How To Speak Hairdresser So You Never Leave The Salon In Tears Again

A guide to avoiding a hair disaster.

Is there a woman alive that’s left the hairdressers 100pc happy every time? I sincerely doubt it. Here in Ireland, where politeness is often more important than speaking up, pretty much all of us have the experience of sitting in the salon chair fighting back tears while simultaneously declaring that yes, our hair is only gorgeous.

Well, no more. We asked the pros just how best to communicate your desires to your stylist or colourist, and even more importantly, how to listen to their feedback and take it on board. This is what we learned…

Bring pictures

Yes, it can be mortifying to rock up to the hairdresser with a picture of Kate Beckinsale’s tortoiseshell lowlights when you no more look like Kate Beckinsale, but a visual aid is an essential tool in showing your stylist exactly what you have in your head. “It’s always good to come prepared with visual references,” says Trudy Hayes, session stylist and owner of the Raven App that brings beauty pros to your living room. “Your idea of blonde, for example, and your stylist’s could be very different and explanations sometimes get lost in translation leaving everyone frustrated.” Katherine Sweeney, owner of Dublin salon Preen, agrees. “A picture paints a thousands words so personally I love it when clients bring them in. It shows me what they like and gives me a starting point.”

Come as you are

“Always come in with your hair as you usually wear it, not wet or unstyled. Also if you don’t wear a full face of make-up all the time, don’t come in wearing one!” Why, you ask? Because most of us that are going to spend the next several hours staring in the mirror are gonna bring their A game. Trudy says that coming as you are means the hairdresser can then gauge the extent of the maintenance you’re willing to put up with, and also your lifestyle. “Do you swim a lot? Do you have kids? Let us know, it’s all important,” she says.

Learn when someone is politely trying to help

“Sometimes a client will show you something that either isn’t achievable on their hair type/texture, or may not suit them, so it’s always good to keep an open mind and listen to the advice of your hairdresser,” explains Katherine. Trudy agrees. “A good hairdresser will tell you straight out if you’re being too ambitious, if you have five hairs o your head but expect to leave looking like Kim Kardashian. Listen out for polite terminology like “This is a high maintenance look,” “your colouring is a little light/dark”, “do you have time in the morning” or just simply “have you really thought this through?”. The message is to be open and honest with your stylist, and they’ll be the same back. However, they are working in customer service, so might not be as straight up with you right away unless you indicate that this is something you’re comfortable with.

Don’t be too rigid

“No is not a word I like to use unless I really feel strongly that a look would not suit a client,” says Callan & Co’s creative director Niamh O’Connor. “So without being negative I look at it as a journey and set realistic goals for achieving what they want – in other words, we’ll get there eventually! However, if it can’t be done, I will explain scientifically why it’s won’t happen! But there always an alternative and I find once you give people options they are happy to trust you.”

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s August issue. Our September issue is on shelves now! 

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