13+ Things Your Hairstylist Won’t Tell You

Hairstylists share their tips for understanding their jobs and how to get the most out of your time in the swivel chair.

Interviews by Maureen Mackey
  • Loading

    1. I’m a beautician, not a magician.

    I can give you Gisele Bündchen’s haircut, but I can’t give you her face.

    2. Come at least five minutes early.

    If you’re running late, please call ahead. Show me some basic respect. This is a business, not fun and games.

    3. Don’t ask me to squeeze you in.

    My work takes time. When a client says she's in a rush, I tell her she needs to schedule her time better. If I’m already booked, I’d be taking time and effort away from other clients. You wouldn’t like being treated that way.

    4. I’m not a psychologist.

    Hairdresser school does not teach about counter transference, projection, negative reinforcement, or personality disorders. If you’re looking for a therapist, all I have is a tail comb and an opinion.

    5. Layers are the magic remedy.

    Some women think that if they keep their hair all one length the way it was in high school, everyone will think they’re still in high school. Guess what? You’re not. As you get older, you need to soften the lines around your face.

    6. Bodies and hair change as hormones change.

    If your hair is dry, listless, or brittle, or if it’s not holding your color or style the way it used to, see a doctor. If your hair isn’t overprocessed, you could be pregnant (surprise!) or menopausal (yes, I can tell).

    7. A trim is not "just a trim"

    It requires my expertise, skill, knowledge, and time. Would you say to your dentist, “It’s just a tooth,” or to your doctor, "It’s just a leg"?

    8. A dollar bill doesn’t buy anything anymore.

    That single bill you stuff into the shampoo person’s hands isn’t doing her any favors. You should tip her at least $3 -- more if your hair is long.

    9. Let me do my job.

    If you want to buy a bottle of color and do your own hair to save a buck, you can live with the consequences.

    10. Take a picture.

    Some clients will say, "Cut my hair just like you did last time." That always baffles me. The average time between appointments is six to eight weeks. I have hundreds of clients. How am I supposed to remember exactly how I did your hair the last time? If you want a carbon copy of a cut and style you loved, take a picture and show me.

    11. Kids' haircuts aren't child's play.

    Why do you think a child’s haircut should cost less than yours? Kids don’t sit still. Kids kick. It’s an intense experience.

    12. Standing all day and using scissors and a blow-dryer takes its toll.

    I have arthritis in my fingers, calcium deposits in my wrist, and 10 percent less hearing than I used to. I am a physical wreck.

    13. We see women at their worst.

    Their hair is wet, they have foils on their hair, they have no makeup on. There’s nothing for them to hide behind. So they tell us everything. The truth is, I really don’t care about their personal lives. I’m only interested in their hair.

    14. I'll work hard to make you happy and I'll want you to like it.

    After you leave my salon, I'll worry about what you think. (I work on people, not on cars on an assembly line.) And if you feel like calling to tell me how happy you are with my work, you will make me smile.

    15. For stylists, tips should be 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of your bill.

    They are a significant portion of my pay. If you still me, I'll remember. And yes, salon owners who style hair do appreciate tips and want them.

    16. Sure, you can bring your child or your dog in,

    as long as you control them. One of my clients used to bring her Great Dane in to all her appointments. He would curl up in the corner and sleep the entire time, so I don't mind. But if your baby or your dog starts bothering me or the other people in the salon, I won't be so easygoing.

    17. I need to charge you for my time.

    No matter what you're having done. I am a trained professional.

    18. You represent me.

    So it's in my best interest for you to look good.

    19. I am not all things to all people.

    I don't have manicurists or masseuses in my salon because I'm a hairstylist.

    20. I'm not in this business to make hundreds

    of thousands of dollars. I just want to make a decent, comfortable living, and at the end of the day, go home.

    21. Men will tell you things they won't tell their wives.

    "My throat hurts." "My back aches." They want a little sympathy, which maybe they can't get at home because their wives have heard it all before, or they're not listening. So they tell us. It's the only place they can unload.

    Polka Dot/Thinkstock

    22. Spend a little money on the right products.

    Hot water removes color. The sun can dry your hair. So protect it as you would your skin. Cover it when you're outside in the sun. Wash and condition it properly.

    23. If you cancel at the very last minute,

    that's lost money to me. I can't fill that appointment with little or no notice.

    24. Putting too much junk in your hair

    will almost always kill a look. The market is saturated with every possible product to make thin hair thick, dull hair shiny, and curly hair straight. But more is not more. Your hair wants to be healthy. That doesn’t mean trying to totally recreate it every day. Just help it a little. Let it do its thing.

    25. Do not attempt hairstylist-speak.

    Do you really know what "thinning" or "graduation" mean? Leave the terminology to the professionals.

    26. Some people are just too large

    or their cheeks too round for the style they want. They should look at themselves in the mirror sometime.

    Your Comments

    • ShaunnyB

      #25 – the most stuck up, arrogant thing i’ve seen here. also agree with blue skunk on us not caring about the physical wreck you are in…your choice!

    • Felix Sinclair

      “Just because you pay me to work on your hair doesn’t mean I want to work on your hair. You should pay me anyway. I have bills too, you know.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Captive-Audience/100002632521300 Captive Audience

      “24. Putting too much junk in your hair”

      But you’ll still want to hound me to purchase your salon products, basically more junk to put in my hair. It might be nice if they were hypo allergenic and non comedogenic. like skin products that cost a fraction of the price.

    • Allison

      Stylists, if you’re still listening, if someone cancels on you, do NOT call your next client and tell them to come in an hour and a half early. I once had to fly out of my house because the salon was like 40 mins away, because the stylist was like “yeah can you come in in half an hour, my morning client canceled.” I knew she was trying to play appointment Tetris so she could fit in as many clients as possible, but getting my hair cut should not be a stressful experience, especially if it’s my first time to that salon.

      • Lea Hartline

        We are listening and I will sometimes call and say my appointment before you canceled so I am free earlier if you want to come in a few minutes early so we can gab a little longer. But I don’t personally play get them rolling early. I just like the idea of getting the next one in a few minutes early :) Not an hour and a half early… like 5 or 10 mins. early.

    • really…

      up yourself much? It is ‘just a trim’ my hair grows back, my leg doesn’t. And learning to be a hairdresser takes nowhere near the time and commitment that learning to be a doctor/dentist does. Seriously. How arrogant can you get? ‘A dollar bill doesn’t buy anything more’ well then why don’t you pay your staff enough in the first place?!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Captive-Audience/100002632521300 Captive Audience

        I was thinking that myself.

      • Sherlock

        Why is it the customer’s problem that the employer/owner of the salon isn’t paying their staff enough?

    • msjerseystyle

      I still almost can’t believe #26. I am sitting here in horror that they are insinuating that it is just impossible to make a large person look beautiful. I’m freaking out and just can’t get over RD has this in print. WOW!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363553490 facebook-1363553490

        They should have set not all styles work well with all face shapes. I think that’s what they meant, and they worded it horribly.

        • Sherlock

          That “look in the mirror” line was just horrid. Some of these hairdressers look like they haven’t looked in the mirror ever with their freaky deaky “I’m a hairstylist so I think I can pull off this geometric monstrosity” hairdos.

    • msjerseystyle

      Whats up with #27, um WHAT??? Really? Does anyone else find it incredibly OFFENSIVE????? I have made many very large people look beautiful!! And guess what?! I am a LARGE hairstylist and I look in the mirror, all work day long!

      • Lea Hartline

        Me too! Really annoying that they think we can’t make everyone their very best right where they are and at the weight they are.

    • iamoph

      wow! I really wish they had added the names and businesses of the hairdressers used for this so we could save them the trouble and go elsewhere. The only thing this article accomplished in the way of enlightenment for me was confirming that I should never go back to a “pro” when I can do anything they can do at home and I wont be pissing anyone off…I have never met any of these mystical hairdressers that can tell you what color would look good according to your undertones, what cut would look good with your face shape, or even one that knew the difference between a trim and a full on Cut. I do agree with the statement about the dollar tip though. However, I am a waitress that makes $2.75 an hour and ACTUALLY do count on tips to “make it”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynda-Carol-Webster/1156601496 Lynda Carol Webster

        how on earth do you survive on that ridiculously small amount,in oz you would get 10 times that.

      • Lea Hartline

        I am one of those hairdressers and if you lived near me I would be happy to show you that I can tell your undertone, suggest cuts for your face shape, design a look for you based on cuts and colors that inspire you but would actually fit into your lifestyle.

        However, I would care about your life, I don’t think men telling me their stories is some great secret affair type relationship, I don’t think layers a cure all, I don’t hold against my clients if they don’t tip me… I would actually be more upset if they didn’t tip a waitress.

    • livn4nv

      13 things I am going to tell a hair stylist.

      1.This article is exactly why hair stylist’s annoy me and I haven’t stuck with just one stylist in the past! 2. I found that the majority of them are ” know it all’s ” End result? Unsatisfied customer? 3. If you can careless about my life, I can careless about yours! Why even bother expressing yourself? It’s one sided as usual by a hair stylist. 4. I haven’t been to a hair stylist in years and my hair is healthier than it has been my entire life! ( I go to a family member or friend who know how to cut hair. I don’t need a ” know it all “). 5. By avoiding all the chemical laden products they swear by has lead my to very healthy hair 6. I have actually been able to reach my hair length goals. Go figure. 7. Every hair stylist I been to in the past brags about how great they are at cutting curly hair and trust me most of them don’t know how! 8. If its not just hair and requires expert knowledge and time, why do you have no problem just whacking off what will grow back?? It’s obvious we can’t grow another leg or tooth! 9. We clients can also tell when you’re going through menopause too. We come out with uneven chunks of hair. 10. We also think your hair doesn’t look so great at times so it scares us when you’re cutting our hair that our hair may end up looking as bad as yours. I can’t speak for anyone else but I tip for how well I think you have done. A dollar may not go too far but neither does a bad hair cut. Get over it and get more education then. You may remember if you get stiffed but we remember you bad hair cut also! 11. We shouldn’t think you are a magician and you shouldn’t think we have to agree to your know it all attitude either. That’s were that comes in. When someone acts like a “know it all we expect magic”. 12. You should look in the mirror sometime yourself. 13. Funny how you expressed how you didn’t care about our personal lives but our hair. But you seemed to really understand why the men tell you things you claim he doesn’t tell his wife.How understanding of you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/thatgirljessb Jess Barnett

        It is a hairstylist job to know all about hair. A good stylist constantley learns new things takes more classes and does research. We dont have the answer to everthing.but its our job as.professionals to let you know what you can do to nake.your hair look its best. I am not sure where your getting.your info but professional.products are better …it isnt some.type of scam.

        • Jillian

          Yes well my latest stylist cringed when I told her I used Redken products. She said that the sulfate damages your hair. First time I ever had a salon tell me NOT to use Redken. My hair has never been healthier.

          • Lea Hartline

            Sulfate free is better for your hair color. Many sulfate shampoos will fade your hair color faster. The sulfate really just causes the lathering and bubbles. I do reccomend my clients who do expensive hair coloring such as my depth and dimension use a a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. I notice that clients who do use sulfate shampoos with I do their color retouch I have to make sure to bring the color towards the ends for about 15 mins. But really not a huge deal.

      • Lea Hartline

        Okay have to respond as a stylist.

        1. If you don’t find a stylist and at least give her a chance you hair will never be at it’s best. Often times clients who stick with a stylist begin to know eachother in a deeper way of understanding. I learn your lifestyle, your budget and what you want long term and can make a plan to get you there. 2. I don’t think I know it all, that is why I take at least one class every other month or more often. Sometimes clients, heck a lot of times clients will see a new trend before me. If I don’t listen, I don’t learn what they need and I fail.
        3. Yep, that line pissed me off too. I can tell you most of my clients kid’s names, their jobs, their biggest problems in life, what hurts their heart, the recent deaths in their family etc… I go to funerals, visit in hospitals, call and congratulate new parents etc… I care about all my clients and their emotional well being has an impact on their hair. 4. That might work for some but not everyone. The key is you don’t cut your own hair. 5. Aside from color, most of the products I reccomend are not chemical ladden and many of us use more natural amonia free color lines. 6. What brush are you using? I have a paddle brush I reccomend as well as multi vitamins and biotin. 7. I agree curly hair is tricky and I have a couple of classes scheduled in the next couple of months just for that. I am learning I sure know now not to take texturizing shears to them-but only because I saw from a class what that could result in. 8. That was a stupid line about the leg or tooth. Plus, if I cut off your hair and you are unhappy that will impact more than just your hair. My goal is to NEVER say to a client, “Well, it will grow back.” Thank God I’ve never had to say that except when a client cut their own bangs a little short. 9. LOL 10. LOL, agreed 11. I don’t know what stylists you went to, but dang don’t hate all of us :)! 12. Been guilty of the no make up days. 13. I don’t know what idiot wrote we don’t care about your personal lives… it’s bogus for many of us stylist. Plus, I don’t think the man sitting in my chair is having a deeper conversation with me than his wife. Clearly who ever wrote that is very in love with themselves.

      • Lynda Carol Webster

        it probably isn’t good to generalise i’m sure there are good ones out there who really care about their job and want to do the best job they can.

    • Commonsense

      Wow, somebody was a little pissy that day. This people make themselves sound like they’ve gone to war. Guess what? A lot of other people have it worse. Stop whining and be lucky you have a job.