Choosing a hair stylist

Find a stylist who can add some flair to your hair.

Ppeople often compare hair stylists to therapists. A good one can be a lifesaver, but a bad one can leave you with a seemingly permanent scar--until your next hair appointment, anyway.

While it may seem silly to put the same effort into choosing professional hair care as you would in choosing health care, you'll still want to evaluate the different types of hair stylists before choosing the right place to maintain your coif.

Price is the main differentiator among various types of salons. If you're a no-fuss, no-muss kind of client who always requests the same cut and even knows the blade size the stylists use, try the strip-mall hair care stores or a barber shop near your house or office.

If you're looking for a more metropolitan mane, follow these tips to be salon selective. Once you find a stylist you like, remain loyal and treat them well. Stylists generally receive a minimum gratuity of 15 percent and are sometimes given gifts during the holidays. So, how do you choose a hair care salon?

  • Talk with those happy with their hair

    One great way to choose a salon or a stylist is to talk with people whose hair you admire. Try to learn whether the stylists recommended to you are experienced in working with your hair type — long, curly, processed, ethnic, conservative or a little wild.

  • Choose your venue

    Upscale salons in high-rent districts like Buckhead can provide a flashy, trendy environment where some believe you can find the most up-to-date look. But you also can try independent mom-and-pop salons, department stores or chair rental salons that rent individual chairs to stylists.

    Also, you can try the training schools if you're looking for a more affordable hairstyle. You will trade the permanence of a consistent stylist for a price break because he or she will eventually graduate, but you'll be able to work with creative--and heavily supervised --young professionals.

    Several salons have training facilities. When you visit any type of salon, make sure they are kept clean and hair is swept off the floor regularly.

  • Schedule a consultation with a hair stylist

    There's no law saying the stylist must cut, color or style your hair the first time the two of you meet. Consultations are common, and you will be able to bring photos and ideas to the stylists the first time you step foot in the salon. See if the two of you gel on ideas and treatments before making any commitments.

  • Be decisive

    Until you've developed a relationship with your stylist, be firm about what you want your hair to look like. Don't hesitate to object if your stylist tries to add embellishments to your cut, a color or even a shampoo regimen you are not comfortable with.

  • Note the hair stylist's appearance

    Nothing is more revealing about a stylist or colorist than the condition of their own hair. Before you can trust someone with your locks, you'll want to see that they can take care of theirs first (but don't be shy about trusting stylists who are bald).

  • Technology

    Does the salon specialize in any cutting-edge trends, such as advancing highlighting techniques or hair extensions? Do the stylists regularly attend trade shows to keep on top of current trends? If your needs are more high-tech than a cut and dry, ask about what the stylist and salon are doing to advance their education.


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