Hairdressers tell Moneyish that they’ll fix your look for free – but you’ve got to speak up the right way.
“The Rules” is a new Moneyish series where we define the rules around sticky money topics like giving an allowance, who pays on a date, combining finances with your partner, and more.
Don’t have a snip fit.
Everyone has suffered an unflattering haircut, perm or dye job at some time. One in five women has left the salon crying after a particularly bad hair day in the salon, according to 2014 survey, with the most common complaint being that the hair was lopped off too short, followed by locks that were dyed the wrong color or were overly processed.
The customer’s always right, but even though Americans spent $43 billion in hair salons in 2016, according to IBISWorld, there’s no need to blow your top like Macklemore if you don’t get what you want.
The “Thrift Shop” rapper reportedly told a crowd at the recent WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals that, “I got a horrible f—ing haircut. You know, just when the barber starts and then, like, four strokes in, you’re like … ‘I got a f—ing bowl cut on my head,’” he said. “You don’t need to lie, I know this s— is wack.”
But stylists told Moneyish that most hairdressers and barbers will do whatever it takes to get you leaving their salons looking and feeling your best – if you know how to ask. And rule number one is, you probably won’t get a “wack” haircut if you actually consult with your stylist – even for just 10 minutes – before he or she takes a whack at you.
“The way to prevent all of this is good communication,” Renee Cohen, senior stylist at Oscar Blandi, told Moneyish. Consultations are almost always free, or hairdressers should always also spend a few minutes at the beginning of your appointment talking through what you want, your daily routine, what styling products you use, your hair texture, etc. This is a must for untangling any knots ahead of time. “I won’t even touch the hair of clients I’ve been seeing for 20 years unless we have a consultation first,” she said.
A picture’s worth a thousand words, so Erika Szabo, expert colorist at the Arsen Gurgov Salon, suggests bringing as many as six to illustrate exactly what you want. “Also, be open to feedback from your colorist on how to best interpret the hair color you are looking for to best flatter your skin tone,” she said.
And celebrity stylist and men’s groomer Kristan Serafino said that she always asks customers to show her how long they think an “inch” is, and they invariably guess too long or too short. “Sometimes what a client says, and what they actually mean, can be two different things,” she told Moneyish.
But if you’re still unhappy with your new look even after flashing a Pinterest board full of #hairgoals, here’s how to address it – and more importantly, get it fixed – without having a full-on blowout with the stylist.
Speak up while you’re still in the chair. The hairdresser can make a few tweaks if she doesn’t have another appointment pending. “Maybe we just need to trim the fringe or shorten the layers,” said Serafino. “Or it could be a simple as styling it in a way you prefer.” And Szabo noted that dye jobs are an even easier fix, because you don’t have to wait for your hair to grow out. “An expert colorist wants their clients to be happy with their service, so they are usually willing to fix the hair color for free so that the client always leaves happy with their new look,” she said. “Sometimes clients want more highlights, so I’ll do some face framing highlights for them to give it a bit more drama. Or I may give them some highlights to lighten them up all over or make them a half shade lighter.”
Refer back to your consult. Phrase your complaints with, “During our consultation we discussed leaving it this length, but it looks a little short,” or, “Could you show me another way to style my hair like how we discussed?” When it comes to color, Szabo suggests being specific, like, “I do not like this color because __” or “This color is not working for me because __.” Or follow the golden rule of softening a critique with a compliment, suggests Cohen, such as saying, “I really like the shape, but it’s a little shorter than I want. Next time, let’s not do it so short,” she said. “But don’t say, ‘What did you do to my hair?!’ because that just puts the stylist on the defensive.”
Don’t immediately go to another hairdresser to fix it. “Give the hairstylist the opportunity to make things right – which most will do for free – and talk it through again,” said Serafino. “Sometimes it’s not necessarily the cut; it’s how the client is styling it. So your stylist can show you a tip or trick on how to use the brush or the flat iron, or how to wear your bangs in a different way.” Plus, if you can identify where the breakdown in communication came from, you can stop this from happening again. Just going to another salon not only costs you the price of yet another haircut or color, but there’s no guarantee the next haircut will be any better than the last.
Give the look a chance to grow on you. “Your hair goes into shock. And so do people – we don’t like change,” said Cohen. “So wait until you wash your hair, or wait week or two, just to let the haircut settle in, and you can see how it really is.” Remember “The Rachel” shag from “Friends?” Millions of viewers fell in love with what became the quintessential 90s look – but the woman who was actually wearing it couldn’t stand it. “I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” Jennifer Aniston told Allure. So it could be that your new cut or color actually looks great, but it’s just not sitting right with you yet.
Save demanding a refund or speaking to the manager as a last resort. Luckily, the horror story of the Wisconsin barber who was actually arrested for clipping a customer’s ear and shaving a stripe down the middle of the man’s head are few and far between.
— Milwaukee Patch (@Milwaukee_Patch) December 27, 2017
Your issues should be resolved directly with the stylist. “Sometimes if a customer and a stylist have clashing personalities, or they just really don’t work well together, then you should go to a manager,” suggested Cohen. “If you want your money back [instead of a free makeover] then you are most likely not going back to that salon ever again … because no one else in that place is going to want to touch your hair.”
Come back within two weeks for a fix-up. Serafino says second visits to fix the cut or color are usually free, and a tip isn’t expected if you’re only in there for 10 or 15 minutes. “But if someone spends 45 minutes to an hour really educating you on how to style or blow-dry your hair, you’ve taken up that hair stylist’s appointment, which is money lost,” she said. So it would be nice to throw in the gratuity you would have given otherwise, especially if you’re satisfied the second time around.
But if you’ve waited more than a month for a ‘do-over, you’ve waited too long. “After that, you’re living with that haircut,” said Cohen.
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