Every Hair Appointment Question You Want Answered (How Much Should We Be Talking, Anyway?)

Going to the hair salon is something you've probably done for years on autopilot and never really questioned it. It's just something that you do, right? But, wait a second. There are actually quite a few questions we have about hair appointments and the intricacies surrounding it. Like, does the hairdresser actually want to talk to us the whole time? Or is it just something we've told ourselves we have to do? Is it okay to take a picture of exactly what we want with us? Or is that just putting too much pressure on our hair person?


Well, take a deep breath and throw some relaxer on yourself, because Women.com has got your back. We're getting snippy and taking a closer look at the world of haircuts and hairstyling, answering the burning questions you may never even have thought of, from how often you actually need to be heading to the salon to keep those gorgeous locks in tip-top shape to how much chatter is actually appropriate.

Is there really a difference between a hairdresser and a hairstylist?

Though the terms hairdresser and hairstylist are often used interchangeably, they are in fact two different roles and will give you two different outcomes when it comes to your tresses. It's important you know the difference between the two before booking a hair appointment in order to make sure you get the results you're looking for. The term hairstylist usually describes someone who is not qualified to be able to make any permanent changes to your hair, such as dyeing it (which means no hot pink Barbiecore looks!) or using any kind of more long-lasting chemicals on it. What they should be able to do though is to give you a trim and then finish off by styling your hair the way you want it, whether that be to put in some soft beach waves or create a cute up-do. 


If what you want is someone who can color your hair or do something more dramatic like install hair extensions (which aren't clip-ins) or give you a perm, the person you'll want to book an appointment with will fall under the category of a hairdresser. In a lot of cases, a hairdresser will also have the ability to style your hair after coloring it, but if you're going to a salon, someone who specializes in the specific style you're looking for may take over for the styling portion of your appointment.

Should you always talk to your hair person?

There are a number of factors that will determine your chat with your hairdresser or stylist and how deep the conversation should go. If this is someone you've been seeing for a long time, you'll probably find things flow naturally and you should get a strong indication about how much they do, or don't, like to talk while they're working. But everyone is different, so the best thing you can do if you're trying someone new is to make a little small talk and see how they respond. If you're feeling extra bold, simply ask them if they like to talk or not. What's the worst that could happen? Just make sure you take what you want into consideration, too. If you're not in the mood to talk that day, just let them know you're not feeling it but they haven't done anything wrong.


"As a stylist I work closely with people and have learned that respecting their space and understanding their body language is essential," creative director at Myla and Davis, Ben David, told Vogue. "I enjoy catching up with my clients but I understand how busy their schedules are and that some quiet time can be much appreciated!" Hairdresser Joey Scandizzo added to MamaMia, "As long as we have a good chat at the beginning and both of us know exactly what's going on with the haircut or style, I am happy for the client to sit back and relax."

Is it okay to be on the phone during a hair appointment?

No matter what your stance on talking to your hair person throughout the appointment is, is it really okay to be texting or talking on the phone while someone is working away behind you? "It's only rude if it affects your haircut or appointment time — if it doesn't affect our work it doesn't affect our opinion," the team at Taylor Taylor London explained to Metro. Of course, though, politeness should always be super high on your list at any appointment, so it's important even when you're staring at a screen or chatting away that you're still aware of what's going on around you. Don't look down at your phone if your stylist has asked you to keep your chin up (that could make your hair turn out wonky!) and don't be trying to put your device to your ear for a chat if it's interfering with your hair person being able to cut, color, or style your tresses.


You'll also want to avoid trying to have a chat with someone on your cell while having your hair blow-dried, because that will probably be a good talk for precisely no one in the salon. "The worst is when a client is in the middle of a big story, yelling over the dryer, and all of a sudden I stop the blow-dryer and everyone hears them screaming," hairdresser Joey Scandizzo admitted to MamaMia.

How often do you actually need to go to the hair salon?

How many times you actually need to get a haircut will, of course, depend on your style, as some cuts and colors need a lot more maintenance than others. You'll want to ask your stylist what they think is best for you, but, as a general rule of thumb, if you're just getting a cut and want to keep your hair healthy, hairstylist Devin Toth recommended to PopSugar getting a trim every three months. That will help to keep the hair from showing the dreaded signs of damage and will also remove any pesky split ends. If you have more of a defined style to maintain though, that timeframe will differ slightly. "Short pixies should be cut every four weeks, [while] a bob or lob can be cut every six to eight weeks," he shared, noting that to maintain other styles you should probably be aiming for a cut every couple of months.


For those having cut and colors, you'll probably be looking to head back every six to eight weeks to keep that color up. As hairstylist Caitlyn Lambert told Taylor Lately, people who are blonde will probably start to see more brassiness form around this time, which means it's time for some upkeep. "If you have a balayage, you don't technically need to do it again at six to eight weeks, you can let it grow out for six months," she added.

Do you have to wash your hair before every appointment?

It's a bit of a myth that you always have to wash your hair before heading to a session with your hairdresser. Rather than this being a hard and fast rule, it will usually come down to the personal preference of your salon or your specific hairdresser, as well as what you're actually having done. "Many stylists will select to wash your hair prior to cutting since most prefer to cut the hair wet rather than dry," hairstylist Gina Rivera explained to PopSugar, but noted that if you're just getting a trim, you may be better off keeping your hair dry. In fact, some salons may even specifically ask you not to wash your hair before your appointment. For example, salons that specialize in installing hair extensions prefer to wash your hair themselves to prepare it properly for your treatment. Luckily, this will save you some time if you've taken to triple washing to really get your hair looking its best.


Dry hair, though, is preferred if you're having a color put on. "Make sure when showing up for a color application that the hair is dry as well so that the stylist can properly assess your needs and apply the color," Rivera shared. If you're ever unsure, though, it's best to give your salon or hairdresser a call before your appointment to see what they think would be best for your specific situation.

Is there a way to try out a stylist or hairdresser before committing yourself?

Don't think that once you've chosen a hairstylist or hairdresser that you're stuck with them forever, because there's a great way you can try and get to know a new hair person to make sure you'll be a good fit before committing yourself to them on a regular basis. Neven Radovic, lead stylist at Ian McCabe Studio, suggested to NBC News that before making your mind up or booking a block of appointments, you should book a consultation and a blow dry to see if you click. "This way you can get to know the stylist and how they work before doing anything serious. And then if it is a good fit, book a second appointment for a cut/color," he shared. 


This is a particularly good technique if you're planning a big cut or a dramatic change where you need to have a lot of faith in the person that will be standing behind you.

Do hairdressers actually like it when we have a photo we want them to copy?

This one's a bit of a yes and no. Of course, each stylist will have their own personal preference when it comes to you taking a picture of a celebrity hairstyle or a snap of the hair of someone you admire for them to copy, but, in the main, it's rarely a bad thing to choose a snap to give them a solid idea of what you want. As long as you keep your expectations to a minimum, that is. We get it, we're totally guilty too of taking a picture of Scarlett Johansson's locks to the salon and thinking it will make us come out looking like her, but that's just not real life. "You're setting yourself up for disappointment. Because every head of hair is different, replicating an image is an unrealistic goal," hairstylist Andrew Carruthers explained to NBC News, noting instead of thinking you can basically copy and paste the hair look into your own head you should discuss with your stylist what you like about it and how it could work for you.


"A picture says a 1,000 words! We love a picture," the team at Taylor Taylor London added while speaking to Metro about the notion of sharing a snap or two with your hair person. "But just remember we can't turn you into the person in that picture and we might just tell you it shouldn't be done."

Should you say something if your hair isn't looking how you want it?

We get it. It can be pretty daunting when you're sitting in the salon chair looking in the mirror halfway through your appointment and see things aren't exactly looking like you were expecting. But should you say something or trust the process? "Remember that there are phases in every haircut and sometimes the path to beauty has a few ugly moments in between," hairstylist Andrew Carruthers explained to NBC News of why it's important to trust your hair person. But don't think you shouldn't speak up if you're feeling concerned. "If you are getting nervous, ask a few questions in a calm and curious way," he suggested. "If a hairdresser senses that the person in the chair is panicking, things are bound to head in a bad direction. Like any artist, creativity and performance go down hill if the emotions start going up."


If you're nearing the end of your session though and your hair isn't looking how you expected, if you managed your expectations and still haven't got what you wanted, always speak up. Calmly ask your stylist why it hasn't turned out the way you thought it would, and describe more clearly what you were hoping for. They may be able to do something to more closely match what you had in your head, or, if they can't quite catch your vision, they may be able to refer you to someone else who can.