Summer Stylist

4 easy steps to finding the right hairstylist

4 easy steps to finding the right hairstylist

Choosing a hairstylist is kind of like choosing a therapist. You want someone you like spending time with, someone who knows what he's doing, someone who makes you feel better about yourself, and someone who can identify and work with your specific problems. Finding a hairdresser that meets all of these criteria can be a challenge, so when you do find one, don't let him go.

I found one back in 1999: Jason Hull. I liked him so much, in fact, I married him. Over the years he's taught me more than I ever thought I'd know about hair.

Now, you don't have to go as far as marrying a stylist to have fabulous locks, but it is important to take the right approach when searching for your perfect match. Jason suggests the following:

Step 1: Check out other women
Too bad doesn't exist for clients and hairdressers; that would make things a lot easier. Fortunately, though, the first step in finding your stylist isn't any harder than taking a look around. When you spot someone whose hair you like, ask her for the name of her hairdresser and the salon. It doesn't matter if you know this person or not; strangers will be flattered that you liked their hair enough to ask.

Jason has acquired countless new clients this way. It also helps you find a stylist who has the same taste as yours — which will be one of the most important aspects of your relationship.

Step 2: Conduct an interview
Once you have a name, set up a consultation, which should be free. (If it isn't, beware and find someone else.) At the consultation, you can get a feel for the stylist by how he dresses, the cleanliness of his station, how he treats you, how he interact with co-workers, etc. Ask what kinds of things he considers when assessing whether or not a certain cut will work for a client.

The response should include head shape, face shape, body shape, height, hair texture, your personal style, and how much time you are willing to spend on your hair each day.

That last one is especially important for moms. Find a hairdresser who knows how to give you a style that won't take a lot of time but will still be flattering after you leave the salon.

Lastly, ask how often he takes continuing education classes. It should be at least once a year; more is even better. You want someone who is interested in consistently improving his skills and learning about the latest techniques, tools and products.

Step 3: Take a test drive
Now it's time to schedule an appointment. Bring photos of hairstyles you like, and discuss them with the stylist. He should be able to explain which ones would look good, which ones wouldn't — and why — as well as offer suggestions on more flattering alternatives.

After the cut has been completed, consider the following: Did your stylist do what he said he was going to do? Did he accept anything you didn't like with professionalism? Did he fix it? Was the entire experience enjoyable?

Keep in mind that it takes time for a hairdresser to get to know you — your preferences, your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes. So give him a chance by sticking it out through two or three haircuts. If you aren't satisfied after that, cut your losses and start the process over again with someone new.

Step 4: The final exam
A good cut should last quite a while before needing a trim. Yes, every six weeks is best, but what if that falls during spring break when the family is on vacation? You need to know that your coif can grow out for an extra week or two (or longer) and still look decent. Keep track to see if your haircut can stand the test of time.

Younes Ounzar, Alex Small
A good hairstylist asks the right questions to give you a cut that suits your lifestyle. Photo by Jerry McClure