Make My Hair Look Like That

Should You Bring a Photo to Stylist?

Dear Ask a Stylist, Should I bring in a picture of a hairstyle that I like to show my stylist?


Dear Lori,

My very first client on my very first day of cosmetology school had bone straight, fine, bleached, damaged hair. During our consultation, she pulled out a photo of Monica Lewinsky who at the time had thick, dark, wavy hair. I had no idea how I was going to pull this off! I excused myself for a moment to go get my instructor. I explained to my instructor my client’s hair type, and then explained what she wanted her hair to look like when I was finished with her haircut. My instructor said, “I’m about to teach you a very important lesson. Follow me.” The two of us walked over to my client, my instructor holding the photo in hand. She introduced herself to the client, recapped our consultation, held the photo up to the woman and said, “Honey, this ain’t gonna happen!”

Crescent LoMonaco

Her point was, some things are just not possible. The three of us had a good laugh and agreed on a style that was a little more realistic.

Taking a photo to your stylist to show her an idea of what style, cut, or color you might like to have is a good start. When choosing a photo, first and foremost, make sure it’s the hair you’re attracted to, and not the overall look. Often when a client shows me a photo, and I cover up the models face and clothes, the client re-thinks the hairstyle. Ideally, you should look for a head of hair that is similar to yours. If you have curly hair and wear it with its natural curls, don’t bring in a photo of bone straight hair, a la Gwyneth Paltrow. If you have superfine hair, don’t bring in a photo of a thick-haired model who’s also wearing extension or other hair pieces. And please: Never, never bring a photo of a wig! It’s amazing how often people bring in a photo of a style from the pages of the latest wig catalogue. The hair does not fall the same way it would if it grew out of someone’s head, and often, if the wigs are not human hair, the color will be impossible to match.

You’ve found a photo that has similar hair texture and type to yours. You’ve covered the face and you still like the hair. Show your stylist the photo and then have a conversation about it. What is it about the cut that you like? What don’t you like? The length? The layers? The fullness? The fringe? Do you like part, but not all of it? Ask your stylist what it’s going to take to style it. What products will it need? How much time will it take to style? Are you really going to do everything you need to do to make it look like that? If you aren’t 100% committed to it, just know, it will not look 100% like the photo.

What is it about the color that you like? What don’t you like about the color? Do you like the lightness? The darkness? The variation of color? Does she have any natural color showing? The human eye can perceive over 16 million colors, so make sure that you are communicating clearly to your stylist what it is that you want in your hair.

With the combination of the photo and the consultation, you can decide upon the perfect cut and color plan for your hair. But remember, if you bring me a photo of something your hair clearly will not do, I may have to tell you, “Honey, it ain’t gonna happen!”

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