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STYLE GUY: Mail Time

 The Style Guy was a monthly column that appeared in Birmingham Magazine for nearly ten years.  It was written each month by Sanctuary owner and stylist Todd Cargo. 


Dear Style Guy,

               I love my hair.  I don't love my hairdresser.  She used to be fun and spend a lot of time with me but now I get passed off to her assistant for a lot of the appointment and I don't feel like I am getting all I pay for.  The problem is I don't know if I am brave enough to just start fresh with someone new.  Is there a tactful way to ask my hairdresser if she would write out everything she does to my hair so I can give it to a new person?  I don't know if that's a routine professional courtesy hairdressers are willing to do, or will she cause a scene with me?


Dear Angela,

               That is not a common courtesy hairdressers are willing to do.  You wouldn't go to the chef of a restaurant and say, "Can you give me the recipe for that delicious meal I just ate so I can take it to a different restaurant and have them make it for me?"  Your hairdresser has spent time and artistic creativity designing the hairstyle and /or hair color that best suits you.  It would be rude to ask her to just hand that over to that someone else that has not put in the time and effort.  The problem you are having with your stylist can easily be solved without your having to leave her.  Just tell her that you aren't getting the amount of time that you'd prefer with her one-on-one.  That's all it will take.  I bet you that she doesn't even know that you have grown unhappy. 

               As a hairdresser, I can tell you that we often get caught up in the belief that it's all about the hair.  We think that as long as you are loving the hair you're loving us.  After all, you aren't paying us for wit and personality--or are you?  That's where we drop the ball sometimes.  We forget that you are coming to us because of the whole package, not just the talent with a pair of scissors and a color brush.  That's a lesson all we stylists could stand to learn and relearn throughout our careers.  However, I do feel compelled to defend your stylist for a second and point out a few things you may not be aware of.   It sounds to me like those golden days when your stylist was able to spend a lot of time with you, might have been back when she was relatively unknown with empty time on her book.  Now that word of her skill has reached the masses, she is busier and doesn't have the time to spare to just stand and gab.  I myself, along with thousands of stylists nationwide, have to rely on the help of an assistant in order to accommodate all of the people demanding our skill.  Without that assistant, I'd have to charge my clients three times the amount I do in order to keep the salon running and my supplies covered.  Of course I do not mean to imply that you aren't deserving of an enjoyable time at the hairdresser's, but I think you should be made aware of the reasons behind what you are experiencing.  If her assistant is like my own, she is most likely just applying a few simple colors which the hairdresser formulated, and she is just blowing the hair dry so that the stylist can step in and give the masterful cut and styling.  The assistant is doing the menial work that just takes time but doesn't create anything, so that the hairdresser can work on other clients simultaneously--keeping costs down and keeping up with the public's demand on their talent.  Your hairdresser is popular, otherwise she wouldn't need the help.  That's what you want, a popular stylist.  If you had someone that could spend all the time in the world with you then you might need to question why no one else comes to her.  So if more one-on-one time is what you need, just alert your stylist before you quit her.  She'll give you more time.  The squeakiest wheel gets the grease and if you haven't squeaked about this at all then she has no idea that you are even unhappy.  She probably just thinks you are easy-going and requiring little coddling.  Don't quit her before you give her the chance to rectify things.  After all, at the end of the day, it really truly is about the hair, and if you love what you look like after you leave her, you'd be a fool to throw that away.