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How to talk to your hairdresser

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  • How to talk to your hairdresser

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    Good communication is the basis of walking out of a salon looking like a million dollars.

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By Stuart Gavert

The Style Glossy


One of the most important things we teach our assistants is how to consult with a client. This communication process can go seemingly well, yet at the end, the client may be unhappy with the results.

What went wrong? As hairdressers, we have a way of talking about hair that is different than the way clients talk about it. We refer to the latter as “client speak,” which can be like a foreign language.

For example, in comes a client for color and says she wants her hair “brighter.” I can usually guess what that means after doing hair for 33 years, but even then I might be treading on potentially dangerous ground.

Try to be more specific about what you want. For instance, ask if your hair color can be shinier (easy to fix). Is it the right tone for your skin? Is it time for a change?

Most hairdressers, myself included, like it when clients bring in pictures. But -- and this is very important -- what a camera captures and what your eye captures are two different things. A camera, particularly one used by a pro taking pictures for a magazine, is lit up, so a model’s hair may look highlighted in ways a hairdresser cannot duplicate.

Another very valuable tool is a swatch book. Almost all color companies make ring binder books with swatches of their color. Looking through these with your hairdresser can really help her or him understand what you mean when you say “My hair color is dull, drab or flat” or other words that are open to interpretation.

I asked some of the haircutters at my salon about their communication problems. Most of them said if a client asks for “an inch off,” they ask her to show with their fingers what an inch means.

Be honest about your routine, they also suggest. How often do you wash your hair, how do you style it?

Be realistic about what your hair texture is capable of. Good communication is the basis of walking out of a salon looking like a million dollars.


Stuart Gavert is the owner of the Beverly Hills salon Gavert Atelier. He has a roster of celebrity clients and regularly consults on hair color for films.



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