How to Get a Haircut

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Wondering how to get a haircut you’ll actually love? There’s a little more to it than making an appointment and sitting in the chair. To get a haircut that you’ll be happy with, follow the simple steps in our guide. 

Whether you’re looking for a basic haircut or are ready to make a major change, getting a haircut requires a little preparation. Some of us have had hundreds of haircuts but still don’t know how to get a haircut we’ll truly love. 

You should figure out what kind of cut you want and find some haircut pictures to show your stylist. Then, you can find a good salon near you, make an appointment or check in online, and show up for your haircut. 

You can do a few things in advance and on the day of your visit that will help make sure you get the cut you want. We’ll go over it all in this guide. 

1. What Kind of Haircut Do You Want?

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Start with the most important thing – the haircut you want. There are millions of images of different haircuts and styles online. This is a great place to start!

If you lack inspiration at first, you should begin with a general search to see a range of cuts, like “haircuts for women” or “haircuts for men.”

Then, narrow your search by looking for short, medium, or long haircuts, layered cuts, or haircuts that are meant to flatter your face shape. 

Maybe someone you know has a great cut, and you’d like to do something similar. They might be able to tell you what kind of cut to ask for and recommend a good stylist. 

2. Save Inspiration Photos to Show Your Stylist

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Once you’ve got an idea of what kind of haircut you’d like, save some photos of the cut. If you can find more than one, or photos of different angles of the cut, it will help your stylist see your vision more clearly. 

We recommend showing your stylist a few photos to help them get a better sense of the cut you want. Make sure to speak up about anything you’d want to be done differently from the photos.

For example, if the person in the photos has bangs, but you don’t want them, tell the stylist. Knowing your personal preferences makes it easier for them to give you the results you want.

Read Next: Haircut Inspiration Guides

3. Find a Hair Salon You Want to Visit

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Now that you have an idea of the haircut you want with photos to showcase it, you can start looking for a salon to visit (if you don’t have one already). Finding a good salon is one of the most important parts of getting a haircut. 

Franchise Salon Chains

If you’re looking for an affordable haircut with the option to add-on a few extras (shampoo, blow dry, style, etc.), you might start with a well-known salon franchise location near you.

Great Clips, Supercuts, and Sport Clips are some of the most popular franchises. An average haircut here costs between $13 and $21.

Many of them run coupon specials where you can get a first-time haircut for as little as $6.99. Another thing customers like about these locations is that there’s no need to book an appointment.

On the day you’d like to get your haircut, you can use an app to check in ahead of time and secure your place in line. You can also walk in and get your name on the list with a relatively short wait time. 

Independently Owned Salons

If you’d rather go to an independently owned salon, your haircut will be a little more (or a lot more) expensive. We’ve seen salons charge prices as low as $20 for a basic haircut and more than $250 for a specialized, precision cut done by a master stylist.

Make sure you have an idea of the prices your chosen salon charges before you book your appointment. One advantage independently owned salons offer is a wider range of services (in most cases).

While Great Clips and Sport Clips don’t offer hair color or highlights, it’s hard to find an independently owned salon that does not offer these services.

Full-service salons may also have a masseuse, nail tech, and esthetician available for even more beauty services. Be aware that some independently owned salons may not accept walk-ins.

You’ll need to call ahead of time or use the salon’s online booking page to schedule an appointment. If you’re not sure which stylist to book with, you can ask for the first available or one who has the most experience with the type of cut you’re getting.

Your appointment could be booked the next day or a few weeks out, depending on the salon and how busy the stylists are. 

4. Prep for Your Visit

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Before you arrive at the salon for your haircut, there are a few things you can do in advance to help things go smoothly. If you’re getting a very basic cut, like a buzz cut or quick trim, you might not have to prepare much before you visit the salon.

But if you’re getting a cut that will take a little more time, take a little time to prep. Here are some things to consider before your visit:

  • Sensitive or tender scalp? Make sure your hair is fully brushed and free of tangles. 
  • Getting a dry cut*? Come in with clean hair to ensure your hair isn’t weighed down by hair products or oil. This results in a more accurate and even dry cut and keeps your new stylist from incorrectly evaluating your hair texture. 
  • Getting a wet cut*? No need to wash your hair before coming to the salon. Your stylist will wash it anyway before cutting. 
  • Make sure you have pictures of the haircut you want on your phone before you come in. Try to save them all together, so you’re not digging around for each photo. 
  • Check online or ask the receptionist ahead of time if there are any special protocols to follow at the salon.
  • Plan to arrive a few minutes early, whether it’s a scheduled appointment or you’re using an online check-in tool like Great Clips or Supercuts offers. If your stylist finishes up with their client early, you’ll be able to get in the chair sooner. It also shows your stylist that you’re punctual and respect their time as much as your own. 

*A dry cut is when a stylist cuts your hair while it’s dry. This gives the cut more definition, and it’s good for hair that is very coarse or curly. A wet cut is when a stylist washes your hair and cuts it while it’s still wet (or uses a spray bottle to wet it). This is good for straight, thin, or fine hair and cuts that are all one length.

5. Arrive at the Salon

Pretty beautician talking with client at the beauty salon
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If you’ve arrived at the salon a few minutes early, you’ll wait for a bit until you’re called back. If this is your first time with a new stylist, this is a great time to introduce yourself and explain what you want.

Show the pictures you’ve saved, explain anything they need to know about your hair texture, and ask for their opinion. This step is important. 

It’s easy to find a specific haircut that you love without realizing that your hair texture, face shape, or curl pattern just won’t work with it.

Asking your stylist for their opinion on how the cut you like will work for you will help you avoid any problems after the cut. If your hair texture or length won’t work well with the cut, it allows them to educate you and develop a suitable alternative. 

Your stylist might agree that it will look great. They might recommend tweaking the cut to suit your face, or caution you to avoid it entirely.

While it’s always disappointing to hear that a haircut you really want won’t turn out as you expected, it’s better to learn it before it’s too late to turn back! 

6. Sit Tight and Monitor the Progress

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Once you’re in the chair and the cut is underway, the old beauty salon stereotypes don’t necessarily apply. You don’t have to talk to your stylist constantly.

In fact, it’s best to let your stylist concentrate on your hair during your visit. It’s great to establish a good relationship with them, but make sure you’re giving them the room to do their job well.

Pay attention to what’s happening to your hair while you’re in the chair. Once you’re deeply familiar with the stylist, you’ll be able to relax a little more in the chair. But for now, pay attention to the progress being made and make sure it lines up with what you want. 

If it seems like your hairdresser is cutting too much off, adding layers where you didn’t want them, or otherwise straying from the plan, speak up. You can do this nicely without causing any problems.

After all, it’s your hair, and the stylist wants to make sure you leave happy! After the stylist is done with your cut (and style, if you paid for it), they will make sure you can see it in the mirror from all angles.

They may hand you a hand mirror so you can see the back of your head. Don’t just politely nod. Really look it over! If everything looks good, you’re ready to pay and leave.

If you notice something needs to be fixed before you go, just mention it and ask them to fix it. Hair stylists are used to making last-minute adjustments to ensure their clients are satisfied. 

7. Paying and Tipping

Attractive young woman is spending time in beauty salon. Paying via credit card
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Once you’ve had your haircut, you’ll pay for the services you had done and leave a tip. While the prices of haircuts vary widely across the nation, you can avoid any surprises by asking about pricing before you sit down for the haircut. 

Some salons post their menu of services and prices in the front area or lobby. Others might not be as easily accessible, but asking your stylist or a receptionist will always give you an answer. 

Your haircut may cost as little as $13, but if you’re in a busy salon in a metropolitan area, it could be in the hundreds of dollars.

Since franchise salons are so popular for haircuts, we’ve created complete price lists for the top 3 salon chains in the U.S. Click on any of the links below to see how much every service is at these salons. 

Tipping your hairdresser is not optional – it’s customary. Most people tip either 15% or 20% to their stylist. If you’re new to the salon and really love your cut, tip 20%. If you liked your cut, but it wasn’t exactly what you wanted, you can still tip 15%.

If something went wrong and you don’t think you’ll go back to the salon or stylist, you can still tip 10% – it’s better than leaving no tip at all. However, leaving your stylist a good tip helps you establish a good relationship with them from the start.

This means they might be more apt to work you in during busy times, take a little extra time to make sure you get what you want, and go out of their way to make every salon experience an enjoyable one.

Read Next: How Much to Tip Hairdressers

Find a Salon Near You Now

If you were wondering how to get a haircut, you now know all the steps to this simple process. Find the haircut you want, save inspiration photos, determine what salon you’ll go to, prep for your visit appropriately, and show up a few minutes early. 

Make sure you have an idea of what your haircut will cost before you arrive, and don’t forget to leave a 15% or 20% tip! Sometimes, the hardest part of getting a haircut is finding a good salon.

We’ve been there – we get it. That’s why we’ve created an awesome, nationwide salon locator for you to use. Just type in your zip code to see every hair salon that’s near you. From there, you can ask for recommendations from friends and family to find the best option.

Or, if you’d like a haircut that is affordable with little to no wait time and no need to book an appointment, try Great Clips, Supercuts, or Sport Clips. Our salon locator shows you where these franchise salons are located near you.  

Andrew Helling
Author: Andrew Helling

Andrew Helling is the founder and editor of You Probably Need a Haircut. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he obtained a Finance and Banking degree. Andrew puts his creative mind to work by making platforms that make your life easier.