Tip No. 1: Pick the right stylist for you. If you have curly hair, for example, find someone who specializes in super-curly cuts. Curly hair is tricky to cut so it's best to call ahead to a large salon and ask for their specialist. Keep in mind that a stylist WITH curly hair will know exactly where you're coming from. The same goes for getting your brown hair colored red (ask for someone who does lots of new redheads), getting your boring hair cut 'funky' and getting a perm (you want someone who does a lot of them).
Tip No. 2: Do your homework Nothing annoys a stylist more than when someone sits down in their chair and tries to explain the cut they want without a picture. (Yes, I can be accused of doing this on my last haircut. Even beauty editors never learn). Imagine if someone said, "I want to look like Cameron Diaz." Cameron Diaz blonde or brunette? Cameron circa 2001 or 2005? And what does she look like these days anyway? Bring a picture or 2 or 3. And make sure the look will suit you.
Tip No. 3: Never say, 'Do whatever you want.' The beauty editor of 'O' magazine tells of the time a world-renowned hairstylist offered to do her hair and she let him do whatever he wanted since the cut was free. Oops. Big mistake. The lesson in this is that it's rarely a good idea to give your hair completely over to a stylist. After all, you don't want to be the practice mannequin for a new look the stylist is dying to try out. Do you?
Tip No. 4: When talking length, show with your hands. One of the most common disappointments I hear about from those with 'Hair Horror Stories,' is the 'I Told Her Three Inches and She Lopped Off Eight' stories. A stylist once taught me a great trick, never say you want 3 inches off, actually take your hand and karate chop it right where you want her/him to go. And feel free to say, 'No higher, please.' My advice: Keep your hand there and have the stylist stand back and soak in just where you want your hair cut to.
Tip No. 5: Schedule in 10 minutes for a consultation. If you're doing your own version of 'Extreme Makeover' and have plans to drastically realign your looks, for heaven's sake do plan a good 10-15 minute consultation with the colorist and stylist. They need to see what your hair looks like dry and styled as you typically style it. This tells them a lot: How much time you really put into your hair each day, how your hair dries and how healthy your ends are.
Tip No. 6: Listen to your stylist. If the woman in your picture has ash blonde hair and you'd make a much better butter blonde, chances you won't know this, but your stylist will. Be sure and ask questions: 'What type of color best suits me?' 'Do you think my hair can look like this picture of Cameron circa 2001?' 'How long will this haircut take me to style in the morning?' And if your stylist says, 'No, I'm sorry, but there's no way I can make you look like Cameron circa 2001,' you'd better listen, because chances are you won't.
Tip No. 7: Be honest with your stylist. Yes, you'd love your stylist to think you'll love your new hairstyle enough to baby it every morning with 10 products, 20 minutes drying time and 15 minutes styling time. However, the truth is, if your morning routine for the past 20 years includes a quick wash followed by a towel dry and ending with a soppy wet ponytail, you'd better tell you're stylist so or you'll end up with a fancy, layered, curling ironed and hairsprayed 'do that takes hours to replicate. Trust me, I've been there.
Tip No. 8: Tip appropriately or beware the bad haircut next time. Proper tip is 15% for your stylist and $5 for the person who washes your hair.
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