10 Things Your Hairstylist Won’t Tell You

by Vanesa Pacheco

I am always intrigued by how easily hairstylists do hair. Watching them snip away layers, while simultaneously chatting, and moving around seems effortless. But as much as you feel like you have them figured out, there are still plenty of things your hairstylists won't tell you, no matter how close you have become with them over the years.

I know that if I were to try to cut my hair (or someone else’s) like my hairdresser does, I’d end up leaving someone with bald spots or an irreparable messed-up do. Of course, this effortless talent comes with a lot of background knowledge and secrets we, as clients, don’t seem to think about. The salon life is full of mysteries and fun hacks, and as a whole, it is an interesting community that helps people feel good about themselves.

In order to learn more about hairstylists and their lives, I decided to chat with my personal hairdresser Sade Doucette (from La Novita in Randolph, MA) whose been doing my hair for the last five years. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her way of cutting my hair. She has been professionally styling hair since she was 18 and is constantly learning more and more about her craft.

Sade was kind enough to invite us into the fascinating world of hairstylists. Here are 10 things your hairstylist won't tell you, but you should know.

1. Stains are not a problem

Whenever I’ve dyed my hair, I’ve somehow always managed to end up with multicolored hands despite my using latex gloves. Now, I’m only doing my own hair, so imagine how a hairstylist’s hands and arms will look like after a full shift at work! Sade says that she always ends up with stains after coloring (which makes me feel better about my Smurf hands). So, what’s her secret to getting all those stains off? Bleach, cigarette ashes, and windex.

Yes, that’s right. She says that using these products to wash your hands (and wherever else you’ve gotten dye) can take the stains right out. You don’t necessarily have to use all the products at the same time, but one of the three should work like magic.

2. Pictures are for references, not exact replicas

One of the hardest things to get across to people, Sade says, is the fact that bringing in a photo of, for example Demi Lovato, doesn’t guarantee your hair will come out exactly as hers. She explains that photos are great for getting an idea of what you may want your hair to look like, but you shouldn’t expect it to come out identical. Everyone’s hair is different, including the undertone colors, so leniency is always appreciated.

3. Hairdressers can be territorial

Sade mentions that some hairdressers don’t like to share their clients. Thankfully, at her salon, this isn’t a problem as everyone is fine with other stylists working with their clients. However, the reason for this usually stems from the fact that hairdressers work on commission. This means that the more appointments they have, the more money they make.

Sade also mentions that most salons don’t offer salaries or maternity leave, so appointments are even that much more precious. “I’m lucky to be working here where I do get those benefits,” she says, “it makes a difference.”

4. They don’t (usually) eat lunch

Since hairdressers work on commission, they tend to book through their lunchtime. “We are the fastest eaters,” Sade says. She explains that, because they don’t end up with lunchtime, they eat little things here and there or they don’t really eat until dinnertime. “You don’t want to go out to eat with us!” she jokes.

Of course, this isn’t done because the salons don’t give them time for lunch. She does leave some time free in her schedule to grab something to eat, but somehow always ends up booking right through it. Time is money, and that’s definitely true for a hairstylist.

5. They’re the worst clients

If it were up to me, I would have Sade do my hair all the time. But for Sade, having someone else do her hair isn’t as fun as it is for me. She shares that, for most hairdressers, having someone work on their hair is hard because each stylist has their own method of doing things. It is true that they all studied how to cut, style, and/or dye hair, but that doesn’t mean they all do everything the same. “This is why my hair is still like this,” she says pointing at her dark brown hair. If she could manage to sit in someone else’s chair, her hair would be a different color and probably awesomely funky.

6. Their own hair types aren’t always their favorite

I’ve heard people mention that it is better to have a hairstylist with your own hair type do your hair. Supposedly, this ensures that they will know what to do, since they have the same kind of hair. Sade quickly shot this down by stating that it’s all about knowledge. She explains that “going to someone who has the same hair as you doesn’t guarantee they know how to style it if they haven’t taken a lesson.” In her case, she actually prefers to work with blondes, even though her hair is dark brown and curly. So, if you’re thinking of finding someone to do your hair, don’t narrow your search down with this technique.

7. Their dyes are better and they know it

I always figured that dyes were dyes and not much was different about them, besides the quality. However, Sade informs me that that isn’t the case. Dyes used in salons have active developers, which allow the color to penetrate the hair. This will also allow the dye to last longer in your hair (because almost all dyes fade). However, at-home dyes like Manic Panic don’t have these ingredients. Instead of penetrating the hair, they simply stain it, which is why they fade quicker than salon dyes.

This isn’t entirely horrible, except when you expect your hairstylist to revamp the look in a short period of time. Color strippers need active ingredients to easily remove the color, but since at-home dyes don’t have these, the process becomes harder. Sade has had to work hours on people’s hair to get it back to something desirable.

8. They would prefer you use the products they think are best for your hair

It may seem as though your hairstylist is trying to sell products from the salon, but in actuality, they’re trying to make it easier for you to style and maintain your hair. This is because they are well-versed in the products the salon uses, making it easier for them to know what works and what doesn’t work. When people complain about their hair is falling out or their hair is too oily etc., it is easier for Sade to pinpoint the problem if she knows what you use on your hair.

9. They have lives outside the salon

Hairdressers are hairdressers as a profession. However, as much as they might eat, live, and breathe hair, they all do other things with their lives as well. Sade shares that sometimes clients forget that people who work in salons or in similar professions also have personal lives. She enjoys cooking, working out, watching Beautician and the Beast etc. Just because she loves hair doesn’t mean it is all she can do!

10. Hair is a major part of who they are

In both a figurative and literal sense, hair is part of a hairstylist’s life. Sade, as well as any other hairdresser, can never go anywhere without tracking hair. “I find it on my clothes, in my shoes, and in my food,” she said. This can seem really gross to people, but it’s just a part of being a hairstylist.

Hair is also what they love to do. She shares that there are conventions and events like hair shows where stylists can go and take hair lessons, learn about different companies and products, and check out funky hairstyles. On top of that, because everyone knows that she does hair, she is expected to style everyone else’s hair before events and parties, leaving her to scramble together a simple look for herself. But this doesn’t phase her as she loves what she does. “We do this because we love it,” she says, smiling and running off to her next appointment.

Images: RawArtistsMedia/Flickr; Photos by Sade Doucette allowed for this article.