Hair Q & A


My original mindset when I started filming hair tutorials back in 2011 was to provide basic videos for my clients. When I shared them on Pinterest and they sort of went viral, I learned that being an accessible hairstylist that could answer questions or perhaps show a technique was helpful for more people than just my personal clientele.

I’m not currently doing hair, but I am keeping my finger on the pulse of hair trends and doing a few friends and family members’ hair!

I wanted to round up a few common questions I receive related to hair for this post, and I hope it’s helpful for you!

Q: My stylist always leaves too much of my natural hair color between my scalp and where the highlight starts. I feel like I leave the salon and already have new growth. What can I do about this?

A: I totally understand your frustration here! It’s annoying to pay for a service and leave feeling like you got shorted a few weeks from the normal cycle because you have your natural root color showing. This can be caused by improper application of the color, bad placement of the foil, or carelessness from your stylist. It is very possible, in fact, it’s rather easy, to achieve a highlighted section of hair starting close to the scalp. I would express this to your stylist and if they aren’t able to fix it, it may be time to find someone else!

Q: Is it okay to have one stylist color and a different stylist cut? 

A: Generally yes but in some cases, it may be important that both stylists are aware of any specific haircut or hair color goals. For example, if you were planning on cutting bangs, you would want to inform your colorist that that will be happening because it may affect how he or she colors the hair near your forehead.

Q: How long does it take to go from medium brown to medium blonde?

A: It’s hard to answer this blindly but in general, it may take as few as two services, as long as you want to preserve the integrity of the hair. You can lighten the hair with all-over color, lightener, or slowly integrate highlights all over the head to lighten the hair. The process you decide with your stylist will help determine the length of time it will take!

Q: My stylist is rushing me through my appointments, what can I do?

A: If you are late, this problem is caused by you! If you are NOT late and your stylist is rushing, I would kindly speak to him/her at the end of the service and point out that you are feeling this way. Perhaps a different time of the day is better or something else may be going on. It is appropriate and necessary to kindly bring up the feelings you have!

Q: What kind of tip should I give at the end of the service?

A: I answered this question a long time ago and received some interesting feedback. In general, in my personal experience, I’ve always heard and been of the mindset that about 20% is a common tip percentage. HOWEVER, a tip is a tip. It is kind to give a tip but it certainly isn’t necessary. It may be expected on the stylist’s end due to the history of how the business has worked for many years, but if you are not able to afford a tip I think it’s reasonable to explain that. If you can’t do 20%, do less! This is not a black and white area. One change I have noticed is that hairstyling and coloring services seem to have become very expensive, so 20% of a few hundred dollars service is a lot! If you can’t swing a tip, don’t sweat it, but know that any tip you are able to provide is certainly greatly appreciated.

Q: What would be a “safe” first-time hair color for someone who wants to experiment but isn’t sure if she wants the commitment?

A: If you want to change the tone or go darker, a demi-permanent gloss is the easiest way to change up your hair without making a serious commitment. It will slowly fade out over time. If you want to go lighter, try adding just a few subtle highlights around your face, sort of where the sun would naturally hit your hair if you were laying on the beach. This can both grow out really natural and also give you an impact of lighter hair without a commitment of all-over color!

Follow along on Instagram if you want to be the first to know when I put a call out for questions OR do a Q&A session on Instastories! 

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Comments (46)

  1. Posted May 14, 2019

    I actually don’t have a permanent stylist and it drives me nuts! I dunno how people manage to find “the one”… would love to know how you found a good fit for a hair stylist!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Marah Leinbaugh says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    I love Q&A posts! This was very informative and interesting. Thanks for the post, Kate!

  3. Alison says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    Hi! I’m curious your thoughts on the practice of not including a blow dry when only a color (and not a cut) is scheduled. Or maybe this is just an obnoxious NYC / tri-state area practice? (I lived in Brooklyn for years and now live in Nj). My view is, if you get my hair wet, you need to dry it (and not just a rough dry, but an actual finish so that when I see people and they ask where I got my hair done, it’s good advertising for you!) Any thoughts?? 🙂

    • Kate says
      Posted May 14, 2019

      I totally agree with you. I hate that it’s become commonplace to break down the hair service into multiple parts. : /

    • Tiffany says
      Posted May 14, 2019

      It is not just the NYC/NJ area, this happens in the Midwest as well and it drives me nuts! I also feel that if you get my hair wet it should be included in the cost to dry and style it at the end. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but should look finished at the least! I shouldn’t have to choose between spending extra money and slinking out of the salon embarrassed to look like a drowned rat. 🙁 I started asking for my hair to be dry cut for this reason.

      The other thing I can’t stand is the up-sell. I let my daughter get balayage done on the bottom half of her hair for her birthday last year. After it was done, the stylist asked my 11-year-old daughter if she wanted her hair curled too. I knew this was going to cost extra, but would have felt like a complete jerk telling my daughter no at that point. It was very out-of-line in my opinion for the stylist to put that pressure on me!

  4. Angela says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    I wish I had some of these tips before I decided to dye my hair a deep dark purple – it looked terrible and I had to go to a salon to strip it out! Also can’t stand being rushed for a service as a paying customer – this would be deal breaker for me.

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

  5. Stacey H says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    Kate, I am 17 weeks pregnant and my OB says it’s fine now to color my roots, but I’m wondering if I should switch (I color my own hair) to a vegetable dye vs. regular ones with ammonia – what are your thoughts?

    • Kate says
      Posted May 14, 2019

      I’d follow the direction of your OB! I don’t feel comfortable giving advice either way since I am not a doctor 🙂

  6. Hilary says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    Super interesting to hear your thoughts on tipping! I’ve always been of the mindset that if you can’t afford the service plus a nice tip, then you can’t afford the service! I feel similarly to restaurant tipping too…

  7. ASHLEY says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    I’ve always been “confused” about tipping a stylist who rents a space and one that owns her own salon. Do you differentiate your tips based on their position at a salon?

    • Kate says
      Posted May 14, 2019

      I can understand that. I would just tip your stylist normally and not think too hard about the ownership aspect of the situation.

  8. Kim says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    This is a great post! I’ve been cutting my own hair for years (ugh.. i know ha!), but I need to go back to a professional.

    Kim .. first tattoo tips!

  9. Allison says
    Posted May 14, 2019

    In your Insta story today, you have ~15 eyelashes per eye and your eyebrows are melting or something. So, I was really relieved to see a hair post on the blog today. I’m a recent follower and was pretty freaked out by your story look but this post seems pretty niche and like something you know about.

    • Caroline says
      Posted May 16, 2019

      Are you talking about when she didn’t have any makeup on? She’s blonde, come on.

      • Kate says
        Posted May 17, 2019

        Caroline, thanks for chiming in but I’m pretty certain Allison’s comment is intentionally rude and left to incite drama, so there is no point to involve yourself with this type of dialogue.

  10. Megan says
    Posted May 15, 2019

    Very informative, love these hair Q&A’s! Keep them coming!

  11. Elle says
    Posted May 15, 2019

    I appreciate your comment on tipping! A tip is a tip, it is not part of the service fee. 20% is a lot to me, even at restaurants, but I do always give a little something extra.

  12. Posted May 15, 2019

    Great tips.
    I found a wonderful stylist in my neighbourhood who works out of her home. She’s a gem.

  13. Michele says
    Posted May 15, 2019

    Kate I can’t use product in my hair other than a leave in conditioner. I would love to have me hair cut similar to yours. 95% of the time I wear it straight, and the other time put a wave in it. Do you think I can pull it off?
    Also what is the best way to describe your cut to my stylist?

  14. Danielle says
    Posted May 16, 2019

    Is it possible to cut layers in thick/coarse hair without it flipping out at the ends? I don’t like how bulky my hair looks at the bottom if it’s one length, but every time I get layers cut in, it flips out. Is there something I should ask my stylist to do differently? Or could it be the way I style it? (I vary between flat iron and curling rod, does this either way)

    • Kate says
      Posted May 17, 2019

      Thick hair does want to kick out especially when it hits at the shoulders. Point it out to your stylist so she knows that you don’t want that look!

      • Danielle says
        Posted May 17, 2019

        Ok I will! Is there any specific technique I should be asking for?

        • Rebekah says
          Posted May 17, 2019

          Disclaimer: I’m not a stylist, but I’ve suffered the same problems.

          If your hair or layers are shoulder length, there’s not a ton you can do to prevent it from flipping out. That just comes with the territory. My stylist will use thinning scissors to remove some of the bulk of my hair, so that takes away from the blunt ends. It also helps my hair to flip under if I use a round brush when I blow dry. Good luck!

  15. Lisa says
    Posted May 16, 2019

    Great post! In regards to tipping, I’ve been with my stylist for about 10 years. I’m a regular 20% tipper. I love her and missed her greatly when she recently went on maternity leave. My first color appointment with her back required a lot of color to get it back to where I like it. There was an extra charge for extra mixed color, as well as the usual extra charge for Olaplex. I’m wondering if I should be tipping on this amount as well. This time I did not and I’m wondering about your thoughts on this. I want to tip well because she keeps my hair looking great

    • Kate says
      Posted May 16, 2019

      Hmmm that is a tough one. Hopefully this extra color + service was a one time thing and you can get back to your typical 20% but if it happens another time or two I think it’s totally acceptable to speak to your stylist about what you are able to tip right now!

  16. Wendy says
    Posted May 18, 2019

    I love hair Q and A! I have baby fine straight hair. It does take a curl but I don have time to do that often. I’ve tried many of the products you’ve recommended and I just can’t seem to get volume when it’s down and straight. So I usually do my volume products, blow dry, give up and throw it up in a bun. I’d love some volume on a smooth straight style. Help!

  17. Emily says
    Posted May 25, 2019

    Hey Kate! Your cuts and color are always my go to to show a stylist and I can’t remember how long ago it was but you posted an IG story with the details of your recent color- I thought I took a screenshot but now I can’t find it! I’m trying to get back to a brighter, all over blonder situation, so sorry but do you care to tell me those details again? Thanks!!

  18. Carrie says
    Posted June 2, 2019

    Hi Kate! Got a question… my stylist usually thins my hair out with thinning shears but used a razor this time and it’s looks thinner than I like. Does it grow back (thickness wise) as quickly with a razor cut as with thinning shears? Usually if it’s cut too thin with the shears it’s fine in a couple weeks. Anything I can do in the meantime? Thanks so much

    • Kate says
      Posted June 3, 2019

      A razor will usually remove more hair than thinning shears. I’d tell her what you think about it during the next haircut so she doesn’t use the razor again! It may take a little bit longer to fill back in too!

  19. Jodi says
    Posted June 6, 2019

    Love your blog! We recently moved to Raleigh, and I’m searching for a new hair stylist. Do you have any that you would recommend? Thanks!

    • Kate says
      Posted June 7, 2019

      I’ve had a great experience at Douglas Carol Salon in North Raleigh!

  20. LOKACI says
    Posted June 7, 2019

    All the answers are very helpful and can really help one to maintain hair in summer. Keep doing this QnA.

  21. LOKACI says
    Posted June 7, 2019

    Thanks for doing this Q&A. All the answers are really very helpful. keep doing it. THANK YOU 🙂

  22. Nicki Hughes says
    Posted June 17, 2019

    I would love some advice! Looking for a good finishing product that will hold my georgeous waves and tame the frizz without looking like I am wearing a helmet! Hairspray dries my scalp and I like for my hair to move. Any suggestions?

  23. Kate says
    Posted July 17, 2019

    I would love a Q & A on thinning hair. I recently went through menopause and my hair is so thin and keeps falling out and doesn’t seem to be growing back-any suggestions?

  24. Kelly Caton says
    Posted July 29, 2019

    I have had a very stressful year, and my hair has been breaking off dramatically. I have hilights, and I’ve never had this happen before. My ends feel damaged, even after cutting off several inches. What products would you recommend to start repairing and/or preventing further damage? Thank you!

    • Kate says
      Posted July 31, 2019

      I’ve seen great results with Virtue products, as well as Alterna Bond Repair products!

  25. Jane says
    Posted August 10, 2019

    Kate what are your hair color numbers?

  26. Sara says
    Posted September 25, 2019

    Love your blog and videos and I might have missed something where you state this. Do you have a preference over the dyson hair dryer with tools over another brush drying tool? Read lots of reviews but appreciate your opinion.

    • Kate says
      Posted September 25, 2019

      I don’t use the tools that attach to the Dyson hair dryer. I like the Hot Tools Blow Dry brush BUT there are a few things I dislike about it. It’s super hot, doesn’t have an easy to pull cool shot, and doesn’t have adjustable heat with adjustable speed.

  27. Becky Mckay says
    Posted November 11, 2019

    How often should you get your ends trimmed? I go to my stylist every 4-5 weeks for color and always get a trim at that time. But I sometimes feel like maybe I should go in between color visits to keep my ends looking fresh and healthy.

  28. Kandace says
    Posted December 30, 2019

    I need your help!!!
    I don’t k ow what is going on with my hair right now and I am so frustrated. I’m dealing with extreme dryness, breakage and split ends even though I’ve been getting a reg trim. I want to grow my hair out but it looks so bad I just want to chop it off instead ☹️ I would greatly appreciate your help, I’m so desperate.

  29. Andrea says
    Posted March 8, 2020

    Hi Kate! I would love to see any advice or suggestions you can give on hair length. This has been an on going battle for myself for years. Possibly give suggestions of hair lengths based on shape of face, fine hair vs. thick and so on. Thank you!

  30. Jackie says
    Posted March 29, 2020

    Hi I love your videos and was wondering how I can describe your current mid length haircut to my hairstylist? It’s so pretty but I can’t tell if you have layers or textured ends? Thank you so much!

  31. Kristy says
    Posted August 29, 2020

    Do you know what hair color product your stylist uses (ie what brand)? I find it so strange that preserving hair health is not a focus for stylist. I struggle with damaged hair due to highlights. I thought if I knew which products are more gentle, I could use the stylist finder tool on the product website to find a good stylist. Any tips?

  32. Amy says
    Posted January 5, 2021

    I absolutely love your hairstyle and was wondering what kind of cut it is? I have been watching a lot of your videos and feel my hair would do very well with the same cut as yours. Thanks!