How to Get the Exact Haircut You Want, According to Professional Hairstylists

The ultimate dream: walking into a salon, and walking out with exactly what you'd envisioned. Yet everyone has a story about that one request that got lost in translation. There are mistakes like subtle balayage turning into looking like your ends were dropped into a vat of bleach (“I said Jessica Biel… not Jessica Simpson!”), to your one inch suddenly turning into three. Either way, it's no good.

Most of us don’t speak hairdresser, so here are some salon tips direct from the pros, for getting the most out of your visit. (Spoiler alert: BRING. PICTURES.)

  • “Don’t try to use salon lingo — every salon uses its own terms! So what works in one salon may mean something different in another salon. The best way to get what you want is to just ask for it in layman’s terms. Your own language in your own words so you can describe exactly what you want.... and bring pictures!” —Celebrity colorist and salon owner Rita Hazan
  • “The day you cut your bangs is the day you start growing them out! Meaning, they’re a lifestyle change… Bangs dramatically change the way you look and truthfully, some women are rarely satisfied with them the way they had imagined. Upkeep and letting them grow out is a timely process. You have to decide whether it’s worth your while.” —Michael Canale of Canale Salon
  • “We love it when our clients bring in pictures from the runways and red carpets for us to recreate. That is our specialty — recreating the most up to date looks for our clients, whether it is a braid, up do, blowout, makeup, or a fun manicure. When we can see what the customer is envisioning, not just have them describe it, we can make sure they leave happy!” —Jessica Jekkel of Assembly Salon
  • "Bring in three pictures of hair colors — one you love for yourself right now, one you would consider changing to or would dream of 'one day,' and one that you don't like the tone or shade — i.e. brassy, red, ash, etc — this one is the most important. When having a consultation, the client's description of a 'red or brassy' tone is different than what the stylist sees. Showing a picture will help differentiate both descriptions. That way, the stylist will be able to help get something you 'love' that will possibly move into something you 'dream of' in the future." —Tina Dizon of The Private Room