By Tracey Strange
Television makeover shows used to irritate me. I could never watch without mumbling at the screen: "A good hair cut will do it." Subjects may have had their teeth fixed, their wrinkles filled, but a top hair stylist usually had the biggest impact. The difference between making a bang (pun intended) and looking a little jaded can usually be measured in a few artfully cut centimetres. But, like any relationship, getting the best from a stylist, no matter how good, mainly comes down to two things: respect and communication.
Here's how to keep the relationship as smooth as a freshly done 'do.
• If you are up for a big change, don't book a busy late-night or Saturday appointment. Book in when you know they can give you time and attention.
• Ring if you're going to be late. Stressing out your stylist is never good for business - theirs or yours.
• One sentence a stylist never wants to hear: "I'm happy for you to do what you want." You rarely are. Take along photos of hairstyles you like. A good stylist will be able to spot what you want instantly from a seemingly disparate selection of images.
• Take some responsibility. Don't shrug indifferently if a stylist asks if you're happy with your current cut.You don't have to know what's wrong with it specifically; just have an idea. Does a long fringe irritate you? Is it too frizzy? Too flat? Too poufy at the sides? Does it only look good for half an hour after you've blow-waved it? It's all good information.
• Try to work out why you like a particular image before you show it to a stylist. Is it because you think your hair would look good that way or because Gigi Hadid/Jennifer Lawrence/Helen Mirren looks particularly fetching? A good cut won't make you look like someone else, just a better version of yourself.
• If you cut and colour your hair regularly, it's highly likely you will have developed a relationship with your hairdresser that transcends normal client-professional bonds. It will feel like a friendship - admittedly a slightly dysfunctional one, as it's primarily based on your need to look good and their need to earn a living. But don't treat your stylist as a free psychologist. All they really have is scissors, a comb and an opinion.
• There's a difference between style and cut. Your hairdresser may have given you the same cut as Gigi, but styled it differently. If you believe your new look is different to what you wanted, speak up before you leave the salon. A little explanation could be all you need to feel reassured.
• It takes time to build up trust. Stylists don't only have to be good; they must be consistently good. If your confidence in yours is dwindling, surely it's better to heed the lessons of Relationships 101, and talk? Book in at a non-busy time and point out gently that you've ceased being happy with the way you look. Rather than believing the grass might be greener at a salon down the road, be honest.
It's nothing they haven't heard before.