5 Questions You Need To Ask Before Major Hair Change




One of the things I miss the most about being a hairstylist is going through hair changes with my clients. It was always exciting to have a client sit in my chair and ask for 7 inches to be cut off, or to finally go blonde. My style of hair was always pretty, and generally conservative, but I loved the creativity of trying something new.

Cleints were typically a little trepidatious over a dramatic hair change, so I want to share 5 questions I always covered in a consultation so you can be better prepared for your hair change appointment!

1. Do you actually think this will work for me?

Trust is the most important aspect of your relationship with your stylist. If you trust him or her, you’ll find hair appointments much less stressful. It takes time to develop a level of trust, and the quickest way to do that is through regular appointments. If your stylist suggests you need a trim every 6 weeks, get one ever 6 weeks. She’ll get to learn how much or little wear and tear you do to your hair and be able to get to know your hair needs quickly.

So, if you are looking for a somewhat dramatic change, go to a stylist you trust. Do NOT go to a brand new stylist for a dramatic change unless you are a risk taker. It could be great, or it could be a train wreck.

Ask your stylist what he or she thinks of your idea. Once they know you well, they’ll be able to tell you what they think. I’ve had plenty of clients ask for my opinion on whether or not they should get a straight across fringe and if I know they are majorly low maintenance, I advise them not to. Usually we agree on some happy medium. Your stylist doesn’t want to create a bunch of work for you if you aren’t interested in putting a bunch of time and effort into styling your hair. Do what works for your lifestyle.

2. Can you show me on my body where this will hit?

The biggest discrepancy between client and stylist is length. A client may ask for 1 inch off and leave with a lot more (or less) than they imagined. Ask your stylist to show you where the new length will hit on your body. Everyone’s neck length is different, so 2 inches off of someone with a short neck will hit in a different place than 2 inches off someone with a longer neck.

The term “shoulder length” could mean a number of things. Is it grazing the shoulder? It is laying on the shoulder? Is it hovering right above the shoulder? Make sure you talk through every detail of what you are imagining so your stylist can be best prepared to give you the cut you want.

3. What sort of maintenance is involved?

Be realistic about the time and effort you want to put into your hair. Are you wash and go? Keep your cut at the right length for you that will still allow you to do that. Don’t hear me saying to always have the same hairstyle, but do be realistic about what you have time to do with it every morning.

4. Are there any certain hair products I need to use to achieve the results I want?

Hair products are game-changers. I’ve heard from clients that they’ve felt taken advantage of by stylists in the past who practically force them to buy no less than 7 hair products before they leave the salon. If your stylist suggests over 3 products, it’s not rude to say, “if I could only have one, which one would you suggest”. You may not get the same look as you would if you used all of the products he or she recommended, but some product is better than no product.

5. What is the growing out process going to be like? 

This is never a bad question to ask because it may help you feel a little bit bolder about making a change. If you want to start wearing your hair in a graduated bob, but are unsure about the growing out process, the answer to this question may sway you one way or the other. There are pretty ways to grow out hair, and not so pretty ways to grow out hair. The best way is to get regular trims and adjust the weight of the cut as it grows.

Plan on the consultation for a hair change appointment to be a little bit longer than usual so there’s time to talk through every detail. And after the cut and/or color has been finished, give it at least 3 days before you make up your mind about it. It can be challenging to see a new hairstyle and not think that it looks “wrong” because it’s so different. Once you get used to it, which takes a couple days, you can decide whether or not you like it.

I’m the queen of sticking with the usual cut and color, but anytime I change it up I’m always glad I did. It’s nice to break away from the norm every once in awhile!

Have you ever had a dramatic hair change?


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Comments (52)

  1. Julie says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I just had a dramatic hair change! It was so long during pregnancy, but after I had my baby and she turned 4 months old, I couldn’t take it anymore! I got my hair cut shoulder length (touching my shoulders, lol). I love it!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 19, 2014

      Nice! It’s fun to do that for a new chapter in your life, isn’t it?

      • Julie says
        Posted May 19, 2014

        It is! Now if I can just get my hair to stop falling out! But I hear that is normally after pregnancy. Thank you for the post! 🙂

        • Kelley says
          Posted May 19, 2014

          My hair was falling out BIG time after my second child and I thought it was just because of the pregnancy. I went to my regular doctor and had my thyroid checked. Turned out that it was wacked out big time. I’m glad I looked further into it. Maybe you should as well? The thyroid is nothing to mess with 🙂

          • Posted May 19, 2014

            I was recently diagnosed hypothyroid. I’m hoping my hair will grow back, too! I cut it short after I had a little hair loss and am loving the volume with this new length.

  2. Angela says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I do like to switch things up every once in a while, although I always seem to go back to the blonde eventually. It is where I am most comfortable. Thanks for all the great tips.


  3. Divya says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    These are such great tips! thanks for sharing! I have been through multiple hair changes some good some not.. but I have not stopped taking risks and thats because the hair stylist I have been going to for past 5 years knows me pretty well! It does pay to have faith in a hair stylist! It can make or break it for you!

    My Wedding in pictures | TheConscienceFund

  4. Nilda says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I grew my hair out for my wedding last July and the Tuesday I returned from my honeymoon, I went straight to my stylist and got a reverse angle bob. She thought it would look great and it really did. I’ve kept it up since! Sometimes it’s fun to just get something different, especially by a stylist you know and love!

  5. Tara says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    Yes! I just got my first perm last week! I absolutely love it!!

  6. Rebeca says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    In the past I’ve gone from just behind my knees (I’m 5″9′) to the middle point on my shoulder blades to reverse bob to shirt enough that it was done with men’s clippers. Each time I’ve loved my hair!!!! And I’ve never had the same stylist cut/colour/style my hair more than once which might be strange but I love it!

    I’ve recently (just last week) gotten my hair cut into Kate’s style so that I can learn how to style my hair by following her tutorials and I’m not sure about the way that the stylist cut it, the bangs aren’t short enough and I’ve got no fringe. I’m going to someone else next time because I’m unhappy with it. Great tips about being sure and trusting the person making the dramatic change tho

  7. Julie says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I wish I could do something different with my hair, but I’m limited by its texture and curls. I was forced to cut it short once (because of lice) and it turned into a frizzy afro and all the kids made fun of me. So I pretty much keep it long now. My husband likes it, says I look like a mermaid, but I sometimes wish I could change it up.

  8. Olivia says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    Would you be interested in sharing steps for going ombre with brown hair? I reallly want to, but don’t know the way to go! Thanks

  9. Stacie says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I’ve gone through a cycle of growing my hair out for a couple of years and then chopping it off, in a graduated bob, with the shortest hair less than an inch at the neckline. My hair is currently touching my back bra strap. I find my level of maintenance is suited to long hair; wash and go for me.

    • Stacie says
      Posted May 19, 2014

      I must add that I’ve had a wonderful stylist that has gone through all of this with me. She asks me three times if I’m sure, and then she goes all in on a rockin’ cut! <3

  10. Posted May 19, 2014

    Thanks for the great tips! I have been thinking about going shorter, but haven’t had the guts to do it yet!

  11. Nilda says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    It’s hard to me to think in a dramatic change, I’m a natural curly girl and never liked the haircuts that I had in the past. Now I cut my own hair, but still not completely happy. It’s so hard to find a stylist that is used to work on curly hair… Anyway, thanks for your tips.

    • Amanda says
      Posted May 19, 2014

      Try to see if there is a Devacurl stylist in your area. I have fine, curly hair, and finding a stylist that knows how to cut curly hair is a game changer! You can just google “Deva curl” and it will take you to their website. Then you can type in your zip code to see if one if avaiable close to you. Good luck!

      • Nilda says
        Posted May 19, 2014

        Thank you so much Amanda, but I live in Chile (south America). I’m going to California on September, I’ll try to find a Deva curl salon. Thanks again 🙂

  12. Laura B says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I decided to let my hair go grey last fall. I’ve been coloring it a dark brown forever – I started going grey at 16 and started permanently coloring my hair in my mid-20s. I’m 41 so that’s a long time and a LOT of money spent trying to cover up what my crazy genes were dong to my hair. I finally bit the bullet in late October and had my stylist lighten my hair about 4 shades. We gradually started putting in more and more highlights. At that time my hair was about an inch below my shoulders but was really showing the wear and tear of the bleachings – so I chopped it off into a longish bob. The next month I went even shorter into a shag type cut. Last month I’d officially had enough and was ready to get the blonde all cut out and ready to get the transition to my natural color over with so we CHOPPED it off to about 2-3 inches all over and spikey. I LOVE IT and get so many compliments and should be done with my transition to my natural color by the mid part of the summer. Once my grey is fully grown out I’ll probably get some length back on it – I did enjoy my hair long. My hair stylist loves when I come in because she never knows what I’m going to want to do! LOL I do try to send her pictures about a week ahead of time if I’m getting an itch to make a dramatic change. 🙂

  13. LRW says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I love the hairstyle in the picture you included with this post! Is this your new cut? This is the length I am going for now. It’s been in a angled,chin length bob for a few years now,but I like the way yours looks in the back in this picture. I am lucky to have such a great stylist. She listens,but is also quick to tell me it won’t work for my particular hair texture.

    • LRW says
      Posted May 19, 2014

      oops..just found the post where you cut your hair in Jan. 2014 like the pic in this post..anyway,I love that length on you..very attractive 🙂

  14. Cassie says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    Do you remember a few years ago, 2006 maybe when Rihanna cut off all her hair? Ya I went from middle of my back to that! But! I didn’t want to! I wanted it to touch my shoulders and the stylist gave me what looked like a bowl cut and I was horrified, so I went to a different stylist to “fix” it and ended up super short. I was so traumatized that I didn’t cut, or trim, my hair for over a year!!
    Now I have a stylist I trust, she talks me out of going short because she knows I hate it, but we experiment with colors a lot, every 6 months or so I change the color even if it’s a slight change in highlights.
    I have an appointment today actually to try out this golden bronde trend.
    I love your blog, and I have tried at least half of your tutorials.

  15. Melissa says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    This is why I drive an hour to a little mountain town for my hairstylist – because she is so good with this dialogue! Every time I have wanted to make a major change to my hair we talk and she takes my idea and molds it to fit my hair and my face shape and my head shape. She’s a genius. Best hairstylist I have ever had.

  16. Sarah says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    When I was a freshman in college I chopped off long hair to super short boy cut, think Winona Ryder. I loved it and got many compliments. Wore it for awhile then growing it out was painful and awkward. Since then, any time I’ve done something drastic I’ve regretted it. Late last year I got blunt bangs, and a week later decided I hated them. And I’m STILL growing them out. They are just barely to the point of being able to shove them behind my ears. But yikes, never doing that again. I think I need to accept I’m just more of a small changes kinda girl.

  17. Annette says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I had been thinking of getting a pixie cut for a while, and so I decided to go for it last February. At first it felt SO short, but I thought it was fun. I loved it for about 3 months, but I couldn’t do a lot to it. Then, I moved to St. Louis and had the hardest time finding someone who could cut it the way I wanted, so I grew it out. The growing out process was brutal. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m also glad my hair is a little longer now.

    Kate, do you have any tips on how to find a hair stylist when you move to a new city? After a year, I finally got brave and asked a girl with cute who cuts her hair, and I was so happy with the results. Is that what you usually recommend doing?

    • Chris says
      Posted May 21, 2014

      That’s so hard. We moved 3 years ago this July. And the 2 things I miss are a great deli and my hair stylist. Tasha was the bomb. She was vidal sassoon trained among others and she was amazing. She would du cut my straight hair so it fell perfectly. But we moved a thousand miles satyr and it appears she’s gone I tried to find her when I last went back for a doctor visit. Anyway, I tried a new stylist here, also vidal trained and asked for a trim of hair that is long lashes just above my bra line. She budgeted it added short lashes that didn’t blend above my ears all y the way around. Ayer the years the remnants are just about gone, I could have cried. I found current stylist by going to best friends lady. Which is awesome I should have just asked and learned my lesson before I needed a dentist. Lol

  18. Amber says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    Yes, I’ve had one dramatic change and it was the WORST decision of my life. I’ve always had long, naturally curly hair. For years it was black and I wanted to lighten it up due to maintenance reasons. I asked my stylist (who I went to for years and trusted greatly) about it and she told me it would be an easy process and it wouldn’t affect my curls or my length. Well, I should’ve done more research. In the end I had what felt like pubic hair and it was RED. All I wanted was a medium brown (my natural color), but the result was quite different. Then it started breaking off at my shoulders and the curl was absolutely gone. I thought I was going to have a beauty breakdown. I hadn’t had my hair that short in years.

    In the end I found a different stylist and I made her well aware of what happened previously. She promised she would always be honest and always share the worst case scenario. It’s finally grown out passed my shoulders and I have a couple of inches left of the dead stuff, but it’s nothing compared to how it was. At least my curls are back!!

  19. Erika says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I am in the midst of growing out bangs. My stylist told me it would be “torturous”, and she was right! LOL I have a very prominent forehead, so bangs have always been my safety net, but so far I’m happy with the growing out process. It’s definitely a different look – just very hard to wear up-do’s without my trusty bangs 🙂

  20. K says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I went from long hair (almost down to my waist) to a short bob, to a pixie cut in about one year. I LOVE dramatic hair changes, but my hair grows fast so if I find I don’t like a cut I don’t really worry too much since I know in a few months I can cut my hair again! The only thing I really hate is growing out bangs, but every time I finally get my bangs long, I decide to cut them short again. I guess I just like misery.

  21. Jo Ann says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    It was after the birth of our 4th child. I went to someone new to me, but he had an incredible reputation. He cut my hair with my back to the mirror. So I was never able to see what he was doing. When he turned me around, it was a total surprise. I had shoulder length hair. He cut my hair as short as Chynna Phillips from Wilson Phillips the group from the 1990’s. I was shocked, but I loved it. It fit me and my life at the time prefect. After that Henry became my hair stylist for life.

  22. Karis says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I’ve been thinking about going blonde (from dark brown). Do you have any advice on how to know if it will look good before taking the plunge? Is that something my hair stylist could tell me?

  23. Claudia says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I’ve donated my hair a couple of times to various charities that make wigs. So I’ll grow my hair out as long as I can tolerate and then cut 10 inches off and start all over again. I always go to the same stylist because like you said, I know I can totally trust her. She knows my hair type (a wavy/poufy combination when left to air dry), she knows my style, and I know that she’ll take everything into account when she makes a major style change with my hair. It’s kind of pricey, but it’s SO worth it and I wouldn’t consider going to anyone else making such a huge change in my hair style approximately every 2 years!

  24. Posted May 19, 2014

    Great post! I just went shorter and way blonder! It is so fun to change things up.

  25. Christina says
    Posted May 19, 2014
  26. Angie says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    I too had a big hair change….I trust my hair dresser (as you were discussing Kate) and I got this wild idea to cut all my hair super short. She tried her best to talk me out of the hair cut because she knows how I am and that I wouldn’t be happy but I had to have it cut. It was almost like a pixie but not quite that short. As soon as 1 day passed, I was so unhappy….and at my next appointment we talked about how I was going to grow it out. She just hugged me and said “please listen to me next time”. I’ve been with her for so long, she knows what will look good and I just would not listen.

    6 months later…I’m back to my bob and while I still like it just below my ears….I don’t even mention ever going back to super short again. Lesson learned.

  27. Posted May 19, 2014

    I have to agree if you want a drastic change you should go to a person you trust for sure. I made that mistake once never again. mywhiteT.com

  28. Jennifer says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    My “hair” life has been one big dramatic change after another. I let it grow to my waist then cut it off, this is usually an every 3-5 year cycle, so I’ve done it many times. I like change, don’t like to have the same style for more than a few years. My biggest change was in my 2nd pregnancy, went from waist length to ultra short, they had to shave some of the hair on my neck it was so short! My hair grows pretty fast so it’s not so hard for me to pull the trigger on change.

  29. Claudia says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    Just did it and love it! My daughter aske that I grow my bangs out before her wedding, which I did. I figured I would let the rest grow too and donate it. I was soooooo happy to get rid of the ponytails everyday!

  30. Alicia says
    Posted May 19, 2014

    What are your thoughts on wanting a dramatic change if you’re not in love with your current stylist? Is it okay then to go to a new one for a big change? Or should you find a new stylist, do a basic cut, and then go dramatic next time? I feel like I’m in an annoying situation as I’m sick of my hair, but not quite fond if the person who has been cutting it most recently.

  31. vixi says
    Posted May 20, 2014

    I would really love to cut my hair short. The only problem is that I have hair that grows kinda slow, and even though I do take care of my hair I get splitt ends in massive amounts and I have to go to the hairdresser, then cut of about 2 inches. So if I cut it short it would take so much time to grow it back, I can’t take that risk!

  32. Mandy says
    Posted May 20, 2014

    I’ve donated to Locks of Love twice! This last time (almost two years ago) I donated 15 inches and the longest part of my hair was just past my chin. Some people forget (like me) to ask where the style will end after they’ve cut off that much. If they chop it at the length you want, it will be shorter after they give you a style!

  33. Jamison says
    Posted May 21, 2014

    YES!! I actually just cut 8 inches off my hair to donate to Children With Hair Loss. I went from having hair down my back to just grazing my shoulders! If it wasn’t for your blog and hair tutorials I don’t think I would’ve been confident enough to go through with it!! You’re amazing!!

  34. Marci says
    Posted May 21, 2014

    Thanks for these tips, they’re great! I’ve been thinking about a dramatic hair change (several inches off) for a few weeks and I think asking my stylist these questions will help me finally make a decision!

  35. Posted May 21, 2014

    This is a really good post! I love bold changes and I’ve been through at least 20 when I was a teenager I think. There were also 1 or 2 cuts where I would have wished for my stylist to say no because it absolutely did not look good with the shape of my face so I will think about your post next time a big change is on its way 🙂

  36. Posted May 21, 2014

    I am naturally almost platinum blonde and I went very very dark brown my junior year of high school. I wanted a change and boy did I get it! When it was dried and styled I went straight into tears, I was so afraid of it! haha But like you said, give it a few days before making up your mind. I have not been blonde since and that was years and years ago. Although I have been different shades of brown through the years, it just works better with my complexion and brows. Currently I am wanting a change of a bit lighter, but not sure how do go about that without the skunk look! haha

  37. Al says
    Posted May 21, 2014

    What a fantastic post! As a child I used to have a fear of going to the salon, to me it was worse than the dentist. My mom always kept my hair short and I looked like a boy, it was always a traumatizing event. When I was allowed to finally grow it out, grow it out I did, right down to my waist and never getting a trim. I am now in the happy medium stage where I will happily cut off a few inches and add bangs now but this tip sheet may help me experiment further. Thanks you!

  38. Posted May 22, 2014

    Very good advice. I’m considering a drastic hair change in the near future and this will definitely help me make the right decision!

  39. Jessica S. says
    Posted May 22, 2014

    In September of last year I went from bra strap length long hair (middle back) to a pixie cut! I wasn’t able to donate my hair unfortunately but I love the change. And my husband loves it too. His favorite part is being able to kiss my neck. And doing a faux hawk is way cool!