In the words of Fleabag, hair is everything. She's not wrong—not feeling confident about your appearance can poison otherwise perfect days, and for many people, hair is a huge part of assurance. That's why a bad cut can be the ultimate offense, promising months of frustration and fruitless styling, waiting to feel like yourself again. Whether it's the result of a lack of communication, a risky chop, or an egotistical stylist gone rogue (speaking from experience here), a bad cut can happen to anyone. Whether you wear your strands as long as Rapunzel or fully buzzed, getting your hair cut should feel restorative, and going into an appointment prepared can help prevent a nightmarish shearing. Ryan Kazmarek, hairstylist at IGK Salon in New York City, shared his top tips for keeping control when you're in the chair.
Reference images are key—but only if you pick the right pictures.
"Photos are the best way to show your stylist what you want exactly, but try and find examples of someone with a similar face shape and similar hair texture to you," says Kazmarek. While a specific look may work for someone else, it could be disastrous next to your own features, and stylists are trained to spot this. "I had a client who brought in this picture of a short pixie, but the girl in it had really fine straight hair, and the client did not. A good stylist will have an alternative that would work for you."
Skip the jargon.
"Stay away from more technical words—angles, layers, etc.—when you’re trying to describe what you want," says Kazmarek, as your understanding of these techniques may totally differ from those of the person behind the chair. "It's smarter to say something like, 'I want it shorter around my face, I don't want it short in the back anymore,' and other simple suggestions, so your stylist can understand what you're actually looking for."
When it comes to big decisions, no means no.
Kazmerek supports standing your ground when it comes to drastic changes. "You should never do anything you don't want to do. For anyone professional, the word 'no' should be enough," he says. "The most important thing is finding a stylist you're comfortable with who does what you like."
Once you've found a trusted stylist, actually trust them.
"People come in with a lot of hesitation, or they think they know best when it comes to what will look good, and that's not always the case," says Kazmerek. "Sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward, talk it out, and trust in the stylist."
Use your last bad haircut to your advantage.
"If you got a fucked-up haircut and never want to go back to that again, or even if the cut just wasn't the best you've ever had, bring the bad photos with you," says Kazmarek. Arrive at the salon with a picture of yourself with a cut or color that you don't like and one of a style you've had that you really loved and compare the two.
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