People have different feelings when it comes to dying their hair. Some do it often and think it’s no big deal. Others don’t take decisions like making a change in their appearance as lightly; I am the latter. I have never in my 22 years professionally dyed my hair, and after a bad experience with boxed dye a few summers ago, I decided the next time I colored my hair I would go to a salon.

This is an example of what I wanted my hair to look like (I knew it wouldn’t turn out exactly this way, but this was my reference point). Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

After some thought, I concluded that I wanted to get a balayage done on my hair. A balayage is a dying technique that involves painting dye on the hair in a way that will make a subtle, natural, sweeping ombre. I went to my mom’s hair dresser for this, and the result was awful. It was choppy, uneven and didn’t look at all like the picture I showed the stylist. I was really disappointed.

In the hair dresser’s defense, she had never done a balayage before, so I was her guinea pig. After much contemplation and realizing that it would be impossible to keep my hair in a ponytail every day until it grew out, I decided to get in touch with her to have her fix it. She was really devastated and upset that it didn’t come out right. I felt bad for being upset with how it looked and for making her feel upset, but I knew something had to be done.

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I went back two days later and she fixed it for me. She did a bit more research on techniques and had the owner of the shop help her. It looked so much better! I love my hair now, and I’m extremely happy that I went back to get it fixed. On the downside, she charged me an additional $65 on top of the $125 (and added tip) that she charged the first time. I was a little upset with this because I had already paid so much to get my hair done the first time. But I paid again and went on my way.

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I talked to a few hairdresser friends after that experience to get their take on it. Here is some advice from the experts, as well as from me, based on my own experience:

1. Always be clear with the hairdresser:

I know that sometimes articulating exactly what you want can be hard, but you need to try your best to explain exactly how you want your hair– don’t settle.

2. Be honest:

For me, it was really hard to tell the stylist while I was still sitting in her chair after the first appointment that I really didn’t like the way my hair looked and that it wasn’t what I wanted. I explained to her on my second appointment that I wasn’t comfortable giving criticism and that I didn’t want to upset or offend her. The hairdresser reassured me that it is extremely important to be honest in the chair because you’re paying for a service, so it should be the way you want it.

3. Ask the stylist about his or her experience with certain techniques and hairstyles before getting it done:

Had I asked the hairdresser if she had ever done a balayage before, I would have known that she hadn’t, and I could have gone to someone who had experience with it if I decided I didn’t want to be a test run for her.

4. Most hair dressers will not charge again for fixing something they didn’t do correctly, so ask ahead of time:

Katrina Crandall, who works at a JCPenney salon, said that she and her coworkers don’t charge to fix something if it’s within two weeks of the original appointment. It also must be something the stylist did wrong and not that the person just didn’t like the new style. A hairstylist from Saratoga Debut salon, Britney Corsi, said that most salons do not charge for a redo, but if the stylist works for a corporate salon then it may not be their choice. The person who did my hair may have had to charge for the fix because those are the rules at that particular salon.

5. No question is off limits:

It is your hair and you are paying for it; ask all the questions you need to about what products they are using, how long it will take, if they have experience with that particular style, if they will charge for a redo if it is not done correctly, etc. You want to make sure your hair is going to turn out the way you want.

It’s OK to ask questions and to ask for something to be fixed; you don’t need to worry about hurting stylists’ feelings. Chances are, they want your hair to come out well just as much as you do. They want to keep their customers happy, and you want a trustworthy stylist. I wish I had known this before I went to get my hair done, but the next time I do something, I will be sure to ask questions.  

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