Things Your Stylist Wants You to Know (But is Probably Too Polite to Tell You)

Of all the things we do on a regular basis, dressing and grooming ourselves has some of the most fleeting results. Cringing at past style choices is almost a coming-of-age rite. Still, that doesn’t stop us. The fun of fashion today is experimenting with various dyes, trims, haircuts, brow shapes and relaxing treatments. Skincare and nail art have become more than just an off-shoot of the beauty industry, they’ve become a way to define your current style and a way to look and feel healthy. Women in the United States spend nearly $12,000 a year on salon services and beauty products, so it would do us well to sit down and talk about a few things, things, particularly speaking, that have to do with your hours logged in the cosmetologist’s chair.

That’s correct. We’re having this discussion. As someone who’s had experience on both sides of the counter, I’ll be your guide and mediator into today’s Adventures in Salon Services. Here, a few tips on the best way to make your next visit to the salon/spa/nail salon an enjoyable one:

Certain processes take a long time and aren’t for everyone. If you’ve box-dyed your hair dark brown 17 times in between visits, going platinum blonde probably won’t happen overnight without extensive damage and traumatic breakage. Perms take time as well, and if you highlight your hair it could be too weak to withstand the solution. Schedule a free consultation if you’re unsure.

If you tell a stylist to “do whatever they think looks good,” you’re going to get just that. If you’re blonde and you don’t have an idea as to what you want, know that your stylist could be coloring your locks a lovely warm brunette, if they feel that would suit you best. If that’s something you can’t stand the thought of, tell them. Don’t feel bad saying, “I was kind of hoping to still stay more in the ‘blonde’ range. Can you maybe show me a few color swatches?” It’s your hair, after all. Talk it over with them until you can figure out something that would really get you amped up and then let them do their thing.

When picking a new hairstyle, remember that celebrities’ hair is not the same as yours. If I could have it my way, I’d have a mane of honey-blonde waves like Jennifer Aniston or an adorably gutsy pixie like my beloved Emma Watson. As a deep-brunette and someone with a round face, I know that I can lighten all I want and chop my hair as short as it will go, but it will never look the same on me as it does on those fabulous ladies. If you see a photo you really love, take a few days to think about how you’d look with that same style and then decide if it would really look the way you want it to or if you just really, really love Zooey Deschanel.

– We know how much you love to chat with us, and we absolutely adore that you fill us in on the silly, sad, and juicy details of your life because we want to know who you really are as a person and not just as another head in the chair. Still, it’s important to remember that there are some things that are better kept out of the salon and in a personal space. When you chat, keep in mind that there are certain topics that will always be a little bit inappropriate for a public domain, including religious arguments, personal family matters and tidbits from your sex life (I’m not kidding: all of these are conversations I’ve been privy to).

If you have a rash or a scab on your scalp, a weird looking patch on your back or face, or a suspicious looking growth on your toenails… reschedule. Please. That is definitely something. It’s not fun to have to sit through a shampoo or a color when your head feels like it’s on fire, and any sort of fungus is easily spread through contact with a pedicure station. We really do want to see you, but, for your own safety and the safety of others, swap out the nail/hair/waxing/facial/massage appointment for a doctor’s appointment. Your health is more important than a beauty service any day.

If you need to cancel an appointment last minute, remember that, depending on the stylist’s books and their weekly schedule, they may be fully booked already and getting a spot with them that same week may be impossible. Try not to get upset with your normal stylist for not being able to squeeze you in. As a side-note, asking your stylist to work extra hours and come in on their day off specifically for you is never a good way to convince someone to help you… trust me.

Try not to be late. As simple as this sounds, it is one of a stylist’s biggest nightmares. When they’re limited on time because you really needed that extra afternoon latte from Starbucks, it makes everyone involved grumpy. You’ll feel rushed and won’t get the extra attention you deserve and the stylist will have to hurry through a service that would normally take an extra 15 minutes. Things happen and incidents come up. Five minutes here or there won’t cause a coronary, but try to keep your stylist in the loop; call the salon or spa and let your service provider know that you’re running behind. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, know that you may need to reschedule. Service providers simply cannot run over into another person’s appointment because the previous client showed up at 3:45 instead of 3:15. If something happens that throws off your schedule, take a deep breath and assess the situation. Reschedule if needed and then go ahead and grab that double-shot latte… and a cupcake while you’re at it, you courageous thing.

Don’t be rude to the person at the desk. Sure, there are some lousy customer service reps out there and I’ve talked with a good handful of them in my time, but if the person over the phone or at the front desk is genuinely trying to help and be polite, you should do the same. It’s perfectly okay to be upset about something. Yelling obscenities in someone’s ear is not.

In spite of everything, there are always bad apples. On occasion, you’ll be faced with a service provider who actually did a less-than-desirable job or one who is really and truly awful to their clients. Speak up. Calmly tell the manager that you were unhappy with what transpired and, more often than not, they’ll help rectify the situation and let you come in free of charge to correct any mistakes that were made.

To all of the stylists, nail techs, estheticians and massage therapists out there, what kinds of advice would you give to your clients? As for the rest of you lovelies, is there anything that you would want to ask or tell your service provider if you had the chance?

Featured image via Shutterstock

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