Many of us have taken a photo to the salon knowing we were safe. And then we’ve had this little upset inner monologue run through our heads on the walk back to our car:
I brought a picture! How could I have ended up with anything besides what the picture looks like?
It’s so bright outside during that walk to the car with something else happening on top of our head. Here’s some advice for how to not conduct a communication experiment with your stylist each time you want to revamp your do.
Photos are perfect because they’re uh … images of what you want your hair to look like. Here’s how to fine tune how you select an image:
1. If you’re using the photo just to reference the cut, make sure to choose a model with similar hair texture. If you have curly hair, you want a model with similarly curly hair. If you have fine hair, make sure the model has fine hair. Here’s why: haircuts sit quite differently on various hair textures, and while you may want Anne Hathaway’s adorable pixie haircut, you need to make sure you can find an image of what your hair texture would look like with that cut. Doing so will give you a more realistic image of the style.
2 If you’re using the photo to reference color, then make sure the color reference is as warm or as cool as you’d like the color to be. And have spent time already thinking about whether a warmer color or a cooler color would look better on your skin tone. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that’s okay! Here’s a quick test for figuring that out:
warms: reds, yellows, golds
cools: blues, purples, greens
Test: take a white shirt and an off-white shirt and put each on. One will most likely wash you out and one will most likely allow your eye color to pop right outa your face (in a good way). If the off-white shirt brightens your complexion, then you’re a warm. If the white shirt does the trick, you’re a cool. Some people are both, which makes them lucky jerks. Once you know whether you’re a warm or a cool, then you know whether you’d like ash (cool) or warm (yellow) tones in your hair color. And then you can better choose a photo that exemplifies what you’re looking for.
3. For highlights ALWAYS take a photo. Here’s why: when people say “thin face-framing highlights,” they can be envisioning so so so many different levels of prevalence. I have left the salon before thinking … whoa. OK. So I guess I wanted this many highlights. That’s cool. I can make it work. Speaking in terms of percentages probably won’t be as valuable as an image depicting exactly what you have in mind for highlighting. Without an image, your stylist is really guessing at what “mostly throughout” or “ya know, some” means. Also be sure the image you choose is a good example of how thick you’d like each highlight. That is crucial.
Unless you have a plethora o’ trust in your stylist, have them show you a color swatch for any color work they’ll be doing on your hair. Even with a photo and a conversation on warm and cool colors behind you two, just have them show you some color swatches, hold them up to your head, and have a little further discussion on color. This will help make real to you what you’re getting ready to have done to your hair. A swatch that’s 5 shades darker than your current hair color will better prepare you (read: make sure you’re ready) for the change.
Length and Layering
Images do of course help with length, but be prepared to speak to reference points for where you’d like the hair to fall and where you’d like any layers to fall. I always try to speak to exactly how short I’d like the shortest layer to be because “some long layers” doesn’t really mean anything specific in terms of length. Also know what your hair can take in terms of layering. If you have fine hair, too much layering will just leave the ends of your hair looking light, wispy, and thin. If you have really thick hair, your hair can usually take a lot of layering. Hair layering tolerance is a lot like drinking tolerance. Fine hair is the lightweight of the bunch.
Know and understand the limitations of your hairline. That sounds negative. Don’t worry. It’s not a big deal. In short haircuts, how low your hair grows on the back of your neck will determine just how cute or … odd a really short haircut will sit on you. Some people have especially low hairlines. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to who has lower hairlines; what’s important is that you know yours. This is definitely your stylist’s responsibility to take into account, but it will really help you avoid disappointment if you’re already aware of whether you can actually have Anne Hathaway’s pixie haircut before you get to the salon.
Lastly and Most Importantly: Don’t Be Afraid to Say “Can You Stop For A Second, Please?”
Know that your hair stylist wants to give you an incredible hairstyle, and that communication is a field people write doctoral theses in. In other words, it’s okay to stop them if you think they’ve misunderstood you and you need to clarify more. Most of us have sat through a haircut that we were pretty sure wasn’t going in the direction we had in mind. Why haven’t more of us politely asked to talk about what’s happening for a second? I know I’m guilty. Don’t be afraid to offend your stylist by asking them to stop for a second. You won’t offend them. And they’ll most likely be glad you helped steer the haircut into the direction you had in mind. That’s what they’re there to do. :) When you’re mustering the courage to speak up, remember: they want you to leave the salon loving your hair. It’s one of the best parts of being a stylist.