Photo Courtesy of Susan Chiang

I am sure you have heard the saying, “Not all money is good money.” This rings true for any professional that provides a service, because you have to know when saying “no” is the best option to save your company’s brand, image and reputation or to protect your client from a major hair disaster. Although professional stylists are required to attend school, take an exam, and receive a license that is approved and administered by the state, it is one of the few industries in which the consumers feel they know more than the professional. 

This oftentimes leads to negotiations and debates over styles, techniques, and prices. Additionally, it can breed a lack of respect for the business altogether resulting in missed appointments without notice, late cancellations, or excessive tardiness. Below are the top three reasons that may make a hairstylist deny service (and if they don’t, they should”>.

Requests for services on damaged hair

This includes all chemical services (color, texturizers, and relaxers”> heat styling services and braid/extension services. If your hair has…

  • Excessive breakage
  • Split ends 
  • Lack of elasticity 

and you want a color, heat styling, or extension services, the answer should be “No” or “Not right now, but maybe after we condition your hair back to a healthier state.” If you want multiple chemical processes performed on the same day, the answer should be “No,” and if you are getting a high lift or fashion color your stylist should explain to you that it is a multi-step process that can take a few days. The multi-step process allows you to safely achieve the desired color without completely compromising the health of the hair.

As a licensed professional it would demonstrate gross negligence if we were to provide services for a client when we know that the current condition of the hair is not healthy or strong enough to withstand certain chemical processes or styling techniques. It is our job to help guide clients in their hairstyling decisions so that they not only feel good about the way they look but to also keep the hair healthy. So if your stylist decides to refuse service for one of these reasons, trust that it’s more than likely in your hair’s best interest.

Requests for hairstyles that are not flattering

This is when, as a stylist, we have to make the best judgment call based on our level of skill, industry knowledge, taste, and reputation. Clients are walking forms of advertisement that can build your brand and increase your demand or kill your brand and put you out of business.  I have had to politely refuse some outrageous requests for hairstyles that were not an accurate reflection of the quality of work I like to produce or in alignment with what my brand represents. For example, a client wanted to wear her hair loose in the back with long braided bangs using blonde hair extensions. The answer was a resounding “No.” I tried to make alternate recommendations that would be more flattering in my opinion, but she was set on the look, so unfortunately I could not serve her. A stylist has to be able to stand behind what they create with confidence. If they don’t like what they create or it goes against their better judgment, they run the risk of disapproval or ridicule from family, friends, or complete strangers towards the client and this negative feedback can have a major impact on the stylist and their business. So if your stylist decides to refuse to style your hair a certain way, trust that it’s more than likely in your best interest.

A lack of respect for business policies and procedures

There are a number of businesses that require that you set an appointment, confirm the appointment, and arrive on time. Additionally, if you are running late or need to cancel, you are requested to notify the business so that they can make other arrangements. In the service industry, this is customary, but for some reason there is sometimes a lack of respect given to the salon industry. Stylists have to be considerate of their client’s time, but when there is excessive tardiness, no shows, and late cancellations, don’t be surprised if your stylist decides to refuse service the next time you call. This type of chronic misbehavior not only interrupts the flow of a stylists’ workday, it also interrupts the flow of their income. Once the cash flow is impacted, it can put a stylist out of business. Also, it’s polite to check in with your salon to understand their policies around children, eating, or bringing additional guests with you.

The salon environment is typically more relaxed than other businesses so clients sometimes forget that although it feels like you are hanging out, it’s not really the hang out spot. Some salons may not have the capacity to accommodate you and your guest(s”>, especially if your guests are not getting service. Some foods can be really smelly and turn off potential or existing clients.  

Also, children can be disruptive and disturb the flow of the business, so check in with the salon to see if they have designated areas for eating, guests or children. If not, you should make other arrangements before arriving to your appointment. If you neglect to do so and your stylist decides to refuse service, trust that it’s more than likely in their businesses best interest.

In conclusion, clients are the lifeblood of the salon industry. We don’t want to refuse service, we want to serve all the clients that we can handle, but mutual respect has to exist.

Kari Williams

Dr. Kari is a licensed barber, professional hair designer & stylist, natural hair care specialist, educator, hair care products consultant, board certified trichologist through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the Founder & CEO of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon & Trichology Clinic. She is the current President of the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. Dr. Kari is also the Creator and Co-Founder of AnnCarol, a line of products formulated to achieve and maintain healthy hair. Her products can be purchased at

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