When it comes to getting the haircut of your dreams, just bringing in a wad of pictures from magazines isn’t enough. That’s because finding the right style for you is not just about you asking the right questions and offering up examples. It’s about your stylist knowing these things about you…
How often you wash your hair
Frequent washers might benefit from a dry cut, says Paul Labrecque, celebrity hair stylist and owner of Paul Labrecque Salons in New York City and Philadelphia, since a dry cut lets you tailor a style with their natural texture. "But if you’re a person who shampoos once a week you might be able to get a cut that takes more time to style and is a little more high-maintenance," says Labrecque. An example of this could be a blowout that changes the texture of your hair-i.e. from curly to straight-but lasts for a few days.
It also helps your stylist if she knows what kind of shampoo you use-and how often you’re lathering up. "Are they using the right shampoo to benefit the results of a specific look they are working to achieve," says Kattia Solano, founder of Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City. "And if you tend to go a long time between washes, that can determine what kind of leave-in and styling product cocktails/combinations your stylist recommends," says Solano.
How often you work out
Are you a die-hard hot-yoga goer? A daily runner? A Soul Cycle devotée? It all means a lot of sweating, and you should tell your stylist. "What activities you participate in definitely gives me insight into what is going to work with you daily life and how I will cut your hair," says Katy Ryan, owner of Katy Ryan Studios in New York City. Also, working out a lot, especially with very sweaty activities, can take a toll of the health of your hair, says Ryan, since sweat contains salt, which can dry out your hair-so you may want to deep condition even more.
"I would never give a curly haired client a straight bob haircut if she has such an active workout schedule," says Solano. "It requires too much maintenance during the blow-dry process."
If a ponytail is your usual workout look, tell your stylist. "Most of the time, if they are going to pull it all up, I will choose is a cut that keeps their shortest fringe around their lip area," says Solano. Bottom line: workout junkies should opt for simpler hairstyles, says Labrecque.
What’s in your wardrobe
If you have a bohemian wardrobe, a spiky, angular cut might not jive. And someone who spends at least five days a week in a suit might want something with a distinctly feminine edge-to contrast with the masculine aspect, says Vanessa Ungaro, co-owner of Lauren + Vanessa Salon in New York City. "I prefer to wear menswear in the winter time but I also wear my hair very short. So I cut my hair into a style that is soft and feminine," to work with that."
The way you sleep
Are you a back sleeper, a side sleeper, a stomach sleeper? Fess up. The way you sleep, coupled with your hair length, can make for more or less styling time in the morning -something to consider before you decide on a cut, especially if you’re not big on a.m. effort. "For instance, if you have shorter hair, you’ll probably will have to touch up their style everyday," says Ungaro. People with longer hair, however, can get around a sloppy sleep-style by twisting hair into a top bun before bedtime. "This way you won’t have a dent in your hair when you wake up and your hair will remain in its desired style," says Ungaro.
Also important: what kind of pillowcase is coming into contact with your locks. When in doubt, opt for satin, says Ryan. "Satin pillows aren’t just good for preventing face wrinkles. They’re the gentlest on hair." (This is especially true if you have curly hair, notes Solano, which can be more prone to breakage and tangles.)
How lax you are with trims
Are you the type to make a standing every-six-weeks appointment or are you more likely to let a few months go by between visits? Knowing how often they like to visit the salon is definitely important, says Solano. "This is when I would choice a razor cut verses a clean line cut. Razor and texturized cuts need to be cut more often, whereas a cleaner cut can last longer." If you’re desperately trying to grow your hair out, but aren’t going to come in for regular trims, you might be doing yourself a disservice, says Ryan, since by the time you do come in you may have to cut off more just to get rid of all the frayed ends and jagged layers.
How crazed your mornings are
What kind of time investment can you make each day? Are you likely to whip out multiple styling tools or do you not even use a brush when you blow dry? "When it comes to requests for hair changes and makeovers, it’s important for the client to understand how their daily habits would change, or how much more time would need to be added to their routine. For some even the idea of having to wash and style bangs daily might sound like too much of a commitment," says Solano.
For a woman who does all her own blow-drying -read: there’s no blow dry bar on the corner!-but who has a difficult texture to smooth, I usually try to convince this person to accept her natural texture, says Labrecque.
Oh and this is also a good time to clue your stylist in to how skilled (or totally bumbling!) you are when it comes to styling your own hair, so you don’t end up with something that doesn’t look great unless you’ve whipped out three different size curling irons.