Friday, May 22, 2009

Dos and Don'ts At the Hair Salon

I've worked in a hair salon for 27 years now, so I'm pretty sure how to behave there. Judging from the number of questions I get about hair salon ettiquette, it's a mysterious and murky subject, fraught with potential faux-pas, and immiment embarrassment. I had no idea. But, I have no clue how to behave at the monster truck rally or at Chinese New Year, so we all have our gaps.
So, as a public service, I offer up the following:

  • Tip the shampoo girl. She doesn't make much, and you will make her day with a two dollar tip. And no, you don't have to tip the owner. In fact, you don't have to tip anyone, it's not a restaurant. (But we really do appreciate it.)
  • Come on time. Our number one pet peeve, clients who breeze in 10 minutes late with a Starbucks latte in their hand and have to make a phone call before we start.
  • Bring a picture of what you want. It's great to have a starting point in the consultation, even if the starting point is "there is no way in hell I can make any part of you look like Angelina Jolie. Not even your bangs".
  • Have an idea of what you want. Saying "I don't know" makes me crazy and you look like a ditzy idiot. Of course you have some idea of what you want; at least you have some idea of what you don't want, don't make me pull it out of you.
  • Have a time in mind when you book your appointment. Seems simple, I know, but you wouldn't believe the number of people who call, say they'd like a haircut, and then get all flustered and confused when we ask when they would like it. It's not exactly a surprise question, you know.
  • Be discreet. This isn't a big city, and the person in the chair next to you can hear you perfectly well. And that might be your cousin's neighbour who works with your husband who knows who you are, but you don't know who she is. And now she's heard all about the cat hair cookies she supposedly brought to the company Christmas party.
  • Eat before you come. I can't cut hair and not get it in your salad, I'm sorry. Physics and all.
  • Ask when you book the appointment how long it will be if your time is tight. I don't know how many clients have freaked out because they still have foils in their hair and they have to pick up their kids in 10 minutes. We work on a schedule and it's fairly predictable, all you have to do is ask.
  • Change into one of the gowns provided if you are getting colour done (to protect the collar of your shirt) or if you don't want little bits of hair down your back for the rest of the afternoon. Really, that's what they are there for. You can ask to change if it's not offered.
  • Complain if there's something you're unhappy about. If we can fix it, believe me, we will. If we can't fix it, we'd certainly like the opportunity to make it right. Our feelings aren't that delicate.


  • Lift your head when you are getting shampooed. You're not really helping me as much as you think when you do that. Now, as well as getting all the soap out, I have to make sure I don't shoot water right down your back and get the waistband of your underwear all wet.
  • Ask to be squeezed in. There are only so many hours in a day. Mine are full; if I've said I'm booked, that means I don't have any more time available. If I did, I'd say "I can book you in for 2 0'clock. See how that works?
  • Tell me about every bad hairstyle you've had since your mother cut your bangs in 4th grade. I don't need to know, it's not a medical history. The only hairstyle of yours that is important to me is the one I'm working on right now. And as for hair colour, I really only want to know about the hair on your head. Seriously.
  • Tell me about every lousy hairdresser you've ever had in your entire life. I'm doing my best. And the common denominator in that story is you.
  • Cross your legs when you're getting a haircut, particularly a haircut, like a bob, that depends on being very straight across the back. It throws out your posture when you cross your legs at the knees, and makes for some asymmetry that's not always pleasing.
  • Ask for a discount. Your discount means a pay cut for me personally, because I get paid on commission. I may not be able to afford that, or want to do that, and you asking me in a very public place puts me in an uncomfortable situation that makes me really, really not want to do you any favors.
  • Feel like you have to make conversation. You don't have to be my entertainment committee, you can just relax and enjoy the first opportunity you've probably had in some time to sit in one spot and not say anything.
  • Bring your dog to your appointment. I can't believe I have to say that.

Now, I hope your next hair cut will be all the more pleasant. You're welcome.

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