Hairy Situation Handbook

bad hair day, hair salon etiquette

Going to a salon or spa should be relaxing and rejuvenating, but it can turn something entirely else when you have to face hairy situations like product-pushing aestheticians or waiting too long for your turn in the chair.

This weekend, as I was recovering from turkey coma, I flipped through a useful list of tips shared by ShopSmart magazine. It’s like a hair etiquette guide!

SITUATION: You feel like the salon’s prices are a bit steep, but you’re not sure it’s OK to ask for a discount.

SOLUTION: In this economy, salons are feeling the pinch, too. But you can say, “I’d like to keep coming to you, but money is tight—is there an arrangement we could work out?” Often your stylist would rather have you in her chair for a discount than not at all.

SITUATION: Your stylist or aesthetician tries to push products on you.

SOLUTION: If you don’t want them, simply say “I’d like to use up the products I have, so I’ll pass this time” or “Thanks for recommending this—I’ll keep it in mind.” But if you like the way your stylist does your hair, it might pay to ask what she’s using and take her advice on new products to try.

SITUATION: The hairdresser works on two clients at once or keeps you waiting too long.

SOLUTION: If you’d like to have your stylist’s undivided attention, make that clear before the appointment, so they can schedule accordingly. If a substantial delay happens while you’re there, say, “You seem overbooked—can we find a time when I can come back?” Your tone is going to carry the day—if you say it in a neutral tone, you’ll probably be rewarded for it.

SITUATION: You’re not sure whether you should tip the people who wash and blow-dry your hair.

SOLUTION: You should give the hair washer a tip, but it doesn’t have to be huge: shoot for the $2 to $5 range. If someone other than the stylist blow-dries your hair, also give her a tip in that range. If you lean on the side of being gracious and generous, the next time you need to get in quickly for a special occasion, your hairdresser will remember that.

SITUATION: You want to go to another person at the same salon, but if feels like you’re cheating on your hairdresser.

SOLUTION: Address the issue by saying, “I really appreciate what you’ve been doing with my hair, but I feel like I need a change and I wanted to see what this other person would do.” But if you’re switching because you haven’t been pleased with her work, say something like, “My last few cuts weren’t what I had in mind, so I’m going to give someone else a try.”

SITUATION: You don’t see the manicure instruments being cleaned between clients, or the pedicure tub doesn’t look sparkling clean.

SOLUTION: If you’re not sure about the salon’s hygienic practices, politely ask the technician how the tools were cleaned after the last client. If she doesn’t know, leave. If you’re questioning the cleanliness of the pedicure tub, your best bet is to say you’ve had a change of heart and don’t want the service.

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