He is also getting paid. Which is not to say you don't have the thickest, shiniest hair he's ever seen. It's simply to point out that what he tells you, or doesn't tell you, may not come from a place of absolute objectivity.
Or even absolute knowledge. While some stylists have been taking care of hair for 40 years, others graduated from beauty school five minutes ago.
Here, we present you with 10 facts your hair stylist may be tinkering with, leaving out or not know at all.
To begin with, if something seems counterintuitive, you should sometimes trust that assessment.
The idea that trimming your ends often can make your hair grow faster is oddly appealing. It's nice to have control over such things. Unfortunately, it's not true.
Hair is not alive -- it's dead skin cells. Cutting off the ends doesn't speed up the hair-growth process. It makes your hair shorter. But getting rid of split ends can also make your hair look a lot healthier and give it some extra bounce.
As far as growth goes, the average rate is 1/2 inch per month, and no number of regular salon visits will change that. Hormonal changes, however -- seasonal or pregnancy-related -- can affect the speed of growth.
Up next: It's simple math. Hair math.
It's an old wives' tale that has persisted through generations. Someone, at some time, concluded that plucking one gray hair caused two to grow back in its place. It's unclear what the scientific basis for this might be. There appears to be none.
If you only have a few grays, you can pluck them. There's no need to start the coloring process for five or six little hairs that lost their pigment.
The problem with plucking is that the gray hair (just the one) will grow back, leaving you with a short, spiky gray hair rather than a long one that at least lies subtly against your head. So if you have more than a few, coloring or embracing the gray is the way to go.
Up next: If you choose color, you don't necessarily need to run to the hair dresser.
Lots of people will tell you to avoid home hair color like the plague. In fact, you can do great things with color at home. You just have to know what you're doing.
That's the big difference between you and a hair stylist: Knowledge and practice.
These days, the actual hair color sold in the drug store is much like the stuff in the salons, with high-quality ingredients, natural components and added conditioners. The key is what you do with it.
If you avoid the cheapest boxes, follow the directions to a tee and try out a few different products (and colors) over time to find just the right one, you can come close -- almost indistinguishably close -- to a salon result.
The exception is damaged hair or a dramatic color change. In those cases, the customization you find in a salon is worth the money.
Up next, those gray roots…
If your hair color actually lasts the projected six weeks, you're one of the lucky ones. More often, for the over-30 set, those gray roots start to show through long before you're due back at the salon.
You don't need to run to your hair stylist for a root touch-up, though. Today's home kits can do basic gray coverage and match salon colors just fine.
Of course, if your hair is blonde and your black roots are showing, you'll probably want to hit the salon for that touch-up. Quickly.
Up next: Is shampoo addictive?
Your hair is not "used to" the shampoo you've been using for eight months. It's not immune to your conditioner or de-frizzer. It doesn't care if you use the same great products forever.
There's no evidence whatsoever that hair benefits from changing products every six months. Or every six years. Conditioner isn't an addictive drug; your hair doesn't build up a tolerance to it. If it makes your hair look great, it should always make your hair look great.
Unless your hair changes -- which does sometimes happen. Otherwise, your hair doesn't actually want you to buy the next great salon product every six months. (Although it's perfectly fine if you want to).
Up next: Now that would be quite a trick…
Split ends are a problem for many -- thus the barrage of products claiming to treat them. They're on the drugstore shelves and in the salon, and they can't, in fact, do anything about split ends.
There's no product out there that can fuse the ends of your hair. The only thing to do about splits is to trim them off.
Up next: Speaking of trimming them off…
Split ends happen all the time, and they can ruin the look of your hair. It gets all blurry around the edges. You may be tempted to cut them off yourself and skip a costly visit to your hair stylist. And you should give in to that temptation.
Unless you have some insanely high-maintenance style in which a quarter-inch off a few hairs changes everything, there's no reason why you can't deal with your own occasional split ends at home.
If you have a whole head-full of 'em, that's different. Then we're talking about a haircut, and visiting the stylist is probably the way to go.
Up next: That looks just like the salon bottle, doesn't it?
If your stylist has told you never to buy your expensive shampoo at the grocery store because it's "contaminated," he or she is misinformed. You can get it for less there because, as always, big stores buy in bulk.
Salon-brand manufacturers say they don't sell to Wal-Mart, and there's something wrong with the bottles you see there. In fact, the salon-brand manufacturers don't sell to any stores. They sell to distributors, and those distributors then sell to salons. And to Wal-Mart. Technically, they're not supposed to sell to Wal-Mart but they do. It's called diverted product, and it's the same stuff you find at your salon.
Counterfeit bottles do show up, but not at Wal-Mart or Target or Albertson's. Those places are buying from distributors, not off a truck.
Up next: Is it really worth the money?
Specialized, "professional" products can cost a lot. They can even have some really great ingredients that can do wonders for your hair … if your hair needs them.
If you have perfectly healthy, "normal" hair that looks lovely using the simple, lower-cost stuff, you don't need to switch to the expensive bottle your stylist recommends. While salon-grade products can certainly have higher-quality or special ingredients, not everyone needs them.
However, if you have damaged or color-treated hair or a condition like severe dry scalp, those expensive bottles can make a difference.
Up next: Guess what you can do all by your little self?
Deep-conditioning salon treatments can be heavenly. There's just something about having someone else slather your hair with flowery goodness, massage it in and rinse it out.
But there's also something about doing it yourself for less money. The truth is, home remedies made from ingredients like avocado, olive oil and coconut oil condition hair wonderfully, and there's even some evidence the latter two can make it stronger.
So if the indulgence isn't what's drawing you to your stylist for expensive treatments (or products), consider looking in your kitchen pantry. The results can be just as fabulous.
For more information on hair care, style and related topics, look over the links on the next page.
Why are barbers using fire to cut hair? Learn more about fire cutting in this HowStuffWorks Now article.
More Great Links
- "33 Beauty Myths: Fact or Fiction." MSN Lifestyle.http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-look/makeup-skin-care-hair/staticslideshowrealbeauty.aspx?cp-documentid=23553773
- "Are salon products in regular stores the same as those in salons?" The Beauty Brains. June 11, 2006.http://thebeautybrains.com/2006/06/11/are-salon-products-in-regular-stores-the-same-as-those-in-salons/
- DiNardo, Kelly. "Great Hair: Hair Myths." The Washingtonian.http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/shopping/1961.html
- Do-It-Yourself Hair Color vs. the Salon. WSMV Nashville.http://www.wsmv.com/houseandhome/15302123/detail.html
- Foss, Melissa. "10 Common Hair Care Myths." Good Housekeeping.http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/hair/hair-care-myths-0800
- Hair Myths: Don't Believe Everything You Hear About Your Hair. Glamour. Sept. 1, 2008.http://www.glamour.com/beauty/2008/09/hair-myths
- Matthews, Melissa. "Top 10 Hair-Dye Myths Revealed." Woman's Day. May 5, 2009.http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Beauty/Top-10-Dyed-Hair-Myths-Revealed.html
- Mullen, Amy. "Professional versus drug store hair care products." Happy Living Magazine.http://www.happynews.com/living/haircare/professional-versus-drug.htm
- Shelton, Karen Marie. "25 Hair Myths: Fact or Fiction?" Hair Boutique. July 26, 2010.http://www.hairboutique.com/tips/tip1135.htm
- Two Natural Oils That Make Your Hair Shiny and Strong. The Beauty Brains. May 14, 2007.http://thebeautybrains.com/2007/05/14/two-natural-oils-that-make-your-hair-shiny-and-strong/