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.

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    Your Comments

    • Raven

      Um… wow! How offensive!

    • Anonymous

      If hairdressers expect their clients to be 5 minutes early, then they need to show their clients the same courtesy.. At my most recent appointment with a new stylist, I was on time, she kept me waiting 30 minutes before coming out to get me, no apology, no explanation.. I would have walked out had I not needed a haircut so badly. In regard to tips, it is not your client’s fault that you depend on them to make ends meet. If you earn a tip, you will receive one. If you do a bad job, I am not going to leave a tip, it is not a given. No where else am I told that tipping 15% 20% of the bill is mandatory, certainly not in restaurants. I would advise you to find employment that pays a salary which is not tip dependent instead of thinking that your clients are going to subsidize you if your income falls short. (refer to #15). We work and have families to support as well and already pay plenty for your services. Respect works both ways.

    • kukla

      Wow… all of this could have been communicated with a lot less snark and attitude. I wouldn’t go to your salon if it was free.

      • Lynda Carol Webster

        Totally agree with you the attitude of the person
        Who wrote this would put everyone off hairdressers for good which is a shame cause I’m sure there are some good ones who don’t think this way,this is extremely unprofessional way to think of people who are paying you their hard earned wages for a hair cut or whatever

    • Anonymous

      #5 – You don’t automatically deserve a tip, you need to earn it. I just had an experience as a new client in a salon that kept me waiting for 30 minutes (I was on time, the stylist wasn’t). Then, the whole time, everything was my fault because I didn’t understand haircutting terminology. She acted as if it were my fault that I needed a haircut and was doing me some big time favor because she did her job. I was happy with the cut, so I did leave a tip, but doubt if I’ll return to that salon. I don’t tip in a restaurant if the service is bad, and if you depend on tips for a large portion of your income, that is not my fault. Find a job that pays a living wage and doesn’t depend on tips for you to make ends meet or provide better service, all the time.

    • lexythestylist

      I have to admit, I’m a hairstylist myself and I was a bit appalled by the harsh nature of this slideshow. I’m interested in my client’s personal lives, because the more I know about the client, the better I am at customizing their look. I am slightly offended that this article lumps all stylists together in one small category, and I really don’t agree with a good portion of this stuff.

    • John

      Hairstylist just don’t care what kind of style you asked them. All they do is how they like it to be.

      and This article just makes them look sooo good, which they’re NOT!!

    • Nicole Natale

      The post about what stylists don’t like: here is my answer: get another occupation. I have followed all the rules that you dictated here and still received bad cuts (where are your minds at)? If I say “half an inch” that means literally ‘half an inch’. AND DON’T TELL US WHAT YOU THINK WOULD LOOK GOOD ON OUR HEADS. just follow directions!!

    • Daniela

      I’m sorry, but this sounded more like a rant than a list of helpful tips.

    • Mimsy6

      If you don’t want to hear about my life, then why should I want to make you smile by phoning and telling you that you did a great job. This person casts hairdressers in a negative light.

      • Mimsy6

        26. made me feel sick.

    • humming_bird

      Wow, I already have a difficult time getting my hair done because I usually dont like it right afterwards. This article reflects really badly on the hairdressing world. If I was a beautician I would be furious that you printed an article like this!