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New Haircut? How to Get One You Won't Hate

8 tips to ensure you get the right cut and color

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How to score a new haircut you won't hate

Stone for Getty Images

We've all left the salon with a cut that's too short or a color that's just a bit off. Here are some tips to getting the perfect cut and color out of a stylist. Plus, find out what stylists find annoying about their clients.

Choose Your Stylist Carefully

I like to choose a stylist based on references. If I see someone with a great haircut or color, I won't hesitate to ask where she got her hair done. My friends do the same and we're all happy with our various stylists.

If you have curly hair, you might consider finding someone who specializes in cutting curly hair. Here, in New York, for example, we have a salon (Devachan) that's committed just to cutting super curly hair. Cutting certain types of hair is a bit of a specialty, so it doesn't hurt to call ahead and ask if someone at the salon specializes in your particular hair texture. Read more about styling curly hair in 10 Secrets to Styling Naturally Curly Hair.

Keep in mind that a stylist WITH curly hair may know exactly where you're coming from. The same goes for getting your brown hair colored red (ask for someone who does lots of new redheads), trying out an edgy short hairstyle and getting a perm (you want someone who does a lot of them).

Do Your Homework Before You Hit the Salon

I've been told a few times by stylists that it annoys them when a client tries to explain a cut without a picture. (Yes, I can be accused of doing this on a previous haircut. Even beauty editors never learn).

Imagine if someone said, "I want to look like Cameron Diaz." Cameron Diaz blonde or brunette? Cameron circa 2006 or late 2011? And what does she look like these days anyway? Bring a picture or 2 or 3. And make sure the look will suit you. See my article, Flattering cuts for every face shape for new hairstyle ideas.

Never Say, "Do Whatever You Want."

The beauty editor of 'O' magazine tells of the time a world-renowned hairstylist offered to do her hair and she let him do whatever he wanted since the cut was free. Oops. Big mistake. The lesson in this is that it's rarely a good idea to give your hair completely over to a stylist. After all, you don't want to be the practice mannequin for a new look the stylist is dying to try out.

When Talking Length, Show With Your Hands

One of the most common disappointments I hear from those with "Hair Horror Stories," is the "I Told Her 3 Inches and She Lopped Off 8" stories.

A stylist once taught me a great trick, never say you want three inches off, actually take your hand and karate chop it right where you want her/him to go. And feel free to say, "No higher, please." My advice: Keep your hand there and have the stylist stand back and soak in just where you want your hair cut to. Also, don't be afraid to politely speak up from your chair if you feel the cut is going awry.

Schedule in 10 Minutes for a Consultation

If you're doing your own version of "Extreme Makeover" and have plans to drastically realign your looks, do plan a good 10-15 minute consultation with the colorist and stylist.

When you go for your consultation, wear your hair as you do every day. This tells the stylist a lot: How much time you really put into your hair each day, how your hair dries and how healthy your ends are.

Listen to Your Stylist

If the woman in your picture has ash blonde hair and you'd make a much better butter blonde, chances you won't know this, but your stylist will. Be sure and ask questions:

"What type of color best suits me?"
"Do you think my hair can look like this picture of Cameron circa 2013?"
"How long will this haircut take me to style in the morning?"

If your stylist says, "No, I'm sorry, but there's no way I can make you look like Cameron circa 2013," you'd better listen, because chances are you won't.

Be Honest With Your Stylist

Yes, you'd love your stylist to think you'll love your new hairstyle enough to baby it every morning with 10 products, 20 minutes drying time and 15 minutes styling time. However, the truth is, if your morning routine for the past 20 years includes a quick wash followed by a towel dry and ending with a soppy wet ponytail, you'd better tell you're stylist or you'll end up with a fancy, layered, curling-ironed and hairsprayed 'do that takes hours to replicate. Trust me, I've been there.

"You must make it perfectly clear to your stylist how far you're willing to go. Otherwise, someone will end up in tears," says NY stylist Erin Anderson in Marie Claire.

Tip Appropriately

Proper tip is 15% for your stylist (20% if you loved it) and $5 for the person who washes your hair. Beware the fancy places. You may find you have someone washing your hair, a separate person drying and even a third handing foils to your stylist. Yes, each person gets $5.

Should you tip the owner? Yes. The times have changed and these days, owners expect the same tip you'd give another stylist. See How Much Should I Tip for a Haircut?

How to Find the Perfect Haircut for You

The best haircut for you will work with your natural hair texture while flattering your face shape. I always recommend perusing magazines (or this Website) for hairstyles you like that seem to match your hair texture.

Here's some guidance:

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