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16 hair stylists reveal the very helpful or most annoying things clients always do.

16 hair stylists reveal the very helpful or most annoying things clients always do.


Getting a haircut can be a vulnerable endeavor for many people, but wielding the power of the scissors can come with a very specific set of hilarious and upsetting challenges...

So, when a Reddit user asked hair stylists everywhere, 'how exactly do you want customers to communicate what they want to you? What do they say/do that is unhelpful?' people were ready to vent about their horror stories from the salon. No, you actually have no clue what an 'just an inch' means...


As a barber who's made many mistakes by assuming what people want I now ask a lot of questions. Some people are awkward and don't like to talk but I don't care. I carefully and respectfully ask them questions to figure out what they want. Most men aren't picky.

Some men are. Some have no idea what they want. Its my job to guide them in the right direction. I cut a lot of walk in customers and have narrowed down the questions to just a few. Here's an example of how it usually goes.

Barber: So what are we doing for you today?

Client: Uhh just a trim please.

Barber: Okay. Would you like clippers on the sides and back or do you prefer scissors only?

Client: I'm not sure actually.

Barber: Okay. Do you want the hair off of your ear or touching your ear?

Client: I like it off my ears please.

Barber: Okay. How often do you get your haircut? (I ask this because it gives me an idea of how often they get it cut and how short I can take it without them freaking out)

Client: Usually around once a month.

Barber: Okay. I see you like to keep it short on the sides and longer up top. If I use the clippers do you want to see skin on the sides and back? Or do you prefer it longer?

Client: No skin please. A little longer than that.

Barber: Okay you got it. (Now I know that I can use a number 2 or 3 on the sides and back and it'll be just the right length for them. Also, since the client didn't know what he wanted initially I know I don't have to do anything fancy like a skin fade or anything too 'modern' since it was never mentioned and there was no picture.

As I'm cutting I'm looking for any crazy cowlicks or issues I might run into when I get to the top of their head. Now since I've only used a 2 or 3 on the sides I can safely assume that the top will be just as simple. I always let them decide how much I should take off. I show them what an inch looks like and we can go from there. I do this as politely as possible while making small talk. Having done this for so long I know when people want to chat or when they prefer to be a little quieter.

But initially I NEED to ask questions and figure out what they want. Men are both loyal and easy to please. If I cut their hair right once, they'll be back. If I cut their hair and it's not exactly how they want it, but they liked me or the conversation we had, they'll come back and will now have an idea of what they want. If I cut their hair and jack it all up, they'll find somewhere else and possibly bad mouth me.

These cuts are my advertisements so I take it seriously. If you don't know what you want, allow the stylists to help you and ask questions. Pictures are a huge plus if you can't verbally explain. Ask questions yourself. Hope this helps someone. I know finding the right barber/stylist can be tough.

Communication is key. Build a relationship with them so it's more comfortable to talk about what you want. It takes time. If they mess up a little once, have them cut it again and let them know until they get it right. ....and bring them coffee. Lol - IntroVertiCali


I've been a hair stylists for 13 years. Bringing in photos of hair you like is the best thing you can do. And know what it is you like about that photo. Do you like the way the layers in the front sit around the face? The silhouette? The texture? The length?

The color? Even bringing in multiple photos if you can't find one that shows everything you want. We can piece it together. I find this is the best way to communicate what you'd like, especially if you are a new client.

If you are not sure what you want, have an idea of what you currently like and don't like about your hair, especially if you are a new client. Saying ' Do whatever you want, ' can be very stressful when you're a new client as we don't know anything about you. I may think a really short hair cut would look great but you may still want to be able to put your hair in a ponytail.

Tell us that!!!! I tend to ask a lot of questions about your daily routine, your job, your activity level, how often you're willing to maintain your colour or cut, etc... Please answer those questions honestly. It really helps me create a look that will not only look fantastic but will be comfortable for you to recreate at home.

If I give you a cut and style that requires 30 minutes of blow drying every day and you're not willing or able to put that time in, you will not love your hair and you'll hate me, and probably review me poorly.

If you have any areas you are self conscious about ( ears, forehead, chin, etc... ) tell me. Please. A good hairdresser won't judge and won't think poorly of you. We just need to know. - Deetoria


I can honestly say it’s a love/hate thing when someone comes in and lets you just do whatever you want as a stylist. Double edge sword you could hate what I think would look wonderful on you.

My best advice is bring pictures. But know that they could be retouched. Most people think I’m lying when I tell them a photo they bring in is photoshopped. But it happens constantly and it’s really hard for someone who doesn’t do hair daily to understand. - nikkititz


There are two possibilities that most often lead to disappointment with your result. One is that the stylists you’re seeing aren’t giving you what you need simply because their skills aren’t up to par. The other is that your hair won’t do what you want because your hair type and the result you’re looking for aren’t compatible. Even if that were the case, the stylist you visit should be explaining that to you.

The best advice I can give is look for a stylist who speaks passionately about what they do and the service they’re providing you. Go for a blow dry and ask them what they would do for you for a cut. Or ask for a consultation which they should provide for free to see if you’re on the same page. The more thorough they are the more likely you will get what you’re looking for. I hope that helps. - PhalanX4012


If you have a level 1 box dye on your hair and you want to go platinum it’s not going to happen in one session. If you don’t tell us you have box due on your hair you could leave with a chemical cut. - nebvlar


The biggest thing that clients do that is going to annoy your stylist is lie! If we ask you a question about your hair and you lie we can tell, especially if it has to do with chemicals. You really don’t want to lie because if a stylist doesn’t notice, then they can mess your hair up and cause it to fall out very easily! I can go into more detail about some things if you guys would like. - Absolutely-Clear


Unhelpful is not knowing what you want when you want something new/different. Too short is not a measurement, I’ve been bald so there is no too short for me. Unrealistic goals, I’m a beautician not a magician.

Please take our advice, no we aren’t just trying to get you to buy our products so we can make more money, we recommend these high quality products to help you with your hair goals. Yes, we make commission of retail but many of us put that towards education which benefits YOU! - doilooklikeacarol


My wife and I run a salon in a town of about 1,600 people (she is the artist, I am the businessman) when she gets walk-ins most people are good at generalizing about what they want but if you want to give a direct order to the person cutting your hair do some research and learn the lingo or of course bring in a picture.

The worst thing we deal with is a new client coming in and in the middle of a hair cut they go “insert x cosmetologist did it this way” so you want me to f*ck up your hair like the last person which is why you're here? Honestly other then that, a good cosmetologist should be able to get pretty close to what you describe if you just get it in the ballpark. - menofmaine


Photos are best . The biggest issue for me as a hair colorist is clients using technical terms improperly. “ I want my hair chestnut brown “ I go mix the color and as I’m applying they say “there’s no red in there, right?' This happens constantly. You can’t misinterpret a photo . Also, please be realistic. If your natural color is almost black don’t bring a pic of Blake Lively. - Kalessi


Give me exact measurements you want cut off or # clipper guard you like, or show me a picture. I hate when people say 'just a trim' because a trim is half an inch to one person and 2 inches to another person. Also, be solid in your decisions. Don't show me pictures of 3 completely different hair cuts and spend 5 minutes deciding in my chair. - leechangchow


If you're gonna show us a picture, please research the picture. If you have thin or fine hair, and you show me a picture of a cut with super thick hair, just know that it won't look the same. I ALWAYS tell my customers that I'm going to do my best interpretation of the picture with their head, but it won't be exact.

Keep your head still. If I'm on the right side if your head with the clippers, don't lean in/out of it. You're making things more challenging. Sit back, straight up, and move your head when the Barber/stylist asks.

If we're talking to you, we can hear you. You don't need to turn your head and look at me to talk. Constantly turning your head every few seconds can lead to me possibly f*cking up your cut, or cutting myself.

You don't NEED to look at the mirror the whole time. In my shop, my cords aren't in an awkward spot, so 90% of the time I'm using my clippers, you're facing away from the mirror and I spin you. Also, a lot of Barbers have a 'spot' where they stand, and just spin you.

We're not trying to not show you the cut, this spot just works best for us. It can be because cords, it can be because we have a small mat to stand on or it could be because the lighting is especially good there.

Saying 'what you did last time' isn't always the best answer. Especially if I've cut your hair once or twice before. I constantly get it. I can cut anywhere from 12-20 people a day, and I'd you come in every 6 weeks, it may be hard for me to remember your exact cut. Some exceptions may apply. Ask for 'the usual' after we've made a solid connection, and I've cut you about half a dozen times. - stfubaker


Don't just show a picture and expect you to look like the picture. Your face, hair condition and history will impact how the cut looks on you.

DON'T LIE about your hair history. A professional can see right through your lies. If you DIY, don't deny it. Colors don't just appear like they do on paper. Color undertones are everything.

Don't expect to get the exact color you want, or even worst - expecting it to be done all in one day. Unless you want to damage your hair and sit here for 12 hours - you're going to have to do it in steps. - Tinysnowdrops


As a hairdresser I like my clients to be realistic. Please don’t come in looking like Mama June, show me a photo of Kim Kardashian and hoping to come out looking like Kate Moss. Come in with an idea of what you would like, how much you are willing to pay and ask questions about upkeep and maintenance.

Ask your hairdresser what they think will suit your hair type, skin tone and face shape. Be forthright and set boundaries on length/fringes etc. Don’t be afraid to cut (see what I did there?!) in and ask questions and raise concerns during consultation and the treatment. - zingertowerplease


Have an idea of what you want. Any good barber will ask questions and explain to you any problems you may have if your hair won’t work well with the cut you want. Don’t be afraid to communicate.In this day and age pictures are great and easy to start from.

Unhelpful “just cut it” or showing me five pictures of Brad Pitt all with different hairstyles and saying “my wife wants this.' That’s great champ but I just work with hair I can’t give you Brad Pitt's face. - guapomateolobo


Hairstylist who works primarily on men's hair here. As everyone has said, photos are always good. But I'm not a magician. I had a little white blonde kid get mad at me once because he brought in a picture of Zayn Malik, in an easy undercut, so I did the cut exactly like the photo and the kid got pissy because, even though the haircut was exactly the same, he 'didn't look like Zayn.' Direct quote.

Also keep in mind that any picture you bring in that is not of yourself will almost certainly require styling, so you should be prepared for that. If you don't want to use any product, it won't look like the picture, but we can discuss an alternative compromise.

I know some people don't like to talk during their haircut, so I ask a million questions up front to make sure we are on the same page, but then I say to let me know if I need to take it shorter at any point because it's really no problem. I ask during the haircut too, because sometimes people get nervous to speak up.

I also have a habit of 'narrating' my haircuts because I've been cutting hair since I was very visibly 18, and people used to be nervous going to someone so young. I still narrate 3 years later, but more so that if someone hears something they don't like before I do it, they can let me know.

Alternatively, if you want your hair colored and you have been previously coloring it with at home color, I won't touch your head for less than $100 because it's technically a corrective color, since you have no idea what is in box dye, or what reactions it could have to something I put on it. - regantheb


Barber here. Generally, a good consultation is what makes the cut. You could have a master barber cut your hair, but if they don't run you through what they're going to do at the start, you have no time to tell them that that is/isn't what you want and you'll end up with a cut that you aren't happy with. So, here are some things you might need to know in regards to haircut lingo and all that jazz:

Let's start with the back and sides:

The back and sides of your head are usually cut with those hand held machines called clippers. (USUALLY - Sometimes a client may want a scissor cut, which means no clippers whatsoever.

Some senior stylists also enjoy cutting the back and sides with scissors because it allows them to be more accurate. Whatever floats your boat. Again, you can say during the consultation 'I want a scissor cut' if this tickles your fancy.) Clippers come with guards increasing in size, all the way from a 0.5 guard to an 8 guard.

0.5 Guard - This is as close as you're going to get to the skin without it actually being skin, if that makes sense.

1 Guard - Still short, but not as short as the 0.5

2 Guard - Same deal, still pretty short, however some length is left on the sides - if you're going from long hair to short hair, I'd always recommend a 2 on the back and sides as it isn't long enough to be considered a 'long', and it's not terrifyingly short either.

3 Guard - Same deal. Just a little bit longer. A 2 guard or a 3 guard are the safe bets for short hairstyles.

Anything above these aren't used too much, especially with a lot of modern day gentlemen these days with the whole short on sides/long on top styles.

Another good thing to mention: Fades. You've probably all heard of them. A fade is where the back and sides start off with a really short grade. All of this is down to personal preference. A few examples of how to ask for your sides and back to be done are as follows:

'Can I have a 3 on the back and sides please with a tapered neckline?'

'Can I have a 0.5 to a 2 fade please?'

'Can I have a 2 back and sides with a squared neckline?'

The Top

This is where most of the appeal of the haircut happens. As previously mentioned, these days, longer hair on the top is all the rage - heck, even I have it. A common misconception is that somebody can come in with an inch of hair on the top and achieve a style like the first or fourth picture. You can't.

Knowing how long your hair is and accommodating to that is half the battle. If you have an inch of hair and you want to grow it out, you can say to your barber 'Can you leave the length on the top but cut a bit of texture into it? I'm trying to grow it out.' for example.

The last thing you need to know about are products. There are a few do's and don'ts:


  • Use a pea sized amount of product

-Apply from the back forward to ensure all the hair has product in it

-Apply thoroughly - the idea is to get the product in the hair, not style it straight away. Styling comes after.


-Use gel. It's bad for the hair and a pain in the ass to get out. And it looks stupid.

-Leave it in for too long. Shower frequently.

-Use too much. This will leave your hair looking dull and sticky

Some good products to ask for in your hair after the cut is complete:

-Matte look wax (Will hold your hair in place without it looking like there is product in)

-Pomade (Traditionally for slick backs or longer styles. Very shiny, Very strong hold. Like gels better, older, more attractive brother.)

-Wet look wax - the same as the first one, just with a bit of shine to it.

-Sea salt spray - adds texture to your hair. Makes it look like you've been to the beach and have that wind/sand hair without it feeling all gross. Great for short, textured cuts.

-Texturizing powder - Like sea salt spray but on crack.

Knowing this terminology will probably help you leaps and bounds, and your barber will also thank you for it! - Happytrigger

Sources: Reddit
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