What Is My Hairstylist Doing In The Back Room? (and other secrets)

Before I became a hairstylist, I was a fangirl - someone who loved and worshipped my hairstylists over the years, loyal to each of them, amazed by their talents and creativity. Even now that I get to do this incredible job for a living, I'm still amazed at the knowledge I've accrued over the years, and I still get inspired by the work of my peers. This got me to remembering what it was like to go into the salon on a Saturday as a client. The smell of hairspray, haircolor and perms, the sound of laughter and blowdryers, the intense look of a hairstylist as they fiddled with the last bit of hair that wasn't laying just so, and the lightness of the clients who floated out of their chairs, renewed and ready to take on the world. The magic of the salon experience is undeniable! Now that I'm on the other side of the magic, I'd love to share my insights with you about what it's like to be a hairstylist, as well as answer some questions people commonly ask or may wonder about. 

Just another day at the salon

Just another day at the salon!


Do you want to be called a "hairstylist" or "hairdresser"? 

Honestly, to me, it really doesn't matter. Someone once referred to me as their "hair lady" which made me feel like I should be doing perms and roller sets 🤔


The elusive "back room"

We have over ten stylists who make use of the back room to mix color, eat, relax, and fold towels and smocks.


Why does it take so long to mix my color? And what are you doing in the "back room" while my color is processing?

First, I look at your card with your formula. That history will help me figure out what we're doing for today's service, or if I need to reformulate if we're making a change. Sometimes we don't have every single color on hand, so if we have to substitute a color, it can take a little extra time to adjust your formula based on that substitution. Weighing and mixing color takes time to do correctly. Sometimes I'll confer with other stylists in the back room if I'm doing something new, because their experiences can help influence my decision. 

While your color is processing, I'm taking a break. Usually, stylists don't have planned breaks, so we get off our feet whenever we get the chance. We'll eat and check our phones. You'd be surprised at how little we talk to each other in the back room. It's definitely a friendly environment and we like to joke around, but it's generally understood that we spend all day talking to people and it's nice to recharge in silence.


My color cabinet

My color cabinet - there's more below! I try to keep everything organized within a compressed space.


Why do hairstylists run late? 

It's usually one of three reasons:

  1. A client before you wanted an additional service (a few highlights, or a completely new haircut for example) and we wanted to accommodate their request. We sincerely thought we could do it in the allotted time but we ended up running late. (For the record, a great stylist should call their client to let them know if they feel they will run late).
  2. We ran into an unexpected issue and the results needed to be adjusted. For example, we did a color change and it wasn't quite right.
  3. A client before you has shown up late, which ends up throwing our schedule off.


A bleach highlight, ready to be rinsed

A bleach highlight with foils off, ready to be rinsed!


I feel like I sit there FOREVER with my haircolor on, and meanwhile, my stylist is cutting someone else's hair! Does she even remember I'm here??

Yes, we know you're there and we've got it under control. 😀  Here's the thing with haircolor - there isn't a hard and fast rule about when it has to come off. It won't poison you, turn your hair black, or ruin your hair if it is on for a little longer. There are exceptions to this, but generally, we are either checking your hair or we know the processing time frame.

Can you please explain, once and for all, the difference between a gloss, a glaze, and a toner?

These are all terms for the same thing - demi-permanent haircolor. For reference, permanent haircolor is what we use to lighten hair and completely cover gray hair. Because of this, permanent haircolor is very strong. We don't need to use something this strong on the ends of your hair when we are trying to refresh faded ends (generally referred to as a gloss or a glaze), or add pigment to bleached hair (referred to as a toner). A demi-permanent haircolor is very gentle and has the ability to deposit pigment into the hair. 

Redken Shades EQ - one of the gentlest demi-permanent colors

Redken Shades EQ - one of the gentlest demi-permanent colors

I feel like it's always a big surprise as to what my bill will be when I get haircolor, and it can be different every time. Why is this, and how can I be more informed before I check out?

You have a right to know what your haircolor service will cost. Please don't think you'll be considered "cheap" or annoying if you ask! However, haircolor is not an exact science. For simple services, it's pretty easy to give you an exact quote. But every head of hair is different with different needs. If we're making any kind of a change, and especially for more dramatic changes, things can come up that we might not have been prepared for. Also, if we add little things here and there that we think you need - like lowlights for dimension, or a gloss to refresh your faded color, these are additional costs. If you have concerns about the cost of your appointment, just ask. Even if we can't pinpoint it exactly, we should be able to prepare you for the most you would have to spend, and then come up with a plan that works within your budget. As a side note: many hairstylists actually undercharge their clients for their services - especially on big color projects - because they are trying to be nice and don't want your eyes to be popping out when you get to the front desk to check out. We're not here to gouge you - but we have to take into account our time, experience, and cost of products we use.

I hope this information has been helpful to you! If you like this content, we'd love to share more of our secrets with you - you can sign up for our newsletter with links to new blog posts here!