How to have a successful salon appointment, part 1

After 30+ years behind the chair, I’ve learned so much about the key to a successful salon visit. I’ll post many tips, but start with the most basic one.

The first tip I have for you is, learn to communicate clearly and use basic descriptions and photos. Many times a guest comes in and starts to use professional terminology that they overheard in a salon, but it doesn’t relate to their particular situation. It just confuses the artist, or worse yet, the artist may just “take your order”, and follow directions. And disaster may be the result.

Professional jargon is for the professionals. Let’s leave it there. Want your bangs to sweep to the side? Just say it like that. Do you want volume on top? Or color that is bright and light? Say so. But photos really do tell the story. I love it when a guest brings me photos of what they like. But I’ll be honest–if you have porcelain skin, blue eyes, and dark hair, and you bring me a photo of Jessica Simpson, who has tan skin, brown eyes, and blonde hair, I will tell you the truth–that your coloring is completely different, and that particular shade of blonde won’t flatter your skin tone and eye color. But, there is a solution, and I’ll find it.

If you have naturally curly, thick hair and you bring in a photo of Jennifer Aniston’s long, straight hair, be prepared to hear the straight scoop. You’ll be able to have that look only with chemical straightening or daily flat ironing.

Another scenario that presents a challenge is when I get a photo of a beautiful precision haircut, something around chin length, and the guest asks to have that cut but 4 inches longer. It won’t be the same haircut if it’s 4 inches longer. Then it’s a different cut altogether. But, I will ask what it is about the cut they DO like. Maybe it’s just the fringe, and they aren’t even looking at the rest of the cut.

One thing we hear a lot is that people want to have lighter hair but they don’t want any red in the hair. Remember that if your hair is any shade of brown–especially if your eyes are brown–you have natural red in your hair. Depending on how light you want it, you’ll need to get that natural red pigment out. Guests usually see orange and call it red, and stylists call orange more of a gold tone. Guests usually see gold as orange.  Everyone sees color differently.  When in doubt…it’s show-a-picture time!

Another way to have a successful appointment is to be as open and honest as you can. Tell the stylist any and ALL services you’ve had and any and all processes that have been done. Henna can seriously damage hair if other color or perms are put on top. Yes, henna is considered color. Are you using Grecian Formula? That’s a metallic dye and we can’t use perm or straightening solution over it or the hair can melt. Seriously. So come clean! The same goes for home hair coloring. Tell us so we know what to expect.  Leave haircoloring to the pros.

I once met a very well known red haired actress who was on a Garnier Haircolor commercial.  She told me that yes, they used that box color on her, but then they added highlights and a red gloss to boost the color and the shine.  And she only let them do it once.  She didn’t like the result until they applied all the professional magic to it.      I like to tell my guests that I promise not to do their job if they promise not to do mine!

Communication is key. I love developing a relationship with every client in my chair—it’s one of the perks of my career!


Karie Bennett

Atelier Founder and Master Artist


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