Make their job easier—and your hair even more gorgeous—by following these hair appointment dos and don'ts.

By Chelsea Traber Burns
Updated October 14, 2019

You probably know basic hair salon etiquette—show up on time, leave a 20 percent tip, don’t take obnoxious phone calls, etc.—but what do stylists really wish you did before, during, and after your hair appointment? We asked a handful of professional stylists and colorists to share their biggest pet peeves and words of wisdom. Study up so you can be the best client—with the best hair.

Come With (Relatively) Clean Hair

“I can’t tell you how many clients come in with hair that hasn’t been washed in a week because they’ve been waiting on me to do it,” says Katelyn Bode, a colorist at Diva Salon in Oklahoma City. “It’s OK not to come in with your hair perfectly fresh, but having a ton of product buildup on your strands can cause your color to go on unevenly.”

Raisa Cabrera, a master colorist at Mizu salon in New York City, points out that you shouldn’t scrub your scalp before a color service because “it can make your skin more sensitive to the dye.” A good rule of thumb: “If you’re grossed out by how dirty your hair is, chances are, I am too,” says Bode. Gently shampoo the night before your appointment to make nice with your stylist and get the most out of your color.

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Be Patient With Your Color

“When undergoing a major color change, have realistic expectations of what can be achieved in a single appointment,” says Sheenon Olson, a celebrity hairstylist and creative director of ATMA salon in Miami. “Don’t expect to go from black to platinum blonde in one day,” he says. “Do it gradually to maintain the integrity of your hair. I always recommend asking the stylist what is realistic to achieve in one day,” he says. If you realize the process is going to take longer than the time you allotted, reschedule your appointment when you have the time.

Be Honest About Your Hair History

“It’s critical that you tell us what your hair’s history is, whether it was a gloss, toner, Brazilian blowout, box color, etc., it can make a difference on how we go about treating it,” says Miguel Angarita, a master colorist at Mizu salon in New York City. He also recommends chatting with your stylist about budget and upkeep to ensure you’re not getting yourself in too deep. Certain colors and cuts require more trips to the salon so if your goal is to be low-maintenance, ask your stylist for something that will still look great as it grows out.

RELATED: The Expert Guide to Coloring Your Own Hair—and Getting It Right the First Time

Keep an Open Mind

“It’s always good to come to your appointment with an idea, but be open to expert advice as well,” says Carlina Ortega, a hair colorist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. “What you have in mind may not be the best choice for your skin tone, face shape, eye color, or other features, so be flexible and talk with your stylist to ensure you get the best cut or color specifically for you.”

Bring Visuals and Be Very Specific

“Pictures are the easiest way to communicate to your stylist what you like and don’t like,” says Cristina B, a stylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. She recommends bringing in several examples from different angles and in different lighting to get your point across. Be sure to get very specific on details as well—getting a trim and getting rid of dead ends can be two very different lengths.

Choose Your Appointment Time Wisely

“Be wary of that last appointment on a Saturday,” warns Francesca D’Ascanio, master colorist at Mizu salon in New York City. “If you are a new client, want a major change, or need a lot of work done to your hair, consider booking appointments earlier in the day or in the middle of the week,” she says. “They’re easier to get and your stylist will have more time and energy to devote to you.” Not sure what you need or how long it will take? Call your stylist ahead of time or go in for a consultation beforehand so you can explain what you’re thinking and they can be sure to block out the right amount of time.

Take Better Care of Your Color

“Using good quality color-safe products really does matter,” says Bode. “I feel like clients sometimes think I’m trying to make more money by having them buy the products I sell, but they’re going to make your color last longer and, in turn, allow you to go longer between appointments,” she says. Products that aren’t specially formulated for color-treated hair, can strip the color out of your strands, leaving it dull and dingy way sooner than you hoped. “You’re a walking billboard for my work so I want it looking the best it can,” adds Bode.

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