How To Tell Your Stylist What You Really Want

Everyone dreams of getting the perfect haircut. Appointment day arrives and you're ready for a fresh look! Yet an hour afterward when it's time for the big mirror reveal—your heart sinks. What just happened? That quick consultation with your stylist was clearly lost in translation. We feel your pain, so we spoke with one of our favorite guys,owner/stylist Sam Brocato of NYC's Sam Brocato Salon. Because he's as nice as he is talented, he shared tips on confidently communicating with your stylist (in salon speak) to get exactly the cut you want.

1. Just the Facts, Please
Rather than saying, “I'd like a trim," Brocato suggests analyzing your daily routine to explain your ideal cut. How long are you willing to spend on your morning styling? What products/tools do you have at home? Describe this, along with essential directives for length (“one inch off the bottom"), style (“precise, blunt cut"), and layering (“keep it below the shoulder") for a thorough explanation.

2. Take Pictures. Lots of Them
A dream photo can be a great reference point. Brocato recommends gathering three or four views of the same cut, though—when it's worn curly, smooth, sleek, and wavy. “Try to separate the aspirational overall look of Heidi Klum from the actual shape you're after," he says, since you may not have the texture, thickness, or length to mimic that supermodel cut precisely.

3. Be Picky—To A Point
It's fine to have an ideal cut in mind, yet give your stylist the flexibility to offer suggestions. “Recently, I had a person with very thick, long hair who hated all the work long hair takes, but had been burned by layers cut too short," Brocato says. "After listening closely, I convinced her that she needed a third less hair and if the removal of the bulk were properly executed, she'd be thrilled. I did it, and she sent me three people in three days!"

4. Find the Perfect Match
When looking for the perfect salon to suit your personality—avant-garde, conservative—it helps to research online, ask friends, and have patience. “Nothing matters if the hair is not what you want," Brocato says. "Find the salon that can 'see' you. Then you will know you are home."

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images via Sam Brocato Salon