13 Things Hair Stylists Won’t Tell You

Hair salons share their secrets for saving money, getting a great hair cut, and more.

By Michelle Crouch
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine December 2013
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    The clients I dread the most are those who say things like “Do whatever you want” or “I’m pretty easy to work with."

    Nine times out of ten, it’s not true.



    We know you hate the word bleach, so we use words like lightener and decolorizer.

    But no matter how we prettify the language, if we’re lifting a dark color out of your hair, we’re using bleach.


    Yes, I keep notes about you on your client card, and they can get pretty personal

    I may note that you don’t tip well or that you talked loudly about how drunk you were last night. I may also write down that you’re going through a divorce or that you’re into tennis so I can remember to ask you about those things next time.



    After you’ve been late a few times, I ask our receptionist to say your appointment is at 2.

    But really it's 2:30.


    If there’s one rule to live by, it’s this: Don’t make your first appointment with me on a Saturday.

    That’s our busiest day, and I won’t be able to give you the time and attention you want and deserve.


    Find out whether your salon offers a discount if you get a cut and a color together, and ask for one if it doesn’t.

    Doing both together eliminates some steps and should save you about 20 percent.


    It’s fine to use Groupon or another social media site to save money on your hairstyling, but be wary of salons that offer deals all the time.

    That’s not a good sign.


    Thin hair doesn’t have to be worn short.

    I had a client who wore her super-thin hair short for years because she thought she had to. I finally talked her into growing it out into a stacked bob, and everyone now says she looks incredible.


    Always dry your hair completely before using a hot tool like a curling iron or a flat iron.

    If your hair still contains moisture, the iron will damage it.


    Sometimes when I don’t have a client’s color—either because we’re out of it or because I forgot to write it down the previous time—I don’t say anything and just mix something new.

    If you think I’m applying what you had before, you’re much less likely to complain.


    I know you’ve heard you shouldn’t wash your hair before getting an updo, because a little grit can help maintain the style, but please don’t show up with hair that’s greasy, tangled, or smelly.

    Wash it the night before, and don’t put any styling products in it. That way, we can start fresh and create our own texture.


    Every year after school starts, at least one mom brings in her daughter with hair down to her waist and tells us to give her a pixie cut.

    We know what’s going on: a lice infestation. But when we point out the nits and tell the mom we can’t do the cut, she always acts surprised and says, “I didn’t know.” We’re thinking, Yeah, right. To save the embarrassment for all involved, get the situation under control before your appointment.


    We don’t “wash” your hair—we “shampoo” it.

    When we’re trying to make you feel pampered, we can’t use the same word you use for doing dishes. 

    Sources: Hairstylists Dawn Trudden in Wellington, Florida;
    Ericka Sandstrom in Aurora, Illinois; Megan Moore in Salt
    Lake City, Utah, who blogs at thebeautysnoop.com; and
    Jenny Strebe in Scottsdale, Arizona, who blogs at theconfessionsofahairstylist.com.

    Your Comments

    • terririmmer

      As a former salon customer, I wish stylists wouldn’t get too personal. Some people don’t want you to pry. That’s why I stopped going because so many go to far with it. I went to a salon only recently on my birthday only because my mom was paying. I was so relieved the stylist asked no personal questions.

    • MNCosmetologist

      There are plenty of high end salons that do discounts for multiple services. All professional hair products are just as high quality as each other, every cosmetologist BY LAW has to have continuing eduction and it isn’t rude to ask for a discount. Most (99%) of stylist are more than happy to give you one (even at high end salons). Because most likely you will become a repeat customer and give a better tip. I hope I NEVER step foot in your salon “Salon Fringe” it sounds like you and your employees are uptight and money hungry.

    • luna

      I am so glad I’m loyal to my hairdresser so there’s no chance that I’d ever have to have whoever wrote this for my hairdresser. My current hairdresser is nothing like and does nothing like what this person wrote. I’m sure there are people out there who run their shop’s as previously mentioned in the post but that does certainly not mean all are so terrible.

    • Salon Fringe

      As a salon owner and stylist #5,6 & 7 are not true. #5 If your going to a high end salon your first appointment will have more time booked for it even if it is a Saturday. #6 If your going to a high end salon there are no muti service discount, you pay for the higher quality products, continued education and our artistic expertise and it’s just rude to ask us to cheapen our work so just don’t. #7 Good luck getting a quality service from any daily deals website, any business willing to discount their services by 40 – 50% and then pay the website 50% of that is sold really needs you in their establishment and there is a reason why, reasons most people wish they had never experienced. If it sounds to good it most likely is.