Hair Inspiration: Expectation vs Reality

In 2016 we get hair inspiration everywhere: Pinterest, TV, Celebrities, Magazines, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, ads, and just from random people walking down the street.

Trust us, as stylists we love seeing all the hair inspiration and new trends as much as you. In fact, we can’t wait to literally get our hands on it. The issue that is ever increasing in the salon is the lack of education for the general public about the realities of how the look was achieved. This is a result of the massive exposure and immediate access to beauty visuals.

When clients see a hair style they love, they WANT it and they want it now, all at a low cost. When stylists see a style they love, they want and need to know how the hair started. This includes the process, products used and the time applied.

It’s like going to the doctor for pain- you want a quick fix, but you should know why it started in the first place, the treatment plan, prevention practices, and how your genes and lifestyle affect its likelihood to return. It’s the Doctor’s responsibility to educate you on your specific situation, but it’s also your responsibility to care about the information given, if you want results to last. It’s cool, we’ve all felt that way about something at some point in our lives, like “come on, just get to the point!” or “just fix it!” But haven’t we all also felt at some point that we’d like to be understood?

Everyone’s ability to do their jobs can be compromised by certain events at times. Maybe it’s that you work with data entry but your power went out. Maybe you’re a delivery driver but a blizzard came through and now packages will be late. You may catch flak from people about how you “couldn’t deliver” though it had nothing to do with your personal capabilities, training, talent, or skill. You wish everyone could understand the unique circumstance and that as a professional in your field, you will do what needs to be done in light of the situation. With hair, certain factors come into play in our ability to create that Pinterest look that may have nothing to do with our personal skills as stylists.

We’d like to highlight (no pun intended!) some common situations that happen in the hair world at salons everywhere every day. We hope with this knowledge, you’ll feel more informed and prepared for booking your next appointment and that expectations for outcomes between the stylist and client will be in sync.

Every day we have clients come in with beautiful pictures of flawless balayage, cool toned blondes, bombshell brunettes, fiery reds, and fun fashion colors. We LOVE the pictures! Keep ’em comin’! The problem arises when the client expects to leave with that exact hair after their 2 hour appointment. The picture is the end goal and should be seen that way – as a goal. Any of the following could be reasons it may take more than 2 hours, more than one session, or unfortunately, be impossible to reach that exact goal…

Your Hair’s Integrity

If your hair has been over-processed, it may be impossible to get the look you’re going for in one appointment. The stylist’s first inclination is to treat your hair. It may need moisture, strength treatments, or both before color can be applied. Keep in mind, each service costs money. When a stylist gives a quote, it will include pricing for needed treatments and added services that are essential to working toward your color goal. We want to give you what you want, but we don’t want your hair to fall off in the process. This is where trust comes in. We want our clients to trust that we are professionals in our craft and every step we take and charge for in the process is necessary for your intended result.

Your Color Starting Point

If you have been applying black box color for years over and over each application and bring in a picture of Gisele Bundchen’s beachy blonde balayage, please know that when we say that it won’t look like that today, it is not for our lack of skill. Lightener can only travel so far through color, and the darker it is, the less it will lighten in one application. The cost will be more as the time needed will also, most likely, have to be extended beyond a typical 2-hour appointment slot. The cost also goes up as with each lighting service, treatments become imperative to keep your hair healthy and strong between appointments. See our blogs Lightening Your Hair for Summer and Benefits of Olaplex in Hair Lightening to learn more about going lighter.

Going darker can also be a multi-step, time consuming effort. Coloring your hair blonde for years leaves your hair dry and very porous. Again, treatments may be needed to ensure the health of your hair as layers of color may be needed to achieve the desired look. Going brunette from blonde is not as simple as putting brown color over the blonde. A good colorist knows that the right undertones need to be added first to avoid a muddy or green appearance to your darker locks.

How your hair starts matters. It makes a difference in the steps needed to achieve the desired end result. Someone with red hair and someone with blonde that bring in the same photo of Jennifer Aniston will have a different list of services needed as well as a different bill.



Hair types can make it challenging to get the look you want. People born with stick-straight hair that want curls can definitely get perms, use certain products and tools to achieve the desired result, but it is never a permanent or perfect solution. Same goes for the opposite. It is also a factor in hair color. Those born with darker shades will have a harder and ultimately more expensive time getting to be platinum blonde than someone born with lighter hair.

Someone with extremely coarse hair may be more challenging to get to lift to a lighter color as well since their hair shaft is more stubborn. Curly hair is delicate to color as it is generally very dry and more fragile to chemical processes leaving it susceptible to breakage and frizz. More money, time and effort are required for styles that are contradictory to “what your mama gave ya.”


Appointments are scheduled according to time increment designated to each service requested. If you have never been in before and are unsure of what you are needing done, it is strongly recommended that you book a consultation first.

We get that it’s not always convenient to have to come in twice and that when you decide what you want, you want it now. But it is actually more beneficial for your planning purposes and budget to have a consultation. The stylist is able to observe the integrity of your hair, color starting point and go over your budget with you to ensure you are on the same page about how your appointment will go. This evaluation step allows for you to know how many sessions you will need, the average cost, the length of time needing to be booked for the initial appointment, and at-home maintenance to be expected.

These steps may save you the confusion of why you are paying a certain price, and potentially not able to get your result in one sitting.

Different Service

A big problem we are facing today in the age of Pinterest is that seeing isn’t always believing. We get photos constantly of celebrities hair color and, as stylists, instantly know that their ends are not as blonde, thick and healthy looking as they appear because they are wearing extensions! Celebrity stylists use extensions all the time to add pops of color instead of damaging their clients natural locks. This allows them to change their look more frequently.

We often have our own clients that want to go back and forth between dark and light but don’t want to do treatments or cut their hair to keep it healthy. They reference that they see a celebrity do it all the time. 9 times out of 10, it is because of they are wearing extensions.

Some hair colors such as fashion colors fade after the first shampoo, and stylists are blamed for the lack of lasting vibrancy. Again, when referenced from a photo, it is, more times than not, artificial hair that is made of a colored material that will not fade, OR it was Photoshopped. We know it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but it is usually the truth. Extensions aren’t always for added length or color.

Sometimes they are used to shape a haircut and add fullness. Some cuts are unattainable with hair that is too thin. If a lot of layers are desired, cutting too much for the shape will not leave enough hair at the ends. Our stylists are happy to educate you on what is possible and what is not when it comes to cuts or color on your natural hair. If extensions are needed to achieve your look, we can help and educate you on that too! Just know, extensions are an added charge and added maintenance that even celebrities probably wouldn’t keep up if they didn’t have the funds and their glam squad on call 24/7.

Your Budget

We understand that most people have a budget when it comes to their hair. We want to honor that! But with so many variables that may arise based on the above situations it is hard to give an exact price when you come into the salon. Much like a contractor hired to remodel your kitchen usually can’t give an exact total as unexpected obstacles happen. For example, when it’s discovered that a pipe is leaking and must be fixed before you put a wall back up, the professional you hired couldn’t have known about the leak until the process was started; resulting in an extra step and expense to the process. Sometime we as stylists will begin lightening hair only to find that your hair will not budge past a red.

It is impossible to know without a doubt exactly how your hair will react to certain services without trying them before. An added charge may be acquired to your bill as an unforeseen extra step, such as a toner being needed to cancel out the red that appeared.

A good stylist will educate you on the possibilities and try to work with your budget for the appointment time booked. It may mean that only one step toward your goal happens today and that you will need to come back in a sequence to take smaller steps at smaller costs to reach your goal. That way it fits your budget, your hair stays healthier and each appointment should go as planned as your stylist will get to know your hair better and how it reacts at each visit.

We hope this helps with curiosity as to how individual and outside factors affect appointments in the salon meant to help you reach your hair goals. Let us know in the comments below if you have any input or questions regarding what is and isn’t realistic at your next appointment and how we can help you on your way to beautiful and healthy hair.