Avoiding horror haircuts

LIBBY HAKIM
Last updated 15:18 04/12/2013

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Most of us have been there. Sitting in one of those wide chairs, hoping it's just the bad lighting. Or that it's delirium setting in after all the incessant chatter while holding your head at weird angles. While you bounced into the hair salon with a vision of shiny loveliness, you left with a very different reality. Where did it all go wrong? A bad hairdresser? Your own follicular misfortune? Perhaps. But, often the problem comes down to communication.

Joey Scandizzo, ELEVEN Australia Co-Creative Director and three-time Australian Hairdresser of the Year, says clients "often have something in their head and it's really hard to give them the look they're after unless this is communicated properly."

So, to avoid trouble with our tresses, perhaps it's time for us clients to get a little proactive. Here are some things we can do to make sure our message doesn't get tangled when visiting the hair salon. 

BE SPECIFIC

Scott Sloan, who was recently named Emerging Hairdresser of the Year, says "the main communication problems come from one side trying to explain their vision verbally and the other side imagining that vision slightly differently. 'Long layers', 'blonde tones' or 'just a trim' can mean very different things to people."

Where possible, quantify your request. "Two centimeters off the length" leaves less room for error than "just a trim". If your request for "long layers" means "layers no shorter than shoulder-length", say it.

But sometimes, of course, words just aren't enough. 

PICTURE IT

The experts agree that it can be useful for clients to bring along pictures of the look they are after. Scandizzo says it helps to bring a few different pictures so that you can "work with your hairdresser to come up with something based on these images that will work for you."

But he has a cautionary tale for those who favour the hairstyles of celebrities and models: "I asked my hairdresser years ago to give me the same style as Tom Cruise from Top Gun and left disappointed that I didn't leave looking like him."  

BE THE MOST CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T WANT

If you've had plenty of hair disasters, one upside is that you will have plenty of ideas about what you DON'T want. Sometimes the best way to avoid disappointment is by emphasising your dislikes. If you're after some cool, creamy blonde highlights, don't just ask for what you want. Tell your hairdresser gold hues are on your banned list.

LISTEN UP

When communicating, listening can be just as useful as talking. And sometimes you may need to read between the lines.

If a hairdresser is suggesting "more suitable" or "more flattering" options, listen up. Your face shape, hair type and lifestyle will sometimes mean your preferred hairstyle is not practical or just won't work.

DECODE HAIRDRESSER-SPEAK

Like all professionals, hairdressers can get carried away with industry jargon. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to before you give your hairdresser the green light.

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Scandizzo gives us an insight into some of the terms he often has to explain to blank-faced clients: 

Block colouring - a full head of colour (as opposed to foils), often using two or more shades to colour large sections.

Seamless layers - a cutting technique referring to soft layers that blend into one another, not as choppy as other layering techniques.  

Solid form or blunt cut - this is when hair is cut to one length (no layers) for a solid, uniform flow of hair.

Texturise - cutting layers into the hair to create texture and natural body. 

EVALUATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP

The best communication happens when you can talk easily to someone, expressing your thoughts and feelings with confidence. Sloan says, "You should feel completely comfortable having an open discussion with your hairdresser... If you don't have this open line of communication, it might be a good time to have a think why and to really question if the hairdresser is right for you."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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