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Creating the Right Look: Understanding the Client

As hairdressers, we’re not only artists, but we’re commissioned artists. Similar to creating artwork for a client, creating the right haircut and style requires understanding the salon client. For hairdressers, this understanding involves the obvious physical elements, which consist of the client’s face shape, hair quality and complexion. But knowing the client’s personality and lifestyle is equally important for the formula of creating the right hairstyle, which is why consultations play an important role. By asking the client the right kinds of questions, we are able to understand the client and her needs, and the client is able to see our thought process in creating the right hair for her.

Asking questions is essential – it guides us through what we can work with, and what our boundaries are. Rarely is there an instance where one look will fit all the different traits of the client. Versatility in the hair is important, and the range of versatility will come out by knowing who the client is, how she want to be portrayed, and what kinds of characters she wants to embody. That’s where direct, intent-driven questions come into play. They facilitate the process of arriving at the desired hairstyle, with the right amount of versatility. By listening to the client’s responses, we’re able to narrow down the different options and translate their words into a hairstyle that will fit their personality.

For me, the first two questions I ask my client are, “What do you like about your hair? What do you not like about your hair?” Immediately, her responses set the groundwork for the hair I want to create, and I know what I can do – and what I can’t do – with her hair.

Next, I ask questions to learn about my client’s personality. Does she want a look that makes heads turn? Or does she want a more subtle change that allows her to blend in with others? I want to feel who she is as an individual and know where she goes out, as well as understand her social circles and fashion sense. Is she modern? Trendy? Classic? By supplementing these questions with visuals that are representative of our brand, I’m able to create a more focused image in my mind of what she wants, and I can quickly assess the hairstyles that will work for her personality and lifestyle.

These questions are valuable not only to us, but also for the client. When we ask the client these questions, she feels that we’re interested in her and in giving her the best look possible. And the client starts to gain confidence with our artistic direction – and build trust in our expertise – because she will understand our thought process through the questions we ask her.

More often than not, everyone speaks in words but thinks through pictures. A client’s physical traits will only sketch the outline of her new look, but the words that describe her personality and lifestyle will paint the whole image. By understanding who she is, we are able to fill in that outline and complete the look to truly bring out her attitude and character.

Photo Credit: Hair Stories No. 7 – Howard McLaren (VP and Senior Creative Director of Bumble and bumble)