What NOT To Do When You’re Getting Your Hair Dyed

salon_etiquette_slide1_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
One time in the early 2000s, I was sent to the Mercer Hotel to touch up the highlights of a model-turned-actress for a red carpet event she was attending that evening. During her blow-dry, she began telling the me and the stylist about the dress she was going to be wearing, and how it would surely show panty lines due its delicate material and tight fit. She then concluded that the only option was to wear the gown sans-underwear, and proceeded to insert a tampon into herself. Yep — right there in front of us, as the stylist continued to do her hair.
This was surely the craziest behavior that I ever witnessed while doing someone's hair, and it still haunts me to this day. But, that said, almost every day I experience some shocking behavior, from celebrity and non-celebrity clients alike.
Sure, getting your hair cut may seem like a form of therapy to some, but it seems to me that many women just lose their minds — and manners — when they sit down with a hairdresser. Like, first, don't tell your hairdresser they look bad in any way (fat, skinny, too tan, pale, tired, etc.). If you make it difficult for us to like you, then you make it difficult for us to make you pretty. Don't talk loudly on your cell phone while being shampooed. And finally, don't kiss us on the lips — we just met you 30 minutes ago. Boundaries, people, boundaries.
Ahead, I've listed more tips for getting the best results from your hairstylist. Yep — this is shockingly frequent behavior that you'd think is obvious not to do, but I experience it. Every. Week.
salon_etiquette_slide2_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
Be on time for your appointment. Five to 10 minutes late is understandable: Life happens, there's traffic, or the babysitter was late — I totally get it. But, when you're consistently 20 minutes late for your appointment, it seems that you think your time is more valuable than mine, and the clients kept waiting because of you. Unfortunately, when clients are late, hairdressers often cut corners and rush to get you out of the chair quickly. Most of the time, this means a second-rate job. My advice? If you're more than 15 minutes late, apologize profusely and reschedule.
Be still while being worked on. Sometimes, clients seem more interested in reading magazines and sipping cappuccinos than they are about getting their hair done nicely. If you're a moving target, highlights can be placed incorrectly, or we might miss a spot. Lunging for your cell phone while a razor-sharp scissor is by your face might not be the smartest thing to do, either. Sure, many stylists are complete perfectionists, but if you make us plead with you to keep your head straight, we'll feel less responsible if it's not our best work.
Bring a picture of the cut or color you have in mind. Communication is imperative to a successful salon visit, and a picture will let your hairdresser know exactly what you're thinking. Remember to bring a photo of someone — whether it's a celebrity or a friend with a great cut — with the same skin tone and natural base color as you. If you don't have a picture, stay away from technical terms like warm, ash, or cool, since you may not know the true meaning of them. Instead, use visual examples like butter, chocolate, or honey.
salon_etiquette_slide3_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
Be honest about your hair history. A client once told me her hair wasn't chemically straightened, even though I specifically asked. I used a strong bleach on what I thought was very coarse, heavy, thick, virgin hair. She had lied — and the ends of her hair melted off. Now, I practically make my clients take a lie-detector test before I formulate their colors. Lying to your hair colorist is like lying to your doctor: It could have dire results. I promise we won't think any less of you if your hair isn't 100% natural, or you had to see someone else while you were summering in the Hamptons.
Don't arrive for your first visit to a new hair colorist with a full face of make up and your best designer outfit. If you're getting your hair colored, it's quite possible that the dye will splatter. And, I know it's only natural that you want to look your best, but we need to see your true skin tone, along with many other factors that can hide under lots of makeup. All the women who sit in our chairs receive the same level of service, regardless of how expensive her bag is.
Don't arrive with an entourage when you're seeing a hairdresser for the first time — even if you're getting a dramatic change that requires hours of work and multiple applications. I'm still unclear as to why getting your hair done is sometimes considered a group activity. It's distracting, and usually boring for everyone.
Instead, think about going to the hairdresser more like going to a surgeon — albeit a hair surgeon with different, equally sharp tools. Going platinum may not be equivalent to heart surgery, but the results (read: fried hair) can be pretty serious.

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