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Hair Talk

How NOT To Talk to Your Stylist

How NOT To Talk to Your Stylist

We asked a group of professional hairstylists: “What are some things you should NEVER say to a stylist?” Their answers are worth keeping in mind next time you visit the salon.

We’ve all been there before.

You walk into your favorite salon...eager for that style you’ve been fantasizing about…

...but when the stylist spins that chair around, you look in the mirror...and what you wanted is NOT what you got!

What on earth could have gone wrong?, you ask yourself.

Was it something I said?

If these are questions you’ve ever found yourself asking at the salon, don’t is at hand!

That’s because we asked a group of professional hairstylists a provocative question:

“What are some things you should NEVER say to a stylist?”

Their answers are well worth keeping in mind next time you visit the salon.


If there’s one thing our stylists agree on, it’s this:

Photos are a great way to show a professional what you’re looking for in a style.

“Stylists are visual artists, so seeing a photo of what you’re looking for is a great way to inspire them”

Even so, our expert stylists recommend tempering your vision for your hair with a little perspective.

For example, Mara Roszak, a celebrity stylist for TRESemmé, says clients too often get hung up on recreating their favorite star’s latest red-carpet look.

“The hairstyles you see in magazine photos involve hours of professional styling,” says Roszak, “which can make a cut look completely different.”1

According to international stylist and beauty entrepreneur Philip Pelusi, it’s also important to remember not every style is a great choice for everyone.

He says an honest stylist will tell you if a requested style does not suit your hair, face shape, or even lifestyle...but they’ll work with you to achieve your best possible results.2

In short, keeping your expectations realistic...for both your stylist and your hair...will go a long way to ensure you walk out of the salon with a stunning style.


Sometimes, choosing a new cut, color, or style for your hair can be terribly intimidating. There’s just so many options to choose from!

For that reason, you might be tempted to leave your new look entirely up to your stylist. After all, they’re the professionals. They know what to do. Right?

Not so fast, says Jon Reyman, founder of the celebrated online stylist training program Salon Pro RX.

Reyman says even if you’ve got the most acclaimed stylist in the world, you should never give up control of your style.

“There needs to be a conversation happening between you and your stylist,” says Reyman, who insists no stylist automatically deserves your trust.

“You have to earn trust,” he reminds his own stylists. “It comes with time and experience.”3

In other words, always remember:

The stylist is there to give you what you be prepared to let them know exactly what that is.


“Getting a haircut is about a lot more than just how short you want your stylist to go”

Even something as seemingly straightforward as a haircut requires proper explanation to your stylist.

That’s because pro stylists often have a different interpretation of hair-related terminology and information than you do.

That’s why, when explaining what you want out of a haircut, it’s best to avoid talking about “inches.”

“I have seen so much variance between one person’s ‘one inch’ and another,” says Aveda master creative director Michael Lendon.

“It’s much safer to indicate where you want your hair to fall when it’s dry.”4

Cheryl Fazio, master stylist for New York’s Paul Fox Salon, says your best bet is to simply use your hands to show your stylist where you want your hair to fall.

“This way you’re both on the same page visually.”5


Can you imagine saying this to a stylist who has failed to create exactly the look you’re after?

What about one of these harsh criticisms?

  • “Do you know what you’re doing with those scissors?”
  • “I want to talk to your manager!”
  • “This doesn’t look anything like the picture I showed you!”
  • ...or maybe the worst one of all: “That’s now how my OLD stylist did it!”6

These are just a few of the unhelpful ways our pro stylists have had clients let them know they’re unhappy.

Obviously, if your stylist is not delivering a satisfying look, you need to be able to let them know.

But according to Michael Dueñas, a celebrity stylist for Garnier, when you voice your concerns can have an impact on your comment’s benefits.

He recommends never stopping a stylist with complaints in the middle of their work on your hair.

“There’s usually a middle point where it looks like the cut or color is going south, but if you’re with a reputable stylist, wait till the end.”

Devin Toth, hairstylist with New York’s Salon SCK, says being specific is the key when expressing your concerns.

“If all you’re saying is that you dislike it, you aren’t giving your stylist any useful feedback to help you achieve your hair goals.”

And, of course, Dueñas says making yourself clear about your needs and desires from the start can prevent a lot of potential issues.

“If you aren’t honest with your stylist from the beginning,” he says, “your expectations will not be met.”7

Simply put, working well with your stylist is a lot like your other important relationships.

That means knowing what to say...and what not to say...can go a long way to making the relationship successful.

So keep this professional wisdom in mind…

...and you’ll be the client every stylist will be thrilled to have on their appointment calendar!

“Strong, clear communication will make your salon experience better for both you and your stylist!”



  1. Guglielmetti, Petra. “Don't Settle for a Bad Haircut.” Woman's Day, Woman's Day, 23 Jan. 2018,
  1. Cernek, Susan. “How to Speak Hairdresser: Tips on Getting the Haircut You Want.” Glamour, Glamour Magazine, 12 Oct. 2009,
  1. McIntyre, Megan, and Tracy Wang. “How To Get The Best Haircut Of Your Life.” Pictures, Tips On How To Talk To Your Stylist,
  1. Hall, Victoria. “How to Talk 'Hairdresser' and Get the Cut You Actually Want.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 11 Apr. 2018,
  1. Diamond, Amelia. “What to Tell Your Hairdresser So That You Don't Leave P****d and Crying.” Man Repeller, Man Repeller, 5 Oct. 2016,
  1. Goode, Hayli. “9 Things You Should Never Say To Your Hairstylist.” Bustle, Bustle, 25 Apr. 2018,
  1. Escobar, Sam. “How to Tell Your Stylist You Hate Your Haircut.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 21 Mar. 2018,