10 Questions to Ask Your Stylist Before the Big Chop

No more crying in the car after you leave the salon.

Hair, Hairstyle, Face, Chin, Beauty, Black hair, Human, Lip, Afro, Neck,
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Everyone has had at least one terrible haircut in their lives: The stylist turns you around in the salon chair for the big reveal and, boom, your heart drops because you hate it. Even though you're balling on the inside, you hold it together and fake like you love it. To save you from re-living that nightmare again, I asked stylists I trust which questions to ask before the big chop to ensure no more bad hair days are ahead of you.

One reason why people regret cutting their hair is "because they are not aware of the maintenance," master hairstylist, Nicole Leal, at LA-based Nine Zero One Salon explains. "They love the ease of throwing their up in a bun or ponytail because it's low maintenance and forget they actually have to style short hair. Many clients come in wanting a big change because they haven’t had their hair done in awhile, and sometimes all it needs is a generous trim."

To ensure everything is clear between you and your stylist, consultations are a non-negotiable, says Joel Warren, founder and creator of The Salon Project. "Discussing the reason for cutting hair is the number-one question, and then figuring out the actual cut, length, and look." Michelle Cleveland, owner of the Hair Addict Salon & Extension Bar, agrees, adding that most people who say they are looking for a hair change aren’t actually ready for it. "A good consult will bring out exactly what to expect from a big cut," Cleveland says.

Ahead is a stylist-recommended FAQ to bring with you to your next consultation. You'll walk out of the salon feeling yourself. No regrets necessary.

You may be ritualistic when it comes to your hair and used to styling it a certain way, but a cut changes everything, and certainly requires a new routine. "You want to know the best way to keep your style in place with shorter hair," Leal explains. "So, it’s important to know what kind of maintenance you're setting yourself up for."

Speaking of styling, you should have an understanding of how long it will take before shedding the inches. "This is an important question to ask if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you a lot of prep time each morning," Cleveland explains. "Someone who rises only an hour before they leave the house would not want a cut that requires a lot of attention to detail."

It's important to determine—realistically—how often you'll be able to make a trip to the salon. "This all depends on how much you like the length when you first get it cut," Leal says. If you don't, you won't need to keep up with the cut. But if you do, "getting into the routine of cutting your hair every two to three months is a good start."

"If you're cutting a lot of inches off, then why not donate it to a cause?" Leal encourages. "The BeYOUtiful Foundation accepts hair clippings and extension hair for donations. It's also super easy for stylists to give to the organization."

It's hard to let go of the convenience of pulling your hair up into a pony when you don't feel like fussing with it. "If your lifestyle requires your hair to be up and away from your face often, you may not want a cut that includes a fringe or a lot of internal layering, which can make it difficult to pull back," Cleveland explains.

If you're attached to your hair color, schedule a dye job soon after your cut. For instance, if you have ombré or balayage, "you'll lose the lighter pieces at the end," Leal notes. "Scheduling a color appointment right after a big cut is recommended."

"If you’re hair-challenged and can’t maneuver one of these tools, you want to be sure to [know beforehand] if the cut requires some smoothing or curls in order to recreate the look," Cleveland advises.

The average person's bathroom isn't stocked like a salon. Getting essential products for upkeep will make a major difference. "Leaving the salon without the right products can have a huge impact on how well you can recreate the style at home," Cleveland explains.

"It’s great to leave the salon looking like a supermodel, but without the knowledge on how to do it at home on your own, you’ll truly never see the cut come to life," Cleveland says. Ask your stylist how to blow-dry and style the hair the same way.

"Accessories, accessories, and more accessories," Cleveland emphasizes. "Barrettes, headbands, hats, scarves are all great options for riding out a cut that’s just not working. And, of course, the ultimate line of defense against a bad haircut is extensions."

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(Image credit: Getty Images)
Maya Allen
Former Beauty Editor

Maya Allen is the former Digital Beauty Editor at MarieClaire.com where she covered makeup, skincare, haircare, wellness, you name it! She has a 15-step skincare routine, owns over 200 red lipsticks, and enjoys testing the latest and greatest in beauty. On most weekends, you can find her at her happy place, which is her makeup vanity. There, she’s usually blasting her speakers while singing along to lyrics at the top of her lungs, and making sure her highlighter is on point.