The moment a stylist spins the chair around to reveal your newly coiffed hair in the mirror is one of life’s lesser appreciated emotional crossroads. A good haircut gives you confidence; a bad one can bring you to tears.
I recently got the worst haircut of my life. I got absolutely butchered. Gone were six to seven inches, which were three inches more than I wanted. Featured prominently were streaky blonde highlights that I specifically stated I did not want.
I was in shock. “Sorry,” delivered in a drone monotone was the stylist’s only accounting for her work. People say that much of life is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. It’s tough to react well to a bad haircut. My new cut was reminiscent of a bowl-cut bob I had in sixth grade with haphazard bright blonde highlights; I had to get the whole thing redone.
There are no guarantees in life, and stylists are human and make mistakes, but these hairstyle tips can help you get the cut you want:
1. Bring pictures.
Research the look you want online and print, download or bookmark examples. Pinterest and Google images are great resources for this. I would keep the number of pictures fairly low and make sure they are similar examples. Bringing too many pictures increases the risk of confusing your stylist.
2. Be specific about what you want done.
Talk to your stylist in detail before he/she starts doing anything. Talk the stylist through each of the images and what you like about them. For example, I explained I wanted a ‘lob’ (long-bob) style haircut. I wanted to lose about 3 or 4 inches, to bring my hair up to just below my shoulders, to sweep my collarbone.
3. Don’t be cheap.
You get what you pay for most of the time. Choose a stylist who has experience sufficient to give you what you want. I foolishly chose a junior stylist in an effort to save a few bucks. I paid for her inexperience by having to redo the first cut and color.
4. Make the stylist parrot back to you the style you want.
People often don’t communicate as well as they think. Even though I spent 20 minutes explaining to the junior stylist exactly what I wanted and showed her pictures, we still weren’t on the same page.
5. Account for operator error.
The best-laid plans often go awry. Your stylist can know exactly what you want, but make a bad pass with the shears or mix your color incorrectly. There is not much you can do about simple human error, except be prepared for it and heed the advice in the next suggestion.
6. Speak up if you don’t get what you want.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your haircut or color, don’t just ‘take it’, talk to the stylist and/or the manager to rectify the situation.
After my haircut, I blindly stumbled to the register and paid my $150 bill plus tip. I left the salon in a daze and drove away. Within minutes, I made a U-turn and headed back to the salon, unwilling to settle with the terrible cut and color. Upon locating a manager, I angrily expressed how it was the worst of my life and was nothing like what I wanted. He was receptive and, to his credit, offered a full refund and set an appointment with the co-owner and senior stylist to fix both the cut and the color.
A week after my cut, I went back for the redo. I talked to the owner and senior stylist about my previous experience to figure out if I could have done something more to ensure I got the cut I wanted. He reassured me that I had done everything right and reaffirmed the six steps I suggested above. He simply said the junior stylist had made unforeseen technical errors and reminisced about a Jennifer Aniston hairdo from a few years back that often led to similar length issues.
In the end, my new haircut is much better than the first attempt. The cut now has movement, is playful and the color is much more subtle with pretty darker brown tones to accentuate my natural color. It’s still not what I wanted, but its not so bad either.
The moral to this story is that the vast majority of stylists and salons want their clients to leave happy, so if you are unhappy with your look, tell them! Ask them to fix it and/or ask for a refund. You are the client, you are paying good money, and you deserve to love your hair.