Making the decision to cut your hair is a big deal. Not only are your locks one of the first things people notice about you, but they also say a lot about your personality. A hairdo can honor your culture, signify your queerness, or provide a cathartic release after a huge life transition. A phenomenal cut can make you feel awesome about yourself, and can take the monotony out of getting ready in the morning. This is why there are some important questions to ask before cutting your hair.

We’ve all heard horror stories. A curly-haired woman tries to get a bob and ends up with a giant pouf. The color you request doesn’t match the one atop your head (or, any shade on the ROYGBIV spectrum for that matter). For those who may be nervous about making changes to their style, asking a few question can keep you from making a decision you’ll later regret (although, worst case scenario: it’s hair, it’ll grow back.) Or, if you’re like me and have no problem making drastic and spontaneous hair changes, these questions will reassure you that this is an awesome idea.

Here are some things to consider before stepping into the salon to take the plunge.

1. What Message Do I Want My Haircut To Send?

What kind of vibe do you want to put out to the world? Do you want to look edgy? Feminine and flirty? Low-maintenance? These factors all influence your choice in cuts. For instance, if the goal is to add some edge to your aesthetic, an asymmetrical bob might be more powerful than taking half an inch off the bottom of your waist-length locks.

2. What Cut Flatters the Shape of My Face?

As InStyle notes, certain face shapes are better for certain cuts. People with round faces, for example, may want to avoid bobs as this style only emphasizes the roundness.Ultimately, though, you decide what you want to do with your hair, and if that means eschewing all the guidelines and throwing caution to the wind, then you do you.

How Much Maintenance Do I Want to Deal With?

Be honest with yourself here. Are you willing to wake up early every morning to style your hair or are you someone who prefers to be able to towel dry it and run out the door? Are you able to go to the salon every few weeks to maintain a super short style? If you’re not willing to commit to dedicating time and energy to maintaining a style, get one that doesn’t require as much effort.

What Does the Texture of My Hair Do (or Not Do)?

Everyone’s hair texture is different, and that matters when considering haircuts. Not only does it affect the way your hair looks, but it plays a role in the upkeep. Straight hair is great for cutting short, while curly hair tends to look best with some length.

What Is My Skill Level When It Comes To Styling Hair?

It’s not just how much maintenance you’re willing to do, but how much you’re able to do. Personally, I’m terrible at styling hair. I can’t blow dry my hair while simultaneously holding a round brush, I have no idea how to work curling irons, and I never seem to put the right amount of product in my hair. For me, this means that I won’t get a cut that requires a lot of in-home styling.

Of course, practice makes perfect and if you want to learn how to style your cut then by all means you should. But, again, that’s something you need to commit to before chopping your locks.

Can I Trust the Stylist Cutting My Hair?

Having a stylist who knows their stuff can be the difference between flaunting your locks and wearing a hat for the next four months. Not only are their skills on point, but they can make suggestions based on your hair type. This may even mean shying away from the traditional stylist, and opting for a barber who specializes in super short and more “traditionally masculine” cuts.

If you don’t have a stylist that you see regularly, do some research. Check out reviews online or ask a friend whose hair you covet where she gets it done. You’ll feel more confident going in if you know you’re in good hands.

Images:schankz/Fotloa; Giphy (6)