The Long and Short of a Great Relationship With Your Hair Stylist

Communicating with you Hair Stylist

Honesty is a major factor. "The thing I like from my clients is to be up-front with me about what they want, not to be intimidated with me, to bring pictures of what they want, to have an open mind," says Janice Tice of Houston's upscale Urban Retreat.

John Sahag, whose Madison Avenue Workshop salon clientele includes celebrities from the entertainment and fashion worlds, suggests that "it's incredibly important for us to be in full contact with our ladies, always to consult," and to ask such questions as "how do you feel about the length?"

Ultimately, it's important to remember your stylist wants to keep you happy — and deserves a chance to do that. Confides Stampora, most stylists need to see 400 to 600 clients monthly for financial success.

During your appointment, avoid discussing religion, politics, sex and other stylists. And although inviting, using the stylist's chair as a therapy couch "can be very hard on the stylist. We're here to do hair, we're not professionally qualified" to deal with personal problems, says Campbell.

If you like the finished product, say so. Ask if the stylist accepts gratuities; 15 to 20 percent is generally appropriate. But some stylists like Necole Cumberlander, owner of Cleveland's Noir et Blanc, are uncomfortable, noting accountants, lawyers and doctors are not tipped for professional services. "I want my clients to look at me in a different light, that it's a professional service I'm providing for them." The best way to show appreciation, stylists agree, is to refer new clients.

If you're unhappy with your hairdo, be specific and courteous. "Say, 'This is not really what I have in mind; I'd like to see something different,'" recommends Tice, who emphasizes disasters can be averted. "Don't ever walk into a salon and just get shampooed without a consultation."