Finding a great hairstylist is difficult but worth the effort. A quality stylist can simplify your life and save you time and money. By suggesting low maintenance looks, working within your budget, teaching you how to style your hair, and recommending a few key products (instead of a cabinet full) to help you recreate the look at home, a hairstylist you love is worth her weight in that-expensive-conditioning-treatment-you-bought-but-never-use. Every time you sit in the chair of someone new it feels risky and you worry about walking out with something you didn’t ask for. Do you talk? Sit there silently? Bring pictures? Research industry terms so Miss Scissors knows what you want? It is a terrifying process! But hang in there girl because, thankfully, there are some reliable dos-and-don’ts for finding a great stylist.
Do ask around.
There’s a pretty good chance your friends, family, and coworkers know someone fabulous. A word of mouth referral is the gold standard in advertising because you can trust people you know. If the girl at the checkout has great hair, ask her who does it. Hit up your pals on Facebook and Twitter. People enjoy talking about the things they love; you are bound to get some good recommendations.
Don’t believe everything you read online.
The sad reality is people lie. Having been a few times on the receiving end of an angry customer rant I know that not everything an angry person says is true. Try to approach online reviews with skepticism toward both the good and the ugly things people claim. There are some awful hairdressers in the world, but most professionals do their best to please their clientele.
Do check out their portfolio.
Most stylists have a portfolio you can view online. Instagram is a great resource for finding and viewing the work of local stylists. Salon websites often feature photos of staff work, but they may not be as up to date. Style Seat is another favorite spot for checking out nearby professionals. Not only can you view photos, but they have listed prices and service offerings as well.
Don’t be cheap.
If you are not willing to pay for quality work, don’t expect to receive it. It is so easy to discount what you want as “just a trim” or think to yourself, “I just need my roots touched up, why is it so much?” Professional hair stylists pay thousands of dollars to attend school and receive training. Upon graduation most states require stylists to have completed the hourly equivalent of not one but two four-year degrees, and rigorous testing is required to become licensed. After earning a license many stylists will go on to train for a few months to a few years as an assistant under a more experienced hairdresser. All of that education adds up to a skill set you depend upon to look your best. The more educated a stylist is the more you will pay, but for good reason; your hair will look great!
Do look for personality.
In the hair industry, personality matters far more than experience. If your stylist doesn’t listen to you, it will be a short-lived relationship at best and a long-term hair nightmare at worst. A great stylist will take the time to ask good questions and listen for your answers. She will do her best to do what you want, not what she wants. She will also be willing to educate you along the way and explain the things you need to know about your hair. The best way to get a feel for this with a new stylist is to request a consultation, or even better, book a blow-out. (Tip: Don’t book on a Saturday because even the best hairstylist in the world will be too busy to adequately accommodate a new client.)
Don’t be a walk-in.
Look for stylists and salons that take appointments. Quick service or walk-in salons are the fast food of the industry; they will get the job done, but you may not feel so great afterward. Occasionally you’ll come across a gem of a stylist working in one of these places, but the tricky part is that typically you cannot book with her for next time and, in all likelihood, she won’t be there for long anyway.
Do know what you want.
What matters more to you; color or cut? Most stylists focus on one or the other and they are not interchangeable skill sets. If you often change your haircolor or demand drastic level changes (going from dark brown to platinum?) choose someone who specializes as a colorist. In contrast, a great haircut is the foundation of a great hairstyle; someone who focuses on her shears can simplify the coloring and the at-home styling process, making your life easier. If you know whether your haircolor or haircut is more important you narrow your selections for a new stylist.
Don’t rush things.
Ultimately, finding a hairstylist you love takes time. Once you’ve asked around, and checked out reviews and portfolios, book your first appointment. Choose for personality first, and her skill set second. If you like what you hear and experience, book your next appointment in advance. Allow at least 3 – 4 appointments for your new stylist to get it just right. It will take at least that long to become familiar with your hair and how you like it to look, and if your stylist is “fixing” anything someone else did, it can take even longer. Be patient in communicating what you want and be positive about the results.
How did you find your hair stylist?