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How to Leave the Hairdresser Happy

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As a child I had sun-streaked, blonde hair that gradually faded to an unfortunate mousy brown by the time I entered middle school. I was so desperate to return to my once lighter shade that I began using Sun-In, which successfully transformed my hair into a color that can only be described as day-glo orange. I've had plenty of other unfortunate mishaps, including a brief stint with black hair, ends that were visibly fried from my flat iron, and a series of bad dye jobs. But in that time, I've learned some invaluable tips for getting my hair to look how I want it to. Here are the four things that I do each time I go to the hairdresser to ensure that I leave happy.

1.Bring pictures. This might seem obvious, but the best way to communicate what you want to your hairdresser is through photographs. I used to think my descriptions were sufficient until I accidentally mixed up the shade of blonde I was going for. I asked for honey-colored highlights, even though what I really wanted was an ashier, lighter shade (closer to straw). Needless to say, I walked out with honey-colored hair because of my mistake. Now I constantly save photos to my phone of girls with hair color I like. Sometimes it's doable and other times my hairdresser will dissuade me for one reason or another (more on that later), but at least I make sure to go in each time with some visual inspiration.

2. Listen to your hairdresser. When you find a hairdresser you trust, it's important to listen to him or her as to what makes the most sense for your hair. A few years back, when everyone was sporting a side swept bang, I had already begun to embrace my new style before I sat down in her chair. After looking at my natural hair (frizzy with a side of unpredictable wave) and my face shape (small forehead), my stylist encouraged me to reconsider. Of course I was crushed, but after a handful of my friends opted for the cut and immediately regretted it, I was happy that I had listened. The same goes for color: even though there are times when I've wanted to do something drastic (like platinum), after hearing more about the upkeep and the potential damage to my hair, I knew it wasn't the right decision for me.

3.Make sure you leave satisfied. On more than one occasion, I left the salon feeling less than satisfied. Yes, it's awkward to tell your stylist that you're not happy with the results, but it's better than saying nothing at all. You've paid good money, spent a chunk of time in the chair and your stylist wants you to be happy so that you remain a consistent client. Before you say anything, try to pinpoint exactly what it is that you don't love so that you properly describe the issue: check your hair color in different lights, pull it back into a ponytail (I once forgot to do this and while the top of my hair was highlighted to perfection, the underneath sections didn't lift properly and were brassy) and look at it from all different angles. Then in a tactful way, either that day or within three, describe what you don't like so that you can work with your stylist to fix the problem.4.Be prepared. A day at the salon is an investment, in more ways than one and a little preparation makes a big difference. The first thing is to have cash on hand so that you can tip your stylist and anyone else who helps (don't forget the person who washes and/or blow dries your hair). Bring snacks, since there's nothing worse than feeling like you're stuck ravenous somewhere without anything to eat. I usually toss a granola bar and some nuts into my bag. Finally, while this tip is quite vain, it will make your experience much more enjoyable: make sure you look polished when you arrive. You're going to be sitting in front of a mirror for a good amount of time, with foils in your hair, harsh lighting and a less than flattering smock, so a swipe of lipstick goes a long way. Plus, once you leave, you're going to want the rest of your ensemble to match your fantastic new hair.

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