August 21 2014

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Picture This: How Much Guidance Should You Give Your Hairstylist?


Beauty Etiquetter is a new column on Beauty Counter in which we address your beauty-protocol predicaments with candid advice from industry experts and those in the know. To submit a question, e-mail celia

The Quandary: Does bringing in a photo of a celebrity or model offend a hairdresser and infringe on his/her creativity, or do they truly appreciate the guidance? Is there another way to better communicate what it is that I want?

The Expert in Residence: Sally Hershberger, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the Sally Hershberger salons and product line.

The Advice: “I actually appreciate it when a client brings in a photo, because it helps articulate what they’re looking for. Everyone in fashion works with visual references—photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel have inspiration boards full of images. So if it’s not clear what a client wants, I’ll sometimes pull my own photos to show him or her. Even if the client brings in something that’s not at all close to their hair texture or type, it’s still a good starting off point for the discussion. Beyond photos, try to point out specific things you’re looking for with the cut; for example, you could say something like, ‘I want it to have movement but not too many layers,’ or ‘I don’t want the length to be any shorter than my lip.’ But don’t get too neurotic or talk about every little detail. A good hairstylist will understand what you want from a few pointers, and getting too chatty can take away from the creative process. Hair is an art form. There is an element of being in the artistic moment. When I’m cutting, I’m looking at the face and how the hair goes with it. You need to be able to play with the texture and have a good visual eye. So to some degree, trust that your stylist knows what he or she is doing.”

Photo: Courtesy of Sally Hershberger

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