I like to change up my look.

Like–  a lot.

Whether it’s buying new clothes and shoes each season or switching up my makeup routine, it’s fun to try new trends or express other parts of my personality when the mood strikes.

Now, I also like to try new things with my hair, but I’ll admit that sometimes I get a little gun-shy when it comes to new haircuts. That’s because while you can take off an unflattering dress or wash away the wrong lipstick color in an instant, you have to live with a bad haircut for a good, long while.

And that can be seriously traumatic.

But there are ways to ensure that you wind up with a hairstyle that works for you when you decide it’s time for a new look. If you want to take the fear out of your next trip to the salon, here are a few tips for always getting the perfect haircut.

Find The Right Stylist

Let’s be honest — you can’t get a good haircut if you don’t have a good stylist. If you have one that you trust, you’re in luck. If you don’t, get some recommendations. Look for friends or family members with haircuts that you like and ask them who styles their hair. If you can’t find any recommendations that way, use Google or Yelp to help you track down a good stylist in your area. It also helps to go in for a consult before your first cut, so you’re sure that you and the stylist are on the same page.

Consider Your Needs

An actress on your favorite TV show or a friend at work might have a haircut that you love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to look right on you. When you’re getting ready for a new cut, consider your needs and features to find a cut that will work for you and your lifestyle. If you don’t have much time in the morning, don’t choose a cut that takes half an hour to style every day. If you’re a gym rat, you may not like having a layered style that you can’t fully pull back into a ponytail.  When you head to the salon for your cut, make sure your hair looks as it normally does to allow your stylist to understand its natural texture and manageability too, so you wind up with a cut that works with your hair instead of against it.

Choose the Right Time

There are plenty of times when you suddenly feel like a change and want to cut all your hair off — but it’s important not to get a new cut impulsively or you can easily wind up regretting it the next day. That means choosing the right time for a cut is key. Avoid a trip to the salon right after stressful events like a breakup or death in your family, so you can be sure that you ‘re really into the new cut and not just reacting emotionally.

Don’t Obsess Over Photos

We’ve all done it before – come across a photo of a celebrity in a magazine with a fierce haircut and march off to the salon to tell our stylist to give us the same exact style. While magazine or online photos can help you identify styles that you like, you shouldn’t get too attached to the haircut in your inspiration photo — the style may be lovely, but it might not work with your hair type or face shape. Show the photo to your stylist, explain what you like about it, and let her decide whether it’s a realistic look for you. If it just won’t work for you, she can suggest similar looks that are a better fit.

Pay Attention

Going to the salon should be a relaxing experience, which is why your first instinct may be to grab a copy of Us Weekly or In Touch before you hit the chair. But don’t get so caught up in celebrity gossip that you don’t pay attention to what your stylist is doing or you may get your signals crossed and wind up with a look you don’t like. If you’re too focused on a magazine or your cell phone, you may also lower your head or slouch in the chair, which can lead to a crooked, unflattering cut.

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