It’s happened to nearly everyone: a haircut that’s failed to live up to your expectations or even had you in tears by the time you’ve arrived home.
But there are steps you can take to ensure you get the cut you want. "Talk to your hairdresser before you get your hair wet. That way your hairdresser can see your hair’s texture, condition, the way it falls," says Panipa Pavanarit, manager of Panipa Hair and Beauty, and president of the Hairdressers’ Club of Thailand.
Stephane, owner of the French salon that bears his name, advises that you should speak openly with your stylist during this initial consultation. "Dialogue is the most important thing. You need to make sure the stylist understands what you want. I can’t do a good job if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. "
Bringing a photograph can sometimes help. "But it must be clear. If you cannot see the style, it’s no use. And don’t bring me a picture of Jennifer Aniston if you look like Whitney Houston."
[Stephane says Jennifer Aniston and Meg Ryan are the two most popular stars whose cuts people want themselves. As for men: "Men never bring in photos," he says. "They don’t want to look like another good-looking man. They want to be the best looking man themselves!"]
Pattanapong Yanasit, a stylist with The Best, agrees that a photograph can be useful because it allows him to see what the client really wants. "But in another way, it’s not good, because sometimes it might not be possible to do that style for the client – because of the texture of the client’s hair, or their features. What I can do is take that concept and adapt it to suit them."
Panipa emphasises that the language you use when talking to your stylist is important. "Talk in inches or centimetres when you’re saying how much you want cut off. A ‘little bit’ in your mind might not be a ‘little bit’ in your stylist’s mind. If you want your hair cut to a certain length, try to say where: to the shoulders, chin, ear, half way down the ear. These are the terms hairdressers understand."
Once the stylist starts work, you can help by paying attention. "With your first cut, don’t read a book," says Panipa. "The stylist wants to talk to you as she styles your hair, so she can adapt what she’s doing as she works. If you don’t like what she’s doing she can change it as she goes."
On the other hand, Stephane points out that hairdressers can be moody. "Don’t say: ‘Don’t cut there!’ after they have started. Try to be diplomatic. Try not to affect the mood of the hairdresser. Also, try to relax. Your hairdresser will know you’re tense because your shoulders will be tight and higher – and they might think you’re doubting their capacity to do the style. As a stylist, if you feel like you’re in a cage, you will not do a good job."
But what if, despite following all of the above, you’re unhappy with the result? "Be friendly to your stylist and tell them," advises Pattanapong. "Maybe we talked but our understanding was different. I might think the cut is beautiful and trendy, but the client might cry – this has happened before. We can change it, make sure it’s something that suits the client."
"You have to tell the stylist," Panipa agrees. "If you think it doesn’t suit you, say so, don’t just go home. All stylists want a good result – if your client is happy, you’re happy too. Don’t think that you’re taking up too much of your stylist’s time."
If the cut is too heavy, the stylist can texturise it; if it’s too long, it can be cut shorter, she says. And if it’s too short? "Well, I would tell the client that hair grows at half an inch per month," Panipa says. "And sometimes it can take a week to grow to like a new look. Styling products can also make hair appear longer."