woman getting bangs cut
Photo: Donna Trope
Pssst! We've got a secret—actually, 21 of them—insider information we coaxed from hairstylists, colorists, makeup artists, and manicurists—to help you get the most bang for your beauty-service bucks. Read on for all the savvy it takes to get satisfaction guaranteed.

The Best Haircut
1. Do some reconnaissance.
Most salons will allow you a free consultation before you schedule a haircut. But an even better way to suss out a new stylist is to get a blow-out. "You'll see how she actually handles your hair," says Eva Scrivo, owner of the Eva Scrivo Salon in New York City. "Plus, you'll get a sense of whether the two of you have chemistry, and if she understands your aesthetic."

2. Skip the flatiron.
Go to the salon with your hair in its natural state so the stylist can give you a cut that's appropriate for your texture, says Patrick Melville, co-owner of the Patrick Melville Salon & Spa in New York City. For the same reason, you should never be shampooed before the stylist has assessed your hair while it's dry.

3. Fess up.
Whether you take only five minutes to style your hair or typically spend 20, say so. This affects how the stylist determines the best cut for you. "If you never blow-dry, that's a deal breaker for some styles," says Jet Rhys, owner of the Jet Rhys salons in San Diego and Solana Beach, California.

4. Show, don't tell.
When you're talking to a stylist about length, have him point to exactly where the longest layers will be—your collarbone? Shoulders? Chin? One stylist's "trim" can be another's six-inch chop. Make sure you're on the same page before the scissors emerge.

5. Minimize the chitchat.
The more your stylist can focus on the task at hand, the better the results. "A great haircut is about matching the previously cut section to a new section, and it's impossible for a stylist to maintain her train of thought while she's talking," says Scrivo. "It's a myth that haircutting is this crazy flurry of creative expression. It's technical, a methodical patterning." So if you have to catch up, save it for your blow-out.

6. Don't be shy.
If you think your cut is getting off track, step in—the sooner the better. Say, "Can I ask you a question?" "The stylist will probably be disarmed, and she'll lower her scissors," says Scrivo. Then you can say: "I'm concerned that you're giving me too many layers" or "My bangs are getting too short" (or whatever). You might also speak to the stylist eye-to-eye, instead of through the mirror. "This will emphasize that your concerns are serious," says Scrivo.

Next: 4 tips on how to get the perfect haircolor

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