How to ask for what you want at the hairdresser

The results of my latest salon visits

How do you describe a haircut or hair colour to your hairdresser?

If I say textured bob do you think of Marion Cotillard or Victoria Beckham? How dark is chestnut brown? When you say honey blonde is your hairdresser thinking the same colour?

As part of Hair Romance’s Salon Advice series, I want to give you the tools to navigate the salon and to have fun while you’re there. There’s no need to be afraid of the hairdresser. I love going to the salon and here are my tips to explain to your hairdresser what you want to do with your hair.

Bring a picture with you

Bring a picture with you. In fact, take several pictures of hairstyles you like to the salon. Save them on your phone or print them and put them in your bag. Even if you’re referring to a celebrity, don’t expect that you and your hairdresser have the same image in mind. Celebrities are always changing their hair. You might say you want Drew Barrymore’s balayage but she’s been rocking that look for years. Which version are you thinking of? Taking a picture means you can make sure you and your hairdresser are on the same page.

Talk about why you like the picture with your hairdresser

Talk about why you like the picture with your hairdresser. You may like the length of a style but prefer less layers. You may have chosen that photo as the hair colour is perfect even though you hate the haircut. Explain to your hairdresser, “I like this picture because… and then this haircut because…but with this fringe…” etc. Be clear about what you like.

Listen to your hairdresser

Listen to your hairdresser. Your hairdresser is a trained professional and can work with your hair to give you a fantastic haircut. Once they know what you like, they can customise a style to suit your hair type. You may love that fringe, but your hairdresser can see that cowlick on your hairline and they know your hair will never sit that way. Have a conversation with your hairdresser and if you trust them take their advice.

The key to a great result is all in the consultation

The key to a great result is all in the consultation. Be clear with what you want and have a real conversation with your stylist as to how you can achieve that result in your hair. There will be compromises but if your stylist explains why you can be assured of a great style that will suit your hair.

When I go to the hairdresser I often let them decide what to do with my hair and I love the surprise result. This is because I trust my stylist and I know they do a fantastic job.

If you’re not comfortable with the consultation don’t proceed with the haircut. The best result will be because of the expectations at the start. Talk to your stylist and have fun with your hair.

Do you have trouble explaining what you want to your hairdresser? Or are you happy every time you leave the salon?

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  1. On Stage Hair Design says

    This is great advice! I see too many people are aren't happy with their hair when they leave my salon because of the communication during the consultation.

    I always tell people to bring a picture and make sure it's a two-way street when talking to the stylist.

  2. Aurelie D. says

    great advice, and very helpful. bringing a picture is important, but so is being comfortable talking to your stylist.

  3. Hair Romance says

    @On Stage Hair Design – Thank you! I agree, communication is key to a happy result for both the stylist and the client.

    @Aurelie D. – so true, you should feel comfortable discussing your idea with your stylist. If you don't comfortable it may not be the right salon for you.

  4. ~M says

    Great ideas! I have never brought a picture to my stylist, but its seems like an awesome idea, and I will defiantly start bringing pictures to my hair appointments!

  5. nicola lynde. says

    Great advice. I think this is a great example of something in life where you need to be clear and realistic about your expectations. I spent years getting less than satisfactory results and never understood that it was inability to be clear, and express concern when my expectations weren't met.

  6. Bun Bun Makeup Tips says

    Oh yea, I think it's important to let your hairstylist understand what you want, and also hear his advice. A good hairstylist will tell you honestly what works for you and what wouldn't.

  7. Megan says

    Good advice, and what a timely post for me! I am studying in Buenos Aires and am going for a haircut tomorrow. Right now looking up "hair words" to make sure I can describe what I want in Spanish…eek!

  8. Hair Romance says

    @~M – a picture says a thousand words! It's so much easier to explain what you mean with a photo.

    @nicola lynda – great comment, it really is about beaing clear and realistic about what your hair does. Hope you've found a great stylist now?

    @Bun Bun Makeup Tips – exactly! But sometimes it's hard to hear your hair won't do what you want

    @Megan – How fab to be in Buenos Aires! Definitely take lots of pictures, even take an old photo of yourself with a haircut you liked before so they can see what you mean. Good luck!

  9. Katrina from The Block says

    Good advice! My bestie is a hairdresser so I am lucky – she tells me what I need to have haha!

  10. Elly Hanson says

    Great advice to give! We hairdressers are so creative that we can get a little excited sometimes … pictures couldnt get any clearer- and with everyone owning a smart phone these days , it just makes it easier and more fun! dont be shy and let us help you get the most from your hairstyle !! keep up the great blogs Hair Romance – love your work ! xxx

  11. Hair Romance says

    @Elly Hanson – thanks for commenting! The best hairdressers are creative and clients should relish that! Using pictures is the best way to make sure you're talking the same language.

  12. says

    Great advice. I’m so intimidated by hairdressers. I have no idea why exactly. And I’m always scared to bring in pics of hair that I like. I feel like they will think I mean “Make me look like her” when “her” is a million-dollar-celebrity with a trainer and perfect locks while I am a $5 Mama with hair that doesn’t do what I want, and shoulders that refuse to go above my head (at the moment) and have trouble with styling, and with confidence.
    Melissa Mitchell recently posted..The countownMy Profile

    • Hair Romance says

      Don’t worry about that Melissa! Trust me when I say hairdressers want to make you look beautiful. Pictures do say 1000 words and help you explain a shape or colour you like clearly. Then your hairdresser can customise it to suit you x

  13. haleh nayeri says

    my hair now its dark porpole i have lot of withe hair to bout i want use 6/1 ash color and slowly come to light color i dont want use blich wath can i do?

    • Hair Romance says

      To lighten your hair you do need to use a lightener. Take some photos into the salon and consult with your stylist to work out a way to slowly change to the colour you want.

  14. Vicky says

    My trouble is that not only do I have a love/hate relationship with my hair, but I have no idea what all the style “lingo” means. I want my hair short and as thinned out as possible, because my hair is crazy-thick and stubborn, and I just want to deal with it as little as possible. How do I “translate” that to a stylist? Every time I try, they come back at me with questions that make no sense to me. I take pictures in and come out with hair that looks nothing like it. And I’ve tried several different stylists! Sigh.

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Vicki, it can be hard to make sense of all that hair-speak. I should put a glossary together! Making sure your stylist understands how you want to look after your hair will help. Or I would look for a recommendation from someone with similar hair to you. I often stop curly girls in the street to ask who cuts their hair. You can find the best recommendation from someone who has similar hair to you x

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