What Should I Tell My Stylist?

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bigredapmi suggested we stylists on the board start a thread on how to talk to a stylist to get a good cut, which was a fabulous suggestion (bigredapmi, if you could repost the suggestions you made on the other thread here, I think that would be very helpful).

I personally receive more than a few PMs from people who are looking for guidelines to tell their stylist about how to cut their hair. So, here are some of the "basics" I pass along. Please bear in mind this is NOT a guarantee you will receive the best haircut of your life: this is just an attempt to give you a few tools of communication in our own "language" to make the process a bit easier for you both.

- Curly hair needs to have layering of some sort, but this can be a minefield. Tell your stylist to give you long layers, but to keep the angle at 45 degrees and not raise you up to a 90 at any time. Reason: 90-degree angles are very tricky on curly hair and, if she doesn't know what she is doing, you could end up with the dreaded "mushroom" or "triangle" head.
- "Trim" can mean 1/4" or 1/2" or an 1". Be very, very specific about how much she should take off wet; for example, if you have a 5"-8" spring, a 1/2" trim wet can make you look 2" shorter dry. So, be very specific and say, "I would like a xx" trim of my layers and no more than that anywhere since it will be shorter than I want if you do."
- If you have a thin density, it is very, very important that she NOT take the layers up too far. Thin density needs more weight, not less.
- If she can, she needs to keep a solid "base" at the bottom and only start layering an inch or two up from the bottom perimeter. I hate seeing stringy ends from a cut on curly hair because the layering started too soon.
- With a wet cut on long hair, your shortest pieces should be no higher than about your chin, with the exception of your face frame.
- RUN FOR YOUR LIFE if anyone comes near you with a razor or thinning shears.

I'll add more as I think of them. And feel free to ask questions as well.
- Tiffany
Hair Stylist and Curly Hair Specialist - St. Petersburg, FL (Tampa Bay)

Blog: Live Curly, Live Free
Facebook fan page: Live Curly Live Free

Sulfate- and non-water soluble silicone-free since 04/22/2002
3B, brunette: medium texture, low porosity, high density

From the Live Curly, Live Free e-book:

Finding a Stylist
Curly hair care aside, one of the most frustrating problems for any curly girl is finding a hair stylist who knows how to deal properly with curly hair. Of all the complaints I hear from clients who sit in my chair, finding a good stylist who loves, appreciates and knows the world of curls is probably at the top of the list. Why, they ask, do so few stylists understand what it takes to cut curly hair correctly?

In my opinion, there are a couple of reasons. First, you need to understand that most beauty schools focus solely on the basics and teach little about curly hair and its special needs. When I was studying to be a cosmetologist (at a top beauty school where I received a fine education and a place I unhesitatingly recommend to anyone interested in a career as a cosmetologist), the advice I received about curly hair was this: cut the hair damp instead of wet and don't put as much tension on the section.

Not exactly the most comprehensive curly hair education in the world, is it? 95% of what I know about cutting, styling and maintaining curly hair was learned elsewhere or are skills I taught myself. It's just not a priority in the American beauty education system right now. It's no wonder brand-new stylists are launched into the world without much of a clue.

In addition to that, you also need to recognize that it takes twice as long to handle a curly girl as it does a straight-haired girl. This industry is almost always commission-based on services, so the more clients you see and the more services you perform, the more money you make.

That means some stylists (not all, but some) are going to treat you just like they do a straight-haired girl because they don't want you in their chair any longer than you need to be. If their commission is $15-$25 on a cut/blow-dry and they can do two straight-haired clients in the time it takes them to do one curly girl, some of them are going to go for the money and treat you just like a straight-haired girl. It's sad, but true.

To further complicate matters for curly girls, some of the hair salon "chains" actually have metrics they use to measure stylist performance. In one popular chain, you have exactly 13 minutes to do a haircut. That means you stick the client’s head in a shampoo sink for two minutes, use your shears to do a standard 45- or 90-degree layered "wet cut" in 11 minutes, then get them the heck out of your chair.

You miss your metrics often enough, you can get fired. Even if a stylist working at one of these places wanted to take their time and do a proper curly cut, they couldn't. Moral of this particular story: if you have any hope of getting a halfway decent curly cut, think about staying away from the chains. You might be lucky and find someone who can give you an acceptable wet cut in that amount of time, but you'd be pushing it.

So, what can we do?

First of all, one of the best ways to find a curly-savvy stylist is to walk right up to someone whose hair you love and ask who does it. Tell her you are looking for a new stylist and you think her hair rocks. She will usually be totally flattered and will be more than happy to share info about her stylist. Then get a list together of a few who really seem to appeal to you and call for a consultation.

Whatever you do, please don't just call a salon and ask if they have any stylists who know how to cut curly hair. Of course they are going to tell you 'yes.' Instead, arm yourself with knowledge. It is up to you to advocate for yourself and ask questions. You need to know the right questions to ask to make sure the stylist you choose really is familiar with handling curls.

Your list of questions at the consultation should include:

§ Where did you learn to cut curly hair? (It most likely wasn't in beauty school, so ask them what kind of continuing education classes they took).
§ What product lines do you carry/use in your salon that are specific/friendly to curly hair?
§ How many curly clients do you have?
§ Do you have naturally curly hair yourself?
§ Do you wear your own hair curly?

If you find one who sounds good to you, schedule a styling session with him/her to see if you like how they do your hair (believe me, many hairdressers don't know how to finish curly hair, so this can be a good indication of how well they handle it). If you like their work and you feel comfortable, then move on to bigger and better things like haircut and color.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that you always have the power to get up from any stylist's chair and walk out the door. There is no excuse to ever let yourself get talked into anything you don't want, whether it be a cut, color or a style—especially if your only reason is that you are worried about what a stylist or the people in a salon will say about you if you do. Give me (and yourself) a break, please. It is never worth dealing with bad hair for the next three, six, twelve months just because you didn't want to say anything or hurt anyone's feelings.

Trust your gut instinct and roll with it—it will never let you down.
- Tiffany
Hair Stylist and Curly Hair Specialist - St. Petersburg, FL (Tampa Bay)

Blog: Live Curly, Live Free
Facebook fan page: Live Curly Live Free

Sulfate- and non-water soluble silicone-free since 04/22/2002
3B, brunette: medium texture, low porosity, high density

This is terrific--thanks so much, Tiffany, for the tips! I think a lot of frustration curlies have with getting their hair cut is NOT HAVING the vocabulary to ask for what we want or tell a stylist what we don't want.

I am curious, however--why are thinning shears/razors bad? I believe I had a stylist who used razors on my hair years and years ago, but I'm not really remembering what my hair looked like in the aftermath. I believe she said it would take some weight off the curls and make them more springy--is this not true?
Fine, porous 3a with some 3b...
Co-wash: Suave Tropicals Coconut Conditioner (with shampoo bars 2x a month) Rinse-out: L'oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Leave-in: Lustrasilk Styling: CK, Pink Boots, KCCC, AOMM, HESMU, BRHG, CJ Aloe Fix Gel Post-Styling: Apply product to wet hair, scrunch out water with Curls Like Us, diffuse for 5-7 minutes Treatments: Vatika coconut oil, Kama Brahmi oil
Struttswife and any other stylists out there. Can we start a thread about how to talk to a stylist to get a good cut. Teach these ladys the terms to use, give them the signs and guts to get up and go. The first thing that comes to mind with me is clients asking for a trim. Everyones trim is soooo different. Show the stylist exactly where you want the hair to end when dry. Ask the stylist to cut the length or "guide" when dry. Do this before you're in the chair. If a stylist will not listen, rolls her eyes, or you just feel she doesn't get it, WALK OUT. It's your hair and your money. Do not feel bad, you will feel worse when you don't like your hair. If the stylist wet cuts, ask her to use "no tension" and cut only half as much as she thinks. Just don't complain that she took nothing off and still charged you full price. If you have bangs do not I repeat do not let them cut them wet. Ask her to notch into them dry. Do not expect perfect results the first time you go to someone, give them a chance to learn your hair. Great idea to go and have a wash and style first. This will give you a chance to talk and give her an idea of how your hair lays and shrinks. Stylists help me out, I'm sure there's tons more. Let's get these girls great hair days!!!

( these suggestions were made a little tounge n cheek...alittle vent of my own)

More ideas to help you get a good cut. I have a curly client who always thinks her hair is cut uneven. If I cut her dry, curl by curl, she will take the top, pull it straight up with tension, and say it's uneven. If I pull it straight up and cut it straight across, she say's it's uneven when it dries. Don't do that.
Also, hair grow out from your head in a circular pattern. Almost like a fingerprint. Curlys tend to have more swirls. This is why you feel one side of your hair is thicker or fuller, or one side lays better. I can not change this with a cut. I can leave weight to try to pull it out alittle, but you have to style it against the grain, kinda push it where it needs to go. Diffusing and clipping helps here. But please don't think I cut one side more than the other.
To those of you who have very long hair and only get it cut once a year.....please understand.....you have probably 10 little strands that hang in the back that are two inches long. They are the ones you feel when you pull it all down to check how long it is. Trimming these hairs off is not even a real hair cut, they don't do anything but hang there and sorry, they are just yucky. If I cut them off your hair will look better, your curls will spring up and be less tangled. But when you pull it all down again you will think I cut off two inches when you only asked for a trim, because you want it to reach a certain point on your back.
I want to share this side with you to help you get a good cut. Cutting hair is really not that hard. It's the communication part that can mess it up for both of us. i still think most stylist want to make people happy with their hair. We need to talk to each other in the same language.
And please do not bring in a picture of Taylor Swift from a photo shoot and ask me If I can make your hair look like hers. I can't, if I could I would do mine that way first,before I'd do it for you

HTH
I am curious, however--why are thinning shears/razors bad? I believe I had a stylist who used razors on my hair years and years ago, but I'm not really remembering what my hair looked like in the aftermath. I believe she said it would take some weight off the curls and make them more springy--is this not true?[/quote]


Can you say split ends and Frizzzzzzzz!
sixelamy likes this.
I had to laugh at the once a year cutting because I'm pretty much a once a year cutter, lol.

I just ask my guy every so often how my ends look; I'm in every 8 weeks for color anyway. He trims if he feels they need it, but he usually feels they are fine.

I did get about a 2inch wet trim in April and no one, even me really noticed it, lol.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
This thread is wonderful! Thanks to all who thought of and/or participated in it.
This is a great thread that will need to be stickied!


I have a curly client who always thinks her hair is cut uneven. If I cut her dry, curl by curl, she will take the top, pull it straight up with tension, and say it's uneven. If I pull it straight up and cut it straight across, she say's it's uneven when it dries. Don't do that.
Originally Posted by bigredapmi
Ha! And I'm always trying to get stylists to cut my right side a tad shorter, since it's the straighter side. I have to insist that I don't straighten, and that I don't care if it's even when wet, just how it looks when dry. I told the last stylist that if she didn't, I'd just go home a snip it myself. She did it.

SF Bay Area, CA * "The Angel-Goddess-Guru of Haircoloring"
3b/c/a mix. medium texture, low porosity
* pw: just4curlies
* My Motto: Strand Test!
some hair pics
-- gone, but never forgotten.
I am curious, however--why are thinning shears/razors bad? I believe I had a stylist who used razors on my hair years and years ago, but I'm not really remembering what my hair looked like in the aftermath. I believe she said it would take some weight off the curls and make them more springy--is this not true?
Originally Posted by bigredapmi

Can you say split ends and Frizzzzzzzz![/quote]

Ah, got it. Those were the days I was blow-drying without a diffuser and brushing out my curl (mushroom head!), so I probably couldn't tell the difference anyway.
Fine, porous 3a with some 3b...
Co-wash: Suave Tropicals Coconut Conditioner (with shampoo bars 2x a month) Rinse-out: L'oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Leave-in: Lustrasilk Styling: CK, Pink Boots, KCCC, AOMM, HESMU, BRHG, CJ Aloe Fix Gel Post-Styling: Apply product to wet hair, scrunch out water with Curls Like Us, diffuse for 5-7 minutes Treatments: Vatika coconut oil, Kama Brahmi oil
- Curly hair needs to have layering of some sort, but this can be a minefield. Tell your stylist to give you long layers, but to keep the angle at 45 degrees and not raise you up to a 90 at any time. Reason: 90-degree angles are very tricky on curly hair and, if she doesn't know what she is doing, you could end up with the dreaded "mushroom" or "triangle" head.
Originally Posted by StruttsWife
I'm getting a haircut next week...I'm using a stylist I found really good reviews for through this site. I'm going to ask for long layers and I need some help!
What exactly do you mean by "keep the angle at 45 degrees"?
Should I bring my own sulfate-free shampoo, or is it likely that they'll have one there?
Also, how much of a difference in length should there be between the longest layer and the shortest layer?
I have medium length hair right now, and I'd like to let it get longer. The last time I had it cut, it was cut at all one length (I'll never do that again; it's driving me crazy!)
Thanks for any help and advice!
3b curls
Products I'm using:
Shampoo 1-2x/week: Organix Coconut
Co-wash: Suave Naturals Coconut
Conditioner: GVP Conditioning Balm
Leave-in: Giovanni Direct Leave-In
Gel: LA Looks Sport

How to HENNA your hair: http://annieshealthtalk.hubpages.com...-Dye-Your-Hair
"Sh*t Curly Girls Say": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emqRg3t3mng
What exactly do you mean by "keep the angle at 45 degrees"?
45 degrees refers to the angle or "elevation" in which the section is held to be cut: your stylist will know exactly what that means.

Should I bring my own sulfate-free shampoo, or is it likely that they'll have one there?
Do bring your own sulfate-free shampoo; although it is becoming more common, it is still unlikely the salon will carry a sulfate-free line unless they do a lot of curly heads. If you are worried about what they will say, use this trick: tell them you brought your own shampoo because you discovered you have a sensitivity to certain product ingredients like sulfates. They probably won't bat an eye.

Also, how much of a difference in length should there be between the longest layer and the shortest layer?
The difference in length between the longest and shortest layers depends on the overall length of your hair, and is really difficult to judge unless we can see it. If your hair is already long and you would like to go longer, make sure you emphatically let your stylist know to keep your shortest layers at chin level (with the exception of your face frame, which should be cut separately).

Good luck!
- Tiffany
Hair Stylist and Curly Hair Specialist - St. Petersburg, FL (Tampa Bay)

Blog: Live Curly, Live Free
Facebook fan page: Live Curly Live Free

Sulfate- and non-water soluble silicone-free since 04/22/2002
3B, brunette: medium texture, low porosity, high density

I so wish I could have read all of this great info before my recent haircut . . .
2-something? Coarse, medium underneath. Mid-back. On CG since 5/9/07.
Washing COs: VO5 Blackberry, Suave Cherry
Detangle and leave-in: Sally's GVP Conditioning Balm -- I found my HG CO!
Seal with camellia oil
Leave-in: Aura cherry almond
Gels: Homemade FSG, Eco-styler
Plus: SOTC or smooth with camellia oil, JC Nourish & Shine
Homemade food-based DTs
RC color
Wish me luck....I am getting my first cut since going CG tomorrow....maybe I'll just get a consult/style.....I have been obsessed with this website and this thread came at perfect timing.
The Plan:
Poo-less: Since March 09....If need be, I might use Burt's Bee baby shampoo/wash, but once every 2 weeks only
Co-Wash: Suave Naturals Coconut daily (use as leave-in too)
Gel: Aveda Confixor or homemade FSG/aloe
Other stuff: Aveda Curl Control, Jessicurl Confident Coils, and Jessicurl weekly deep conditioner treatment
okay, any suggestions for cutting my own hair? how should i do layers? oh, where should i start them? my problem now is that the bottom layer is so thin that it looks stringy and wrong. thanks a ton!
This is wonderful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
2C/3A/3B - mod. CG, med. to fine, normal to low porosity/normal elasticity

Current Main Rotation: MG217 medicated, GTTT or Aim2Health 'poos as scalp needs, YTCarrots or Elucence cond., Spiral Solutions Protein Trtmt & Deeply Decadent Cond., CJCCCC reg or lite, KCCC, AO Mandarin Magic, Giovanni LA Hold Hair Spritz + lots more, sporadically

HG Method: Super Soaker + Smasters-ing, brief upside down diffusing then clips or clamps & air dry. Blend gray w/henna glosses

www.fotki.com/auntnett

Last edited by auntnett; 09-25-2009 at 10:22 AM.
okay, any suggestions for cutting my own hair? how should i do layers? oh, where should i start them? my problem now is that the bottom layer is so thin that it looks stringy and wrong. thanks a ton!
Originally Posted by manya994
E gads ! Really, I'm a hairdresser and I won't even cut my own hair. You just can't get the right angle on yourself. I know alot of people do it though, I fix it all the time. Curly hair can cover up alot of sins, I suggest procede at your own risk.
3a/3b coarse and thick.....big and red

Advanced Deva inspired Stylist
what if i have my mom do it? how can i explain it to her (who knows none of the hair stlist terms but can cut straight hair pretty well)?
What should a stylist do to make hair not so bushy. I went to my stylist last week and told her to get rid of some of the "bushiness". She cut the layers shorter and said that should take care of it. But it didn't. What do I tell her when I go back?
What if you're not getting shampoo'd? My stylist uses some kind of water spritz with stuff in it to dampen my hair before cutting (pre-going curly) and it smells. I can't imagine it's CG. Can you bring your products to get cut with, even if they're not going to style you after?
2A/B, F, i - thinning on top due to meds
Above-shoulder length, can't plop!
Using: VO5 Tea Therapy Blackberry Cond (cowash), LA Looks Mega Hold gel
This is such a great idea - thanks! I'm really new to this site and incredibly overwhelmed with the information. I've been CG on and off for a few years now, but suddenly my hair is not curling at all, just frizzing. I'm going to see a new stylist that was recommended on this site pretty highly on Wednesday and I don't really know what to tell him. My current routine is clearly not working and my curls look nothing like what they did a year ago. I think I want to get it mostly cut off, but I'm afraid of it being too short if/when the curls re-appear.

Also, can anyone give me suggestions for what to ask to determine a better routine? I know I need to ask about density, texture, porosity, elasticity and overall health - anything I'm missing? Will he be able to tell how my hair reacts to things like protein, silicones, etc. just from working with it? I've been trying to figure this stuff out based on the threads here and am incredibly confused...so I'm hoping he'll just tell me.
Hyde likes this.
I have no idea what's going on with my hair! I think it's low porosity, fine texture and medium density but I'm really not sure.

CG since 2006, off and on.
Routine:
DevaCurl No-poo once or twice a week
DevaCurl One Condition
That's it. No coloring, straightening or blow drying in several years.

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