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Things Your Hair Stylist Wish You Knew
Credit: Getty Images/Peathegee Inc

Walking into any hair appointment blindly is a gamble that only the brave can take. On a great day, all goes well. On a not-so-fabulous day, two inches turns into four—plus bangs. The road to discovering the rulebook for pre-cut and pre-color proceedings at the salon is fraught with potential misgivings if you're not prepared for the trip. Luckily, we have some tips to help you get your most flattering strands ever, straight from the stylist's mouth.

Aside from the core tenets of salon etiquette—arrive on time, tip appropriately, keep off the phone—there are other guidelines that don't necessarily fall under the basics. Here are 3 things to know before your hair appointment.

Lay Off the Hair Products

It's generally not ideal to show up with heavy product build-up from styling your hair the day of your appointment, especially if you're getting a dry cut or highlights, which happen before washing. It can cause hair color to go on unevenly, and it can also affect how your hair stylist evaluates your pre-cut hair type and texture. Leza Duncan, stylist at Salon U in Birmingham, Alabama, gave us a welcome exception: "It's fine to use products you normally use for your everyday blow-dry, but stay away from a lot of hairspray."

Bring Pictures

Perhaps the number one salon rule to remember: Always bring tangible inspiration that details your vision clearly and objectively. Describing what type of layers or which shade of color you're looking for can be difficult, and the stylist might imagine your words differently. A picture is worth a thousand words. Don't worry. We have all the options to get you started.

Duncan adds: "Be prepared to really communicate with your stylist about what does and does not work for your hair. Start with a length you want, and find pictures of looks that you could see yourself loving."

Keep Your Hair Type in Mind

Someone with thin or super fine hair might benefit more from one cut, while someone with thick or curly hair might prefer a different cut. It's important that you bring in inspiration photos to show your stylist that seem plausible for your hair thickness and texture. Additionally, be open-minded if your stylist might recommend certain tweaks to your inspiration that will suit your hair type better. They're trained for it! Odds are, any vision you have can be achieved to fit your own head of hair, but it might take some flexibility to get there. Some common flourishes that can be easily adapted to suit different hair types: layers, bangs, and length.

For etiquette buffs and newbies alike, these snippets of salon advice will help get you ready for successful strands at your next appointment.