4 Salon Etiquette Tips Your Hairstylist Wish You Knew 

Photo: Cottonbro / Pexels

They’re likely your friend, possibly confidant, but one thing’s for sure–hairstylists always aim to make you look great. And they’ll spend hours to be sure that they do right by your ‘do.

Have you ever wondered how to return the favor?

In honor of National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, we caught up with four hair professionals who got real about what makes them happiest before, during, and after client appointments. Impress your stylist by following these etiquette tips (and avoiding their pet peeves!) every time you visit the salon.

Tip #1: General consensus regarding last minute cancellations: Don’t do it.

Always respect your stylist’s time and arrive promptly. If you must cancel, check out the salon’s policy, and if you’re running late be sure to let them know. Also, remember that patience is key and a wait time may be part of the process.

“A hair appointment should be treated no differently than a doctor’s appointment. Arrive on time and give yourself extra time and some wiggle room on the back end. Hair appointment lengths are approximations. We try our best to stay on time, but just like a doctor’s appointment, the person before may need more time for their hair or may have been a little late, this can cause a ripple effect and your stylist will possibly run behind for you. I always tell a client with a tight schedule to be my first appointment of the day!” - Saeid Homayouni and Sasha Zoghi, R+Co salon partners & owners of Revolution Salon + Spa.

“Life happens to us all, and we’re all in need of a little flexibility. However, please understand that a last minute cancellation costs us money and an opportunity for someone else to have filled in that time slot. Unless it’s an emergency, it shouldn’t really happen. The salon I used to work at had a 24 hour cancellation policy or 50% service charge if last minute, which I think everyone can agree is fair.” - Bryan Gaw, editorial hairstylist

“I always send out a policy after my clients have confirmed their appointment asking to give me a 72 hour grace period when they are canceling or rescheduling their appointment. When clients do cancel, it does take a toll on our schedule. We would have to find someone to fill in their spot, and that is a bit difficult, especially when it’s last minute.” -Jessa Aure, owner Beauty by Jessa Marie.

Tip #2: Your stylist is human, and that means they have pet peeves.

They might be too polite to share in the moment, but here are common behaviors that bug stylists and how you can avoid them.

“My number one pet peeve during an appointment is when clients talk about their past stylist. I understand that their appointment was not pleasant, but at the end of the day we’re all human. Maybe they were not educated in some aspects, we just don’t need to bash other stylists, let’s just move on and let the negativity go,” said Jessa.

She added, “This is definitely not a pet peeve, but it makes work a little difficult when clients are very expressive in their conversations, and they have to turn their heads or move their hands when they’re talking. I find it more funny than a problem, but it does make our work harder.”

“Bobble heads: if we gently move or tilt your head it’s obviously to get the best possible result. This job is just as much about accuracy, geometry, and precision as it is art. So, please don’t move it back until further notice,” said Bryan.

He added, “Although your oftentimes booked-and-busy stylist loves and appreciates your time and business, constantly getting asked to be ‘squeezed into’ an already busy schedule is frowned upon. Although we may be able to work it out and are down for the hustle of the workload...please don’t make it commonplace.”

Tip #3: When you’re changing up your style, come prepared and do your research.

“If you bring an inspiration picture and the hair is styled a particular way in the picture, ask yourself, ‘am I going to do that on a daily basis?’ For example, most balayage pictures are styled with some sort of wave and this gives the illusion of a ribboning effect…the same color can look totally different when not curled,” said Saeid and Sasha. “I usually recommend that if you are looking for a big color change in your hair or a shift from dark to very light or vice versa, book a consultation with your stylist before your actual appointment.”

“When clients want to switch up their style, it’s great to communicate ahead of time so that we can change the time needed in our future appointments. Also, they have to be very realistic,” explained Jessa. “When it comes to color, it’s better to gradually go lighter. Understand that it does always take some time, that’s so we do not compromise the integrity of their hair.”

“To get the best result, have clear, concise communication on the expectation of your hair service whether it’s color or styling. I would find pictures of people you think emulate your hair type, texture, and color and speak with your stylist on the best approach to achieve what you want. Again be clear with what kind of change you want, especially if it is a drastic one,” said Bryan.

Tip #4: Research the best salon for you and establish a positive relationship with your hairstylist.

Remember, they’re more than your means to great hair days–they’re hardworking artists juggling multiple tasks. Be patient with your stylist and always treat them with respect.

“I always tell new clients, this is an ‘establishing relationship.’ I can get pretty close to what your expectations are the first time. However, if you give me time to grow with you, trust that your hair will only get better as we understand your lifestyle, habits, and get to know you in general,” said Bryan.

“I am sure some of my clients know this already, but I feel like a big handful of them do not completely understand that we are not JUST hairdressers,” said Jessa. “We don’t just do hair. We don’t just make your hair pretty, we also do accounting, scheduling, cleaning, and marketing if you have social media. When we are not behind the chair working on a client, we are either cleaning up or disinfecting products, getting back to clients, doing inventory, or looking at scheduling. And on top of that we still have to find time to eat, which is always impossible!”

“Research the salon and the stylist you are going to, and see if they regularly do the service you are getting. Most salons have stylists at varying levels, and it’s usually based on experience and amount of advanced education. This will also go hand-in-hand with the price point,” explained Saeid and Sasha. “There is no right or wrong, just what is right for you and your needs.”