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9 Etiquette Tips To Help You Leave The Salon Happy, From Stylists

Hannah Frye
Author:
March 19, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Profile of a Woman With Cropped Hair
Image by Lumina / Stocksy
March 19, 2024
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If you find yourself with a less-than-desirable haircut, let me first extend my sympathies. There's nothing quite as disheartening as forcing a smile and uttering, "I love it!!" while internally grappling with the impending DIY repair dilemma that awaits you at home.

While I've come to regard a subpar haircut (or an unfortunate coloring mishap, which falls into the same category) as a sort of rite of passage, it's a trial that can often be avoided with some foresight. Occasionally, a stylist might misinterpret your wishes and miss the mark, but there are proactive steps you can take to increase your chances of leaving the salon genuinely satisfied.

In the spirit of empowering you to achieve not just a good haircut, but also fostering the best salon etiquette, I've gathered a selection of insights from hair professionals. By embracing these tips, you'll be well-equipped to pursue the hair of your dreams with confidence and ease.

1.

Clean hair lends to a clean hair color application

“I always encourage my clients to come in with hair that has been washed 24-48 hours prior to their appointment,” says Adrienne Dara Stephenson, hair educator and design specialist.

“Why not wash the same day? Because we want to have the barrier of our natural oils to support our scalp during the color service,” she explains. 

However, you don’t want your hair to be excessively dirty or laden with dry shampoo, as this can hinder the color penetration. It's all about finding the right balance.

Editor's note

If you have textured strands (wavy, curly, coily), consider wearing your hair styled as you typically do. If you usually wear your hair in its natural state, arrive with your texture proudly displayed. This way, the stylist can tailor the cut to complement your preferred style and have the necessary flexibility.
2.

If you’re ready to blend your gray, do your part at home

“Whenever I have a client seeking gray blending, it is crucial that they have the right products at home to upkeep and elongate the color,” Stephenson says. She notes that clients with gray hair (or those transitioning to a gray hue) often aim to restore vibrancy to their strands.

To achieve this, opt for sulfate-free products that prioritize smoothing and hydration. Stephenson frequently recommends the Redken Acidic Color Gloss line which helps to reinstate luster and boost shine. Alternatively, you can explore the L’Oreal Ever Pure Silver Care line. If delaying the onset of gray is your goal, consider the Arey Shower Duo.

Maintaining your color in pristine condition, whether you're transitioning to gray or not, will enable you to extend the time between salon appointments, ultimately saving you both time and money.

3.

Communicate your wants, but be open minded

“As a stylist, I don't believe it's the responsibility of my clients to have the perfect words or know exactly what to say,” says Rob Peetoom Stylist and Artistic Director, Adriana Papaleo

“Rather, it's in the openness of the consultation that we come together to create their look,” she adds. There's no need to feel apprehensive if you're not well-versed in hair terminology, whether it's about color or cuts. The key is to engage in a conversation with your stylist without feeling rushed.

You might even consider informing your stylist in advance that you'd like to discuss your ideas thoroughly, allowing them to schedule an extra half-hour for both of you to ensure you're on the same page before proceeding.

4.

Use photos to your advantage, and find realistic comparisons

We all know bringing a photo inspiration to your appointment is a good idea, but not just any photo will do. “Try to find images of hair that is similar to yours—or to how you plan to style it if it's vastly different from your natural texture,” Papaleo says. Otherwise, you may end up disappointed when your style looks different from the photo for causes nobody can control—thickness, hair type, volume, etc. 

What’s more, “It's just as valuable to show images of what you don’t like as it is to show photos of what you hope to achieve,” she says. So if you can’t find the perfect inspiration photo, knowing what you want to avoid will help you and your stylist craft a cut or color you’ll love.

Editor's note

As someone who’s had black, brunette, blonde, and hair many shades in between, I can’t stress enough understanding your skin’s undertones. If you have cool undertones, going with a cooler color will compliment your skin. If the undertones don’t match your skin, it can look quite off (in my experience). Be sure to communicate this to your stylist and keep it in mind when looking for your next dream shade. Here, find out what your undertone is. 
5.

Respect your expert's time

“We understand that life happens, but always do your best to respect your stylist's time and be on time for your appointment,” Papaelo says. 

“Clients don't always realize we are booked back to back all day, often without breaks,” so if you show up half an hour late, they may be rushed to finish your style so they don’t take off time from the next client. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist how long the appointment will take, and even add half an hour or so of wiggle room, so you avoid having to rush to your next errand and they can take their time to chat through the plan ahead of the cut or color. 

Editor's note

I have quite thick hair, and it generally takes about 30 minutes to blow dry from start to finish. As a best practice, I tell my stylists this ahead of time and also try to show up a bit early if I can. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve thanked me for giving them a warning, and it’s helped me keep the rest of my day on time as well. 
6.

If you’re going to order food, ask your stylist first

“We know that hair appointments can last for hours and people will get hungry if they are at the salon for over four hours and might want to order lunch or a snack,” says stylist and founder of The Second Floor Salon Rogerio Cavalcante

“However, don't order food without asking your stylists if it's okay first and be mindful of what you are ordering… Some foods have a really strong smell, and it can impact the atmosphere at the salon, making it not so pleasant for other clients,” he explains. 

Bonus points: If you’re ordering a snack or coffee, consider asking your stylist if they’d like anything. You’ve both been there for a few hours, them putting in some work, so it’s worth asking.

7.

If you must talk on the phone, keep it short and sweet

“Don’t speak loud on the phone inside the salon,[and] keep your inside voice,” Cavalcante says. If you must take a call, consider stepping out for a moment (but not for too long!) or just wait until your appointment is over if it’s not an urgent matter. 

For some people, those few hours in the salon could be their only quiet and personal time of the day—so don’t ruin it by bickering with a friend and bringing down the good vibes. 

8.

When asked to stay still, take it seriously

Cavalcante says cutting the hair is a delicate task (coming from a dry-cut expert), and it’s immensely helpful if you can sit still. This won’t only help them, but also give you a better cut in the end, especially if they’re working on balancing layers or perfecting the bangs. 

Of course, your stylist will remind you to stay still or sit up straight, but it’s best if you can take care of that directive so they can focus on the cut. 

9.

Be kind to the assistants—they’re putting in work, too

This should go without saying, but as a reminder, “Nothing is worse than someone who mistreats the assistants,” Cavalcante says.

 “I can say for myself that if it wasn't for the support and help, I get from them I would not be able to provide an excellent service,” he says, and disrespecting them in any way (bossing them around, ignoring them entirely, or unkindly critiquing them) will send a strong message to your stylist, and not a good one at that.

A final suggestion: Find a stylist with evidenced skills

If you don’t have a stylist you love yet, look for one that has skills similar to what you are looking for. Want to go blonde? Plenty of experts specialize in that area. Craving micro bangs? Look for an expert who has documented proof they are a master of this style. Whether it’s on social media or their website, photos tend to be aplenty—so use them to your advantage. It’s like looking for a partner—shared interests are a plus.

The takeaway

Remember that clear communication, mutual respect, and proper preparation are key elements in achieving the hairstyle of your dreams while fostering a positive salon experience for both you and your stylist. Embrace these insights, and you'll not only leave the salon satisfied but also contribute to a harmonious and enjoyable atmosphere for all. Ready to head to the salon? Here, three signs your trim is due.

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