How to Get What You Want from a Hairstylist When You Have Short, Thick Hair

So you don't have to lie about loving a haircut again.
Publish date:
May 27, 2016
Sally Hershberger, haircuts, hairstylists, lobs, haircut tips

As someone with close to zero loyalty to hairstylists, I'll definitely call you back if you do one of two things with my hair: NOT mention the voluminous amount of follicles on my head as some too-muchery bullshit, and use actual shears as opposed to only a razor.

I mean, I don't like telling people how to do their jobs, but I know my hair and I know that if you cut it exclusively with a razor, the ends will rebel into a million bratty split-ends that eventually look like if you burned off the ends of Barbie doll hair. It gets the job done, if the job is solely to de-bulk weight from hair, but I pay the price of this shredding later on when I actually want "nice" smooth-looking hair.

Thank gourd that James Vides — top shear-wielder at Sally Hershberger Downtown, possibly the hippest place I've ever shed hair at — was like, "I would NEVER do that to you."

Maybe it's because he has small children and is extra-sensitive to the dangers of sharp objects, or maybe because he knows a thing or two about thick coarse hair like mine — either way, I was relieved when he mentioned not using a razor. Also, he giggled when I talked into a Tangle Teezer like a telephone, and if I'm being honest, all anyone has to do is laugh at my very bad jokes to be my friend.

It sounds really easy to just ask your stylist to "point-cut" like you're hip to their hairdresser lingo, but I've done this in the past and it's probably confused more people rather than communicate what I want.

I'll generally tell a hairstylist the kind of hairstyle I want with the added caveats of how my hair behaves (i.e. "I'd like a textured, wavy lob I can air-dry, but my hair is super-thick and wants to lie straight"). While I can't remember the last time I wanted to emulate a specific person's hairstyle, bringing photos is SO helpful to a hairdresser, since words are only so visual.

Also, let the stylist know your general commitment levels to styling. I'm an air-drier unless there's some fancy occasion (plus, my very expensive hairdryer broke after I dropped it seven times), so letting my dude know that, "Hey, looks great when you blow it out but it's gonna look shitty unless you teach me how to style it while it air-dries or just cut it in a way that's amenable to air-drying" is one of those things that benefits everyone in the outcome. Your hair is basically your hairdresser's best calling card, so making you look awesome should be in his or her best interest.

For the most part, since I've been regularly bleaching my hair blonde, I've enjoyed rocking a mostly-one-length bob, but now that I have a better handle on maintenance, I'm into the idea of growing my hair longer into whatever stage comes after lob (regular-girl hair?), which is another thing I make mention of when getting cut, since having someone cut your hair in a way that grows out nicely and doesn't require constant trims to maintain shape is a godsend (and kinder to your wallet, obviously).

Look, I can't really tell you how to curb expectation once your split-ends hit the floor (why is that always the most awkward part of a haircut?), but one way — the best way, in my opinion — to avoid that disingenuous through-gritted-teeth "I... love it" upon leaving and then rushing home to re-style your hair the way you like is to communicate in the clearest way exactly what you've got and what you want.

  • Have you mastered the art of getting what you want from your hairstylist?
  • Are you an air-dryer, or do you style your hair every day?
  • Are you pro- or anti-razor?