“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life,” said the fashion mogul Coco Chanel, who, for the record, donned a trendsetting sleek bob.
Dr. Tricia Wolanin, a clinical psychologist, is inclined to agree with the iconic French designer and business mogul.
“The timing of when [a woman] chooses to get a haircut is key,” she says. “Is it post-breakup to redefine a new you, and release excess burden and baggage? Is it a marking point for a new adventure such as graduation, new job or a notable birthday? Or is she getting this haircut as a metaphor to take time out to care for herself and move into her power?”
Though our motivations for getting a haircut vary (and sometimes, we’re just looking to tame the beast of tangles), we can all agree on one thing: we want a good haircut. Actually, no, we want a fantastic haircut — and for good reason.
“Haircuts are one of the first things people notice when you make a slight alteration,” says Wolanin. “When we take the time to make a shift, others notice. It may be a trim in our bangs, new color, or a whole new style — but our hair makes a statement.”
A great haircut can bear a hefty price tag — yet fall short of expectations.
And haircuts can be expensive.
Celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque says on average a great cut in a big city costs “about $150, and will last about six to seven weeks.” Edward Tricomi, stylist and co-owner of Warren Tricomi Salons puts the ballpark figure for a new do at “$130 up to $1,000. It depends on what you are requesting and where you go. I can make that cut last anywhere between three to four months.”
But we don’t always get what you pay for, do we? I don’t know anyone (male or female) who hasn’t suffered a terrible haircut.
What steps can clients take to ensure the best results?
Scour Yelp and other review platforms
If you’re looking for a new stylist, do as much sleuthing as you can on their professional work.
“Look up a hairstylist’s reviews online, talk to current and past clients, [and/or] visit a salon in person and ask a hairstylist about their experience and portfolio,” hairstylist Chad Seale says.
Many stylists have a presence on Instagram, so be sure to check out their work there, too.
Book a consultation first
One of the best tips I’ve learned over the years, when booking a hair appointment, is to secure that the cut comes with a consultation.
“A consultation should be included as part of the service, and doing one complimentary is the norm,” says Labrecque. “At my salons we generally allow 15 minutes with each client for this process.”
You can also book a consultation with just a blow dry, which Neven Radovic, lead stylist at Ian McCabe Studio, recommends.
“Your hair is a big deal and impacts you daily — you should be comfortable when you are spending your hard-earned money on it,” says Radovic. “I recommend booking an appointment for just a consultation and a blow dry. This way you can get to know the stylist and how they work before doing anything serious. And then if it is a good fit, book a second appointment for a cut/color.”
Be honest about how much time you spend on your hair everyday
Be as direct as you can with your stylist — not just about what you want to change (or keep) — but about your hair routine. If you often throw your hair up in a messy bun because you don’t have the time to deal with it, tell the stylist that so they can create a cut that’s easy to manage.
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“Be honest with your stylist,” says Seale. “A good stylist will know the perfect hairstyle for your face, lifestyle and preferences; however, he or she should also be willing to listen to your concerns and work with you.”
You should also point out if you use or are open to using products everyday as some hairstyles are more high-maintenance (and costly) in this regard.
Get inspiration from TV, beauty mags, Pinterest and Instagram
Part of the job of a hairstylist is to know the current trends. If you’re out of the loop, they can fill you in, but if you have no idea what you want, it’s best to do a bit of homework to get some ideas. The stylists we consulted recommend checking out Pinterest, beauty magazines and fashion influencers on Instagram. Save a few pics on your phone to show the stylist what appeals to you.
“It’s always great to show your stylist a picture of something you’re trying to achieve so they have a good idea on how to move forward,” says Tricomi.
Hear out the stylist’s suggestions, but hold your ground
A stylist should have suggestions for what they think will look best on you based on your preferences and lifestyle. But don’t feel obligated to agree.
“If in the end you don’t want the style he or she recommends, they should willingly yield to your decision,” says Seale.
Consider not only face shape, but body shape
No two faces are the same, but most faces fall into one of four categories: oval, long, square or round.
“Each one has different haircuts that look perfect for them,” says Tricomi. “Bangs or no bangs, blunt cuts, or long layers — it all depends on how you cut and structure someone’s new look. When you’re cutting, what is really important is body structure and facial features. A great stylist knows how to balance all of those compliments and give the client the look they're looking for.”
It’s good to have some idea of these factors before heading in (you can easily do this by following one of the many online guides for measuring both face and body shape).
“Pinterest can help the client look at face shapes and find cuts that are best,” says Tricomi.