Get the cut of your dreams \\ Photo: WWD\Kyle Ericksen

Chances are the last time you got a haircut you hated, it wasn’t because you happened to fall into the hands of a crazed maniac who hates hair and wants to see it die. Sure, sometimes a bad cut comes down to a lack of chemistry, but most of the time it can be explained by miscommunication. Here’s how to talk to your stylist to make sure you get what you want out of your cut and generally make for a pleasant visit.

1) Discuss the feel of what you want. This is the easy part, right? You bring in pictures as examples and get into the specifics. But that’s not where you should stop. You need to discuss the vibe you’re going for. Long layers can be romantic or edgy, for example, and the difference all has to do with technique. So make if you’re going for beachy boho, speak up—don’t just say “I want to bring out my natural wave.” That can be interpreted in different ways, which can lead to walking out with a cut you never intended to get. Got it?

2) Show, don’t tell. I’m talking about length here. For some reason, an inch seems to be an every-changing measure of length in the hair world. So show the stylist how much you want taken off by drawing an imaginary line. The visual will be so helpful.

3) Be honest. If you blow-dry everyday or you think you wash your hair too much, don’t worry about the judgment, just tell the truth. The hairstylist really does need all the facts to be able to give you what you want in the way that can work for you and your lifestyle.

4) If you don’t want to chat, don’t sweat it—it’s just as uncomfortable for the stylist if you’re forcing yourself to talk when you don’t want to. You don’t have to tell them you’d rather they zip it. Simply grabbing a magazine and saying “Oh, I’ve been looking forward to catching up on Jessica Simpson’s uterus updates!” is enough to set the “I’m here to veg out” tone.

5) Ask about styling, especially if you’re getting a brand new style. Sometimes stylists forget to give you instructions and then you’re left to figure out a new cut all by yourself. So ask questions. You know, “What do I do when I want to air-dry it now? What’s the best way to get body with this cut? What kind of products should I look for?” That kind of thing.

Do those 5 things and your next salon session should be better. What tips have you picked up about talking to your stylist along the way?