7 Things You Should Never Do at the Hair Salon, Etiquette Experts Say
Make sure to avoid these common faux pas—your stylist will thank you.
It probably goes without saying that when you go to the salon, you'll want to arrive on time and tip your stylist. But according to experts, those aren't the only unspoken rules to follow—there are a slew of things you should also never do at the hair salon.
"Because a hair salon is a shared space, other customers will be there to relax and take care of their grooming needs," says Lisa Mirza Grotts, a certified etiquette professional. "Be respectful of that privacy in the presence of others."
Mike Medder, a barber, hairstylist, and co-founder of WiseBarber.com, also notes that being on your best behavior at the salon can strengthen your relationship with your hairdresser or barber. "Coming to a hair salon should be an experience, not just a service," he says. "Mutual respect, dignity, and courtesy help to make this happen."
So, whether you're heading to the salon for a haircut, color service, or blowdry and style, here are some faux pas you'll always want to avoid.
Have unrealistic expectations
When you go into the salon expecting your stylist to lift your dark brown hair to platinum blonde, you're setting them up for failure. And according to Medder, having these kinds of unrealistic expectations for how much they can accomplish with your color, cut, or style is also setting you up for inevitable disappointment.
"Open communication and a willingness to consider professional advice can result in a satisfying and suitable hairstyle," he explains.
When in doubt, you can always ask: "Is this possible to accomplish today, or will it take a few appointments?" or "Will what I'm asking for damage the integrity of my hair?"
Showing your stylist that you value their advice will go a long way in building trust.
Talk loudly on the phone
For many people, a hair salon is a respite from everyday stressors—a place to relax and get pampered. When you carry on loud conversations on your cell phone, it can ruin the vibe, says Genevieve Dreizen, an etiquette expert and co-founder of Fresh Starts Registry.
"Hair salons are typically small spaces so your voice can travel," says Chantelle Hartman Malarkey, an etiquette expert and lifestyle blogger. "You want to be mindful of others and their experience as they may not want to hear your conversations. Keep your voice low, be aware of sound traveling, and be careful what you say—you never know who is listening, so you want to be mindful about gossiping or sharing private information."
For these reasons, Dreizen and Malarkey recommend waiting to take calls until after you leave the salon whenever possible. "Everyone around you is having an experience they paid for and they deserve a serene environment," adds Driezen.
If an urgent call comes through, let your stylist know you need to step outside to take it, or at the very least, keep your conversation short and sweet.
Bring unsupervised kids and pets
"While we love kids and pets, it's essential for clients to consider the impact of bringing them unsupervised to the hair salon," says Medder. "I've encountered situations where it becomes challenging to focus on providing excellent service when children are running around or pets cause disruptions."
The last thing you want to do is hinder your stylist's ability to do their job or create a chaotic environment for other salon patrons. It's also a safety and liability issue, says Alvin Divina of Skin & Scissors Beauty Studio. "There may be chemicals, as well as sharp objects like scissors, razors, and clippers out," he explains.
Divina also notes that stylists can't watch your children. "During your service, be aware that your child will probably not be entertained or possibly watched for extended periods of time," he says. "When making an appointment, arrange for child care."
If you're having trouble finding a babysitter or petsitter during your appointment, you can always call ahead and ask what the salon's policy is on bringing in a child or furry friend. However, it's up to you to keep an eye on them during your service and ensure they behave respectfully.
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Rush your stylist
If there's one thing you definitely don't want to do at the salon, it's rush your stylist.
"As professionals, we are looking to provide you with the best service possible," says Divina. "You are our representation of our work and sometimes extra care or time is needed to achieve your desired results. We are also artists, and your hair is our medium to create."
If you need to be somewhere at a certain time afterward, make sure to communicate that to your stylist ahead of time—that way, Divina says they can modify or pivot the plan as needed within the constraints. When booking your appointment, you should also ask how long your services will take so you can leave plenty of time in your schedule.
"Being impatient at a hair salon can create tension and discomfort for both barbers and other clients," adds Medder. "Staying calm and trusting your stylist's expertise leads to a more relaxed and enjoyable experience."
Change your mind mid-service
Once you and your stylist decide on a plan of action, you shouldn't be making last-minute changes—unless it's something easy to modify, like opting to cut a little more length off your hair or add a conditioning treatment at the sink.
"Changing your mind mid-service can throw off the planned time allocation and result in unfinished looks," explains Khamis Maiouf, a professional hairdresser and CEO of Book of Barbering.
Maioiuf also suggests bringing in photos to your appointment of your desired look to ensure you and your stylist are on the same page.
Try to take over the professional's job
Always assume your stylist knows better than you—because they do.
"Hairdressers attend hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours in school or as an apprentice to learn chemistry, color theory, haircutting, styling, and sanitation practices," says Maiouf. "Afterwards, they spend more time and money on extended education to learn new techniques, trends, and updates in the industry."
When you try to override their professional advice or tell them how to do their job, it's not only condescending and rude, but it also compromises their ability to meet your needs.
"Remember: What you saw in Tiktok or Instagram, might not apply to you because everyone's hair is unique and your stylist has been taught how to approach your specific hair type, color, and texture," adds Maiouf.
With that in mind, approach your appointment like a collaboration, always communicating your preferences while also deferring to their opinion.
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Arrive with wet hair
You may think you're doing your stylist a favor by coming in with wet hair and saving them a step—but according to Maiouf, this isn't a good idea.
"In reality, that does a disservice because the stylist will have to see what your hair looks like dry," he explains. "When your hair is dry, we can assess if we need to do any treatments to repair your current hair, get an accurate idea of what your hair color actually looks like, and also see the true length of your hair."
For example, let's say your hair is naturally wavy. If you come in with wet hair, it will appear straighter and longer due to the weight of the water, making it difficult for your stylist to evaluate how much to cut.
Keep in mind, too, that most color services have to be done on dry hair. So, if you come in with a wet head, you're actually creating more work for your stylist because they'll have to dry your hair before beginning the color process.