How to have a great consultation with your hairstylist

Foiling vs. Balayage vs. Ombre

The most important part of a hair service is the consultation. You’ve heard me say that before and I’ll continue to say it until I’m 95 years old. The more detailed the consultation is, the happier you will likely be at the end of the service!

So, I made a quick video explaining, what I think are, the most important things to touch on during a consultation for a hair service.

  1. Be on time. Usually, the first “thing” that gets cut from an appointment when you are late is the consultation. Even if you are simply getting a trim, it’s still important to be on time, and to have a little conversation about it. I’m also going to mention here that if your consultation happens at the shampoo bowl while your hair is being washed, it might be time to move on. The consultation needs to happen in front of a mirror, with your hair dry (however you came to the appointment) so both you and the stylist can see what your hair is doing. 
2. Have a rough idea of what you want. I have clients that spend a few days thinking about what they want for their next cut, and others that just thought about it a moment before they walked in. Both are fine, and it is a good idea to have some concept of what you are looking for.
3. Reflect on the last appointment. Chat about what you liked and didn’t like, hair-wise, from the previous appointment. Were the bangs too short? Did you want more of a face-frame? Was the shoulder grazing length perfect? Talk about those details with your stylist so he/she can grasp where to go next.
4. Do some research. It wouldn’t hurt to know a tiny bit about color, cutting methods, or styling products before you go to an appointment. This isn’t essential, but it may help you make a decision with your stylist while you are sitting in the chair.
5. Know yourself and your hair. Know what works for your lifestyle. How much time to you actually spend styling your hair? How often are you going to return for an appointment. These types of questions  are important for the stylist to know the answers to so he/she can create a look that you can replicate based on your time and availability.
6. Bring a photo. I think bringing a photo is a great idea. Stylists are visual, and it’s helpful to see colors or cuts that you are drawn to. If you ask for strawberry blonde, that could mean just a hint of strawberry  to you, but mean a lot of strawberry to the stylists. A photo will help clear up any confusion. As long as you are realistic that your texture/cut/color may be different and possibly unachievable from what’s in the photo, it can be a great tool to start a conversation with. 
7. Trust their judgement. Lastly, trust your stylist. Know that you are in good hands, and they want you to be happy with your hair. 

See how much time this could take to chat about these things? There are a lot of details to go over!

I hope this helps guide you through a successful consultation with your stylist. Let me know any other questions you may have, relating to a consultation, in the comments below! 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jaime says · 04.10.13

I have a hair appointment today! This was perfect! It was a “God-sequence” (when things are timed perfectly). 🙂


Applebypie says · 04.10.13

I’ve always been happy with my stylist until recently when she has started rushing – the last color appointment she put my root color on and then did two other clients cuts whilst it processed. I was there for 3 hours. My hair has been brittle and dry since and the root color is far too dark. I went straight back and she tried to lighten it, but it didn’t help. I have left it for now, but am reluctant to go back ! Really devastated as she has always looked after me so well. Think I need to have a honest talk with her 🙁

Rachael says · 04.10.13

Thank you! That was helpful. What should I do if my stylist is always running late? I am always on time (and often, early) to my appointment and it never fails that I am waiting. I hate super long appointments and she also double books so I am waiting forever even when my color is processing (my color processes fast too). What to do?

Niki Caron says · 04.10.13

Hi Kate, thanks for the great suggestions! I have a question – I used to have my bangs but like yours but they’ve since grown out and I’ve moved out of state. I want them cut like this again, so when I find a new stylist, what do I ask for? Also, what would you call Carrie Underwood’s blonde? Thanks girl!!

eatgreatbegreat says · 04.10.13

This is such great advice! Thank you! I always try to bring a picture with me to my appointment. I find that’s the easiest way to get the cut/style I want.

Rachel's Country Roots says · 04.10.13

I need a hair cut like it was no bodys business! I just go in and I tell whatever..and it normally turns out ok!

Leigh says · 04.10.13

I have been seeing my stylist every 8 weeks for 14 years for a trim and foil. We still have a “consultation” at every appointment. She knows me and what I like, but we always talk about it. She even changes my thinking when she knows I won’t be happy with a cut I “just have to copy.” This is such important advice!

Melissa says · 04.10.13

I love my stylist. She’s great at giving me what I ask for if I have a certain vision, but if I sit in her chair and say “Do whatever you want!” she does awesome work too. 🙂 I call her Magic Maggie.

Genevieve says · 04.10.13

This last appointment I brought my kindle and showed my stylist my pin board on the cut I wanted. Let me just say it was like she got in my head and made it happen!

Kayla Gilbert says · 04.10.13

Thanks for these tips Kate! : )


Sara in Texas says · 04.10.13

Thanks for the tips! I always bring multiple photos from Pinterest on my phone and we flip through them and go through what I like and don’t like about each! It’s like she can read my mind after that! 🙂

Maura says · 04.10.13

Such good advice. Even after a good consultation, I left my stylist’s the other day with some crazy blond streak that looks grey against my brown hair. I hate it but I will certainly go with her description of Carmel not blond next time. I should have asked to see a sample instead assuming I knew what she was describing….

Jess says · 04.10.13

Awesome video! I`m still trying to figure out if tons of layers would look good in my wavy long hair, or if it might mess it up!

Some Snapshots Blog

Gina says · 04.10.13

This comment has been removed by the author.

Amber says · 04.10.13

Here’s my dilemma…I have not had a haircut in over a year. My husband wanted me to grow my hair out, so that’s what I’ve been doing. However, I’m a mom to two kids under 2…so I have like 5 minutes to do my hair in the morning before someone is screaming or getting into something they shouldn’t or is hungry, etc. This means no time for blow drying or styling. I end up throwing my hair in a French braid, pony tail, or twist it into a quick bun. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually done my hair in the past 7 months…because it is zero. I need a “wash and wear” haircut if you will…but my hair is limp and lifeless on its on. Mostly straight with a tiny bit of wave in the back and that means letting it air dry down is pretty terrible looking. I’m tired of this! I want to feel good about how my hair looks without having to put in too much effort but have no idea what I would tell a stylist! Any suggestions??

Shayla says · 04.10.13

Great video, Kate! This was super helpful. I adored my previous stylist, but we recently moved two states away and now it’s time to find a new one. I read your “Dreaded Search” post and have been googling around to find salons that use my favorite products and emphasize continuing education. What questions do you suggest asking when consulting with a new stylist? And should I schedule an “interview” consultation first before committing to any services?

I wish you lived in Colorado, you’d totally be my new stylist! 🙂

H says · 04.22.13

I see Audrey at the Matthew Morris salon in Denver. She is great! She listens to what I want, and s phenomenal “no maintenance” hair color (color that doesn’t look terrible as it grows out so I don’t have to spend a fortune up keeping hair color).

Vickki says · 04.10.13

What do you suggest when someone can’t find a picture to describe what they want?

I have fine and thin hair that is at the ear-length stage of growing out. I have been trying to look for pictures of women with transitional haircuts that I like and will work with my hair texture and I can’t find anything I like. My hair is too fine and thin to use cute bobby pins, clips and headbands on which seems to be the go-to for hair this length.

Without being able to give an example of what I think looks good, and being handicapped by not being able to use the standby clips and pins, I’m not sure what to ask for.

PS- I’m in Raleigh… I stumbled across your website when I looking for pictures and ideas. When you do open up and accept new clients, how do you let people know? I’ve subscribed to your blog.


spanishkitchenette says · 04.10.13

Anytime I go to the hairstylist to change a little bit my haircut, I always ALWAYS take a picture of the look I want: pics found on the internet, magazines, anywhere. From the picture we discuss why or why not might suit me or what we should change in order to look good on me.
It really helps us!!

Jill says · 04.11.13

Kate, I recently met a woman my age with a simple cut that I love. I’m thinking of scheduling an appt with her stylist, but I wonder if she will remember what this particular woman’s hair looks like. I know you see so many people throughout the week and it must be hard to remember what everyone’s hair looks like. What do you think? Any suggestions? Thank you!

BBHillMusic says · 04.11.13

LOVE the daily helpful blog! Been a faithful “older” reader for a while (I am a trying 53 yr old redhead). I LOVE my stylist, I don’t mind paying $$$ for a great cut/color/style.

??? What is YOUR opinion on being to age gracefully without the mousy grey? All over color that is Perm. is not working, as my hair grows fast, and the disembarkation line is noticeable after 4 weeks all around my face. Would love your insights

Marah Reeves says · 04.11.13

Where did you get that gorgeous mint top?!

Pam says · 04.11.13

Love it! Thx! Quick question – I wear my hair up 99.9% of the time. I would like a cut that I would wear down but I default to various updos. Should I wear it up to consultation? Thx!

wtiger9 says · 04.12.13

I will definitely use this for my next appointment. I really hated my last cut. I specified no layers in the pre-wash consultation. And then again mentioned it after the wash and guess what I ended up with. Yep, Layers. Oh, but these are different , she said. Cut from a different angle. They are still layers to me. I have worked a year and a half to grow out the last layers I had and now I am discouraged to have to start the process over because of it. I have always loved her cuts before, so I will give her another shot. It’s helpful to know that you as a stylist actually WANT to hear if someone didn’t like the last cut you gave them.

Thiago daLuz says · 12.03.13

We are getting a cleaning consultation at our home in Loveland CO as soon as the holidays are over. I’m sure this will be a lot of help. Thanks for sharing!

Carrie RNC says · 12.08.13

Do you have a entry for your cut? I love your tutorials, but need to get the cut that works better for me to do these. Thanks.

Carrie RNC says · 12.08.13

Never mind, found it!