We hairstylists lie. It should be in the job description.

We fudge the truth if it hurts. The truth is often an insult. Reality often will do nothing for a client’s confidence.

“If I come to see you, will you always be honest with me?”


“I don’t lie. I just don’t always say what I feel.”

“Why not?”

“Because truth can be difficult to handle, so I spin it in your favor.”

“I would rather know.”

“I would rather shine up your positives.”
“How does that work?”

“What good does it do for me to tell you the style doesn’t work because you have chubby cheeks? You will hear something like,” The look enhances your eyes.”

The root cause of salon untruths is not malice. It’s a kindness game intended not to bring the client down. Clients get it. Of course, they do. They know they have a weak jawline, a prominent forehead, or limp hair and appreciate us trying to make the most of it. The less said, the better

Think of Jonah’s wife, who had no apparent problem believing he was not home for three days because a whale swallowed him. According to the fable, she didn’t say, “Really, Johan? Come on.” She went with the flow. That’s how our clients react to our lies. My niece Paola as a child, believed that what we painted on her coloring book before she went to bed came alive in her dreams and then went back into the coloring book color when she would wake. A good lie. But a lie, nonetheless.

We don’t purposely lie or make up stories, no.  We choose the high road if it comes to contradicting the client. Not because they pay money and we sell out, but because they are in the chair for such a short time, it’s just not worth playing shrink.      

So, if you are a new stylist, know this: convincing a client that they are beautiful takes more than technical skills. Salon professionals are in the business cheerleading and helping people get to where they want to go with a good look and a better attitude. Sure you can.  

During the average haircut session, a client will, at least once, tell you their side of a story ending with, “Don’t you agree?” or “What would you have done?”

Precisely the same thing, of course.

“I am not sure how it happened, but as I rushed around the kitchen casserole in hand, it just flew in the air and spilled onto the kitchen floor. So, I just picked it up, put it neatly back in the dish, and served it. What would you have done?”

Precisely the same thing, of course.

 “I know you think a small woman with a few extra pounds should not tint her hair black and wear it down to her waist, but it doesn’t look that bad, does it?”

Smile. Silence

As I said, lies are generally tastier.

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Carlos Valenzuela is a stylist, writer, success coach, ex-salon & beauty school owner. Author of The Thrifty Cosmetologist,: money smarts tailored to salon pros, and Letters to Young Carlos, a novella about a gay boy growing up along the border in the 1960s





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