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I’ve been seeing my stylist for longer than I’ve known my husband. She’s seen me through heartbreak, career changes, moving cities and buying my first home. We are probably closer than most stylist/client relationships, which is sometimes why it’s so hard to talk to her about my hair. She’s not the type to get angry or even upset, but sometimes it’s the ones closest to you that are the hardest to talk with.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve literally just walked into the salon, sat down and let her have her way with my hair. A few hours later, I look up and its exactly what I wanted even without saying anything. We’ve done this for years now, but recently it went a little awry, and I can’t even say that it was anyone’s fault. I think we simply got too comfortable and lost the art of consultation.

Consultations always seemed so formal to me, even when I learned about it in beauty school – it made the whole concept of a salon visit so stoic. This is why I loved my little routine with my beloved stylist – walk in, sit down and voila! When you work in the salon, you’re always ahead of the trends so I am never worried about staying up to date, but what I realized at our last appointment is that our relationship actually did need a little tune-up.

I did my usual “you got this, whatever you think” routine and mentioned to her that I was getting old and needed to cover my greys but can’t commit to doing my roots and then went home a little disappointed. We’ve been balayaging my hair since before it was a “thing” but this time, she put my hair in foils. She did more of a babylight application because hey, that is the best way to add highlights while blending grays, and I KNOW THIS! I didn’t say anything and figured she knew best, but when I went home and looked in the mirror I didn’t quite feel like myself. I thought, maybe it’s just the toner or the bleach needs a few days – I know my hair (like most) always needs a little time to develop. But, 2 weeks later I still wasn’t having it and had a really hard time enjoying my finished style.

For the first time ever, I bit the bullet and texted her. I knew she would probably understand better in person and I didn’t want to offend her by telling her over the phone that I wasn’t crazy about my hair. So I simply asked her if I drove up (yes, I drive 2.5 hours to get my hair done – don’t @ me.) if she could add a few more highlights around my face. I had already self-diagnosed at home, my highlights were too thin and my toner was too ashy. I figured she could paint in a few more highlights using her trusty balayage method, which I love so much and we would be good to go.

When I sat down, she asked me what was up and I told her simply that I needed to change up the placement a bit. I didn’t expect her to redo the entire head – because I understand that time is money in the salon –  but I needed a little more contrast in my look to feel more like myself. We went back a forth a bit to make sure we were on the same page, I showed her a picture and then it clicked. “So you just want it to be more balayage”. “Yes” I said as I smiled a big “thank you for fitting me in” grin.

I have never actually had to ask her to fix anything so I wasn’t sure if she was going to charge me or not. When I headed to the front desk, he let me know that there was no charge, so I tipped accordingly. The mistake was both of ours and I think even without saying it we both knew that. It taught me a very valuable lesson that even though I used to work in a salon, sometimes I need a little education and formality too.

I love my stylist and we’ve been friends forever, so this was a reminder that I need to tell her what I want and what I don’t want, that I should always just have a picture ready to show her and to speak my mind if I know something is inherently off. I’m not her only client – she has so many formulas and styling choices to remember and I’ve got to remember just that.