Often, it's intimidating to sit in that salon chair, surrounded my glossy furniture and clients who seem fancier than you. So, you decide to be agreeable… and then wind up with a cut you're unhappy with. The bottom line is, stylists want you to like your hair. So, it's important to ask them questions throughout the process. That way, you're both on the same page once it's all said, done, and cut.
I reached out to two experts, a stylist from NYC and another who lives in L.A. to get every last piece of information you should be sharing with your hairstylist during an appointment. The questions range from product choices to tools and maintenance. Keep reading to find nine questions your stylist wishes you would ask.
1. What Is the Overall Health of My Hair and Scalp?
"On a scale of 1 to 5, have your stylist rate your hair and scalp," suggests Dana Caschetta, a New York-based stylist. "This gives your stylist a comfortable way to broach the subject of hair health with you, a topic that may not be something you want to hear, but rather something you need to hear. Your stylist can also recommend treatments and products to help get your hair back in shape if it's in poor condition. It can also help you get to the root of any problems (pun intended)." Caschetta also stresses that healthy hair needs a healthy scalp environment, so it's important to take care of dryness or itchiness, as well as greasiness. Maintaining a healthy scalp is just as important as treating dry hair. For Caschetta's clients, she also recommends a leave-in treatment, which restores the amino acids of the hair. For dry, itchy scalp your stylist may recommend a repairing treatment to deep condition and get rid of build-up.
2. How Can We Customize My Haircut to Best Suit My Face Shape?
Tresemmé's global hairstylist (and a favorite among Olivia Culpo, the Kardashians, and Shay Mitchell), Justine Marjan, notes, "It's easy to bring in a bunch of photos of supermodels and ask for their hairstyles, but if they don't have similar facial features as you, you won't leave happy. An experienced stylist will be able to advise on how you can adjust your dream hairstyle to suit your features best, and if you go to someone you trust, listen to their opinion. If you have a small forward, skip bangs. If you have defined cheekbones, try face-framing layers. If your lips are juicy, ask for a layer that falls right around there. A great stylist will be able to advise about what will suit you best and bring out your best features."
"Asking for customization is key," Caschetta agrees. "What looks good on Beyoncé may not look good on you. First things first, cover up the face in the photo, do you still like the hair? Sometimes an image of a celebrity or model looks great because of who's wearing it, but first, ask yourself if you truly like the cut on its own. A lot of images that clients bring in are looks done in a photo shoot. There was a lot of time and prepping to make that hair look a certain way and you should be aware of this because if your lifestyle doesn't call for enough time to style this look daily, maybe you should reconsider."
3. Which Tones Look Best With My Eye Color?
"I like to look a little further into my client's eye color—sometimes I find the tiniest speck of yellow or deep blue within the iris," says Caschetta. "Then, I can add some complementary tones to make your eyes pop. Dark brown eyes look great with warm chestnut tones and light warm brown eyes can look great with beige, caramel tones."
4. What Hair Color Complements My Skin Tone Best for This Season?
"Our skin tones change from season to season—so, be mindful of the upcoming season and if your skin will warm up," recommends Caschetta. "Sun-kissed skin can usually carry a deeper, darker color than pale skin (it tends to wash lighter colors out)."
5. How Often Should I Be Shampooing?
"Most people know their stylist doesn't recommend shampooing every day, but do you know how long you can actually go without washing your hair? Those with coarse hair can go a few extra days than someone with fine hair, so, be sure to get a professional recommendation," Caschetta says. "This also comes back to any scalp issues you may be having. If you're experiencing an oily scalp or dry, itchy flakes, it could be caused by over washing (or not frequently enough) for your hair type. Get some answers on what works best for you and if you need to purchase a dry shampoo to help fight oil, your stylist can make a recommendation."
6. What Shampoo and Conditioner Are You Using?
"It's important to know what is being used on your hair when you're at the salon," asserts Caschetta. "Many shampoos and conditioners have water as their base. Water may dilute the good ingredients in a product and dry out your scalp. Instead, I like to use Eufora shampoos and conditioners, which are based in pharmaceutical-grade aloe, delivering moisture and healing properties to the hair and scalp without diluting other ingredients."
Marjan agrees, adding that it's important to use the right products for your hair type. "Most people use the wrong shampoo and conditioner for their hair type, so their hair never reaches its potential or you're stuck wondering why your hair never looks the way you want. Your hair type is different from roots, mid-lengths, and ends and you may need to adjust the shampoo and conditioner you are using on different areas of the hair. For example, if you have an oily scalp but dry or damaged ends, you will want to use a clarifying or pH balancing shampoo on the roots (like Christophe Robin Purifying Shampoo, $38) and an ultra-moisturizing or smoothing shampoo on the ends (like Ouai Repair Shampoo, $28). This hair type may want to avoid conditioner on the roots and just focus a very hydrating conditioner on the ends like Tresemmé Repair & Protect 7 Mask ($5). The point is, be aware of your hair type at the root, mid-length, and ends, and adjust your shampoo and conditioner accordingly."
7. What Is Your Professional Recommendation for Home Care?
"It's disheartening to leave the salon with your dream hair only to feel defeated after your first wash," says Marjan. "Pay attention to how your stylist styles your hair post-cut, and ask questions about replicating the look at home. Sometimes, as a hairstylist, I have really easy, realistic tips I can give my clients about styling their hair that are less labor-intensive than what I do but offer quicker, and achievable results."
"Taking care of your style or hair color at home is crucial to the longevity and overall maintenance of your look," explains Caschetta. "Your hairstylist isn't just trying to sell you product, they are trying to help you maintain your look until your next appointment. We would hate for you to love your hair the day you get it done and then not be able to manage it once you leave the chair. Plus, some hair needs be put on a particular regimen for several weeks to see improvement, like strengthening and rebuilding breakage and split ends. Being specific with an at-home regimen can make all the difference."
8. What Styling Tools Will I Need to Duplicate This Look?
"Products are important, but so are tools," says Caschetta. "Be sure to ask about the size of the round brush or the type of bristles you should use for your hair type. The larger the round brush, the smoother your hair will turn out. The smaller the round brush, the more movement and body you will get. Don't forget to ask about hot tools too—curling irons, wands, and flatirons may have been used in the salon and perhaps may be needed to make styling a bit easier at home. Your stylist will be happy to give you tips and tricks that are easy to execute."
9. When Should I Schedule My Next Appointment to Maintain This Look?
"Knowing ahead of time how frequently you will need to be back at the salon is important. Your look should be conducive to your lifestyle, schedule, and budget. Opening the discussion about how often you want to come in and the time you have at home to style will allow your stylist to make adjustments to your color and haircut to work within your needs. If I have a guest with a crazy work schedule or a guest who's a new mom, I suggest a rooted balayage instead of highlights (where they will see the line of demarcation in a couple of weeks). The same goes for a short haircut. If someone doesn't have the time to be back in the salon every three to four weeks to maintains the shape, I recommend something a little longer and more forgiving while it grows out."
Next up: What I learned when I didn't cut my hair for two years.