Seven tips for finding a new hair stylist
The move required a new hair stylist. (Eventually, a dentist and family doc, but first things first.)
In the neighbourhood adjacent to mine, I rented a temporary apartment for the moving week (via Airbnb, a great resource) and found my stylist, Laurie of LocalB, by peering through its large window daily and noting how good everyone looked, both in the chair and holding scissors.
If you're thinking of switching hairdressers, here are my ideas, and please, those of you who've done it, please add your own:
1. Go to a neighbourhood that echoes your style.
if you want classic, coiffed hair, check your business district; if you want something casual yet polished, cruise the upscale neighbourhoods, and if you want edgy, asked the tatted-up girl in funky bar where she goes. This is a good screen, because salons attract a certain clientele.
Not 100% reliable, though: my Parisienne friend Daniele got a knockout classic bob–every hair cut with microscopic precision– at Toronto's Coupe Bizarre, from a girl with a half-shaved head and barbell studs in her face.
2. Sit in a nearby coffee shop and see a few heads, before and after. Notice whether a woman leaves with that "looking gooood" bounce in her step. Maybe book a manicure there and take a good look around. If they're turning the chairs in 20 minutes you are likely not going to get personal attention and a precise cut.
3. Be wary about online reviews; there is a good deal of shilling and slagging in the gossipy, competitive hair world.
4. The time-honoured advice of finding someone with a great cut and asking who did it? Meh.
The stylist who's great for one may be only mediocre for you. Some stylists have biases, so everybody gets layered bangs. Others stylists can be inconsistent or simply lose interest in their work; some rest on their reputations. I prefer someone up and coming, not yet a star, who still has juice for the job.
Similarly, portfolios on the salon's web site are not perfect predictors either, or the creator may be long departed.
5. Make sure you see the stylist first, rather than booking by phone. If he or she has an unflattering cut or crummy colour, make any excuse to get out of there. Women with curls: if the stylist picks up thinning shears, run.
Some salons offer an initial consultation for a minimal fee; the cut is not done then, but you can discuss ideas and let your radar sweep over the place.
6. Pay attention to the product lines they sell. The better the products on offer, the more likely the salon benefits from regular seminars offered by these companies.
7. Finally, resist loading the stylist with too much baggage. It's OK to mention that you abhor short bangs or don't want your ears showing, but a good stylist is an artist first. Let him or her have some creative freedom; it's hair, not cosmetic surgery. As my stylist friend Ingrid said, "We've seen thousands of heads, you've seen one."
I only told Laurie that I don't want to blow out or chemically straighten my curly hair. She revised the shape, an improvement subtle to the world but appreciated by me.
Isn't that what we all want: a great cut we can manage ourselves, rain or shine?