Four experts weigh in with tips for discussing the often-sensitive subject of hair loss and thinning hair with your male clients.
Whether it’s due to genetics, stress or overprocessing, thinning hair is becoming all the more common among both men and women. We get some expert advice for opening up the discussion with your clientele and handling the issue “head on.”
Tip #1: Speak Up
Using appropriate verbiage can be the key to having a successful conversation with your client. “The term ‘thinning hair’ is already something we need to start removing from our vocabulary when speaking to clients because it’s the beginning of an unpleasant visual,” says Mirella Rota Sementilli, a hairstylist at Salon Shampoo in Toronto. “I would ask if they are interested in more volume or would like to see more fullness.
There are different go-to statements, but it’s about thinking positive—as if their glass is half full as opposed to half empty.”
While you may want to rely on your go-to cutting and styling techniques to achieve the appearance of fuller-looking hair, Sementilli, who is also an educator for Nioxin, says thinning hair is so common now that it’s important to start the dialogue with your clients and educate them about the options available. “It’s not the clients’ responsibility to make you feel comfortable about telling them what’s best for them,” she says. “It’s our responsibility as professionals to become more educated, and that automatically helps you become a more confident and professional hairstylist.”
Tip #2: Let Clients Be Heard
As the salon professional, it’s natural to want to lend your expertise to your clients’ hair concerns. However, it’s also important to listen to what your clients have to say about their hair. “Asking questions is the key to sensing how comfortable any client is with discussing hair loss,” says Suzy Henningsgard, global education manager for éprouvage. “Listening carefully to your client’s answers will tell you how to approach the subject and which route to take.”
While some clients may not have the ideal responses regarding their daily hair care and maintenance, it’s important to empathize with them. “Healthy hair starts and stops with a healthy hair routine,” says Henningsgard. “Both chemical and mechanical damage are huge contributors to thinning hair. Speaking to their concerns and coming from a caring place will make them more open to having a conversation in which you can help them address their needs.”
Tip #3: Be Solution Oriented
As important as it is to have honest and professional communication with your clients, it’s critical to know what options are available to determine the best course of action. “Besides medical surgeries, we have many tools available as stylists to help our clients,” says Loucas Reklitis, master stylist at Donato Salon + Spa in Toronto. “I would recommend working from the inside out, using a supplement such as Viviscal Professional twice daily for three to six months. The results are unbeatable, but they have to stick to taking the pills twice daily if they want to see results.” Since not all clients may be on board with taking supplements and waiting to see results, Reklitis also recommends the use of tinted sprays, fibre powders and styling products designed for thinning hair, wigs and extensions to instantly improve hair’s appearance.
While Reklitis admits that discussing thinning hair with clients can sometimes be difficult, it’s something many of his clients are very receptive to. “My clients come in concerned about thinning hair every day, and it’s my job as a salon professional to give them my honest opinion and best possible solutions,” he says. “If you try to avoid the topic entirely, then you are doing an injustice to your clients. Putting it off will make it more difficult as the condition progresses, so it’s better to give them the help they need.”
Tip #4: Be Proactive
Some clients may choose to wait until their condition has progressed before beginning the discussion, which emphasizes the importance for hairstylists to start the conversation with their clients sooner rather than later. “Our top-selling products are for those with noticeably thinning hair or advanced thinning hair because people will often wait until they are in 911 mode before they address it,” says Michelle Blaisure, director of education for Bosley Professional Strength. “I think one of the biggest opportunities for hairstylists is to talk about prevention. We think about prevention for our skin and while we can’t stop aging, we can certainly slow it down with the choices we make. It’s the same thing for hair.”
Blaisure, who has more than 20 years of professional beauty experience and is a former hairstylist, recognizes that being proactive isn’t always easy. “Hairstylists tend to see immediate results in their work,” she says. If we give someone a cut or colour, we see the end result immediately, so we build confidence in our ability to create those looks. But when you’re recommending thinning hair products, to a certain extent it’s a leap of faith because it’s not one size fits all. Not everybody gets the same result, so you need to have a certain level of confidence and understanding to really make the recommendation and talk to clients about it.”
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