It isn’t uncommon for a professional of any type to see the world around him or her according to his or
her particular perspective. Auto Mechanics see a car and immediately process make, model, year, horsepower, engine size, number of
valves, and countless other bits of information. Contractors look at a building and see a tally of materials (lumber, brick, cement,
nails, sheetrock, etc.) and man-hours. Designers look at a room and see the myriad of possibilities.
It’s the same with hair stylists. Stylists are trained to look at more than just the hair when you come
into the salon for services. This is because creating a flattering look requires more than just an evaluation of the hair. You have to
consider the person as a whole and work from there.
A Client Walks into a Salon ...
A person, new in town, chooses a salon and stops in for an appointment. The stylist, who’s been
practicing for a number of years, sees her enter and immediately begins processing information – body build, current hair length,
height, overall style, etc. Every person presents a first impression when they are met. For a stylist, that impression is colored
by the things the stylist is trained to judge.
Knowing what it takes to create a style or look, the stylist can see a new client and get a sense of how
much time and effort he/she puts into his/her grooming each day. Is the style casual, dressy, formal, professional? Does the client
come to the salon often for maintenance services (color retouch, perms, highlights, etc.)? What are the likely products and appliances
the client uses on a daily basis?
When the client comes to the stylist’s station and sits in the chair, there is an interview of sorts.
It’s a get-to-know-you session for both parties. The client gets to learn a little about the stylist’s personality and may look over a
portfolio of the stylist’s work. Meanwhile, the stylist is generally asking the client about their lifestyle and routine and what they
are looking for as it concerns their hair.
But more than just questions and answers, the stylist is looking at things like the face shape, the overall
size and shape of the head, the condition, texture, wave patterns and growth patterns of the hair. He/She is also looking at the
overall health of the scalp and skin surrounding the hairline, since any sign of health conditions can affect what services and
products can and should be used on the client’s scalp. (Stylists are also trained to recognize conditions that need to be referred
to a physician for treatment, and which can NOT be dealt with by the stylist because of the risk of spreading infection.)
Everything Looks Fine ...
The stylist’s initial examination shows that everything looks good. There is no sign of damage or injury,
the scalp is clean and healthy, and the hair is in good condition. The client has explained her desires with regard to her hair and she
and the stylist have discussed what is needed to achieve those goals.
Let’s say for exemplary purposes that the client’s current look is a just-below-shoulder-length blunt
cut with a very soft natural wave. The desired look is a nest of spiral curls. The client’s head is in proportion to her body, and she
is of average build. When thinking of how to give the client the look she wants, the stylist takes into account the amount of volume
generated by the additional curl in the hair, and notes that the hair will likely need to be thinned to remove bulk and maintain the
balance between the size of the head and body and the size of the hair.
You see, while “big hair” styles come in and out of fashion, a good stylist is always aware of the
proportions of the individual and creates hairstyles that are in balance with the body for who they are intended. A hairstyle that is
“too small” for an individual can make an overweight person appear more heavy, a thin person appear too angular, and a tall person
too gangly. Conversely, when the hairstyle is disproportionately large, it makes an overweight person seem that much heavier, the thin
person appears overbalanced, and a petite person will appear that much smaller under the balance of the hairstyle.
Because our client is going to need a perm further discussion is held about potential conditions that
could affect the results. The client explains that she is being treated for a thyroid condition and that the medication she takes daily
is reported to effect the growth of the hair. This lets the stylist know that she must pay close attention to the processing and
progress of the perm service. It also confirms the need for a pre-perm shampoo with a clarifying product.
Many different illnesses, medications, dietary changes and even environmental factors (such as using well water) can affect the hair and how it responds to a chemical service and even to physical styling techniques as well. Be sure to share
any information about your health or dietary changes with your stylist.