We’ve all been there: sat in the stylist’s chair being shown your hair at the end of an appointment, a smile plastered across your face while secretly loathing your new look.
Truly, there is nothing worse than a disappointing trip to the salon. There have been some appointments that made me hate my hair for months on end – too many layers, unmanageable extensions, highlights more orange than SunnyD. Luckily, though, I’ve learnt that most unsatisfying salon situations can – pretty much like most things in life – be prevented with a little preparation, speaking up about what you want, and listening to advice. Since doing this, I’ve had some of the best hair days of my life.
I spoke to the hair experts to lay out the steps to a successful salon visit…
Always bring visuals
Thinking about a colour change or a new cut? The moment you book your appointment or consultation, start to compile pictures on your phone or tablet to bring with you – this is so your stylist or colourist can get a clear idea of what you want.
“Sometimes things can get slightly lost in translation between the hairdresser and the client,” says Barry Maddocks, UK creative director at Haringtons salons. “So if clients are wanting to try something different, I always encourage them to bring in photo references as it can really help both of us to visualise the final look.”
Who knows best?
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting excited about a new style, only to be told it probably won’t work for your hair. If this happens, my colourist or stylist always explains why, and ultimately we reach a conclusion I’m way happier with. While it is YOUR appointment, it’s always a good idea to take heed if your hairdresser has genuine concerns about creating the look.
“Stylists have professional experience, and they will know what will suit your skin tone and hair type, so it is good to be open minded about their advice,” says Sophie Perfect, creative colourist at GFC Hairdressing. “That being said, it is absolutely always up to you to make the final decision and your hairdresser should respect that.”
Never skip a patch test
Yes, squeezing in an extra visit to the salon might seem like a nuisance, but patch testing is vital before colour appointments. Allergic reactions are sure to be up there with the worst hair days ever, and the bad news is that they can develop at any time of your life.
“It is in your interest to have a patch test even if you have never reacted to colour products before,” says award-winning hairdresser and salon owner Tim Scott-Wright. “Salons have to carry out a skin test on every new client and clients that haven’t had a colour for a period of time – usually around 6 months.”
If you want to minimise the number of trips to the salon, ask to tie in your patch test with your colour consultation.
To wash or not to wash?
Because a head massage at the basin is my favourite part of any salon trip, I tend to avoid washing my hair before my visit. But according to experts, whether or not you wash beforehand won’t affect your outcome most of the time. If you DO need to arrive with either freshly-shampooed or second-day hair, your hairdresser should let you know beforehand.
“The only time I ask clients not to wash their hair before the appointment is when they are coming in for a scalp bleach, as this can make the scalp more sensitive,” advises Tim.
Take product advice
With post-appointment hair care, take the advice from your hairdresser. They know the ins and outs of your new ‘do, the styling products needed to achieve the look you left with, and the care required to keep your colour looking its best.
“For hairdressers, retail isn’t about the hard sell, it’s about recommending the best professional products to ensure your colour lasts,” says Robert Eaton, current British Hairdresser of the Year. “
You've spent a lot of money on your appointment, so my job is to advise the right products to ensure longevity. Plus, buying direct from the salon means you are supporting a local high street business.”
Speak up in the chair
Being confronted with that double mirror and an expectant grin from your stylist as they show you the finished look can be nerve-wracking, but if you aren’t pleased with something let your hairdresser know.
“Always speak up if you’re not happy with your hair. We would much rather rectify the situation there and then than have you leave and feel disappointed,” says Tim.
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