A hairstylist’s job is to do whatever you want them to do to your locks—but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree with your game-plan. Sometimes, your requests make them cringe. And while they won’t necessarily say that to your face, they’ll say it to us. “I’m really picky about what I will and won’t do,” says Jo Blackwell-Preston, the owner of New York-based Dop Dop Salon. “Because the longer you’re in the business, the more you respect the fact that hair is a fiber and you know how fragile it can become.” Below, she and other hairstylists dish on the treatments they wish their clients never requested.
1. Double-Process Blonde
“I won’t take someone to double-process blonde from dark brown or black,” says Blackwell-Preston. “Especially if it’s artificially pigmented.” Not only will it dry out the hair and make it brittle, but the red dye molecules won’t come out. Instead, she recommends highlights, which aren’t as harsh.
2. Keratin Re-Dos
“Some clients come in asking for a re-do on their Keratin treatment because their hair is still frizzy and broken off, but I won’t do it due to the damage already done to their hair,” says Luigi Parasmo of Washington D.C.-based Luigi Parasmo Salon and Spa. Always do your research before trying a keratin. “Smaller companies are trying to create their own brands, which can result in low quality products,” says Luigi. “This then leads to hair breakage through the use of a hot flat iron.” First rule: Look for a formula without formaldehyde.
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3. Double Chemical Processes
“Double processes of chemicals on top of each other is very damaging,” says Blackwell-Preston. “A lot of people do it, but it compromises the integrity of the hair.” An example she uses is when a client wants to relax out their curls with a relaxer and then add a body wave. “It’s better to give them a body wave on big rods with their naturally curly hair.”
4. Lightening Hair With Heat
“Added heat can open the cuticle, which can leave your hair dry and looking brittle,” says George Gonzalez, the owner of George the Salon Chicago. He adds that new hair lighteners can now be used without heat so you can prevent damage. CHI, L’Oreal, Wella, and Schwarzkopf are just a few of the brands that offer this alternative.
5. Extensions on Short Hair
Blackwell-Preston says that not all extensions are damaging. “I like anything that has a soft keratin tip, such as Hair Dreams and 909 Keratip from Hair Shop. But if the hair is less than four inches long, I won’t do extensions. It looks ugly.”
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6. Overdone Highlights
Most stylists won’t redo highlights because it means the same strands have been exposed to bleach multiple times. “I’ll touch up only the regrowth [the roots] to avoid over-processing the hair,” says Parasmo. “This [a high volume of peroxide] is what causes the hair to break.”
7. Black in One Visit
“I won’t take a client more than four levels darker in one visit,” says Blackwell-Preston. It’s too shocking for both the health of the hair and the client. “Part of being a hairdresser is caring about the hair, but part of it is caring about your client. There’s a mental aspect to it. When someone’s really blonde, taking them really dark is a shock to the system.” Instead, she’ll bring the color dark over the course of two appointments. This also gives the hair time to recondition between processes.
“Another service I would turn down is a post-henna hair color,” says Parasmo. “Henna is a stain that is typically only available in the colors of black and red.” Because it’s so strong, it needs to be completely washed out before adding another dye, which can take up to six months. “Otherwise, the hair will turn green. You will not achieve your ideal color if Henna is still on the hair.”
9. Platinum on Deep Red Hair
“I won’t take a deep redhead platinum,” says Blackwell-Preston. Not only will it fry the hair, but you can never get all of the red dye molecules out, so it turns salmon pink. “I’ll take them strawberry blonde with highlights.”
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