Finding the right stylist is like finding your soul mate. Sure, anyone can chop a few inches off of your hair, but do you trust them when it comes to changing your look, or maintaining a signature style in the long term? Your one and only true stylist understands you in a way that an annonymous scissored stranger just can't.
I found my style soul-mate when I was twenty. Lauren started dating my boyfriend's best friend, and we immediately hit it off. She'd graduated from basic beauty school a few years prior, and was studying at one of the area's swankiest salons. She needed models to practice on, so I volunteered. It was the best haircut of my life, and the beginning of a decade-long relationship between Lauren and my hair.
Lauren doesn't just chop to order, she cuts according to face shape, texture, and growth. As a result, Lauren's cuts not only look good when you walk out of the salon, but the following week, the following month, and so on, until you finally come back for another. She's also really great at keeping up with the latest trends and fashions. She's a stylish girl, and is great at recommending new looks that will work for her client's face and personal sense of style.
Of course, I feel like the bond between Lauren and I goes beyond that of head and scissor. Our friendship is more than ten years old now, and has been helped out a lot by fate. Kismet arranged for us to meet way back when, and kept us together through unrelated moves to Austin so many years later. She even did the hair for my sister's wedding. At times, I have seen other hair dressers, (due to circumstances beyond our control) but it's never been quite the same. Lauren is the best, and I don't expect to ever meet her equal in a salon this side of Heaven.
So how do you find your own Hair Stylist Soul Mate? It's partially a matter of the stars aligning, but here a few tips to help tweak the cosmos in your favor:
- THINK It's important from the get-go to really think about what you want. What are you going for? What's your style? If you aren't sure, take a look at your closet, your home, and your favorite fashionistas. Do you see any themes? If all else fails, pick out a few of your very favorite outfits, and consider what hair style would look best with them.
- RESEARCH Find a salon that suits your style. Do you prefer a modern look, or maybe something retro? Is your style relaxed and easygoing, or posh and refined? Salons tend to attract stylists that match their overall vibe. Poke around on Google, Yelp, and Google Local to find a salon that matches your personal style.
- NETWORK Ask your friends. Do you have a girlfriend with an amazing haircut? Are you following any local style mavens on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter? How about hitting up a local fashion or style blogger for a hot tip? Find someone whose style you dig, and ask them if they can recommend any salons or stylists in your area.
- LOOK Once you find a salon you like, take a look at their website to see if they have any information available on their stylists. Stylist bios and portfolios can give you a peek into their personalities and artistic vibe.
- ASK Try calling the salon and telling them what kind of style you are looking for. Ask if they have a particular stylist that specializes in what you are looking for. For instance, some stylists love cutting short hair, while others might have a gift for helping maintain long layers.
- TALK When you finally meet your new stylist, communication is key. Make sure to be friendly, open, and most importantly, as specific as possible about what you want. Let your stylist know what your comfort level is when it comes to change and upkeep. Are you looking for something drastic, or do you just want to tidy things up? Are you willing to style your hair every day, or do you prefer to shake your head dry and call it day? You stylist needs to know this stuff in order to help you find a cut that works for you.
- LISTEN As important as it is for you to communicate all of your deepest dreams and desires, it's equally vital that you take your stylists advice into consideration. They know hair. Achieving a certain look could require drastic measures, tons of upkeep, or even a long term plan. Plus, not everything works for everyone's hair.
- GET REAL Hair doesn't grow on trees, after all. It grows from your head, and for many of us, it takes an awfully long time to do so. If you are hoping to change your style, it could take several sessions of growing and cutting to get there. A good stylist can help the in-between time less awkward, but they aren't magicians. Give the relationship, and your hair, time to become something special.
Of course, all the tips in the world won't save a doomed relationship. Maybe your stylist is just not that into you, or maybe they just stink. Here are a few warning signs that may be telling you it's time to break up.
- BOSSYPANTS Yes, your stylist's opinion is super important, but it's still your head. Your personal style is just that, personal. You have the right to choose how to wear your hair, and to control what kind of products are used on it. If you find yourself feeling bullied, it might be time to move on.
- FLAKE CITY Accidents happen, but if you find yourself being repeatadly stoop up or made to wait excessively for scheduled appointments, talk to your stylist about the issue.
- OUCH Noone likes to be abused. If your stylist is causing you pain, speak up! It's probably by accident. If they continue to scratch you, burn you, or (god-forbid) cut you, get the heck out of there.
- MEANIE In a perfect world, everyone would be besties with their stylists, like Lauren and I. In real life, you might not actually be friends, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get along well. If your stylist rubs you the wrong way, your personalities might just not be a good fit. For me, that's a deal breaker.
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