A few years ago, I moved to a new state for work—and I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to find a new hairstylist. As a Black woman, I know not every stylist is trained in how to properly style and care for Black hair, so the process can be difficult. Add to that wanting specific styles like braids or sew-ins, and you’re searching for different types of stylists depending on the hairstyle. Without a recommendation on who to go to, I turned to Instagram and searched hashtags to find a stylist to do the braids I had in mind. Upon coming across different Instagram pages and websites, I noticed a common theme: rules. Deposit required, no kids or extra guests, must come with hair already washed and blow-dried, only accept bookings on the 20th of the month from 2-4—these were just some examples of what I saw.
Lately, it seems like so many hairstylists have a list of rules you need to follow to book with them. Whether you’re looking for braids, weaves, or a silk press, booking an appointment with a hairstylist can sometimes feel like jumping through hoops. I talked to my longtime hairstylist, Shanique of StylezUNeak for some insight, and she shared her biggest pet peeves and why some of those rules are necessary.
Shanique recognizes that a list of rules as a first impression can turn some clients away, so she chooses to communicate her policies during the booking process. While some of these rules may be annoying, understand that they are usually in place to protect the stylist from being taken advantage of by clients. Most of these rules are based on respect and communication, so keep these in mind and you’ll be all set to book your next appointment.
“I can’t stand when a client waits until they sit in my chair to tell me they want to switch styles.”
I’m sure we’ve all been there: we decide on our next hairstyle only to come across a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and change our mind at the last minute. While this might seem OK as long as it’s before you get your hair done, it can become a burden on your stylist. If you’re booked for a certain style, switching to something else might mean a bigger time commitment or a product your stylist might not have prepared for you. Jumbo box braids might take two hours, but medium faux locs could take five. Trying to switch styles last minute may affect your stylist’s schedule and creates an extra headache for them.
This has resulted in some stylists implementing rules that you cannot make any changes once the service is booked. I recommend waiting to book until you’re positive about which style you want or communicate that you’re unsure at the time of booking. This allows your stylist to know ahead of time you may switch and she or he may be able to help you decide. If you do need to switch last minute, communicate asap but be prepared if the answer is no.
2. Being Late or Not Showing Up
“It’s so disrespectful of my time when a client is late.”
Sometimes things happen and you can’t help that you’re running a few minutes late or have to cancel. Be considerate of your stylist’s time and communicate that you will be a few minutes late or have to cancel as soon as possible. Most stylists are understanding of a one-time thing, but if it becomes a habit it shows that you don’t respect their time or their business. Respect goes both ways, and a stylist who is never ready for you at your set appointment time should have consequences as well.
Late fees or requiring a deposit for the service is the most common rule I see on a hairstylists’ page, and it is one I agree with. Most stylists I’ve seen will either charge a set amount like $20 or $50 or a percentage of the service with the deposit going toward the total cost of service. I have no problem paying a deposit because I know this is the only insurance the stylist has that I’ll actually show up. When booking a style like braids or faux locs that can take anywhere from 4-8 hours, a stylist would be crazy for not charging a deposit. If the person doesn’t show up for that appointment, that’s an appointment that could have gone to another client and a day of pay gone for the stylist.
3. Price haggling
“This isn’t Target, you can’t price match”
I was surprised to hear that people will haggle or try to negotiate the price when booking a service. Asking for a different price or telling a stylist their prices are too expensive and that “x person does it for x price” is disrespectful and a waste of time.
If you ask a stylist their price and it’s too expensive for you, the only appropriate response is to find a new hairstylist or choose a style within your budget. Always find out the price upfront so you’re not surprised after getting your hair done, but if the price is out of your budget just respectfully take your business elsewhere. The stylist is the expert who knows what their time and effort are worth for each style.
4. Requesting a style that doesn’t fit your length or texture
“I’m not trying to be tagged in a ‘What I asked for vs. What I got’ post”
Sometimes people will see a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and decide they want that style without being realistic. If you have super thin, straight hair and you show your stylist a picture of a kinky curly bob, unless it’s a wig, there’s no amount of magic your stylist can perform to make your hair look like that. Be realistic in your expectations by finding inspiration pictures of hairstyles with similar textures to yours.
5. Asking a stylist for an exact replica of a style they had by another stylist
“I’m sorry, I don’t copy and paste. If you want it to look like that person’s work, book with them.”
Describing to your stylist exactly how someone else did your hair and how you want it done the exact same way is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Hairstylists view their work as a form of artwork and many do not want to make it look like someone else’s work. You wouldn’t go to Taco Bell and ask for Burger King; they’re going to tell you sorry, but you can’t have it your way.
6. When a client asks for my professional opinion and then doesn’t listen
I can say I am guilty of this offense, but I have learned my lesson. I remember seeing silky shoulder lengths and passion twists on Pinterest and falling in love with the style. I decided they would be perfect for my upcoming trip to Disney and booked my appointment. When I showed my stylist the picture of what I wanted, she told me she hates this style because it doesn’t last. She recommended another style, but I wanted to try something new and decided to stick with the passion twists. Spoiler alert: I should have listened. A week later, my hair was frizzy and literally untwisting. No hair was unraveling because the ends were sealed, but the twists weren’t as tight, and the style only lasted about two and a half weeks. I felt like I had wasted my money. When I went to my stylist a few months later for another style, she asked, with a smirk, how I liked the passion twists, I laughed and told her she was right and I will always listen to her from now on.