I went to see my hair stylist, Beth, this week and she had moved to the coolest new shop. While I don’t look for a cute shop when searching for a great stylist, the overall experience IS important to me. It inspired me to share what exactly it is that I look for when choosing a hair stylist near me because let’s face it, you need to have some trust going in. This is my no-BS advice for finding a good fit.
I have never had a truly BAD haircut, but that’s because I know what to look for before booking a hair stylist.
I’ve had friends call me sobbing over bad hair cuts. One friend in particular that lived long-distance needed her hair fixed asap after a bad experience. I used my typical process and helped her to not only find someone that could fix her bad cut but someone that she ended up LOVING. I also wanted to point out that when I find someone that I love, it takes me less time, in the long run, to do my hair on a daily basis. I pay for a top-tier stylist to cut my hair, but what I am really paying for is a beautiful cut that requires less weekly maintenance giving me more time in my week for life while looking and feeling my best.
5 Things to Look For in a Hair Stylist Before Booking
1. Use Instagram. Sorry to state the obvious, but this is the first place that I start looking for a hair stylist. The first thing that I do is type in ‘hair stylist’ in ‘my town’. Then I mix and match the words to see what results I get. I do some digging to see if anything catches my eye. Here are the things that I look for: their profile, the photos they are tagged in, their stories, and their website link if they have one.
2. Yelp & Google. From there, I cross-reference the salon that they work at on Yelp and Google. I look for photos or both inside and out as well as before and after photos of clients’ hair. I look at their reviews and everything they have available. The less they have, the less likely that I am able to get a visible meaning the less likely that I am to book.
3. The stylist’s hair. Okay, this is honestly my NUMBER ONE. If you don’t like the hair of the stylist, what makes you think you’re going to like the hair they do on you? It doesn’t mean that you have to want their hair, but you should think it looks good on them. My girl had pink hair which was very cute, but I wasn’t going to dye my hair pink. The important thing that I took away was that her hair looked healthy, styled, and cute.
4. The hair of the person that referred you. The friend that called me sobbing about her hair had been referred to the stylist in question by a local friend of hers. The first question that I asked was, do you like the hair of the person that referred you? Does their hair inspire you for your own hair? Her answer was of course no, and it was a good lesson to not take advice from just anyone when it comes to hair referrals.
5. The before and after photos as well as the portfolio photos of the stylist. Being a hair stylist is a form of art, meaning every stylist will have their own specialty. It’s important to look at any photos that the stylist has on their social platforms to truly see if they do the type of look you are going for with your own hair.
Do You Know What Cut and Style You Are Asking For?
I wanted to touch on WHAT to ask for when seeing a hair stylist. If you find someone that is great at cutting hair and knows their stuff, you can ask their opinion on your hair type and face shape. However, I always have an idea of what I am looking for going in. Most of us get inspiration from Pinterest and our hair may or may not come out looking exactly like our inspiration photos. Here’s why. A lot of us take photos for inspiration, without understanding what is happening with the hair in the photo. If you aren't sure, ask your hair stylist to point things out to you.
I asked my own stylist about a particular picture and she was able to point out that the girl in the photo was using a 2inch curling barrel whereas I typically use a 1.5 inch. That is a big difference when you are going for a loose wave versus tight curls. Not only that, the girl in the photo had Biolage and coarse hair which makes a difference in how the style will turn out. Here are some things to look for in your inspiration photos: How long or short is the hair? Was it styled using a hot tool post cut for the after photo? Are you up for having to do light styling or a lot of upkeep on your hair depending on the style you are going for? What colors do they have in their hair and is that part of what you are inspired by? Do they have layers?
You might think I am crazy for being THIS particular, but the expectations and end result matter to me. I pay for a top-tier stylist to cut my hair, but what I am really paying for is a beautiful cut that requires less weekly maintenance giving me more time in my week for life while looking and feeling my best. Having a plan going in allows me to achieve the look that I am going for.
3 Pieces of Advice From My Hair Stylist Herself
Beth brought up the topic of knowing what to expect to pay a great stylist. In Richmond, the average top-tier stylist is $75 and up, plus tip. Which is lower than places such as New York or Los Angeles. A great stylist has the knowledge and experience, which is the price you are paying for. If you truly want your hair to look and feel the way you’ve always dreamed of, a great stylist is worth every penny.
She mentioned the importance of dry cutting. When your stylist starts your hair, they look at it to ask what you’re thinking you want to be done, they wash it, cut it to get the dead ends off of it, but it’s after the blow-dry that they can really add in the styled cut. I almost didn’t add this tip because I don’t expect anyone to sit in the hair and tell the stylist what to do, but silently look for the dry-cut styling if you’re seeing someone new!
SHOW WITH HANDS
Beth always makes it a point to hold up the end of my hair and says, "I'm thinking we will cut off about this much, what do you think?" She is confirming that this is the amount that I had in mind, instead of just going with "let's take off 3 inches." She shows me how much 3 inches actually is.