by Sherrell Dorsey of Organic Beauty Vixen

I was helping my aunt braid some cornrows in her hair last week as she was too tired working in her salon all day to finish her own hair. We got into a great discussion about moder day salon services, the lack of care and attention stylists may actually give their clients and how she personally works to build great relationships in addition to healthy hair for every woman that sits in her chair.

I love talking about hair, service and relationships. There’s something so intimately personal about someone’s hands in your hair that its always important to know who you’re hiring to invade your personal emotions, concerns and issues. No one gets closer to you in your hair than your gynecologist (and only one of them I don’t mind stopping to talk to in the grocery store).

Through all of my research and reporting on the salon industry for online outlets like My Salon Scoop, it never occurred to me that stylists weren’t the only ones with dilemmas and hangups. Sure there are many folks out there doing hair unlicensed, or uneducated about products or simply want to take your money, but then for as many off-brand stylists there are some superstars.

I’ve been lucky to encounter some of my favorite stylists including Keith Campbell, Felicia Leatherwood and Danyale Thomas who have made me trust and invest my dollars into quality and caring hair care.

Check out my hair from my appointment last week at Seattle natural hair salon Good Hair. My stylist Zue really took the time to educate me about the products I was using, the things I was doing wrong (oiling my hair too much, tying knots in my locks when they started to break etc).

If you want to get a great experience with your stylist it isn’t just about choosing the right one, but it’s also about working with your stylist to develop an effective hair care plan. You have to be completely honest with your stylist about your hair, your routine and your past mistakes believe me, you may think you’re fooling them but the hair never lies.

Here are a few common lies stylists hear from clients:

  • I don’t dye my hair – Sweetheart, if you have some grey, it’s okay to admit it. Your stylist will eventually see your roots. Be honest about previous dye jobs and how often you do them so that your stylist doesn’t over-process your hair.
  • Yes, I drink lots of water – Your scalp tells it all! When you’re not getting enough water or much needed hydration, your stylist can see and feel it in your scalp. Remember that healthy hair starts from the inside out.
  • I don’t heat style my hair – If your hair is dry, brittle, burnt and breaking, your stylist will know you’ve had an encounter one too many times with your blow dryer and flat iron. Come clean about heat styling so that your stylist can give you regular protein treatments and advise you on the best products to repair damage.

Things you should always be honest with your stylist about:

  1. Medications – Always talk about any medications or treatments you are taking for illnesses. These can sometimes interact with different chemical services or cause hair loss. Don’t surprise your stylist. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking about your personal health issues in the salon, shoot your stylist an email or bring a note for their eyes only.
  2. Allergies – Lots of products used in the salon can cause adverse reactions to clients with allergies. Inform your stylist of any known topical reactions you have to certain products or chemical services. If you have any
  3. Pregnancy – If you have a bun in the oven, steer clear of chemical services such as color and relaxers which can cause toxic exposure to you and your baby. Keep your stylist updated as your hair can change texture, thin and even fall out, so prepare your stylist well in advance.

Work with your stylist for a happy ending every time by developing a relationship built on honesty and trust. You’ll find that you won’t have to chair hop from salon to salon or waste your time with Suzie stylist down the street that will take your money and run.

Have you ever been dishonest with your stylist? Please share your story!

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Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating OrganicBeautyVixen.com, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks’s beauty and fashion site TypeF.com, Jones Magazine, MySalonScoop.com and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at www.twitter.com/organicvixen and connect with her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OBVMedia