6 Tips for Getting an Amazing Haircut Every Time

by | Mar 4, 2018

French women have that “I just tumbled out of bed and I look this good” look, and what that comes down to is a great haircut.

My daughter, actress and stylist Regan James, has managed to keep me groomed since before she got her license as a hairdresser a few years ago. I’m in the fortunate position of sitting in my kitchen and telling her to do whatever she wants to me, but for those of you who don’t have a Regan, I’m passing along these tips which she was kind enough to share.

Haircuts. They will never go out of style. Okay, certain haircuts will, but the act of getting your hair cut will never be replaced by some other technology (remember the Suck Cut?). We will always need haircuts no matter how many bitcoins we have, or how many apps, or how many babies Beyoncé births. There will never be a haircutting robot. At least I don’t think so, and if I’m wrong, boy won’t we sure have a laugh in 20 years!? Or we’ll have all been taken over by haircutting robots, which sounds absolutely terrifying. Anyway, for now, haircuts are done by humans and humans sometimes make mistakes. I’m going to give you some tips that I’ve evolved, through experience as hair-styler and hairstylee, on how to get an amazing haircut every time.

1. Bring a photo.

It doesn’t matter how vividly you imagine your new ‘do, or how well you think you can communicate that vision. Bring. A. Photo. Even if what you want is something that’s never been done before (“it’s ‘The Rachel’ meets Hot Dog Water from Scooby Doo!”), bring photos of certain elements you’d like to incorporate into your cut. If you can’t decide what you want, take screen shots of styles that appeal to you and ask your stylist what they recommend for your hair type and face shape, or just what they think is cool. Most stylists have pretty good taste.

2. Know what works for your hair.

If you have three hairs on your head, don’t expect to come out of the salon looking like Dolly Parton. Search for the style you want, in your hair type, for example: “short haircut for straight thin hair,” “long bob thick wavy hairstyle,” or “medium length curly,” or, “chin-length Larry Fine.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) If you’re not sure what your hair will or won’t do, or what hair type you have, find a few photos of different hair textures that you think might work for you, and consult your stylist.

3. Be realistic about how much time you’ll spend styling your hair each day.

You know that weird thing that happens where your hair looks amazing when you leave the salon, but the next time you wash and dry it you look like Rod Stewart? I know that French women don’t like to spend much time doing their hair (or at least they like to make you believe that they don’t) but sometimes you need to spend a few minutes sprucing. If you want to get a middy cut (the name for a 1950s haircut that looks like some type of mullet unless you curl it properly), be prepared to spend at least half an hour to an hour styling it. If you want a wash-and-wear hairstyle, let your stylist know so that they don’t give you a false hair-high with their magic hands, only to be singing “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” next week.

4. Be prepared to spend an hour and a half at the salon.

This might seem unnecessary or unrelated to getting a good haircut, but when you arrive late or are tight on time, you’re more likely to skimp on the first step of your haircut: the consultation. Hairstylists are actually trained to sit your ass down and find out exactly what you want before they even wash your hair. If you don’t carve out enough time or are rushing to start, you might not give this important step the attention it deserves. If you don’t have the time to make sure your stylist knows what you want, you’ll sure as hell make time later when you look like Dudley Moore instead of Demi Moore. (“Oh, no!”)

5. Bring photos of what you don’t want.

When I search Pinterest for the style I want, I inevitably find versions of it that I definitely do not want. Search “Cute Pixie Bob” and an outdated version pops up. Bring in the photo of Spiky Soccer-Mom to show “I do not want hair that reaches full volume at the top of my head unless I spike it with boy gel.” Well, okay, it’s not usually that obviously cringe-worthy. Just know that the search results you don’t like are still being defined in the same words as the magical, make-your-heart-do-a-somersault hairstyles next to them (or they wouldn’t have popped up in your search), so make sure you bring both versions for your stylist to differentiate between certain elements that you want and don’t want.

6. Get handy with a pair of scissors.

No one looks at or cares as much about your hair as you do (unless you’re Beyoncé). Even if your stylist spends two hours meticulously precision-cutting your hair so blunt it’s giving you the what-for for your bundt cake last Christmas, you might notice a rogue hair or two later that missed getting cut. This isn’t to say that stylists make mistakes (but we are human, after all!), but we’re all our worst critics and find things that maybe others wouldn’t. I often do a little ‘snip-snip’ here and there after a cut, sometimes days later, because I notice one hair too long, or change my mind about what I thought I wanted in the first place!

I know, this one can get dangerous, but as long as you follow the “less is more” approach and my advice below, you’ll be fine. Well, you should be. Ehh…you’ll be fine. Okay maybe don’t do this step if it freaks you out or if you shouldn’t be wielding sharp objects near your face. You know who you are.

First of all, you should use a decent pair of haircutting shears (though I may have used kitchen scissors in times of desperation). You can usually find these at Sephora or even a CVS for pretty cheap (and then don’t use them to cut anything but hair with). Second, if you still managed to get a downright bad haircut, even after reading all those tips above (have I taught you nothing!?), don’t expect to salvage it on your own here. This tip is only for minor adjustments.

Learn how to texturize hair with scissors by watching YouTube tutorials. If you have bangs, watch a tutorial on bang trimming. It’s such a time-saver being able to do it yourself. If you don’t already have bangs, after you’ve bought your haircutting shears and drunk three glasses of wine, you probably will, so don’t come crying to me when your drunken micro-bang idea fails! Wine does not pair well with scissors. Too…I dunno, metallic? Anyway…

Now I want a glass of wine. And my bangs look a little long. I’ll have to catch up with you later.

Good luck on getting your next amazing haircut!


  1. Gloria Jaroff

    Hi Kelley:
    As Always – an amazing article. I miss my Regan who knows how to make magic for my hair and will have to do with Fantastic Sams for now. Wish I could get them to give me a “Rod Stewart” look.
    Love, Gloria

  2. Koko

    Very good tips!!!

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