If there’s one thing to get from this article, it’s that the consultation is a vital and invaluable part of your appointment. Don’t shirk it, don’t rush it!
“The consultation,” Michael recently said, “is 50% of the haircut — at least. The cutting is no big deal.” Bold words! So what’s a consultation? Simply put, a consultation is when you and your stylist get on the same page. You clarify what you want (with the stylist; but also with yourself!), see if the stylist can do it, and develop a shared vocabulary for future sessions.
So what does produce a good haircut mean? You could break it down this way:
The consultation is so important because without this step, a stylist can only resort to a generic approach, and at best an ‘okay’ haircut. Not knowing where they are to trying to go with your haircut means that it is hard to create a style that truly comes together.
A consultation is all about communication
Your stylist is not psychic. Experienced, yes. REALLY intuitive, yes. But not a mind reader. He or she needs you to be able to communicate, just as much as you need him or her to listen to you.
Specific vs. General language
What does “short” mean to you? What is “don’t cut too much?”
It’s better to specify. The best way to do that? Use body landmarks as markers.
“I want my hair in the back to fall to the top of my shoulder blades” is much clearer than “I’d like it cut medium.”
Show versus Tell
Instead of talking about what you’d like, show your stylist. Use your hands! Move the hair around to illustrate where you want it to fall. This is called “shaping.” Shaping the hair to show what you want, according to Michael, is much more meaningful than the usual descriptions like “long layers” or “bangs.”
We love when clients bring in images! A lot of you do this, so keep it up. A picture of what you want is a great place to start a consultation. Images are a common language, so even if you don’t yet share a common tongue, images will help you and your stylist learn to.
Know What Kind of Client You Are
It’s good to understand how you communicate.
Are you timid or tend to minimize what you truly want? Some people, for example, might say “I want to go a little red,” when really they mean to go quite a few degrees of red more than “a little.” If your stylist doesn’t pick up that you really do want to go red, he might only do a mild change that will leave you dissatisfied.
And then there’s the “Whatever” client. They'll tell their stylist to do whatever they want... When does “anything goes” really go, though? And if you really are open to any kind of style of color, make sure to have the stylist spell it out first. No surprises are better than a bad surprise when it comes to your hair!
Resolving Contradictions and Paradoxes
What often happens is that stylists are nice people, and they try to fulfill conflicting requests, leading to unsatisfactory results. A lot of the responsibility of this part of the consultation falls to your stylist. It is their job to point where there are inconsistencies in your requests. Such as “I want 4 inches cut but I want my hair to be long.”
Ask “How could we make this work for me?” It gives your stylist the opening they need to pipe in. Again, stylists are accommodating people and they might give you exactly what they see in an image because they think that it’s what you want—even if it they can tell it won’t work for you.
Trust your gut
This is probably the best piece of advice we can give you. if you don’t feel comfortable that your stylist has understood you, speak up. If you can’t, or you don’t feel like they are getting you, leave!
It can take weeks and weeks for hair to grow enough to recoup from an unsatisfactory hair style. Better to go another day with your current look, than to risk one you won’t like.
We hope this will be a helpful tool to keep in mind for your next salon service, remember the consultation is 50% of your haircut or service.