Back stage hair: Shutterstock
Beauty,  Hair

{ How to } get the hair style you want

How many times have you left a hair salon feeling less than satisfied with the result? Too many? You’re not alone.

I asked David Gillson, Master Stylist and partner at Carlton Hair Hyde Park for his tips on avoiding hair appointment stress.


Haven’t yet found the hair stylist of your dreams? Ask around. Ask everyone you see whose hair you like where they go, and who does their hair at that particular salon.

Once you’ve found a stylist you want to try, the best way to get a feel for them is to book a blow dry first, says David. That way, if you get a bad vibe from them, or they don’t give you what you want, you can just walk away with no hard feelings. (Also, you can just wash your hair to undo a bad blow dry – not so easy with a bad cut or colour.)


Yes, sure that new cut Rihanna is sporting is incredible, but are you a pop star? Do you have a team of stylists at your beck and call? Probably not.

Deciding on a style takes serious consideration. Think long and hard about your lifestyle, your ability to style your hair, the amount of time you are willing to put into it each day as well as your budget for styling tools and products. If you are a wash and go type of girl, a complicated cut that requires blow drying then flat ironing just isn’t going to work for you, and you’ll end up hating it.


Not all salons offer consultation sessions, but ask if yours does. If not, just go prepared to your appointment.

Take photos of styles and colours you like, but be consistent. Don’t bring 10 different styles – decide on what type of style you want before you come. Think about how that style will fit into your life. The same goes for colour.

Remember that your idea of ‘shorter’ may be very different to the stylist’s, so be as specific as you can. Having said that, make sure you are prepared for your stylist to say that it either won’t suit you or isn’t achievable with your hair type. Your stylist wants you to look and feel your best, and if a specific cut isn’t for you, let it go. They are trained to get the best out of your hair, so let them.

It is also a good idea to discuss your budget with your stylist before you commit. You love the idea of a full head of highlights, but don’t have the budget for the maintenance of root touch-ups and special shampoos, maybe try something else.


Make your appointment on a day where you can block off a decent chunk of time. Ask how long the stylist thinks your appointment will take, and add at least half an hour. You don’t want to feel rushed, and end up with a half-finished look.

Dress the way you do most of the time. If you are suited and booted every day then dress that way to your appointment. A style can look very different in jogging bottoms and a tee.

Stylist applying hair dye: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock


What happens when you hate the cut or colour? Speak up. If you feel that a cut is not going in the direction you were hoping, speak up while the stylist is cutting. Hair that’s been chopped off can’t be put back. The stylist can then assure you that it will look the way you discussed, or adjust the style to your liking.

Colour is a little trickier, as you often can’t see the final colour until your hair has been blow dried. If you hate it immediately, then tell your stylist. Hopefully they can make a plan to change it then and there, but if not, ask for the next available appointment.

If you find the colour settles after a few days, and you aren’t happy, then go back to the salon. This can be a bit awkward, so if you don’t want to speak to the stylist directly, ask to speak to the manager or owner. Explain what the issue is, and if you don’t want to go back to the same stylist, then ask for an appointment on a day that he or she is off to rectify the shade.

Don’t think that the salon won’t help you. Good salons (and stylists for that matter) will be more than happy to change something you don’t like. They want their customers to be happy with their service and for you to recommend them to others.

Bob blow dry: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock


Now for a bit of etiquette, and the question most asked by you guys: How does tipping work in the salon?

David personally thinks that it’s a bit insulting to tip your stylist. They are highly trained professionals. You wouldn’t tip your dentist or doctor, so why tip your stylist? But that is his personal opinion. Some stylists might expect it, so it’s best to ask the manager of the salon.

Although David does say to leave something for the person who washed your hair, if they looked after you well.