The hairstylist answers questions

14 Sep

Last week, I talked about the importance of a decent haircut and offered up some expert advice from my sister Lexi, who is a hairstylist. She offered to answer any questions you all might have. Here are those questions and answers.


Lexi had a hard time with this because, she said, there are just too many products and too many factors — hair texture, cut, color, where you live, etc. But she finally landed on two things.

  1. Professional shampoo and conditioner, which is more likely to be sulfate-free and easier on your hair. When I asked Lexi for further explanation, she said: “Go use hotel shampoo. You might as well use dish soap on your hair. … If you spend $200 on your hair cut and color, do you want to use $2 VO5 shampoo? No. If you’re spending money on your hair, you should be spending money on your shampoo.
  2. Thermal protection of some sort so your hair doesn’t end up fried on the ends. This is especially important for anyone who uses a curling or flat iron. “Regular thermals can be kind of gooey, but you need that on at least your ends,” Lexi said. “If you don’t, then that’s when you get, ‘My ends are fried.’ Well, it’s fried because your hair wasn’t all the way dry and you just put heat on it. … If it sizzles, that’s bad. A little smoke, OK. But sizzle, bad.”

(Side note, that last little bit is just my sister in a nutshell. I love her.)


  • Ask a girlfriend. “But,” Lexi said, “I’m always a little wary of that. Just because you’re BFF doesn’t mean you both want the same thing from a stylist.”
  • Avoid chains.
  • Look online. You can narrow your search by looking for salons that use the same product line as your last (beloved) hairdresser. Lexi’s salon, for example, is a Paul Mitchell salon, so she and the rest of the stylists there are getting the same training as Paul Mitchell salons all over the country.
  • Pick a stylist you like the looks of. You don’t have to want her hair; you just have to like her style, the idea of it.
  • If you don’t like the first stylist, it’s OK to try a new one at the same salon. “We just want you to come to OUR salon,” Lexi said. “There shouldn’t be that tension.”
  • Try, try again. If you’re not comfortable, if you think the stylist isn’t paying attention to you, if you think things could be better, it’s OK to move on.


“A lot,” Lexi said.

And then she gasped and said, “Oh my god! Would you please put in there that you cannot train a cowlick. You can control it. You can hide it. You can camouflage it. But you will NEVER get rid of said cowlick. Or the widow’s peak. You have to accept your hairline.”

After she got off her soapbox, she said the best thing to do if you’re experimenting with bangs is to start LONG. “You can always go shorter,” Lexi said. “You can’t cut them short and expect them to grow.”

(I think we might have hit a nerve.)


This question came because Lexi suggested in the first post that using a celebrity photo for inspiration wasn’t a great idea because celebrity styles are so labor intensive (and likely done by a stylist for the red carpet.) She revised her first statement to say that celebrity inspiration for color is probably OK. But for cuts, she suggested:

  • Go old school and check out the books in the salon.
  • Check the internet. (Do I have to tell you to go to Pinterest? I once found a haircut on The Sartorialist.)
  • Don’t be afraid to snap a shot of someone in a store whose hair you like. They don’t need to know you’re snapping a picture of their head.


“We don’t all want to chop it off,” Lexi said. “We want to make you happy. Actually, I like doing long hair because I don’t have it and I find it kind of fun to do. That being said, long hair at some point is just going to be long hair. It’s not going to have a style.”

Her final advice to you all: Clear communication and pictures, pictures, pictures.


5 Responses to “The hairstylist answers questions”

  1. Shelly September 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I love this! Your sister sounds awesome.

    • Hillary September 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      She is awesome. We laughed so much doing this interview.

  2. Becky September 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I like Lexi!
    Please thank her for answering my questions!

  3. Melissa September 17, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Thank you. I have an appointment with a new stylist in two weeks, small town salon. I am hoping this fulfills ‘avoid chains’ because lately every time I try the popular salon here the stylist quits before my next haircut and I’m forced to try someone new again. So I’m hoping this new stylist (she is also my waxer) works out and if she does I’m going to insist she TELL me if she intends to leave and where she’s going so I can follow her! That’s not stalking, right?

  4. heycharliesue September 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    GO LONG ON BANGS. I don’t know why this was REVOLUTIONARY, but MY GOSH. That is the most brilliant (and most NOT SAID) advice that everyone needs.

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