How to communicate with your stylist

The first thing I was taught on my first day of beauty school was that the consultation is the most important part of any hair service. A stylist may perform the most perfect cut, color, or style, but if it is not what the client had in mind, then it is all for nothing.

In order to get the hairstyle you want, it is important to be able to communicate effectively with your stylist. What do I mean by communicating effectively? Well, many communication errors occur because terminology can differ from stylist to stylist, from location to location. For instance, some hairstyles go by different names in different geographical areas. Adding to the confusion is the fact that certain terms have different meanings to different people. Layering is one term that is often misused by customers. Others include tapering and texturizing. A client may ask for a layered haircut, when really she is asking for a graduated haircut. The terminology used by stylists and customers are not always the same.

The best way to avoid any confusion is by bringing a picture to the salon of the hairstyle you want. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and can mean the difference between leaving the salon happy and leaving the salon angry.

When looking for pictures, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First, make sure that the model in the picture has the same texture of hair that you do. A pixie cut, for example, will look completely different on someone whose hair is naturally thick and wavy compared to someone whose hair is fine and straight. It also helps to find more than one picture of the hairstyle you want. If a picture only shows a style from the front, the stylist will have to guess how the back is styled or cut. Find pictures that will show the style from every different angle.

Finally, perhaps the most important tip is to know the length of an inch. Every day in every salon across the country, clients leave unhappy because they feel that the stylist has either cut the hair too short or not short enough.

I hate to admit it, but in this case it is the customer who is usually wrong, not the stylist. Sorry, but it's the truth. Combs used by stylists are actually marked like a ruler, showing exactly how long an inch really is. A standard hairstyling comb is 7 inches long. Combs have two types of teeth, wide-spaced and narrow-spaced. One inch is equal to 10 wide-spaced teeth of a comb and 20 narrow-spaced teeth of a comb. Every licensed stylist knows these things, meaning that the stylist has many different ways to determine length at their disposal. When you ask a stylist to take off two inches, he or she knows exactly how much two inches is, while you, on the other hand, are merely making a guess.