Celebrity stylists advise how to get what you pay for at the salon

Hairstylist at work in a salonA young teen entered a local beauty salon in Simcoe, Ont., with hair that hung below her shoulders. She requested long layers with a bit of a trim. What she got was a pixie.

"I'd been growing it out for a year and a half," she wrote in anguish on an online hair-care forum, "the hairstylist asked me to remove my glasses and started cutting my hair. It felt like she was cutting quite a bit, but when I asked she said she was putting in layers ... when she was finished, I put my glasses back on and looked in the mirror ... she had cut more than ten inches off my hair."

However, before the shock wore off, the stylist disappeared into a staff room and the newly cropped client was stuck with an unwanted style and, adding insult to injury -- her bill. "I was embarrassed to go out in public," she wrote, "my hair was so short I couldn't even tuck it behind my ears."

Bottom line, a bad haircut is costly. To learn how to avoid painful and pricey beauty blunders WalletPop asked celebrity stylists the best ways for clients to communicate their vision.

Billy Lowe
, hairstylist and beauty expert based in Los Angeles, Calif., has worked on the famous heads of Ellen Degeneres, Carson Kressley and several Desperate Housewives. He advises bringing "photos of inspiration." Don't stop there however, Lowe adds, "write words on the photos you bring in to describe what you are seeing." Then, "be sure your stylist can repeat it back to you."

Aubrey Loots, owner and creative director of Studio DNA, also in Los Angeles, agrees. "Make it a collaboration," he said, "and don't be shy to bring in pics! I always advise new clients or clients that want a major change to bring in photos of the look they want -- and also photos of styles they don't!"

"Talk about shape," said celebrity stylist and bi-coastal salon owner Ted Gibson, "If you feel like your stylist didn't understand, keep talking before you have your hair done. Pictures help, but communication and dialog is better."

On his website, Gibson shows a video of how he approaches a discussion with a new client asking for a makeover. In it, he advises consumers to talk to their stylist about how much time they are willing to spend doing their hair on a daily basis, what techniques (blow drying, flat irons) they already use, the natural texture of their hair and what they consider their "best feature."

"Too often, hairstylists don't listen well to a client's request," Loots said, however sometimes he admits, "or clients don't take the stylist's expert advice." If someone tells you they can't make your dark hair platinum blond without frying it or turning it orange, it's something to consider.

"Honest communication," said Loots, "makes sure both parties are on the same page and everyone leaves happy."

"Women need to consider all the elements," said celebrity stylist, beauty expert and salon owner Oribe, "what you have to work with, how much hair you have and your lifestyle. Work with your hairdresser to create the perfect look that suits you and makes you feel good."

In addition, Lowe recommends, "have your stylist show you what a little off the top looks like. To a client it could be one inch, to a stylist it may mean three. It's best to double check and compare notes."

"If you aren't sure who to go to for a certain look," Lowe said his biggest rule is, "do not walk in."

"Ask for referrals," he said, "notice someone in the shopping mall or supermarket whose hair you like and ask them about their salon and beauty services, or to whom they go for services."

"It's important to learn to trust your stylist," adds Loots, "if you don't look good, I don't look good."

And if you wear glasses, you might insist on taking a peek at the work in progress.

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