Q&A from a hairstylist in Miami.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of the same thing on Facebook. Mainly women asking where they can get their hair done perfectly and as cheap as possible. That never made much sense to me, I’m from Miami where if you want your hair done right, you’re going to have to pay.

My best friend, Karla Rivas, is a hairstylist. Ever since high school, she’s been very into cosmetology and I always heard her say that people expect an outstanding service at the salon but don’t want to pay the price.

I wanted to bring some awareness to what goes on behind the scenes in a salon.

I asked Karla some questions about being hairstylist and she gave me some great answers and they might be a little harsh to hear but it’s the reality. Rarely, will you receive a $600 dye job for $150. I’m here to shed some light on this.

1. Q: What’s the number one thing you wish clients knew or took into consideration before walking into a salon?

A:  Clients need to take into consideration that salons are like retail stores or like most for-profit businesses; prices and quality vary. Getting a salon service is a luxury in this modern world so it’s almost offensive when you’re berated for your pricing because it is a free market after all. Please don’t go into someone’s business and complain because the prices aren’t to your liking. If you don’t like them go somewhere else; salons are a dime a dozen so the odds are you will find a cheaper option. One of my least favorite comment’s has to be, “I know someone that can do it for less, why can’t you?” That’s like going to Tesla and telling them that Toyota sells their cars for cheaper so they should too. Not every salon offers the same kind of services or quality; it makes no sense to me and it’s extremely insulting. If you want to pay less, by all means, go to your cheaper person but don’t tell someone their work isn’t worth what they’re charging just because it doesn’t suit you.


2. Q: Some hairdressers will charge upwards to $600 for a dye job, why do you think that’s justified? 

A: We’re in 2018, everything is expensive. People fail to realize that stylists need to make a living just like everyone else. The chair we rent costs money, the dye, the brushes, the bowls, the gloves, the foils, the chair you sit on, our education, our time, it all comes at a price and it’s not as cheap as most people think. You’re paying for our skill, and we have the right to charge what we think our work is worth. Depending on the kind of “dye job” being performed, whether it’s a dark brown to platinum hair transformation or a scary color correction, they take time. Color services take around 2-6 hours depending on the intricacy, even more, if you’re doing multiple sessions. Quality of work makes a huge difference. Color services of $100 or less do exist but they come with a compromise; it’s usually cheap, cheap products that ruin your hair or just don’t work. At the end of the day, hair services in Miami will be significantly higher than in Homestead because location, location, location but, you usually get what you pay for either way.


3. Q: Do clients that stay quiet the whole appointment make you uncomfortable? Would you rather make small talk?

A: I’m a very quiet person myself. Working in a salon has undoubtedly improved my social skills. In my first job at a salon, I could barely hold a conversation with a client, I didn’t even know how to start one. I was nice and professional but my social skills were definitely lacking. As someone who isn’t very talkative silence to me is normal. If my client wants to have a conversation for the entire service, great, if they are more comfortable not speaking that is fine too.


4. Q: What’s your rule for tipping at a salon after great service?

A: As a general rule for myself, I don’t usually tip less than 20% unless the service is lousy. Be aware that most stylists working at a salon don’t get to take home 100% of the money they earn. Some rent a chair from a salon and others get paid commission, which varies from salon to salon. Tipping is completely optional but as someone who has worked at an hourly rate where it doesn’t matter how many clients you have that day or how well you did because you’ll earn the same x amount of dollars day after day, tips make a HUGE difference. Honestly, owners of salon’s will pay you less and count on the client’s tips to make up for the rest which isn’t fair to the employees or the client but, that’s America.


5. Q: What’s your number one biggest pet peeve that clients do often?

A: My number one pet peeve has to be the inconsiderate client that will show up well past their appointment and demand service immediately. This client does not care that you have other appointments and that taking them this late will undoubtedly make you late for your next appointment. This same client is the one that will complain if you ever do run late and has to wait five minutes. PLEASE be considerate of your stylists time! We will always try to accommodate you if you’re running a little behind but, if you show up late enough that your service can’t be done; you’re costing us money we could have earned from a punctual client. Some salons will actually charge you for the full-service amount or partial if you’re late or don’t show up. This ain’t no game… We have bills to pay too!


6. Q: What makes a client your favorite type of client?

A:  Remember when we talked about being on time? Yeah, show up on time and I’ll love you for life, we all will. TIME IS MONEY! We literally can’t afford to wait around for perpetually late clients or no-shows.


7. Q: In your opinion, what’s the most difficult aspect of doing hair?

A: The hardest aspect of doing hair is definitely the client. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are; if your chemistry isn’t right with the client they will hate their hair and nothing you do will help. Correspondingly, if your chemistry is strong they will love their hair even if it’s not your best work. I’ve experienced this first hand and so have many colleagues of mine. Psychology is an immense part of the beauty industry. The client has to feel comfortable with you; the communication has to be there. As a hairstylist, you must be patient and understanding even when the client doesn’t know what they want or can’t explain it and are frustrated. It’s our job to serve you to the best of our ability so that you leave happy and return as a steady client (it’s also easier to up-sell services and products if they like you). Learning how to deal with a difficult or new/clueless client is definitely a separate skill you learn “on the field” but an absolute must if you want to be successful in this business.


8. Q: What’s the best thing or your favorite thing about doing hair?

A: My downright favorite thing about doing hair is the journey of the hair from the beginning of the service to the end. Being able to transform a client’s hair to something they love is the best feeling. It’s therapeutic to me when I see the hair change before my eyes, whether its a color, cut or a simple blow out. There’s no better feeling than when you see your client genuinely love their hair. I enjoy the process so it’s very rewarding when you can deliver a great service by giving the client the experience they deserve.


9. Q: What do you like about being a hairstylist?

A: The freedom of expression through hair. People LOVE when their hair is looking right; they love when their hair reflects their personality and it makes me happy to be able to give them that. It makes me happy when a client gives me something new and challenging to try or when they tell me to go wild and do whatever I want (my favorite). Hair is exciting; unpredictable, and I’ve been blessed to have done hair of every length and texture. From a bob or a pixie to Rapunzel-like hair, thick, thin, every level of curl and every level of straight. Thankfully, I live in an immensely diverse city, Miami, where the hair is as different and as interesting as the person growing it. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my work and have learned plenty with each new client.  I love the opportunities that come with this job and the unpredictability of it. I’m so glad my 16-year-old-self thought this was a good idea when I signed up for the classes in high school and I’m so thankful for my teacher Mrs. Revello who taught me so much and supported me just like my wonderful parents, who funded the entire thing even though they would have preferred a different career choice for me. #noragrets


10. Q: If you could give people studying to do hair any advice what would it be?

A:  A piece of advice I have for anyone interested in pursuing cosmetology is: know what you’re getting yourself into. Many people see this as an easy, anyone-can-do-it type of job and even though I believe that anything is possible; long-term success comes only if you work your ass off. This can be a very lucrative occupation if you do it right. You must market yourself, earn your own clientele and keep them long term. Always continue your education, the beauty industry changes constantly so if you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind with the trends of yesterday and your clients will go to someone that can give them the latest hairdo they saw on the red carpet. Also, the strain this occupation can put on your body can be a lot so you need to take measures to protect yourself. You’re exposed to hazardous chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, bronchitis and rhinitis amongst other things. Repetitive motion and standing can affect your knees, wrists, and back and you may develop arthritis, chronic back pain and carpal tunnel (the pain is no joke). This all in addition to the stress that comes with working in a fast pace environment and the verbal, possibly physical, abuse you get from clients.


I think she did a great job in answering these questions. I want to clarify these are all her opinions and they can vary from stylist to stylist but I think a lot of what she said will ring true with many other stylists from around the world. Karla is an amazing hairstylist, I’m going to link all her social media and her email so you can check her out and contact her if you’re looking to have amazing hair.

Please keep in mind hairstylist still need to make a living as well and people seem to think that they can walk into a salon and dictate the prices and that’s not how it goes, if you want quality, you have to pay for it.

Thank you for reading,

Karlas personal Instagram.

Karls hair styling page.

Karlas email: Kosmokarls@gmail.com

If you have any questions feel free to contact me here.



IMG_9602The beautiful and talented Karla Rivas.

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