Back to The Basics

I think most hairstylists would call ‘giving a consultation’ a pretty common or basic skill on the long list of things a hairstylist should excel at. That being said, it never ceases to amaze me how much a thorough consultation means to guests in my chair; and, as a stylist, how truly vital to my success the consultation is. Read on to dive into my hot tips for a stellar consultation, as well as detailed examples for you to implement today.

Whether you are the stylist or the guest, knowing what to look for in a consultation is helpful. Here are 6 steps that create a great consultation environment.

1)Ask 𝗼𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 questions.

2)𝐋𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 to the answers.

3)𝐑𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐭 what they said back to

ensure you understand.

4)Give professional


5)Set realistic 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝗼𝐧𝐬.

6)𝐂𝗼𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐫𝗺 your goal.

Now, let’s dive in to each one specifically.

Open Ended Questions:

Asking open ended questions is the first step to getting a conversation started. That means not a ’yes’ or ‘no’ question. Here’s an example of two ways to ask the same question.

”Do you like your hair?”


“What do you currently like

about your hair?”

One of those questions is going to give me a lot more information than the other. The point of asking open ended questions is to gather as much information as possible. This will gain us the best understanding possible of what the guest is looking for, how they currently view their hair, their past hair experience, and how we will proceed in the appointment today.

Here are some examples to get you started:

-What do you currently like about your hair?

-If you could change one thing about your hair, what would it be?

-What is something you like about your picture inspiration?

-What is your main goal for the service today?

-How do you feel about the tone of your current color?

-What is your hair schedule goal/how often do you want to maintenance this color?


Now that we are asking questions, we have to listen to the answers. That means the stylist has to stop talking, and give the guest their turn. Listening is not always an easy thing to do; we want to have all the answers! It is vital to the success of our consultation though.

Here are some things that make a good listener:

-eye contact; stand in front of them face to face. Don’t spend the whole time talking through the mirror.

-focused; don’t fidget or have distractions while they are talking.

-Reassurance; be interested and encouraging. It can be hard to talk about ourselves; a nod, kind expression, or words of assurance are great confirmation to allow for more conversation.

-Patient; that means trying not to interrupt and waiting our turn to either ask another question, or move into the next step Of our consultation.

Repeat it Back:

Are we on the same page? Step 3, before we give any recommendations, is to repeat back what has been communicated. What does this do? It helps ensure that we understand and have heard everything that has just been told to us. It can be easy to misunderstand or need to translate what a guest is thinking into our own verbiage and understanding. People think, speak, and understand differently; so this is an important step in getting on the same page as the guest.

Give Recommendations:

Now is our time to be the professional. It is important to carry the confidence that our guests come to us for a reason, without stomping all over their wants and wishes. Maybe the goals our guest has for their hair are not quite possible while keeping their hair healthy, maybe you have a suggestion for how it could be totally customized to them; whatever your thoughts are; now is the time to share. While giving our recommendations it is important to be willing to compromise, be tactful with any suggestions, and be honest. I like to explain the ‘why’ to my guest’s behind any alterations. This in turn gives them a better understanding of the process their hair needs, as well as gives them confidence in our plan.

Set Expectations:

This step is HUGE. Do not discount it! In the world of filters and editing and lighting we live in, we all know what you see on the gram or Pinterest is not necessarily what you’re getting. Setting realistic expectations & timelines that are attainable without compromising the guest’s hair are not only important for your guest being happy with their result, but also to build trust. This step really comes down to being honest with your guest. A good rule of thumb I live by to help maintain this standard is:

”Under Promise & Over Deliver”

What does this mean? It simply means that I try to always be conservative in my expectations for what their hair will do in a day, so that when we are done, both I and my guest can be thrilled with our outcome.

Confirm Your Goal:

Wow we made it! Lastly, and this may seem little, but, hey, don’t knock it; we need to confirm our goal with our guest. What does this little step do? Well, just a few things.

-It holds us accountable in case we forgot anything.

-It is a final opportunity for our guest to ask questions.

-It is a chance for us collectively, guest & stylist, to be excited for what is to come!

Hair day is such a fun day for so many reasons. It’s a pampering, quiet time, self care, therapy, you leave feeling pretty; all the things! So take this moment to not only cover your bases, but to get !excited! because we are now ready to create a masterpiece!


I hope this helps you not only give a great consultation if you are a stylist, but also to have a great consultation if you are a guest. It is truly one of the most important parts of the service for me, and a top tool in my success. Comment below with your questions or thoughts, and, until next time, happy hair days!


Hailey J. Herrman, owner Haven Hair Studio

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