Knowing what you want and how to get it doesn't apply just to your career and in the bedroom. Whether you're shelling out $20 or $200, you should always leave the salon feeling like you're in a shampoo commercial. Read these tips before your next visit.
1. Think Ahead
Whether it's adding a few face-framing layers or chopping it all off, consider your lifestyle and the time that you're willing to spend on styling. Is your morning routine more get-up-and-get-out-the-door, or do you wake up with time allotted to put yourself together? Are you willing to incorporate new styling tools and products into your regimen?
The bottom line: You don't want your new haircut to compete with your everyday routine.
2. Seek Help
Read our user reviews to seek out a new salon or stylist. You'll have peace of mind knowing that women like you are sharing their experiences. This method is also good to avoid shell shock if a cut costs $100 when you’re expecting to pay $50.
3. Sit for a Consultation
"Let your stylist know what you have liked and have not liked about haircuts in the past," says Ryan Trygstad, Hollywood hairstylist. Elaborate on as many details as you can — for example, how much time you realistically have to spend on your hair, where you part your hair, if you have a cowlick, etc. The more information you give, the better idea your stylist will have.
4. Bring Visuals
"I tell clients that pictures are very helpful when understanding a client's personal style and taste," says Trygstad. This tactic will guarantee that both of you are on the same page.
5. Only Use the Lingo if You're Savvy
"Avoid using hairdressing terms if you don't fully understand what they mean," says Elaine Mitchell, senior creative director for Sassoon Salon NYC Uptown. "For example, 'graduation' and 'layering' sound like they could be synonymous, but they actually have opposite meanings. Graduation creates a cut that is heavier and longer on top by building weight in the hair through cutting layers underneath. Layering makes the hair lighter and gives it volume and lift through internal layers."
6. Be Realistic
Sometimes we just have to face the facts — those of us with a curly mass of hair will probably not be able to get Jennifer Aniston's sleek and straight hair without a lot of work. With that said, if you are bringing in pictures, make sure that your tress-piration looks like she has a hair type similar to yours.
7. Trust Your Stylist
Don't let yourself be swayed one way or another if you have a firm desire for a certain look. At the same time, listen to your stylist's suggestions and trust his or her expertise. "A good stylist will take into account your face shape, complexion, and features, and then create a look that best suits you," says Mitchell, "all while keeping in mind what you initially wanted."
8. Know the Tools
Although you wouldn't second-guess which tools your plumber is using to fix your drain, it's different with your hairstylist. For example, clients who have curly or coarse hair should stay away from a razor. "This technique tends to shred the hair follicle," says Trygstad. "On curly- and coarse-hair types, it tends to look damaged."
"At Sassoon, we have a strict philosophy that focuses on maintaining the integrity of the hair," adds Mitchell. "Razors have the potential to be damaging, so we only cut with scissors."
9. Pay Attention
For decades, women have turned to their hairstylists for quality conversations. But chatting too much can have adverse effects. Be warned: Talking can be distracting for both you and your stylist.
If you find your stylist is headed in the wrong direction, don't be timid — let him or her know. More often than not, it's easier to make adjustments during your cut than afterward. "If you feel uncomfortable any time during the cut, always speak up," says Mitchell. "Your stylist wants you to be completely satisfied, and for that to happen, you have to be vocal."
11. Inquire Within
"During your service, ask questions," says Donna Zawislak, stylist and field education leader for Hair Cuttery. "Have your stylist show you what products or tools to use and how to apply/use them to complete your look."
12. Be Courteous
This should go without saying, but don't be late — even 15 minutes is pushing it. Your stylist is on a tight schedule just like you, and any ripples in her day can cause stress. Plus, you don't want her to take out her stress on you. You want a relaxed, easygoing appointment.
13. Don't Forget to Tip
Most experts agree that 15 to 20 percent of the cut cost, before tax, is the average tip for your hairstylist. Of course, feel free to add in a few bucks if she did a stellar job or if your hair is down to your butt. If there are assistants helping out, don't forget them. Slip the shampoo assistant around $5 and an additional 10 to 15 percent to the one who helps with your blow-out.
14. Money-Saving Tip
Some salons charge $5 or less for a bang trim, but you can try to trim them at home if you're feeling daring. "For a blunt line, use straight shears," says Zawislak.
15. Tousled Waves
One of the most popular styles for summer is beachy, seemingly disheveled hair. If you want this to be your default 'do for this season, ask for medium-to-long layers that fall a few inches below your shoulders. This style is flattering for all face shapes and hair types, except for those who have tight ringlets. You can also fake bombshell waves like Jennifer Garner's by wrapping 1-inch sections around a 1- to 1 1/2-inch curling iron.
16. Going Short
The perfect solution to getting your hair off your neck is to keep it short. Close-cropped cuts look best on slender and oval faces (think Halle Berry), while chin-length bobs are good for round and heart-shaped faces like Jessica Stroup's. Don't forget: Whenever you get a cut where your mane is completely off your shoulders, have your stylist clean up hairs on your neck with an electric razor. This will sharpen up the lines and give the look a fresh finish.