locks.
"If you cut the stylist off or don't let him talk, which happens many times, he can't offer you a full explanation of the service he's going to give you," Christo says.
Maybe you really needed to hear that haircut you want isn't going to work for you. Whether it's good news or not, your stylist's opinion is important. So, always pay attention. No mind drifting. No constant glances at your smart phone. Turn the ringer off and avoid all distractions. Be present for your stylist — and yourself.
You're worth it!
Rule #6: Stay open to stylist suggestions
Whether it's unique cutting techniques or product suggestions for your curl type, be willing to expand your comfort zone and try new things.
"A lot of people say I don't want to try anything like that," says Charles Farlow, a curl-centric stylist in Atlanta, Ga. "I understand curly-haired people have had so many bad experiences. But [it would be great] if they could come in and be a little bit more trusting of stylists who do have the expertise."
Rule #7: Practice hair-healthy habits at home
The flat iron is not your friend. It can seriously damage your curly 'do, if you use it more than just once in a while. And even if you're careful with styling tools, curly hair is fragile and requires a lot of moisture, so never skimp on deep treatments.
"A lot of people don't like to spend a lot of time on their hair but if they want the look, and they can invest maybe 15 minutes, it can be a big help," Luisa Valdes, curly stylist at Lunatic Fringe Salon in Altamonte Springs, Fla. "A deep-conditioning treatment weekly really doesn't take much time. We invest in everything else— like nails, clothes and makeup — so taking a little extra time to do your hair is important."
Just like putting on makeup every morning, make a habit of caring for your curls and it will become second nature!
Rule #8: Give back
If you love your new cut or color, stylists say gratitude is the best way to give back. A simple thank you and a smile goes a long way. "It really makes our day, when someone tells us they appreciate what we've done and refer customers," Farlow adds.
So, remember, ask not only what your stylist can do for you, but also what you can do for your stylist. Who could ask for anything more?