As someone who has worked in the service industry for most of her adult life, I always try to make sure I am painstakingly nice, generous, and appreciative when it comes to going out to eat, shopping at a store, or getting my nails or hair done. I know what it's like to be on the other side of the counter (though I've never done anyone's hair or nails) and I certainly appreciated the kind customers (who made up for the mean ones). So I've always wondered about things I might be doing that annoy hair stylists, since I've never held that particular position. I think I'm fairly easy-to-deal with as a client, but what if I'm making major faux pas every time I'm in the chair?
Hair stylists and colorists spend a lot of time and energy honing their craft, and they spend a lot of money going to school in order to make us look our best, most glamorous and gorgeous selves. Their jobs aren't easy, that's for sure; though most jobs aren't all that easy. (I think everyone would be a lot more compassionate if they were required to work in the service industry at some point or another.) I can barely curl my own hair, but thank god for my stylist, who makes my hair look awesome with little room for error on my part to screw it up. She's not only an amazing person and friend whom I enjoy talking to (let's face it, most of our hairstylists are also our therapists, right?), but she is extremely skilled at her craft. I wanted to know what irritates her and other hair stylists like her so I don't end up saying or doing the wrong thing, and also to educate others who want to be kind to their therapists... I mean hairstylists. Here's what hair professionals IRL had to say.
1. Complain About Prices
"C.," a hairstylist in Des Moines, Iowa, who wished to remain anonymous, says "I spend a lot of time at classes, and always bring that to my clients. I also try to work with them on price as much as I possibly can, so to hear complaints about my prices is extra frustrating."
Jeannie K., a colorist in New York, agrees, adding that it's incredibly frustrating when clients ask for a complicated, hours-long procedure and then balk at the price:
"Look, even though your daughter is only 16, she has more hair than Lady Godiva and I’ve been working on her for over five hours!"
Time is money, after all.
2. Being Super Wiggly
C. says "Moving when I am doing a precise technique like baby lights or during a cut is really annoying. I can’t promise my work if you are wiggling around." This also includes crossing your legs or looking at your phone while they’re cutting, styling, or coloring, says "L.," a hairstylist in Atlanta Georgia.
3. Having Bad Shampoo Bowl Etiquette
Now this one seems kinda creepy, and I definitely get it. One stylist says she hates it when clients make eye contact with her while she's washing their hair in the bowl. Additionally, she says, the excessive groaning and moaning when she's washing their hair or massaging their scalp. Yikes.
4. Not Showing Up Or Being Late
C. says, "I’m a booth renter and if I come into the salon, I have to pay for my space. So I literally am paying for you to miss an appointment, and losing money on the color I bought for your appointment. It’s so frustrating!" Not to mention, if you're late, it always throws everyone else on their schedule off for the rest of the day because you were late, which could cost them tips, or worst of all, that client.
5. Making Inappropriate Comments
"Something that is annoying for me is when clients try to make their inappropriate opinions known," says "A.," a hair stylist in Des Moines, Iowa. "For example, as a person with a lot of tattoos, I get told a lot that in my clients' opinion that it’s stupid, it looks bad, a girl shouldn’t have tattoos, and why spend money on that. Sometimes just rude comments in general. It’s more of if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t comment," she says.
6. Insulting Their Intelligence
"I hate when a client gives me a picture of something simple and says 'do you know how to do this... do you understand what I’m saying?' Or when they have a picture and they keep looking at it to see if you are doing your job correctly," says A.
7. Unrealistic Expectations
"My personal favorite that I get ALL the time ‘I want to be like this picture from Instagram (which usually entails about four-to-five hours of application and processing time over the course of two-to-three sessions) and I have to be home to pick up my kids in an hour and I don’t want to pay more $150 because I can get a Groupon for it and go somewhere else,'" says Jeannie K.
"I also hate when clients say 'I want to give my hair a break from highlighting for the winter, so make me dark and I'll go back to blonde in the summer.' Ummm no. That is *not* giving your hair a break," she adds.
8. Not Taking Advice On Products To Use
After spending good money on a cut or color, the stylist will usually suggest products to use that will help maintain their beautiful artwork on your head, whether it's a cut or color. They may not necessarily be selling it to you themselves, but if they make reasonable suggestions that are affordable, you should probably take them since they spent so much time on your hair, and you spent so much money on it. And trust me. They can tell if you bought CVS-brand shampoo and don't condition your hair.
9. Hating On Themselves
And this, ladies and gentleman, is the most important thing, in my opinion. And not necessarily a pet peeve.
Libby Wyatt, a hairstylist and colorist in Atlanta, Georgia, says, "It’s been an interesting exercise to think about what drives me crazy as a hairdresser. It’s actually a lot different from what it used to be. It used to drive me crazy when people would cancel or be tardy, or not specific in their consultations... But now what really grinds my gears is when I hear clients call themselves ugly or say that they hate sitting in front of my mirror under the light."
"To be clear, it doesn’t make me upset at the client (I have years and years of systemic, pathological negative self-talk, as well... trust), but I’m just so upset with how our culture in the beauty industry is so focused and based on fixing the perceived ‘flaws,'" Wyatt explains.
"I don’t think I have ever had one single client, so far, that has always been immune to it. I’ve had a few amazingly confident women in my chair who have grown from the ashes but no one has really come out unscathed or unchanged. What is so magical about these women is how they lovingly share in the practice of self-love, and I’m especially grateful for the influence they’ve had on me."
Bottom line and biggest complaint according to Wyatt? "Our comparison culture gets my goat, and I’m going to be wildly dissatisfied in my career until that shit changes. The end."
So don't complain about the cost, don't be late or not show up, don't be rude and judgmental, have realistic expectations, and for the love of god, don't stare at your hairstylist and moan when you're getting shampooed, and you should be an ideal client. Even better if you leave that self-hate at the door.