When is the Right Time to… Say ‘No’ to Clients?

December 15, 2023

Saying ‘no’ is difficult for hair professionals who just want to please their clients and make them feel fabulous – we are, after all, people pleasers by nature. But there are times when you need to step up and say this little but meaningful word without feeling any guilt. This week, L’Oréal Professionnel artist, Subrina Kidd, looks at some of those situations when it’s completely right to say ‘no’…


1. When they ask for a discount.

If a client wishes for a cheaper haircut, I gently explain that they have the freewill to ask and source this elsewhere. I feel it is perfectly OK to ask and I am not offended when someone does so (there is no harm in asking!), but as the stylist, I also have the right to say yes or no. The point is simply to set healthy boundaries, and not to take it personally.

2. When they regularly fail to give notice of appointment cancellations.

When a client regularly fails to give notice to cancel an appointment, they are costing you money – it’s worth considering whether their loyalty is really worth keeping. Of course, there may be the odd occasion where a client genuinely has no choice but to cancel last minute, but this should be the exception not the rule. If you see a no-show trend developing with a client, I recommend politely turning down their custom next time they call to make an appointment. Alternatively, you could take payment in advance and explain that they will lose the full cost of the appointment if they don’t give at least 24 hours’ notice of a cancellation.

3. When they ask for free products.

Products aren’t something clients should expect as a free extra with their appointment. Professional hair products have a premium value, and it’s important that clients understand the difference between professional products and high-street brands. So, if a client asks you to throw in a free shampoo or styling product after their appointment, politely explain that these products are worth paying for to maintain their hair health at home.

4. When they ask for a cut that absolutely won’t work for them.

Another time when it’s fine to say ‘no’ to a client is when they request an on-trend cut that you know, firstly, absolutely won’t suit their face shape, and secondly, they won’t be able to maintain because of their lifestyle. In most cases, the client will thank you for giving them a look that does suit them!

5. When they ask for an unrealistic colour service.

In this celebrity-driven culture, clients may want to imitate their icons, but often their expectations can be unrealistic. While a celeb may appear to have gone from brunette to icy blonde overnight, the chances are they will actually have done so in several secret stages – or they may even be wearing a wig! Always have an in-depth consultation to manage any expectations and don’t be afraid to say no if it’s not achievable.