How to Talk to Your Hair Stylist

Bear with me, gents, while us chicklets indulge in some Girl Talk.

wook! See update, below!!!

Over at Out of Debt Again, Mrs. Accountability discovered a cool gadget to allow a woman with long hair to create a DIY bob at home. She tried it, and it turned out looking pretty darned nice.

This led to a rumination on the cost of hair maintenance, something I’ve held forth about, too. For years I wore my hair at shoulder length, partly because SDXB liked long hair, partly because I enjoy the sensuality of long hair, too, and partly because it saves huge wads of money when you don’t have to traipse into a salon once every four to six weeks. But eventually I got it cut short. It looked a lot better, and the effect on strangers, who had been given to taking one look at me and dismissing me as poor white trash, was marked.

When I got laid off, I could no longer afford Shane the Wonder-Stylist, and so he and I parted ways. For a while I was going to a woman in Tempe who did a good job, but that’s a long drive, and besides, just the site of the GDU campus gives me a flinch reflex. Once my work there ended, I started looking for people in town. Have been through four of them; one was very good, and the rest…well…

Last time I went in to the newest stylist, she cut my hair so short you could see my scalp through what remained! Since my hair is very thick, that’s telling. She cut off all the natural curl, so I could no longer scrunch it into a cute style and I had to stand in front of the mirror dorking with a hair dryer to get myself presentable enough to be seen in public. I hate that.

Since then I’ve been trying to let it grow out, figuring when there’s finally something to work with again, I’ll go back to the Tempe stylist. It’s been weeks and my hair is still too short to work with. And it just looks terrible.

The problem is, it’s very hard to describe to a stylist what you want, especially if you want something nonstandard like not having bangs flopping down on your face. “Please cut it short, go with the natural flow of the curls and waves, and don’t leave bangs falling in my eyes” doesn’t seem to register.

However, recently I found this handy site, which reveals the specific stylist-speak names of haircuts and coloring patterns. It’s kind  of cool, because…mirabilis! It gives you a way to talk to your hair stylist! The drawings give you a clue to what each style should look like, and the names attached to them apparently are standard names for specific styles.

The site not only gives you the names of popular styles, it suggests what to say to the stylist to communicate what you have in mind: “Keep layers long in back and choppy all around. This cut is all about movement. Add heavy, uneven bangs. They can be tucked behind ears or left in front of face.”

If you google the style names given here, most searches will bring up photos showing what the cut looks like on a real (or nearly real) human being. Google “short bob” hairstyle (with short bob in quote marks), and up come a number of sites with images, some of which suggest my trashed hairstyle may be no worse than anyone else’s…

At any rate, it gives you a starting point for talking to your stylist: at least you can know what the style you think you want is called!

Update:

Mrs. Accountability reports that she did not use the bob-making device to get the cool hairstyle shown on her site. In fact, that style was created by a living, breathing, paid stylist.

Je m’excuse!

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Money Beagle February 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

Even though I’m a guy I read this through, mainly because my wife and sister-in-law have both had issues pertaining to their stylists in the past year.

One thing I’ve always thought would be an easy approach would be to take pictures (or probably better yet, have someone take pictures for you) of your hair following what you would consider a ‘good’ cut. Then, just take that picture back to your stylist.

Maybe I’m naive being a guy and all (my instructions: Number 3 on top, Number 2 on the sides and back) but maybe this would do the trick?

funny February 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

@ Money Beagle: Now there’s a good idea. The problem with taking in a photo of some celebrity (which my strategy the last time) is that movie and TV stars have stylists hovering over them all the time. They don’t have to do their own hair, and so the difficulty or ease of styling it is irrelevant. And the likelihood that you can stand in front of a mirror and make a haircut look like the celeb’s is almost nil.

Having a photo of your own hair taken in a prime moment makes a lot more sense.

Mrs. Accountability February 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Good idea Money Beagle, but like Funny says it doesn’t always work out the way we plan.

I am still trying to figure out how to make my hair look as nice as when the hairdresser is finished with it. She does gob on some professional mousse and gels and has the advantage of being able to see the back and side of my head without having to hold a mirror in one hand, and blow dry and brush in the other. Also seems my left arm was put on backwards when it comes to doing that flip under thing on the right side of my A-line bob. The right arm and hand work great and makes the left side look beautiful But the left arm and hand flips the curl out sideways. Not sure how to rectify this, and never realized before that my left arm was put on backwards. ;-D

funny February 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

LOL! But if you’re left-handed, then your right arm is put on backwards.

Beth J February 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Because you’re my favorite money blogger (the only one whose posts I read religiously), I thought of you when I had a question that Google just won’t answer. Sorry it’s completely unrelated to this post, but I don’t see a way to email you!

Along with the 2% cut for Social Security taxes, did they raise the federal withholding? I finally got access to my pay stubs for this year (don’t ask), and it turns out that I wasn’t imagining that it wasn’t quite what I had imagined. While my Social Security withholding had been reduced by about $22, my federal tax withholding had increased about $10. I’m sure there’s a simple answer here; any ideas?

funny February 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm

@ Beth: Yes. Well…in a way.

They had cut the federal withholding in the “Making Work Pay” legislation, part of the federal effort to revive the economy from its swoon. That law just sunsetted out. The upshot of it is that if you make less than about 25 or 30 grand, your withholding went up.

So, tho’ you get a cut in SS withholding, if you’re among the working poor or modestly middle-class, your net pay could drop.

It’s a thrill a minute out there, isn’t it?

Beth J February 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Oh well. The joys of being a middle class grunt! Thanks so much for answering my question. :)

Quest February 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm

If I see a hairstyle I like on the innanet or in a magazine, I print/cut and take it in with me on my next visit. So far, this has been really successful because I am able to stress to the stylist NOT to go any shorter than ‘that’ (whatever it is). This has worked for me. I tell the stylist what I want and then listen to any recommendations because I have curly hair. I remember when my mother went to the stylist and came back with a style pretty much as you describe ~ way too short. She wouldn’t get out of the car and was so upset!!

Barb February 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm

yep, I must be one of the working poor because I am talking home $6 less per check than before the tax cut. Couldn’t quite figure out how that happened and still am not too clear on it. How does a cut equate to LESS take home pay?

eemusings February 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Genius. I’m due for a cut soon and am totally using this.

funny February 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

@ Barb: Me, too. It’s hard to tell with the adjunct pay, because no two paychecks are the same, but the college’s first disbursal this semester seems to be about 10 or 15 bucks less than expected.

@ Quest: Be careful. The haircut that’s making me crabby is a perfect imitation of one in a photo I took in. When I walked out, the hairdo looked EXACTLY like the picture I showed the gal. Problem was, it was a lot shorter than I realized, and also I didn’t realize that for her to create that look, she’d have to “disappear” all the natural curl. Probably it would be wise to ask the stylist how she or he thinks the coveted style will look on you, and also what the maintenance level will be.

Donna Freedman February 9, 2011 at 9:48 pm

When you mentioned a gadget that let a woman cut her hair at home…all I could think of was the Flowbee, that “vacuum haircutter.”
?!?
I actually know someone who uses a Flowbee. But he’s a GUY.

funny February 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

It’s called “Cut-a-Bob.” Mrs. A has a link to it on the page at her site linked above. There’s a video showing someone cutting a kid’s long hair into a fun layered bob…turn off your sound before running it, though, because it starts with an annoying and noisy ad. It’s kind of amazing…does a decent job for an amateur cut, probably better than most of us could do on our own.

frugalscholar February 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

This has been a huge issue for me too. Luckily, my talented daughter announced several years ago that she could give me a good haircut. And she did. She also cuts my son’s hair. Mr FS has no hair.

My daughter also cuts hair for lots of friends at school. I figure that this will save me thousands of dollars. Plus my daughter will be popular.

funny February 10, 2011 at 9:18 am

@ frugalscholar: Very, very popular! If she were to charge them five or ten bucks (saving them half to five-sixths of the cost of a professional stylist), she could underwrite her dorm rent. ;-)

Gr. When my hair was long, I used to cut it myself. But there’s a big difference between trimming the ends in layers using a wrap-around-the-neck mirror to see what you’re doing and styling a cute bob or pixie. {sigh} Maybe I should go to cosmetology school and learn how to cut hair.

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