For better or for worse, the role of our hairstylist can get blurred with that of our therapist—a point we often forget until we're midway through rehashing all the gory details of last week's Tinder date gone awry during a double-process color treatment. How much over-sharing is too much? And what are the rules of making small talk when you and your stylist are in the "getting to know you" phase?
We spoke to hairstylist Claudio Lazo, who set down the ground rules of conversation in a salon for us. In general, Lazo recommends following the same standards as you would when meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time: steer clear of overly-personal relationship details, religion, touchy social topics, politics, and sex, though this can vary depending on just how close you are with your stylist. "Basically, stick with the principals of general and pleasant conversation, because you do not want to be dragged into a negative space should a stylist decide to share any heavy personal drama they are experiencing with you," he tells InStyle. "Stylists should remember that when conversing with a client, you want them to know that they are the center of your attention for the time frame they've booked out with you."
Conversation topics should be kept light and positive for new clients in particular, and Lazo advises stylists to start by asking about the challenges with their hair, though you as a consumer can also use this topic as a jumping-off point. "Like a doctor with a patient, you can ask personal hair questions which are relevant," he says. "As the professional, what I like to do is first ask my clients to tell me two or three things that they like and don't like about their hair. This will open them up and get them to talk, which in turn will lead them to opening up more about themselves and their lifestyles."
From there, you can go back and forth over lifestyle-related topics, though Lazo recommends not getting too deep or personal. "Be aware that some clients like to 'vent' to their hairdresser like a therapist. This can be dangerous, because if the topic is a very negative one, it feeds and draws negative energy for both the stylist and the client," he tells us. "What I try to do is deter this and redirect the mood. I like to switch their 'negative venting' to something more positive, and will draw the attention to how we're changing and updating their look with the positive beauty in that." Bad vibes can impact both you and your hairstylist, so unless you have an Elle Woods-Paulette Bonifante kind of relationship, try not to spill anything you wouldn't want the eavesdropping client a seat away to live-tweet.