How to prepare for the best cut + color experience

A new season is almost upon us, and with the change of weather comes daydreams of a fresh hairdo!  I don't know about y'all, but I save up my money to get my hair cut and colored nicely once a year.

You might be used to going in much more regularly for trims/touchups, especially if you have shorter hair or your color requires regular professional maintenance.  Whether you visit your salon once a month or once a year like me, we all know that shelling our major $$$ for the experience can cause a little stress and maybe even decision constipation (also very much like me!)

Here are some of my best tips to prepare for the best ever cut + color experience:

  • Start pinning!

    • Any time you see an image online, in a magazine, or of a friend, and you just love the cut and/or color - save those pictures!  Pin it, cut it out, or save it to your camera roll. Even if you like a lot of different styles, save it.  I recommend saving up your inspirations for several months, and then (before making your appointment) look over your inspi to see which cuts and colors you are seeing the most of.  Notice a trend?
  • Pick the right shape and shade for your natural hair type and color

    • But don't get weirdly scientific about it, ok?  In general, if you're naturally very dark-haired, you probably won't be able to achieve platinum blonde (unless you can spend some serious time and cash!)  If you've got super-curly hair, choose inspirations that include those natural curls instead of straight, sleek styles.  If you've got thin hair, steer away from voluminous styles. 
  • Pick the right stylist

    • Once you have an idea of the type of cut and color you are going for, start following local hairstylists on instagram and see if you can spot your desired cut and color on their profile (even if it's different pictures - one for the cut you want, one for the color you want).  Stylists will post images of cuts and colors they like doing and are good at!
  • Research how much different services cost

    • Once you find your ideal stylist, check their salon website and start deciphering how much your services might cost.  You'll see terms like Cut $45+, Balayage, Partial Balayage, Highlight/Foil, and Style.  What does "+" mean?! Do I need balayage - what even is that??  Call the salon, and ask how much your desired stylist charges for a cut (their cost will depend on their experience and tenure at the salon).  Then explain your color situation so the receptionist can help you decipher what kind of color service you might need.  Do you have virgin (never been colored) hair?  Is your hair already colored and you just need a spruce? They'll let you know if it will likely take a balayage treatment or foil treatment, partial or full, or an all over color (or a combo of any of these) - and you can plan accordingly.
  • Save up your $$$ (and don't forget to tip generously!)

    • Once you have a ballpark of how much your services might cost, start saving up that $$$ to just go for it with your ideal stylist and your ideal look!  It is worth it to not cut cost corners.  And don't forget to add a 20% tip for your stylist!  Have your tip prepared in cash to make the stylist and receptionist dance with joy and award you as the most wonderful client on planet earth.
  • Make an appointment well in advance

    • Popular stylists can book a couple months in advance, so go ahead and make your appointment when you know you'll have your budget ready!
  • Clear out your schedule for that day

    • After all that planning, make sure you have ample time in your day to enjoy your services to the full.  Most salons are crazy busy during the weekend, so if you can take a half-day or full day off of work, I advise you to go for a weekday.  Grab a fancy cup of coffee to take with and play up that pampering experience!  
  • Pick your most favorite inspiration pictures to show your stylist

    • I recommend choosing 5-10 of your absolute fave inspies, and saving them to a separate Album on your phone.  If you have an iPhone - make an album in your Photos called "cuts and colors" so they're all together and ready for your stylist, so she's not standing around waiting for you to pull up Pinterest or watching you scroll through your personal photos to find your hair pics.  When they're all together, she'll be able to tell more easily what you really want, and how to make it work best with your hair/face/coloring.
  • Enjoy!!

    • In addition to a fancy beverage, I also recommend bringing fun reading material, like a book you've been wanting to enjoy or a magazine (like The Magnolia Journal) that you wouldn't normally get for yourself.  I like to enjoy a balance of chatting with my stylist and quiet me-time.  For a cut and color, you could be there 2-3 hours, so live it up!

What do y'all think?  Was this helpful?  Let me know!