Did you know that your stylist should consider your consultation THE most important part of your salon visit? It sets up the overall happiness of your service, ensures that you and your stylist are on the same page, and helps your stylist get to know you, and vise versa. As a senior stylist, I have a structured criteria that I follow as well as train new stylists on to set them up for success when taking clients. I wanted to share with everyone what your stylist should be doing and asking during your consultation, and what you as a client can do to prepare for your visit as well! Enjoy!
Here are some general rules I follow as a Stylist
Ask Questions. I spend up to 15 minutes asking as many questions as possible.
Analyze. From there, I determine the texture of hair, porosity of hair, find the natural color of hair using a color swatch chart, determine the percentage of gray and analyze the skin tone/face shape.
Get a visual. I always pull up or look at the clients pictures, and analyze the heck out of them. Usually, I even pull the picture up in the back room where I mix up color, and spend a ridiculous amount of time formulating to perfection.
LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!!!!!!!!!! I write down, take mental notes and genuinely listen to what my client is saying before I begin any sort of professional recommendation. The best compliment that I receive from many clients is that I listen to them and I truly believe that is part of what has made me so successful as a stylist.
Keep Record. It amazes me how many stylists I have encountered that don't take any sort of notes with what colors they used on their client, or what they talked about during the consultation. The stylists at my salon write down everything...From the colors I used, to how I applied it, to what colors they don't like, what colors they do like, to why they left their last salon, to what would make their experience excellent...and the list goes on.
Check in. The consultation is usually lengthy and most important on an initial visit, however I check in every single time, even on clients I've been seeing for years. I check in by asking how their cut or color was, if they're looking for any type of change, or if there were any problems or concerns with their last visit.
Be Precise! When a client says they want an inch off, I get a comb with a ruler on it and show them what an inch is. When they say they want a bob, I turn them around and with a mirror, I show them how short the bob will be in the back. When they say they want caramel highlights, I pull up pictures of what caramel is.
Repeat. Before beginning any service, I reiterate exactly what we will be achieving during the visit, to ensure we're on the same page before we even begin!
Aside from these general rules, I also ask or have paperwork with a series of questions...
What do you like or dislike about your hair? This is the most important question in the consultation because it begins to point your stylist in the right direction. What the client dislikes about her hair is just as important as what she likes, if not more so. When you begin to understand what she dislikes, you begin to set boundaries that you know not to cross in order to keep them happy. I make note of what a client likes and write it down in their file. If a client shows a picture, I ask what they like/dislike about the picture
What is your personal style? A stylist needs to make sure they're giving their clients a look that they feel comfortable in on an everyday basis. Do they like sleeker, simple styles or tousled romantic waves?
What is your professional style? Its important to make sure clients think about their work attire when deciding on a hairstyle. Sometimes the client that likes fun, wild hair forgets that she has to keep it professional at work, or they have to be ready at 5:30AM everyday and needs a quick easy cut!
What are your long term goals for your hair? Sometimes clients make decisions based on frustrations with their hair or even in their personal life. I like to find out what my clients long term goals are. If I have a client who is growing her hair out but is frustrated with the stage it’s at, it’s probably not in her best interest to cut off 4 inches of hair.
How committed are you to salon visits? This question is very important for the client. If they want platinum highlights but cannot get back to the salon for 3 months, I might suggest a more low maintenance look. This is when I usually let my client know how long their color or cut will last them before needing another appointment.
How much time are you willing to spend on your hair? Again, it's important to make sure a client realizes how much time they will be spending maintaining their style at the salon, or in this case in the each day. A client will be frustrated with a high maintenance haircut if she wants a low maintenance look.
How do you usually style your hair? A client that does nothing but air dry their hair is not going to be happy with something that has to be blown dry to look good. It's important to make sure that their style compliments their lifestyle and they are able to replicate their style at home.
What challenges do you face with your hairstyle? By asking clients this question, it tells me what I can do to help them recreate a style at home. I like to show clients how to use a round brush, flat iron, etc.
What products are you currently using? This question lets the client know that
I'm truly concerned with the health of their hair, the longevity of their color and
whether or not they can achieve the results they want at home. I like to lead
clients in the right direction so they are able to recreate their look at home, help their $200 color last as long as possible and keep their hair in the best condition possible.
Do you have existing color on your hair? I can usually determine this myself because of experience, however ALWAYS be honest with this question and let your stylist know how long its been since you've colored your hair and what type of color service you received last time you had it colored.
Here are some things you can do as a client to ensure a successful Consultation!
Be Prepared. Arrive on time and with an idea of what you are wanting to achieve. Do some research before you arrive and give your stylist an idea of what you like/dislike so they have a starting point. You can even refer to my "talking the talk" post to catch up on some salon lingo!
Be Honest. This is super important! Whether you box colored your hair at home, or visited another salon, honesty is the best policy. Hair color will act differently if we are under the impression there is no color on it and there is, so it is always best to tell your stylist your history of your hair so there are no unwanted results.
Bring Pictures. But don't bring 15 pictures that are all different. 3 is a good number. It's okay to bring pictures of what you like or dislike, or of a time you really loved your hair. Look in magazines, on pinterest, or refer to my instagram
Trust your Stylist. Listen to your stylists suggestions, they are the professional and should be up to date on the current trends and will know what will and won't work for you. Sometimes I have clients that I can tell are very nervous and having a hard time relaxing, adding this stress to your stylist makes it hard for them to perform to their most creative potential because they can be worried, or overly conservative. Every stylist does things differently, just because you had a bad haircut with layers from your last stylist doesn't mean you should never get layers again..If you trust your stylist enough to proceed after the consultation, then trust them enough to perform their service the way they see fit.
Be Open. Just because you had skunk striped highlights 10 years ago doesn't mean you should never get highlights again. If your stylist is making a recommendation on how to achieve a certain look, or to change something up about your style, it's a good idea to listen to them. They are the professional!
Be realistic. Understand that not one persons hair is alike, it is best to realize that your stylist is giving you the best version of what your hair can achieve. If your stylist says a certain style won't work with your hair type, trust their opinion and talk about other options.
Reflect on last appointment. I have built trusting relationships with my clients, and they know they can come to me about what they liked or disliked about their last style and I will listen. It's important to tell your stylist feedback about your last service so they can address and make changes accordingly. Open communication leads to great service.
Ask about prices. If you are on a budget or concerned with cost, be upfront and talk to your stylist ahead of time. Most of the time your stylist can recommend a different, lower maintenance look if you're looking to frequent the salon less. You can also talk about different techniques that cost less, for example a partial highlight instead of a full, or a balayage for a more natural grow out.
I hope this helps next time your heading to the salon for a consultation! Feel free to leave any more consultation questions that you need answered!