So we’ve all been there, whether sitting in the chair or being behind it. It’s that looming monster or thing that keeps growing in the room. The uncomfortable feeling that this is not going to end well and there is absolutely no way for you to fix it. I call it the “Oh Sh#%” moment. It’s that horrific moment in time when things are just about to get messy.
It’s the haircut that is way too short, the toner that’s too cool, the hair that’s too red, too dark, or too brassy! It’s that moment when you know your client is not happy and will not be happy the remainder of the service. And all you can do is suck it up and power through. Fortunately, these moments happen few and far between (well at least let’s hope). Usually they occur more in your early years as a stylist when you’re fresh out of school and still trying to figure out what the heck the color wheel means. But honestly, no matter how skilled you are, or how many years you’ve been in the field, you’ll still have those moments. And those “Oh Sh#%” moments can leave you emotionally drained, mentally exhausted, and sometimes uncertain in your craft.
Hair is a very personal thing. It can make a statement or set an image. It’s a vanity that can make you so happy and ultra thrilled or so completely distraught and devastated. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been on both sides. As a stylist when that moment happens, and there’s a point of no return, all I want to do is stop blow drying, throw my implements on the floor, and run out of the salon screaming. I’d really like to crawl into a hole and die, and then have my body revived in a couple of days and my brain completely washed out from memory. But unfortunately that can’t happen. I’ve also been at the tail end. I sit there in the chair and I just know my hair is not going to look at all like what I was wanting. All I can do is slap a false smile on my face and just take it. Even though I’m in the hair field and I really try to encourage my client to tell me if they’re not happy, there’s something about being in a chair and remaining courteous to your lady. So I’ve been there; I get it.
Unfortunately, no matter if it’s a haircut or color, both are incredibly traumatic when they’re not going to plan. When haircuts are too short it’s just a matter of time growing it out. Color is just as devastating. Depending on what level you colored the hair and what tones of color you have done, it can be fixed. You can use a different toner, add some lowlights, add some highlights, do a bleach wash, etc. There are so many avenues you can do that may save a little grief and gain back a few good graces with your client. What’s really difficult is when you make a mistake and you can’t fix it. I’ve had experiences as a stylist and also as a client. I’ve experienced situations before with my hair that have left me so upset that I refuse to see that person again. I’d rather go somewhere else. It’s a clean slate, there’s no weird tension, and I can just chill out and enjoy the service.
So from all the experiences, the good and the bad, you can become a better stylist. You’ll still have those “Oh Sh#%” moments with unsatisfied clients. There will still be times when your color and/or haircut was off. That just comes with the hair territory. It just comes to making sure you do your best and accepting that maybe you are human. Well, at least sometimes. Once you get past feeling upset or discouraged, you then can learn from your mistakes and change your approach with the next client. And that client will be happy.
So to help you on your hair journey, whether you are a newfound member or a seasoned veteran, here are just a few pointers that may save you from an “Oh Sh#%” moment. This could be applied to all artsy people.
Thorough consultation. Make sure that you and your client are on the same page. Show color swatches to see what ideas they are envisioning. If you know that the hair service will take longer than you blocked out, then reschedule their appointment when you have more time. Most clients like to show pictures as well, so check it out and see what you can do that’s comparable to their hair. That’s only if it’s a possibility. And be real with them. We all want to act like the hero and say, “Yes, I can do that,” when in reality you should know your limitations. Your client will have more respect for you. Once you have done a thorough consultation, repeat it back to them.
Maintain professionalism. We are very creative souls, and we have a tendency for the dramatic. If it isn’t going well in your chair don’t be a drama queen. Maintain composure and try your best to make your client happy. It’s difficult to not become defensive or take it personal. And believe me, I still need to recheck my attitude. Just remember that you are not the only one on the planet to have such an experience. We’ve all been there. So try to take a chill pill and remember – this is about your client, not you. Also, with having a large cyber audience now such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., it’s imperative to stay professional. Here is one piece of advice that I would give my students when they were ready to enter the professional hair world: if you were in front of a live audience with friends, family, acquaintances and even people you don’t know, would this be something you would like to share? Because I have my own business most of my material that I share is of my professional work. I love to share my photoshoots and what inspires me to create them, what I have been doing in the salon, and my blog. Of course I do have a personal life, and I do enjoy to share fun things like vacations, dinners out with my boyfriend, and other happy events. For the most part though, I use my social media primarily for work.
Stop beating a dead horse. When you’ve done everything in your power, that’s it. Accept it and move on. If I get stuck with a color or cut, rather than acting defeated and avoiding the color or cut the next time, I actually seek out advice from my colleagues, take classes, or watch web seminars so that I may learn from my mistake. I’ll also seek out models.
Enjoy yourself and your accomplishments. In any field of work it always seems like the negative things linger the most, right? When you envelope yourself in the negativity you can get really hard on yourself and down. I know I do. Well, reality check. You have a fabulous and friendly clientele who love to see your happy face and really enjoy being in your chair. They are the reason that you love what you do. Don’t forget to appreciate those guys!
And above all have fun. For those of us who are passionate with their field of work, whether you’re a hairstylist, esthetician, artist, etc., it’s possible to get so wrapped up and nitpick every little detail you forget to really enjoy it. You’d think we’re doing surgery or something. This is the world of hair, and you got into it because you love it and love making people feel good about themselves. So enjoy it and have fun with your clients!
In conclusion, stylists, you’ll have those difficult moments. Moments when you really don’t want to go back to work and you’d rather just close the blinds and crawl into bed. Well suck it up, dry your tears and learn from you “Oh Sh#%” moments. Time will pass and you’ll be fine. And know that you are not the only one for this to happen. We’ve all been there. Hair is hair. And if you’re a client who’s had a very traumatic experience, I feel for you. It’s an awful feeling when myself or one of my fellow hairdressers know we are the ones responsible to cause such pain. That is never our intention. Out of all the heartache you’ll find a super awesome stylist that is right for you. One that understands you, knows what you really want, and will have a great connection with. So don’t fret, they’re out there!
Well that’s it for now for the Confessions of a Hairstylist! I wish peace, love and kindness to you all!
From your dedicated and artsy hairstylist,