We all know that trying to get a good cut can affect you — physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, salon visits almost always involve one of two scenarios: Things can go really bad, really quickly, or really well. 

1. Find Mr or Ms Right

Step number one (no surprise here) is finding a stylist. When you see a hairstyle you like — whether it’s a friend’s blunt cut or a layered ’do on a stranger – ask who created it. Or do some detective work. Check out a salon’s website to see samples of their handiwork.

When you call for an appointment, ask if a stylist on staff specialises in your hair type. Some cutters are pros with curls, others at turning thin, baby-fine strands into lions’ manes. Another trick: seek out a stylist whose hair type is the same as yours. She can relate.

2. Become a nosy parker

Before you lock down an appointment, visit the salon to check out the vibe. Is it too chaotic (or low-key) for your taste? Are women leaving with Victoria Beckham cuts? Amy Winehouse beehives? If you don’t like what you see, walk out. Quickly.

READ MORE: 4 Crucial Things You Might Be Getting Wrong When You Have Natural Hair

3. Schedule smart

An early appointment is always best. Sure, a good stylist should always be on top of her game, but wouldn’t you be less fresh if you’d just spent seven hours on your feet? And ask how far apart appointments are spaced, says Hayley Wood, stylist and owner of Contour Hair and Beauty in Cape Town.

Look for a salon that schedules clients at least 30 minutes apart — rather than stacked up like a clipping assembly line every 15 minutes.

4. Have “the talk”

Any stylist worth her weight in mousse will do a consult (Wood suggests this should be at least 15 minutes long) to find out your styling routine and vision for the style before picking up the shears. And by all means, bring a photo of a hairstyle you like.

Even if you don’t love everything about the cut, a pic can offer insight on what you’re after. Is it the layering around the face? A blunt fringe? “A picture is easy to translate,” says Wood.

But she advises picking a hairstyle on someone who has a similar hair texture and face shape to yours so that you know what you’re aiming for will work on you.

5. Stare and share

Sure, Brad and Angie’s ongoing divorce drama is fascinating, but if your eyes are glued to that magazine instead of what’s going on in the mirror, you could be in for a nasty surprise. Watch the cut as it progresses, and if you’re unhappy at any point — even the first snip — speak up!

Also, pay attention to how your hair is being styled and what products are being used so you can achieve the look on your own.

READ MORE: Getting A Haircut? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions First

6. Ask for a redo

“There’s nothing wrong with going back to your stylist if you decide that you hate the cut,” says Wood. She does however recommend that you wait two weeks before a re-cut. “You need this window period to allow your hair to fall into a better shape before you start correcting anything.” And she also advises going back to the same salon and stylist who cut your hair (just be prepared to articulate what you don’t like) as going to someone new might be more of a disaster.

Thinking of changing your look? Use this app to see what hairstyle would suit you best. Plus: How to turn off the hormones that cause hair thinning.