You will never hear a doctor say “You need surgery. We’ve scheduled it for tomorrow, come on in!” There is always, always, a consultation- a time for the expert to gather information and for both parties to discuss mutual expectations, limitations, and desired outcomes. While changing your look with a cut or color is not surgery, it does involve sharp objects and can certainly impact your life and self image if it goes wrong. The best salon experiences occur when the client is honest about their expectations and hair history, so that the stylist can create an informed plan and give realistic expectations for the likely outcome.


Often, when trying out a new haircut, color or style, your hair stylist will encourage you to bring in a photo reference or two to give a better idea of what you’d like. A picture is worth a thousand words, but so much can be lost in translation that it’s best just to bring the picture and discuss from there. A visual guide is the best way to show your stylist what you want, be it in a cut, color, or both. Just saying a celebrity name is not adequate- you might be thinking of the cut and color a given starlet had last year, so try and communicate your intentions clearly with some saved snapshots to your phone’s camera roll or a with a magazine photo. Your hair professional will appreciate it!


As always, be clear and unafraid to correct your hair professional if they misunderstand your desired outcome- but listen if they have doubts about whether particular goals can be achieved with your hair. Some hair is fine, damaged, coarse, thick- if your stylist says a perm will be a disaster, listen. If they tell you layers will still not give you the volume you want, adjust accordingly. And please- please- if you’re let down to hear that your very straight, thick hair won’t pull off a pixie the way you hope it will, practice acceptance. Stylists can feel the health of the hair by handling it, to an extent. They’ll test it’s strength and elasticity, which can be compromised by color, bleach, heat treatment, chlorinated water and other factors. When this ‘hair health’ assessment gives warning signs about what may or may not pan out for the client (that’s you!) try and be open to the sharing of this information. Your stylist has probably seen it all! If you land at a boutique salon like Salon 833, rest assured they’re experienced professionals.


In the case of bleaching, color, balayage, highlights, or anything in the realm of chemical hair treatments, your color professional has to do an assessment, just as a doctor would. This applies for chemical straightening, blowouts, perms and other chemical treatments as well as color. Is your hair virgin? Has it been bleached or processed? Have you used box color? How long since your last color (pro or box)? All of these factors will impact if and how well your hair can be lifted (lightened), colored, tinted and the like. Always be honest! An uneven lift due to undisclosed box color is too common. Trust your stylist. It is always best if you take the advice of the expert- all of the experience and modern color technology in the world can’t produce a miracle!

A common miracle expected of color professionals is the brunette-to-blonde transformation. This is taxing for your stylist, as they absolutely want to satisfy the hair color needs of their clients, but don’t want any unpleasant side effects, like broken (“fried”) hair! Insisting on single-session dramatic color lifting disregards two main factors: the rigor of chemical processing on the hair itself, and the necessity for tinting when going from dark to light. Hair that begins dark and is gradually lifted has a lower chance of breakage, and can be tinted to reduce the “brassy” red tones which can often appear. Patience is rewarded by healthier hair and better color tone.

In the end, taking time to do a full consultation with your hairstylist before undertaking any new haircut, hair color, or hairstyle endeavors is key to great hair and a satisfying salon experience. It’s important to be realistic about the kind of hair we have, the history our hair has had, and the limitations of our hair type and color when it comes to the world of color and styling. Trust and communicate with your hair professional, and you won’t be disappointed!

For a hair consultation with an experienced stylist in Chicago, Salon 833 is located on Grand Avenue, near Old Town and Wicker Park. Our hair professionals provide thorough consultations for haircuts, hair color and other services in order to form trust and mutual satisfaction during your salon experience. Call (312) 226-0833 to schedule an appointment today!