What Your Clients Say – And What They Actually Mean
“I can still see yellow”, “I’ve only ever box dyed my hair once” and “Do whatever you want” – these are just some of the misleading phrases you might have heard from your clients recently.
If they’ve left you saying / singing “What do you mean?” (thank you, Justin Bieber) then don’t fear. We’ve decoded the most misleading / baffling / downright misleading phrases that clients say and provided advice to help you deal. Let’s end the confusion once and for all.
“I’ve only ever box dyed my hair once…”
What they mean: “I’ve box dyed my hair once … a month”
A hairdresser’s internal lie detector goes into over drive when the word ‘box dye’ is said, and for good reason – most clients lie about box dyeing their hair to avoid a telling off.
Sharon Malcolm, Sharon Malcolm Hairdressing, Newtownards, Northern Ireland says: “As a hairdresser, you know it’s a box dye as you’ll see colour, on top of colour, on top of colour! The tell-tale sign is the top panel and side may be coloured, but several sections underneath are missed because the client cannot see the back. You have to be honest and truthful with the client and explain that you have their best interests at heart. Explain during the consultation that you are going to take them on journey to a perfect result – eventually! It’s important to educate clients about the perils of box dye. Explain to them that the person who may have helped them choose that box dye in the shop is not a hairdresser and neither are they! If they can’t afford a senior stylist’s prices, suggest they book in with a junior member of the team or go along as a hair model to a training evening.”
What they say : “I can still see yellow…”
What they mean: “I’m paranoid about brassiness and see yellow EVERYWHERE”
Do you get some clients who still see yellow even though they are a clean, platinum blonde that Kim K would be proud of?
Warren Boodaghians, head of technical, HOB Salons says: “The best course of action is to always conduct a consultation. Try to understand your client and what they see as a clean blonde versus a creamy blonde or warm blonde. We all see colour differently and the first thing you need to clarify is what they are thinking the colour is they have. No matter the hue or tone, it’s all about aftercare and maintenance between hair colour services. Blonde hair will lose tone quicker due to the porosity of hair. I always recommend my colour clients to come to the salon in between their appointment for a quick glossing service, this will help maintain their colour and keep a cooler/cleaner blonde looking fresh. Wella Professional Color Fresh is my go-to product to ensure you keep your blondes looking clean, as it is a true semi-permanent and it sits on the outside layer of the hair for an instant quick fix. 10/6 is my favourite go to for clean blondes.”
What they say: “I want balayage”
What they mean: “I’ve seen this term in a hashtag on Instagram, but actually have no idea what it means”
#balayage must be one of the most-used hair terms. But it is also one of the most incorrectly used terms too (how many times has your client confused ombre with balayage? *eye roll*). Often clients don’t understand what techniques go into creating the finished hair look that they covet.
Kerry Mather, owner of KJM salon, says: “The balayage trend is quite frustrating for us as a team. Balayage is a technique for colouring hair – not a finished result. As such, clients have confused or unrealistic expectations of what balayage actually is and the journey their hair needs to go on to get to their desired result. Depending on their hair it can take multiple appointments and many more hours than the client expects to get to the hair they want. We discuss pricing a lot in our team meetings and in the future we might have to consider giving our clients a price for their balayage look after a full consultation because everyone’s desired results are so different.”
What they say: “I want Kylie Jenner’s platinum bob…”
What they mean: “I not only want Kylie Jenner’s hair but also her face, clothes and attitude. Can you help?”
You’re a hairdresser, not a magician. You might be able to give them their chosen celebrity’s hair, but not their whole lifestyle. Also, it might be that the celebrity they are referring to is wearing a wig or has hair pieces in – in other words, it’s not a realistic look for them to achieve with their own hair.
Creative colour expert and owner of ROKU Hairdressing, Robbie Bruce explains: “If a client suggests something that you don’t think will suit them, it is important to deliver your response in the most caring way possible and let them know you have their best interests at heart. Always be mindful to remain professional and be tactful as this can be a challenging situation to navigate. It is important to explain why you feel a colour or cut will not suit the client, perhaps their skin tone will not work so well with the colour etc. You need to be prepared to suggest another style for them too, whether it is a colour or a different shape that may be more flattering for them. As well as suggesting other looks that may be more suited, try and determine what it is about their chosen look that they really like. When you go in to more detail it will be easier for you to understand what style they want to achieve and work accordingly. As you build a loyal clientele they are likely to trust your opinion as a professional and whilst it can be difficult to let clients know that something may not work for them, they will respect you for doing so.”
What they say: “I’m pretty low maintenance with my hair…”
What they mean: “I wash it and go”
“I blow-dry it straight, curl it and then use a bespoke mix of five different products. Simples.”
This is a tricky one. After all, one woman’s low maintenance is another woman’s 16-step Korean-inspired routine. It’s important to figure out exactly what a client’s daily routine is. Do they literally wash and go, or is their idea of low maintenance spending an hour styling their hair every day?
Kevin Paul Finnell, director, F&M Hairdressing says: “Within F&M Hairdressing we believe in honesty being the best policy and are very fortunate that our clients trust us when discussing their hair vision along with lifestyle factors and personal matters. When we undertake the consultation with the client we always discuss their home care routine and lifestyle factors. Everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another, therefore it is essential for us to establish a colour and style that will suit them and their lifestyle. Establish how many times per week they wash their hair, the products they use and how long they spend styling. Find out about their job, perhaps they travel a lot and need a style that require minimal styling; all this information will help you help the client achieve a style that suits them personally and their lifestyle, whilst ensuring the hair looks and feels incredible at all times.”
What they say: “I want to keep the length, but go shorter at the front. Also, I like the colour but want a change.”
What they mean: “I might not be sure what I want now, but when you do something I don’t want I’m going to blame you even though I gave you no direction.”
Beware this type of client! No matter how chilled they might be now, when they see the directional micro-fringe you’ve painstakingly cut in, they may think differently.
Lynndy Rolfe, Indola Smart social creator, says: “I stock a small selection of real hair wigs for colour and length changes, it’s an investment but usually helps the client get an idea of the hang and if they want to go lighter/darker or shorter/longer. With these types of clients I usually ask them to look through images or bring magazine tears to their appointment. I also cover the model’s face so they can clearly see the hair cut/ colour rather than focusing on the model’s face and make-up. I also discuss with them at length the daily maintenance and repeat salon appointments to ensure it sits within their budget and time restrictions.”