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I went to have my haircut, and the first hairdresser who became available was the one I know the least, and has only cut my hair once or twice before. For context, I've lived in the area all my life and usually gone to the same hairdresser here.

I didn't protest when she called me up, and she did an okay job, but because my hair is really weird, I would've preferred waiting for one of the other hairdressers who has cut my hair regularly and knows what to do with it.

On balance, the easiest option was certainly to just have my hair cut by whoever's available first. But I'm wondering whether or not it would be acceptable to say "Sorry, I was waiting for X or Y if they were free."

I live in the UK. How do hairdressers expect me to behave, how can I refuse them and wait for a particular hairdresser without this being perceived as rude or unusual?

Note: Making an appointment with a specific hairdresser is not an option, as they only take walk-ins.

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How do hairdressers expect me to behave, how can I refuse them and wait for a particular hairdresser without this being perceived as rude or unusual?

The polite approach is to express a positive preference for a certain person rather than a negative preference for another: when you arrive, state that you would prefer to wait until Mark or Sally are available because you liked the haircut you received in the past. This sort of preference is normal, and by posing the request up front you don't have to directly reject anyone else.

hairdresser = sales = service + customer satisfaction (about the technical part AND the human part).

So, AFAIK, and almost everywhere around the world where I've travelled (but a very few individuals, the same kind of "bad person" you can meet anywhere, in any country, in any service area...), the sales person will do their best to provide you with the best they can do/afford/offer. This can be less when you're just a stanger passing by (or a tourist), and more when you're a regular costumer. Which you are, as you say.

So, no, asking and expressing your preferences is not rude. It's even often expected, because the sales person will know that if you come back, it's because you enjoyed the service AND the person providing it. That's what they want and need: provide you with a service so that, pleased with them, you'll come back. Bad haircut or bad person means almost eveytime "never see me again"; and they need you back again for the business.

Therefore, I wouldn't worry too much about that. You're fine when expecting/asking for someone you know and like when they take care of you.

If you don't want to have this "problem" again, use the tools hairdressers provide to their customers : phone and appointments. 1. you can call before, and ask for Alice/Bob, and at what time they can cut your hair. 2. you stop by the salon, and ask them directly ("Sorry, I'd like my hair cut by Alice/Bob. Is it possible to come back later? And if yes, at what time? Thanks").

I've done that (Western Europe: England / France / Belgium / Spain), and still do it, and never had/have a problem. Even more in the US at the time, the lady answering the phone or greeting you WAS asking for "the 3 W = what, when and who".

I'd suggest asking before you get "trapped". Don't wait for an answer to a question you didn't ask. ASK what you need, how, and by who. It's easier, because, for the customer's satisfaction, they will (should) do whatever they can to please you :)

Last but not least, if you want to refuse, just deflect. Don't say "NO" to Steve/Jenny, but rather "I really enjoy last time with Alice/Bob, is it possible again?". And if it's a "just walk-in and wait / no appointment" salon, you keep the same request and just add: "...and how long would it take?". It's neither rude nor unusual.

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I'm also UK based (and am also a bit picky about having my "usual" person cut my hair!)

To be honest it's pretty normal to have a preference for a certain hairdresser and while they might be disappointed (many salons work on a system where the hairdresser will get paid commission per client) it's not rude or unusual.

Where it might have potential for causing offense is that they have cut your hair before a couple of times - saying "no thanks I'd rather wait for X or Y" could be interpreted as "you did a poor job before so here's this list of people who are better at it then you whom I'd rather wait for" but to be honest they would have to be fairly thin-skinned to get upset in that scenario. And even if they did I wouldn't consider that a reason not to wait for your preference, you are after all paying for a service and shouldn't have to lower your own standards or expectations.

For anecdotal info my friend's wife owns a salon (and has worked as a hairdresser herself for many years before that) same for another of my friends and I'm fairly sure neither of them would have been offended by you stating a simple preference to wait.

  • Hi motosubatsu! I gave the question an edit, and removed the off-topic part about whether or not refusing would be rude, and instead focused the question on refusing without being rude/the weird person. Please review your answer and see if it still answers the question asked, or if it needs an edit. – Tinkeringbell Jan 16 at 18:39
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Express an positive interest in the hair dressers you prefer up front... Let's say you want to avoid Donna, and you spot Donna, Brenda and Dylan when you step in the salon.. basically go some variation of "Hi, will Branda og Dylan, have time for me any time soon?".

You can't avoid a bit of awkwardness, but this should minimise it...

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