Being in a salon means being the center of attention, and enforced small talk — two things introverts hate.
A few weeks ago, I had a haircut, which may not sound exactly revolutionary, but believe me: It felt like it after months of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Firstly, my husband cut my hair (he’d never cut anyone’s hair before), and secondly, in spite of the high-risk strategy of allowing an entirely untrained person to wield a pair of scissors over my precious locks, I rather enjoyed the experience.
But it reminded me how much I don’t like going to the hairdressers. In fact, I have never really enjoyed it, and would generally come away exhausted and dissatisfied.
Cue a lightbulb moment: I’m an introvert, so of course I don’t like going to the hairdressers. Being in a salon means that I am the center of attention, there is enforced small talk, and I can’t escape unless I want to draw even more attention to myself. Hmmm, sounds like an introvert’s worst nightmare to me!
I also realized that it’s no coincidence that I have been having my hair cut at home for the past 16 years, since my eldest child was born. At first, it was just easier, but as the years went by, our home haircuts stayed and I had no urge to return to the hairdressers. Friends would talk about how much they loved their particular stylist — or trade stories about what a treat it was to go to the salon — and I just couldn’t relate.
And this is what I love about introversion: In spite of knowing I’m an introvert, embracing my introversion, and building a business that works with introverts, there is still so much I have to learn. Just when I think I’ve got this introversion thing down, I will have another revelation about how introversion shows up in my life and why I behave and think the way that I do.
Back to the hairdressers… It seems like I’m not alone in not liking to go. Other introverts I’ve spoken to have told me of their experiences with having their haircut, and a hair salon is generally a place that makes them feel uncomfortable, too. Most I spoke to also get their hair cut at home. Coincidence? I think not. However, getting your hair cut at home may not be an option for you. So as places reopen across the country, here are a few tips for how to find an introvert-friendly salon.
8 Tips for Surviving a Trip to the Hair Salon as an Introvert
1. Check out the vibe in advance, both online and by visiting it.
Visit the salon before you book an appointment so you can see what the atmosphere is like. Is it all loud music and high energy? If the environment is overstimulating, it’s likely that the people who work there (and the clients it attracts) will enjoy that kind of vibe. If you feel exhausted just stepping into the place before you’ve even spoken to anyone, then this isn’t the salon for you.
2. Size matters: How large is the salon?
If it’s a hair salon with many workstations that serve several customers at a time, there is likely to be more noise. You may prefer to be somewhere more intimate. I personally hate it when the stylists speak to one another while working side-by-side and completely ignore their clients. I may not always be the chattiest person in the room, but I want the stylist’s full attention on my head and not the conversation they’re having with a colleague.
3. Ask yourself if you feel heard.
In all interactions — from booking your appointment to discussing the cut with your stylist — do you feel heard? Introverts may not find it easy to speak up and state their needs, so you need to be dealing with people who make you feel comfortable and who really listen when you speak. That goes from the receptionist, to whomever is washing your hair to the stylist themselves. There are great people out there, so find someone who works for you.
4. What about conversation? Will they support the level of interaction you prefer?
Small talk is not something that introverts enjoy… at all. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil, but we’d rather connect with someone over a more interesting topic than the weather. Other days, of course, you just want to sit there in silence. Either is fine, but again, it’s important to be in a salon that is going to support you and the level of interaction you require. Let’s face it, I bet many hairdressers are likely introverts themselves who probably relish a bit of quiet time to allow them to concentrate on the haircut without having to make conversation.
5. It’s all about timing when deciding when to go.
As a wise friend said, pick a time when the salon is likely to be quieter. If possible, avoid the weekend altogether. Monday is probably about as quiet as it will get. This way, even in a larger salon, it is likely that the volume is turned down and you can relax into the peaceful surroundings. I wish I’d considered this in the days when I used to go to the hairdressers. Due to work commitments, I would always get my hair cut on Saturdays, which has to be the busiest time of the week. The salon was always full of people, and invariably, there was loud music playing, too. While some may have found that environment buzzy and exciting, it was just overwhelming and exhausting for me.
6. Choose the right stylist for you.
This is probably the most important decision of all. Wherever you are having your hair cut, if you have a rapport with the hairdresser where you are able to speak as much — or as little — as you’d like, you’ll probably enjoy the experience more, as well as come away with a great cut. Many fellow introverts I’ve spoken to said that they’ve had the same stylist for years. So when you do find someone who suits your introverted vibe, it could be the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship.
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7. Do your research about the type of haircut you want.
If you’re thinking of a new hairstyle, or even just a trim, do some research before going to the salon. Have a photo or two ready of what you want to show to your stylist. I know what it’s like: You have it all planned out in your head, and yet when your stylist asks you what you’d like done, you suddenly feel like a deer in headlights. Your vocabulary and eloquence momentarily depart and you cannot find a way to explain what it is you want to do to your hair. It’s almost like being back in the classroom again, being asked a question by your teacher and being put on the spot. To avoid this, be prepared. Photos are great, and if that’s not possible, do think hard about how you can explain the style you want. Maybe make some notes. Remember, preparation is one of the things introverts do best.
8. Be prepared to speak up; after all, it’s your hair we’re talking about!
Sometimes, even with the best of research and preparation, things may not go as planned. Maybe your stylist has a different idea about what they want to do with your hair or there is an assumption that you would like a free head massage while you are having your hair washed. If at any stage it feels like you are being steamrollered and not listened to, hard as it is, you need to speak up.
This is another situation where being prepared can help. Think about what you could say if this happens. Maybe practice before you are in the salon. Remember, being assertive is absolutely not the same as being aggressive. It’s simply putting boundaries in place to respect your needs and opinions as you would anyone else’s. Learning to be assertive is an essential for life, not just when you’re getting getting a haircut.
Case in point: Many years ago, I had my hair cut in a local salon (on a Saturday afternoon, of course, and the place was super busy). When I got home, I realized that they had cut one side shorter than the other, which was not the look that I was aiming for. Although it made me feel awkward, I did go back to the salon and ask them to correct their mistake, which they were happy to do.
It’s All About Being Prepared so You Can Actually Enjoy the Experience
The good news is that there are some wonderful hairdressers, nail technicians, and masseuses out there who can make us “quiet ones” feel comfortable, heard, and relaxed. Whether you choose to stay home for your next trim or venture out to a place that you feel comfortable, make sure you enjoy the experience and the end result. As for me, I have it on good authority that there is a lovely salon near me that makes fellow introverts feel comfortable and heard, as well as offering a mean haircut. All this talk of salons has made me curious, so I may well check it out when it’s time for my next cut!