How to Talk to Your Stylist When In The Chair

Inspiration vs. Actual

         After Photo: Hair by Tracey Spruill


One – on – One: The Consultation

During any visit to your stylist, whether you are a reoccurring guest or it’s your first visit, time should be spent in the beginning on a consultation. A consultation is the session of your appointment where your wants can be communicated (ex. magazine photos), the stylist can analyze the current condition of your hair and scalp, recommendations can be made by your stylist that you may not have previously considered and essentially the blueprint and tone of the appointment are established.

Beyonce Hair


Effective Dialogue
One basic step in ensuring you have an effective dialogue with your stylist is knowing and understanding common industry terminology. I often hear people using words they think are interchangeable, incorrectly.  At the same time, guests are confused when speaking with a new stylist because a new term may be introduced. Whichever the situation, it is important that you and your stylist are on the same page. Below are a few common examples of terminology usage:


Perm vs. Relaxer: People tend to use the terms perm and relaxer as if they are interchangeable, they are not. A perm is a chemical process used to make hair curly.  A relaxer is a chemical process used to make the hair straight. Perms are typically used on hair that is naturally straight with very little to no wave pattern.  Perms are used to achieve volume with straight and/or thin textured hair. A relaxer is used on   hair that is naturally tightly curled.  Unlike perms, relaxers are used to reduce volume in coarse textured and absorbent hair.

Track vs. Weft: If you have ever worn extensions or know of someone that wears extensions then I am sure you have heard someone mention their “tracks” in reference to the applied hair. For example, “I just bought these tracks for my sew-in” or “Will you sew these tracks in for me.” The term track represents the actual base the hair is sewn or clipped to, for example, the corn row or the gathered hair pulled taunt. The term weft refers to the horizontal threading pattern used to secure the extension hair so it can be sewn or clipped to a track. The weft is created at the manufacturer prior to packaging and distribution to customers. So, the next time you have a question on if your hair is looking in place or you want to “go buy some tracks” then remember, you are buying “wefted’ hair/extensions not tracks.

Bleach vs. Lightner: Bleach and lightner are two terms that can be used interchangeably. Depending on where you go and the preference of the stylist determines which term you are likely to hear. It is very common to hear most guest say bleach and stylists use the term lightner. Although either term can be used to describe the process of decolorizing hair, when I think of bleach I immediately think of washing clothes. As a personal preference and how I was taught, I have grown to use the term lightner.


Discuss Issues & Risks
DoctorOpen communication with your stylist makes it easier to discuss issues and risks. Your stylist should be made aware of any known scalp irritations or allergies you may be dealing with. Your stylist may be able to recommend products that will help reduce the risk of allergic reactions or may be able to help address minor scalp irritations. Please note, a visit to your stylist should not be used as a substitute/replacement visit to your doctor or dermatologist. You should always consult your doctor regarding any scalp irritations or allergies in general.


Manage Your Expectations
As stated above, bringing in a magazine photo during your consultation as inspiration provides a great basis for you and your stylist to begin discussing the look you want. However, if you choose to bring in a magazine photo as inspiration remember it is just that, “inspiration;” you must also bring a realistic mind set. Every woman is shaped different and not every look works the same on everyones face. A best place to start to avoid a potential upset is to identify at most two aspects you admire about the look in the magazine photo. For example, you may like the length of the hair or you may like the size of the curls. Communicating and discussing these with your stylist will help you achieve a realistic expectation and allow you to leave with a look that fits you.


Not only are physical features a factor when it comes to getting the look you want but so are special effects and the amount of money invested in achieving a desired look. By this I mean it isVogue Magazine necessary for you to understand that you may not walk out with an exact replica of Beyonce’s latest hair-do because you have just handed your stylist two packs of hair that cost you $9.99 each and Beyonce is wearing hair that cost more than $999.00. Time, money, air brushing and other special effects go into making that one photo look as flawless as it does. So, unless you want to carry a large fan around everywhere you go so your hair is blowing in the wind at all times, set realistic expectations!


I hope this post helps provide you with a solid foundation to start 2013 off on the right foot when it comes to the basics with your hair. Thank you for supporting mane.ediTS!

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