Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Ten Bad Habits To Not Have At The Salon


I often talk to stylists who share their frustrations with me regarding their clients and how they behave in their salons. While I could share some of the funny client stories that drive stylists nuts, I figured it would be more beneficial to share the top ten bad habits that many stylists wish their consumers would ditch before they visit the salon.

Bad Habit #1 - Arriving Late To Your Appointment

Nothing is more unprofessional or inconsiderate than showing up late for your scheduled appointment. Not only will you cause your stylist to stand around taping their fingers, you may completely jettison their carefully timed schedules. Think about it....if you’re not punctual it is entirely possible that it will cause your stylist to be in schedule hell all day. If the next client is prompt and you delayed your stylist, the person following your timeslot will have to wait because of your tardiness.

Avoid belated arrivals by planning lots of extra time to allow for traffic jams, last minute phone calls or other detours. Don't count on speeding to get you to your appointment on time. Chances are you will still be late and you might be even more delayed if you get caught in a radar trap. Trust me, most cops won't be sympathetic to speeding due to a bad hair or a pressing salon appointment.

If you’re going to be more than five minutes behind schedule, call your stylist and let them know your actual estimated arrival situation. Don't mislead them with the idea that you are "just a few minutes away" if you’re really more than 10 minutes down the road. Give the stylist the option to cancel or suggest other appointment options.

Bad Habit #2 - Not Allowing At Least 24 Hours To Cancel An Appointment

Yes emergencies happen. A serious case of the flu can pop up overnight and prevent you from keeping your appointment. The minute you know you won’t be able to show up at the salon, leave a message. Better yet, leave multiple messages on alternate numbers, to make sure your stylist definitely gets the message. The key is to give your stylist as much notice as feasible. Sometimes it is conceivable that your stylist might be able to rebook your last minute cancellation if they know in advance that they will have an opening..

Apologize and be truthful about your last minute cancellation. Offer to pay your stylist for any lost time. Although most stylists will understand your emergency and will not ask for reimbursement some other stylists may ask for compensation. Especially if your absence results in their inability to fill your time slot. Keep in mind that lost appointments are lost dollars.

If your stylist forgives your last minute disappearing act without sending a bill for lost time, give them a special tip the next time you see them to show your appreciation for their understanding.

When possible, find a replacement for your time slot. A friend of mine, with her stylist's prior permission, sends her son, husband or other family member to her appointments if she has a last minute change of plans. This keeps her stylist happy and shows special consideration.

Always allow at least 48 hours for planned cancellations. If you discover that you have a late meeting, your child has a soccer game or your significant other had to leave town on business, let your stylist know in advance. Be considerate and thoughtful and your stylist will love you for it.

Bad Habit #3 - Regularly Pushing For Last Minute Appointments

You know how it goes. That hottie you’ve been checking out for months has finally asked you to dinner the very next night. You want your hair to look sizzling. While you can call your stylist and politely inquire if they have a possible appointment, don't pressure them to fit you in for a last minute appointment unless this is a rare happening on your part.

Using guilt, threats, bribes or tears to try and force your stylist to squeeze you into their already crammed schedule is unfair and unreasonable. Not only will they hate the last minute pressure, most seasoned stylists will not bend to your frantic hair request.

Sometimes Lady Luck will find your stylist with a cancellation or light schedule. Ask politely if an emergency appointment is possible and explain the reason you are calling at the midnight hour.

If your stylist can’t help you out at the last minute, ask if they can recommend someone else that might sneak you in for your hair emergency. Sometimes they will recommend another stylist at their salon. Or they might have other suggestions. Be open-minded and listen to their suggestions.

Remember to show special appreciation in the form of a gift or gratuity if your stylist jumps through hoops arranging for an emergency visit.

When possible book your appointments as far in advance as possible. If there is a special time and day of the week that you prefer to visit the salon, consider booking that day and time months in advance. It makes life so much easier for you and your stylist if you have a standing appointment.

Bad Habit #4 - Arriving Unprepared For Your Visit

Be prepared to get the maximum benefit out of your salon visits. If you’re going for a new cut or style, bring photos or other examples that clearly demonstrate your coveted look. Spend time before the appointment researching care requirements for your desired cut. Make sure that you’ve thought through all the variables for your target style.

Don't expect your stylist to be a mind reader. Help them understand what you wish to accomplish.

If you make an appointment for "just a cut" and decide on a whim to add color or chemicals don't expect your stylist to suddenly fit in other services. Remember that a good stylist will have appointments booked in advance for the entire day and can't easily "cram in" a couple of extra services except in unusual circumstances.

When you make your appointment carefully explain the type of services you wish to have performed. If you want a cut, shampoo, styling and chemical services be sure to explain in detail all the different requirements that you have for your visit. Salons book customers based on the type and complexity of treatments requested. While a shampoo and cut can usually be completed in less than one hour, color or chemical services can add a lot more time to an appointment.

If you want to discuss your hair cut and styling options in detail before making a final decision, book a consultation only and be prepared to pay for your stylist's time. Don't show up for a shampoo and cut and expect the stylist to spend a lot of time discussing new hair options with you.

Bad Habit #5 - Keeping Your Cell Phone On

Many people retreat to the salon for a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. The last thing they want to hear is the constant ringing of obnoxious cell phones. If you can't leave your cell phone turned off during your visit, buy a vibrating phone that allows you to flip off the ringer. When possible, let your voice mail pick up your messages and keep the ringer off.

When it’s essential that you be tethered to your office, explain this at the beginning of your appointment. If a call interrupts your service, make the call as brief as possible. Should you receive an urgent call that will take more than a few minutes, excuse yourself and step outside.

Stylists have a very hard time cutting or styling hair when a cell phone is attached to their client's ears. Respect your stylist's time and professionalism by minimizing use of the cell phone in the salon whenever possible.

Bad Habit #6 - Not Paying Attention During The Salon Visit

Believe it or not many people write and ask me to help them figure out how to style their hot new cut. I always refer them back to their stylist for a quick review of how to recreate their new style. I am sure the hairdressers cringe every time they get a call from someone that didn't pay attention when they created a new style for them.

Although I run a high tech company, my brain has a hard time remembering where I left my car keys, sunglasses, purse, or my head on a daily basis. I know that if I don't take notes on any never procedure or operation that I am involved in, I‘ll promptly forget how to duplicate the results. The same is true with your hair.

Take a notebook and pen and politely ask for all the details. Does the new cut require a different set of products to recreate the look? Do you need to use paste on the ends to get the textured look? Or do you need to use a curling iron or special brush to get the ends to lay a certain way?

Ask lots of questions and when in doubt write it down. Don't forget to ask for specific product recommendations. If you prefer to go with your own brands, ask for generic descriptions like gel, wax, cream or similar.

Pay close attention to everything your stylist does and if you don't think you can duplicate the look at home ask for detailed tips before you leave.

Bad Habit #7 - Not Listening To Your Stylist

You know the story. You decide that you must be platinum blonde. Never mind that you’re naturally dark brunette with damaged hair from your last perm. If your stylist is honest with you and advises you to wait until your hair is in better condition please stop and listen carefully.

Consider that if you ignore the advice of your stylist and go ahead with the blonding you may not like the results. When your hair comes out of the platinum tunnel looking like burnt wet straw, remember that your hairdresser tried to warn you.

If you want to make your own decisions about your hair then be gracious with the results and don't yell at your stylist. When your stylist is trying to talk you out of an expensive color treatment, it is because they have your hair's best interest at heart.

Ask for advice on a better way to achieve your dream hair color, cut or style. Then listen. Your stylist usually has suggestions of how to help your hair look great.

Bad Habit #8 - Expecting Your Stylist To Be Your Therapist

Although some hairdressers enjoy the soap opera sagas of their clients, the majority don't enjoy acting as bargain basement therapists. Many stylists resent the expectation that they should listen to their client’s problems, provide counseling and style hair all at the same time. If your stylist appears uncomfortable when you talk about your hot new affair with the delivery person, understand that they are probably just being polite and would rather not hear about your steamy personal life.

Many stylists will quickly change the subject when they are unhappy playing salon psychologist. When in doubt ask your stylist if they mind. Watch their reaction. Judge whether to spill your private guts on the body language your stylist displays. If you are having lots of personal problems consider heading for the nearest therapist and give your stylist a break.

Bad Habit #9 - Taking Inappropriate Visitors To The Salon

The last time I was at the salon getting highlighted, the client in the chair next to me arrived late with two unexpected young children in tow. In less than a few minutes the kids were racing through the salon, screaming, yelling and fighting over the hairdryers they had appropriated. The disruption factor was impacting everyone in the salon.

If you can't find a babysitter during your appointment time slot, call in advance and ask your stylist if some arrangement can be made to bring your kids. If your stylist declines your request to include unsupervised kids, respect this policy and go when someone can watch the kids.

When possible, avoid bringing friends, unsupervised children or any other potentially problematic visitors to the salon for your visit. Yes, that includes dogs, cats and other pets. If you want your stylist’s full attention don’t distract her with unruly kids, impatient friends or argumentative spouses.

Bad Habit #10 - Not Saying Thank You Or Showing Appreciation

A great alliance with your stylist is built upon the same principles of any good relationship. Treat your stylist with respect, politeness and appreciation. If you’re unhappy with their handiwork, kindly ask them to consult with you to adjust the cut or style to your liking. If you enjoy their work, tell them so and say thank you..

Tip appropriately and generously. If you really love your stylist's work, consider referring them to your friends and family. What better confirmation of your appreciation than to provide good referrals?


Avoid falling into these ten bad salon habits and you will be well on your way to a long and happy relationship with your stylist.

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