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
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    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

    • Shannon

      This artivle is quite b-y and negative.

    • Facebook User

      Oh and I will NEVER represent YOU!

    • Facebook User

      Whoever wrote this needs a serving of or rather the entire humble pie. Do you think you are the only profession that undergoes continued education? Good Lord, this is a superficial job and your character oozes superficiality. I find it funny that you’re not interested in a client’s life, yet if that client happens to be someone’s husband, you’ll surely listen. There are tons of professionals who stand all day for a living and have carpal tunnel, wah wah, you have a lot to complain about and feel quite entitled. Maybe this wasn’t your calling. Don’t use the rocket science of cosmetology jargon?You are talking out of your a$$ and it stinks. Maybe pull your head out and bleach your bunghole. Hopefully your hairstyle will improve too. Get over yourself.

    • Gryn

      Wow a lot of nonsense. And bullying too!! pheew!
      If somebody says: Like last time, with a happy smile be glad you did a good job!! And maybe you are able to recognize what you did looking at the hair and remebering, because you did it with a passion??

      I will let my hair grow from now on!
      I am sick and tired of explaining and showing and every time come home with what the hairdresser had in mind! Latest fashion, maybe,,, something that suits my fairly slim face, like a shoe on a hand!

      Say do I really have to be so much on my toes, Do you enjoy the powerplay? When we agree on something and halfway through you make a vauge suggestion, that ups cut! Changes value for money to a waste.

      Yes my hair is older too (and I am fat)

      I did the mistake to see the best hairdresser in DK.

      Since then I am hard to satisfy!
      It’s just like food! Do good quality, and I come again!
      Too many scared undaring people around, forgetting to making their job an artform!

      And spare us for your thousand needs!
      You will never be happy! And it is because you forgot to learn to put the magic into it!
      Don’t discrimination, just cut!

    • Amber

      I WISH we had hairstylist like this where I lived. Around here, they don’t even pay attention to what they are doing and when I DO bring them a picture they won’t even look at it. I tell them not to cut it too short and then of course they cut it to my chin, and when I ask them about it they just say “It will grow back.” Yes…it will grow back but i’m kinda paying you to make my hair look nice in the first place. One time I went to get it cut and i gave her pictures and everything, I told her exactly what I wanted and she just told me “Oh that won’t look good on you.” and then proceeded to give me HER EXACT HAIRSTYLE. I understand there the professionals and I value the advice they give me when they cut my hair but in the end it’s my hair and i’m paying you to it the way I want it done. I think i’d rather test my luck with cutting my own hair. It couldn’t be much worse than the hair I end up with then I do go to get it done “professionally”.

    • Judith Barrientos

      As a hairdresser I’m offended by some of these ”secrets” and comments. I am educated and have decided to have a profession that allows me to be social, creative and meet people. You can do your color at home and it might work, but it doesn’t for everyone. Professional products and color are a lot better than anything store brand. I pride myself on not running late because I do find it disrespectful, that goes both ways. I do care about my client’s personal lives. I actually make notes about people so I don’t forget to ask about certain events – I see many people and don’t like to get lives mixed up. What always amazes me is that hair is the number 1 accessory one wearss every day, yet people seem to not treat it that way by using cheap, bad for you products and having hair mill haircuts. But don’t blink when dropping money on clothing, costume jewelry or electronics that are used sometimes and for a year, max. And yes, we are professionals. Have a little respect. It may not be your chosen career but it is mine. Luckily, I have great clients that respect me and my skill and don’t treat be like the ”help.”

    • Fran

      Kids all grow up. We charge less to children in our salon. We have seen these kids grow up and pay more as they do. Now we are cutting their children’s hair.

    • RShaw

      Funny thing is, I’m a naturally quiet person. It’s completely not true that hairstylists just care about hair – most seem to get uncomfortable if you don’t gab. I’ve been told some pretty crazy things by hairstylists. And I’ve had trims that really were just trims, so much so, the hairstylist looked for more things to do, like extra blow-drying. And what another comment says about conservative hairstylists not following the photo you bring in: completely true. Oh, and not everyone’s hair type / face type is meant for layers. I’d look like I didn’t have hair if I cut it all into layers.

    • Ephizy

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    • Guest

      That one about men telling you everything because the wives don’t listen? Yeah, blame it all on the wife, just like the mistresses do. So that one’s a load of crap. Men talk while they’re in the chair for the same reasons women do. It’s just talk.

      • Lea Hartline

        As hairstylist let me say you are EXACTLY right. They don’t have some secret story telling gab session with us. They just talk.