Why do hairdressers never do what you tell them to?

I have a problem with hairdressers: I fear them as much as the dentist. Why? Because they have the überhuman power to make you look amazing or really, really bad. Unfortunately in my case it is more often the latter.

It is pretty likely that one day I'll go grey or bold because of hairdressers.

Originally, I wanted to rant here about the horrible Hob salon in Mill Hill, London where they are unfriendly, use dirty brushes and hairdryers, let you walk around in that ridiculous cape for ages and where dust lies on the styling products. (DON’T GO THERE!)

Instead, I will make a general point about their species and how they never fail to grief me.

First, for you to judge whether it’s probably my own fault, my tactics when encountering them in their natural environment.

Be friendly and precise

I am overly friendly, smile at them, desperately wanting them to like me so that they don’t decide to cut a whole into my fringe.

Then I tell them what I want. Two, three times with different words, even indicating the length of hair I allow them to take off with my fingers.

Sometimes I even show them pictures of the haircut I’ve been chasing ever since I climbed on a hairdressing stool.

During the whole process I keep my mouth shut about all the little things I hate. The fact that I have hair all over my woolen sweater or the fact that repeatedly fluffing my hair up gives me a greasy out-of-bed-look.

Even though I hate my hair being pulled with hundreds of brushes and my ears being almost chopped off with their combs (I mean ‘hello?!’ – human anatomy?) I never flinch just to not upset them.

But somehow I always end up with electrical hair, smiling sourly because – of course – they always, always, always cut off too much – and that’s not me being picky.

So what to do?

Nick Davis, a hairdresser of 24 years, says that being realistic is important as his comb is not a magic wand. Sorry, Nick, it might not be magical having split ends cut off, but it’s not rocket science either…

Patricia Farrell Voldberg thinks that you should treat your hairdresser as a team-player.

She alsobelieves you should ask questions like “What do you think of this style for me?” or “Do I have the face shape for this cut?” to make them get involved.

Seriously? I mean that somehow is my tactic anyway, but shouldn’t that kind of be their job?

But Patricia also has another tip: If you are not sure about the hairdresser’s suggestions, take time to think it over.

If only that was so easy once they started cutting…

Conclusion

I don’t think there will ever be a time when I don’t fret about going to the hairdresser.

And all these tips only tell me that without wooing them as much as possible, I will probably look worse.

So, please, hairdressers, if you read this: be kind to me and everyone who happens to sit in front of your mirror.

And I promise, the first hairdresser who makes me feel calm, beautiful, understood, valued and utterly happy will get a huge praising blog entry.

But that hairdresser has yet to be found…

Read on beauty and make-overs here.

 

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26 Responses to Why do hairdressers never do what you tell them to?

  1. Sebastian says:

    Hugely entertaining blog entry, even though I’m sorry for your continuous bad luck with hairdressers.

  2. mikeb2mr says:

    Poor you Caring creative stylist do exist so don’t give up sadly the industry attracts many people with huge ego’s this is bolstered whilst they train .It is easy to forget that being a successful stylist is all about Service, communication, consultation, creative skill and knowledge.
    Sadly Missing i noted the other day that a revival in offering better standards of service is even being looked at by large companies such a Wella and Redkin.
    I write many blogs on these topic’s feel free to take a peek blog linked to web site
    really enjoyed your honest article i hope hairdressers take note Mike B2MR

    http://www.back2myroots.co.uk/

  3. Brooke says:

    It is the hairstylists’ job to ask questions and to get to know their clients. I try my extra best on my first consultation, and if someone seems unhappy, I try even harder. This is my career and I love it. If someone isn’t happy, I am NOT happy. One hairstylist can’t please everyone either. I hope you find your fit.

    • Hi Brooke. Thank you very much for your nice comment. What you discribe is exactly what I’d wish for from my hairdressers… But even when I don’t get what I wanted I am too shy to tell them or to go back… Do you have an advice for me how to tell them? Cheers.

  4. Brooke says:

    A hairstylist’s most important features are creativity and problem solving, and you should be comfortable with your hairdresser. I know this can be difficult. There are just some clients I don’t “click” with and there will always be personality conflicts. Do your friends have any hairdressers they absolutely adore? Go along with them next time during one of their appointments and get to know some people. This will make asking questions a lot easier. Don’t be afraid to tell your hairdresser what you need out of it before he/she begins (hairstyle suggestions, product recommendations). Length is the most important factor. I always like to know how much off the length ( a trim off the length could mean a centimeter to a few inches, show them with your fingers or point it out if you can). Layers and texture can be hard to explain to your hairstylist, so always bring several pictures if you can, and tell your hairstylist what you would like to get out of each picture. Styling products are also very important to get the best out of your cut, so listen to any suggestions they might have. Definitely don’t be afraid to tell them what you don’t like about your hair before beginning. This may be a lot to absorb, but these are all key factors. And try not to pick places where they take a lot of walk-ins or not have coffee or refreshments available, this means they may not have the time to get to know you. I really hope this helps.

    • Hi again. WOW, I am totally amazed by your advice! I have started trying different ways of telling my hairdress how much to cut and giving the exact number of cms seems to be a good idea. I’ll definitely see what my friend’s hairdressers are like. Thank you sooo much!

      • Brooke says:

        You are welcome. Specifics are always helpful in my line of expertise. It is our job first to listen to our clients. If it isn’t to some, then- frankly, I don’t know how they can make a living. Take care!

  5. ashnkatt says:

    This must be an issue with hairdressers the world over, I am from Australia and I went to one Salon called Sublime Hair. My hair had not been cut for around two years so it had no previous color or chemicals that could contribute towards causing a bad reaction, to turn a long story short they made my brunette hair turn orange, and than to counter what they had done they tried to cut it away. They cut off my long hair to around neck length, I did not pay for it although I had to go to another salon to ‘strip’ the orange color from my hair. I have just been to another salon after not being to one for another period of around 2 years, (I think I fear salons) I had been to this one before, it is the Stefan Salon franchise. Anyway I was previously happy with the result so when I returned I asked for a trim of the split ends a layered cut and a color. The “trim” was more than I had asked for, my hair was around the length of my upper back. She took off more than a foot so that my hair length it now around my upper shoulders, in addition the “layered” cut is uneven and has huge chunks taken out of it. I asked for thin blond highlights underneath the top layer of hair so that it doesn’t look stripey, but the girl that washed my hair after the color had ‘set’ washed the brunette color over the lighter foils so that now they really cannot be seen. Regardless of what I ask for, even when I provide them with pictures and a virtual ‘show and tell’ they still get it wrong. It took me two years to grow my hair out from the previous bad orange neck, length “cut” and now I feel that I have to start all over again, I really, really dislike hairdressers . This cost me $280 AUD, thats $180 in British pound.

    • Hi Ashnkatt,

      thanks for your comment.

      We seem to be on the same page with our ‘hairdresser issues’.
      I don’t understand what seems to be the problem with them…
      But there is hope: I have found a hairdresser who does exactly want
      I want and I come out of her shop glowing with joy.
      Hope. you’ll find yours too. :-)

      • ashnkatt says:

        Sweet, thats good to hear. Here’s hoping, ty for the reply btw ^_^

      • Hi Ashnkatt,

        yes, there is still hope. :-)
        Although I am already nervous about going again, cause THE hairdresser is in Germany and I am in England…

        I am always happy about comments and I loved hearing back from you. You might want to hook up with me on Twitter under @SteffiSoehnchen – will follow back. :-)

  6. Ella says:

    I know what you mean; especially the growing it out from the last bad haircut, nervously returning for a trim only to have the whole process start again. :) During my last haircut I tried superhumanly hard to make it clear what I wanted, explaining I was growing out the “layers” cut through my hair and could she please just trim the layers around my face from around the shoulders. I now have layers starting from around my eyebrows (not good), but the most annoying thing is on the top of my head and all around my hairline has been hacked off (unevenly) about an inch from my scalp. Why would anyone think that looks good??? The only thing I can come up with is revenge on the part of the hairdresser for me being 10 minutes late to my appointment. Only AUD $300 down the drain (including a colour). Literally I am starting to consider just cutting my own hair… it can’t be that hard.
    By the way, if that is you in the picture your hair looks really nice!!

    • Hi Ella,

      thanks for sharing your experiences! (And thanks for the very sweet compliment)

      I can absolutely feel your pain. OMG, cutting the layers at your eyebrows??
      I had layers as well and the same plan as you had – letting them grow out.
      And I vividly remember my fights everytime I told a hairdresser to just cut the
      splt ends and they would give me a big talk about how that would not do anything to the other layers absolutely missing the point that that was my aim.

      The only advice I can give you (cause it workes for me ;)) is: keep changing hairdressers and try out your friend’s recommendations. That is how I found the hairdresser who respects my wishes to the last split end – and I am even taking my boyfriend there cause he doesn’t come out looking like an idiot either. :)

      I wish you luck finding your hairdresser-soulmate. :)
      Do let me know when you found him/ her.

      Cheers,
      Stefanie

  7. anon says:

    I really despise the hairdressers and I think I’m at my last straw with them. It took me three years to get my hair past my boobs.. every time I go in for a “trim” they take off way too much because they say it suits my face better. So, this time, I showed her, with my hands the MOST she could take off my hair (an inch and a half) and she chopped it shoulder length with layers(and I asked for all one length), it’s not just hair to me, it’s part of my identity. I identify with my long hair. I love the way it feels, every inch represents my time and dedication to maintaining it.

    What’s worse, is that in the beginning she told me a set price, and she more than doubled it at the end. Please don’t do this to us!! Have respect for your clients wishes and wallets. If someone wants to be a certain way, you got to realize that you don’t know them, they don’t care what YOU think, and you really just need to do your job. If you want to be a designer, find some hair models to experiment and play on. But in the meantime, don’t forget what being in the “service” industry means.. We pay you, YOU serve US!

    • Hi Anon,

      thanks so much for leaving your comment and sharing your experience.

      I can sooo understand how you’re feeling! You know, theoretically, getting a trim is an important part of maintaining nice and healthy long hair and we both seem to know that and take that to heart.
      But you know, everytime I go there, I already feel this little bit of melancholy about what it’s gonna look like afterwards.

      I just had the same problem, you had… it was just over my boobs, I told her not to cut much, she cut it just over the shoulder with layers – only the money problem I didnt have. I think the best thing is when they hold that mirror around you and you go “Well, you did cut of more than I told you to” and they go “Yeah, but it’s still long” I never know how to react to that…

      Anon, I think, you’re absolutely right – no mechanic or butcher or anybody in the service industry would get away with as much ‘creative freedom’ as hairdressers claim for themselves.

      I really hope this was your last bad experience.

      All the best,
      Stef

  8. Tina says:

    omg can I just say how much I HATE this haircut i just got right now AHHHHHHHHHH. —before i got this haircut i had lots of layers and the last trim i went for was more then a year ago so I decided that i REALLY REALLY want to have the SAME length hair so I told the hair dresser (plus showed her pictures!) that 1. my hair MUST be cut to the last length of my shortest previous layer which was just above my shoulders. 2. she MUST NOT add any layers to my hair. it MUST be straight cut with slightly snipped up ends. 3. cut it to a slight angle so that my front locks are a bit longer. 4.LOOK carefully at THE PICTURE I GAVE HER because I wanted that EXACT haircut!!!. so what did she do? well, she cut my hair waaaay above my shoulders AND she gave me LAYERS that goes passed my ears. can somebody SHOT ME!!!! SOOOOOOOOOOO SICK of this BULLSHIT!!!! —what on earth!!!!! i did everything i read on lots of websites on how to best communicate your needs to a hairdresser to get that perfect cut and she STILL F***ED it UP!!! so now I have to wait until these frikin layers grows out AGAIN to try get my same length cut. next time i will DUMB it down even more and say. JUST CUT IT STRAIGHT and MARK on my skin WHERE to STOP at. i AM angry!!! oh yes I am, it seems like im badly cursed to just get SHIT cuts. no dont get me wrong i am NOT rude to people AT ALL. I didnt even realise what she did until i washed my hair and let it naturally dry that i noticed these layers poking left and right out of my head and thats because she had it straighten so it all blended in perfectly before but i DONT want to straight it to make it look good. right now i got WILD hair with tinny layers all over it. im SICK OF IT. I love my hair so much as you can probably tell. my hair is a HUGE part of how good i feel about myself. Obviously i dont feel all that good right now. I only live with the comfort that my hair will grow eventually but i HATE hairdressers!!!!! I think even a friend will do a BETTER job at cutting a STRAIGHT length hair then a hairdresser. its like she was DRUNK what the hell. ok end of vent sorry this is so long. going to make myself a coffee now. ugh!

    • Hi Tina,

      first: I am very sorry about your horrible experience. :(

      I absolutely know what you mean. I had the same problem – I had layers all over my hair and all the hairdressers used to cut them again the next time even though I didnt want them to. They kept saying “but you neeeeed to cut them…”

      My tactics is: change hairdressers as long as you find a good one. That’s what I did. I tried about 15 hairdressers until I found my angel of an hairdresser who knows exactly what I want and need and I am sticking with her.

      Telling them what you want is still a good idea – I used to tell them that I have made bad experiences with hairdressers and that I am looking for one that does what I want and otherwise change (which gives them another incentive to follow your orders).

      I wish you the best of luck with this quest and I really hope that you can get used to your current hairstyle so you feel pretty with it.

      Enjoy your coffee!

      Best,
      Stef

      • Tina says:

        Hi Stef, thanks for the answer. Yeah I know keep trying… :( it sucks where i live to – a small sort of town in the mountains ugh, husbands idea to move here) and i think ive already tried enough hairdressers so i quit. I might try in a new town alltogether the next time i go but since i need such a SIMPLE cut i might just ask a friend. I really believe that a friend CAN cut in a straight line with no other ridiculous decissioins of their own. im even thinking of getting one of those hair clippers i saw that helps with getting your hair straight down for an even cut. have you heard of them?

        tina

      • Hi Tina,

        that really sounds like a difficult situation.
        When I hadn’t found my hairdresser, I used to ask ppl to just cut the split ends for me too. As we don’t want Lady Gaga like rocket-science hairstyles that really can be an option.

        I haven’t heard of these clips before… can you maybe post a link here so I can have a look? Would really like that. :) And since we’re sharing hair-tipps: have u tried the ‘tangle teezer’ brush yet (u can order it on amazon). It is the most amazing brush I’ve ever had (am not getting money for this ;) ). It doesn’t rip out hair and is just so easy and nice. U should try it… :)

        I really hope your hair (and hairdressers) won’t stress u out too much.

        Hang in there.

        Greetings from Germany,
        Stef

  9. Tina says:

    Hi Stef. ok here is the link to these clips. you can get bendy once small and large depending on what you want to do with your hair…what do you think?

    http://www.creaclip.com/

    I havent got one of these yet but really thinking of bying it because it sounds like it would make my job easier to just do it myself. but i am yet to find a good site to by one…
    can you give me the link for this brush please? I have been looking to by that perfect brush to since im starting my healthy haircare regim :) thanks Tina

  10. Sebastian Walker says:

    First and foremost, I found a great many ridiculous comments made here in these replies, yeah, cut your hair yourself; that’s a great idea, no there’s absolutely no skill to it… I must have paid all that money to train in London for absolutely nothing. And hair grown out from the last orange cut not cut in years, sorry love, that’s still got chemical in it whether you think it has or not, which is why they end it cutting it up to your neck – presumably because the virgin hair is unaffected, PRESUMABLY because you died it brown and never told them before you wanted to go blonde again because it can’t possibly still be there after all that time. WRONG. It’s called permanent for a reason. And to the person who thinks its easy – I think you’ll find it’s more than just a straight line that needs cutting – especially for hair that hasn’t been cut in a year and two years in some cases – God forbid. I hate that kind of client because what it screams is NERVOUS NELLIE. And the person who thinks she doesn’t need her layers trimmed up, then lets see how you like your hair when it all breaks and splits and never gets any longer – you’ll be quick to blame the hairdresser for that too no doubt. Ask for an ‘air trim’ on these if you want to grow them out; it will help to grow them faster.

    As a successful salon owner who prides myself on a very high level of service and enjoys repeat business – and in many cases people who are still coming for up to twenty years – I’ve heard it all and I mean ALL – including the bitchy diatribe mentioned here. Yes, there are bad hairdressers like there is bad anything, and so it’s up to you to find the right one – and that does not mean the fanciest looking place on the most pretentious high street either, not can it always mean by the so called Style Director of such places – whose own head is often shoved so far up their arses that they expect you to kiss their feet for a few slices of the scissors and charge you a fortune for it. No, get a great recommendation, ask a stranger whose hair looks great, preferably similar to yours, and where they get it done and by whom, and when you DO go have confidence in that stylist, for if you show a nervousness because of your previous experiences; talking about the little Dutch boy cut you got when you were 11-yrs-old – that immediately puts a barrier up, some hairdressers approach your hair far too tentatively as a result. Let it go, for this can unsettle a hairdresser (not I, but some) and they don’t do as good a job as they would if you’d only show some trust in them – what you got to lose; you’re there anyway? Be yourself, and they’ll be themselves. Also, if your hairdresser is constantly sick, late or has ‘sinus’ problems or ‘allergies’, then they’ve got other stuff going on in their lives, and are not the best person to do your hair.

    Personally, I could never rest at night if I felt that I’d done a bad job on anyone, I listen, sometimes too pedantically to my clients, I use a comb that is also a ruler, so less of the tarring with the brush, if you don’t mind – people suck at whatever it is you do as well, I have no doubt, but by that reasoning does that make you bad at your job? No, it’s just that hairdressers are more talked about, a more girly conversation, something to bitch about.

    I give my opinion, my professional advice, and I encourage pictures, realistic pictures, not some actress whose obviously had it polished and styled for three hours before a photo shoot if you tell me that you want to be able to wash and go, and you all do. I teach my clients how to dry their hair, even how to grow their hair – which does not involve NOT getting it cut, I tell them when it will be long, and the looks they’ll have on the way down, I explain the best way to avoid the so called awkward stage – which is completely unnecessary. I go into great depth usually on their visit on how to use their products properly and I interpret and make very clear that the terminology they’re using CAN be completely wrong; e.g. thinning out, layering, one length, to name but a few, these, I find, are not actually what the client means at all.

    I say no when no needs to be said when it comes to colour, because colour over colour over colour does not work, and again, trust me, unless you’ve had all your hair cut off since you last coloured it a year or two years ago – its still there, even if you have toned it – it’s CHEMICAL and unless its a semi, it does not wash out. Also, colour does not lift colour. If you have a tendency to go too warm with colour, which YOU ALL love to classify as orange even if it is a warm red brown, then you need to tell the stylist this beforehand; you NEED to tell them when your hair was last coloured; a good stylist will work out what needs to be done – and you have to LISTEN to their advice. Oh and ash… which you all ask for, isn’t actually what most want at all, pointing to something completely different in the colour chart HOWEVER a good colourist will know to use ash to achieve that nice soft shade if you tell them that your hair tends to pull red and trust me, the colour you point at is not necessarily the colour the stylist will use to achieve that shade – so keep OUT of that entire process; simply point to the colour you want and leave the rest to them – again this would apply only to a trained and efficient colourist – which is up to you to find.

    If they INSIST I do a cut that I know will not suit them, I insist that they do not tell anyone that they had it done by me. I take charge, but your’e the boss. I’ll do what you want even if I don’t want to.

    It may not be rocket science, but creating good hair is INDEED a science – a very precise and skilled science that I needed to study for a very long time; it is more than just snipping away at split ends – especially when the demands of the client suggests that much more needs to be done to cater to that look.

    I find many of these comments here completely one-sided; I’m sure their stylists would call (many of them) the bitches from hell and have a different story to tell if they could. They’re obvious from the minute they walk in – OBVIOUS that even the best hair service wouldn’t be good enough because its not always about the hair. However if it is and their nerves can’t be appeased at all after receiving expert advice, then I tell them to leave; that we’re not comfortable with them. Harsh, maybe, I don’t care… I’m a no nonsense place where people are real and where we listen. WE are the experts – NOT you. Tell me what you want and not HOW to do it.

    Finally, if you bounce around from place to place, you’re setting yourself up for disaster; many go somewhere else, even if they’re happy, because its trendy, or because they think the grass is greener, a good hairdresser gets to know not only your hair, but your whole look, your lifestyle, the kind of thing you like, as well as keeps records on any chemical work. It’s a relationship that, when cultivated properly, affords no excuse for bad hair days.

    Good luck for the person who thinks she can cut her own hair, I hope you do – but maybe then you’ll appreciate what hairdressers do – I’ve been at this a lifetime, and I wouldn’t even dream of cutting my own, even if I do wish I could effectively.

    • Hi Sebastian,

      thanks very much for your comment.
      I have to say: I really really appreciate your open words as there are many helpful insights from a professional’s perspective in them. For example not taking a pic of an actress with you – I totally get that. And the part where women have wrong expectations because they didn’t learn what you did. Having a few friends who trained to be hairdressers and who have their own salons by now I know that it is hard work and that I would never be able to do it (I simply lack the talent) therefore I would never dare to tell a hairdresser HOW to do his/ her job.

      And I am sure that there are some women who have the wrong attitude from the beginning. But as you also admitted: there are bad hairdressers out there, who don’t listen like yourself. There is a reason why “bad hair days” can be unsettling – the state of your hair (whether your man or woman) matters to most people. Sebastian, I think it’s the feeling of helplessness (as I cannot do it myself and have never even attempted it) that makes us so “bitchy”. Women take so much time to take care of their looks and with this crucial element of their appearance they have to “hand over” their power to influence that entirely.

      I am sorry to have conveyed a “bitches of hell” feeling to you from these comments and my post. My hairdresser (as I have hinted at in previous comments) has become a really good friend of mine. I trust her entirely and I feel that she is creative and very good within what suits me – and I even let her experiment now, because I know she’s awesome.

      As I said: I am sorry for having offended you. I am sure you are one of those hairdressers that all the girls here are looking for.

      Best wishes,
      Stef

    • Jess says:

      Hairstylist in Atlanta for seven years… And all I got is an AMEN BRUTHA!!!!! Love it! Well said.

  11. marci watts says:

    My most recent experience involved going in with SIX photographs of exactly what I wanted which was no more than an inch of (my hair was past my boobs), with some blonde highlights put through and shorter sections around my chin. She cut my hair a decent length but added TONNES of layers, with the shortest bit WELL past my chin and dyed my hair RED. I was so shocked that I didn’t even say anything. I literally just smiled, paid and left. I did not understand how she could have gotten it so wrong after a consultation and photographs. I’m tempted to learn to cut/dye my own hair so at least I can blame myself if it goes wrong. The saddest thing is watching your beautifully grown hair hacked away :(

  12. This is such an important post!

    So many hairdressers are more concerned about pleasing themselves rather than the client in the chair that keeps them in business. At least you didn’t have to experience a hairdresser that caused your hair to get matted tangled and is not caring enough to say sorry. But tells you there is nothing they can do and still makes you pay!

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