10 Ways to Annoy a Hairstylist

What's annoying? When a client shows up late & then chatters on her cell phone

Woman getting curls from hairdressers
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Scoring a great hairstylist is one of those secrets to a happy, content life that is often overlooked. It's not as important as finding a great person to marry, but I believe it's on par with finding a doctor you can trust or a babysitter you adore. Why? Because a bad haircut can ruin your summer (as it did my dear friend recently), but a great haircut can leave you feeling confident, sexy and ready to take on the world.

So when you do find that awesome stylist, you want to hold on to him or her. And that means not annoying them. Here are 10 things people do to piss off their stylists.

Regularly Show Up Late to Appointments

Hair salons are kind of like airplanes (bear with me on this one). If a plane is delayed by a couple hours, it messes up the rest of the flights for the day. If a client delays her stylist by a half hour, it can mess up the stylist's following appointments for the rest of the day.

Stylists hate it when people consistently show up late to appointments. Once is fine (everyone understands when a meeting or the babysitter runs late), but make it a regular occurrence and you can bet the stylist secretly (or not so secretly) holds it against the client.

After all, what someone who is consistently late is really saying is, "My time is more valuable than your time."

If you are running late, give the salon a call.

I have been late due to awful subway service and I always call the minute I get off the subway. I explain to the front desk person and apologize profusely. I then apologize profusely to my stylist when I greet her.

Cancel at the Last Minute

Stylists also hate it when a client cancels at the last minute without giving the customary and polite 24-hour notice.

Clients who cancel at the last minute cost the stylist money they could have made by filling that now-open spot. Most stylists make money only when their chair has someone sitting in it. An empty seat means an unpaid hour. And while she may enjoy having that hour to herself now to file her nails or surf the Internet on her smartphone, chances are she'd rather be cutting or coloring hair.

When a Client is Rude to the Assistant

Perhaps you know the type: the person who is sweet as sugar to her stylist but treats the stylist's assistant -- the one who washes and blow dries hair -- like a third class citizen.

Stylists take note of this rude behavior even if they don't feel comfortable mentioning it to their client. And if they don't notice it on their own, people in salons talk and everyone in a salon knows who the rude clients are.

Clients Who Talk on Their Cell Phones

Chattering away on the cell phone during a haircut is rude to the other salon patrons and rude to the stylist. Plus, it's hard to cut hair around a phone at the ear.

When Someone's Unhappy and They Don't Say So

We've all been there: sitting in the salon chair looking at our hair mid-cut and wondering, "Oh boy, this is not what I was hoping for." It's too short, or too layered, or angled or whatever.

People (unlike me) who are direct and good at taking up for themselves are OK with speaking up at this point or at least at the end of the haircut when they really are unhappy, but me? I tend to compliment the stylist and then walk out disappointed because I'm a wuss and I don't want to upset anyone. 

But stylists do this for a living. Anyone who's been in the business for a few months or more has had to deal with unhappy clients. So it's best to speak up before you get home and decide you can never, ever go back and you might as well find a new stylist. Chances are your stylist was having an off day. Happens to all of us. Plus, if it's something that can be fixed, he or she will fix it.

Now if you really are unhappy with your stylist, there are ways to properly break up. See How to Break Up With a Hairstylist (Without the Guilt)

TMI: Clients Who Talk and Talk and Talk...

For some people, salon visits can be like therapy or tea at the table with a good friend. This is where you talk about your love life or lack thereof. Where you berate your ex or disclose for the first time that you've got a teeny bun in the oven and therefore can't have hair color touching your scalp (Mira, my colorist at Eva Scrivo in NYC, tells me she has often been the first to know of many pregnancies).

But too many dramatic, personal details can drive some stylists crazy. Watch your stylist's reaction. If she's into it, fine. But keep in mind that you may get a better cut or color if you let your stylist concentrate on your hair instead of the lurid details of your friend's affair. 

The Client Who Doesn't Bring in Pictures

Stylists don't love it when someone sits down in their chair and tries to explain the new cut or color they want without a picture. (I am guilty of this. Even beauty editors never learn).  

Imagine if someone said, "I want to look like Cameron Diaz.” Cameron Diaz blonde or Cameron Diaz with ombre highlights? Cameron circa 2012 or 2015? And what does she look like these days anyway? Bring a picture or 2 or 3. Especially if you aren't a regular customer who gets the same old haircut every time.

Clients Who Don't Treat Stylists Like Professionals

Believe it or not, there are clients who come in, sit down and say, "I want this haircut." The picture is shown, the expectations are clear and the stylist realizes, "this woman has no respect for my professional opinion."

"The most important thing is to make the stylist think that they are in it with you creating this new look," says celebrity colorist Brad Johns to Allure Magazine. "After you tell them what you want to say, 'Do you agree?' It makes the colorist feel like a participant in your request, not a waiter just serving your wants."

Plus, the stylist is a trained professional and likely has a pretty good idea if a cut will work with your hair texture or if a color will wash you out or make your eyes pop.

You Aren’t Honest With Your Stylist

It's always important to tell your stylist if you've had a chemical treatment on your hair (think Japanese or Brazilian hair treatments) or if you are the super casual type who never blow dries her hair and relies on air drying even in the dead of winter.

Communicate and do so as honestly as possible.

Bad Tippers

The proper tip is 15% for your stylist (20% if you loved it) and $5 for the person who washes your hair. Beware the fancy places. You may find you have someone washing your hair, a separate person drying and even a third handing foils to your stylist. In those confusing cases, I find it's best to ask your stylist how to handle her assistant's tips. Many times, she shares her tips with them at the end of the day. You can also ask the front desk what to do in this situation. Many times I just give $5-10 to the main assistant.

Should you tip the owner? Yes. The times have changed and these days, owners expect the same tip you'd give another stylist. See How Much Should I Tip for a Haircut?

Find out how much you should tip the stylist, the person who washes your hair and others in a salon in Should You Tip the Owner of a Salon?

More essential reading:

  • Short Hairstyles: Which Work Best With Your Face Shape?
  • Shoulder Length Hair: 20 Amazing Hairstyles
  • Long Hair: Favorite Long Hairstyle Photos
  • Most Flattering Haircuts by Face Shape