While the worst thing about moving might be packing your life into boxes and trying to stuff your cat into a carrier to go across the country (or even across town), I’m here to tell you about another contender: Trying to find the right person to style your hair — especially if you’re picky. I should know — I’ve moved twice in the past six months and it was a challenge to keep my hair looking dope while trying to make new friends and find work. Because for me personally, if I don’t feel good about my hair, I kinda don’t feel good about life.
I’d been with my stylist in NYC for five or six years, Justin at Bloom Beauty Lounge, and we’d not only developed a friendship but a full-on artistic collaboration when it came to my look. He’d taken me from a blunt auburn bob, to long burgundy hair with bangs, and finally to a strawberry blonde lob that I loved. But, just because I was abandoning NYC and Justin didn’t mean I needed to dump my cute hair.
Here’s what I learned in my adventures working with several new stylists — and the best part is, you don’t have to be moving to a new city to try these tips, just moving to a new stylist.
Get all the details on your current look.
If you like your look and you have a good relationship with your stylist, do what I did and have them write down how they executed it. Justin whipped up a custom color for me and generously shared the formula for the color and gloss he used. If your current stylist is doing anything unique, have them detail it to you in a text or e-mail. I keep mine on my phone so it’s handy when I try a new salon.
This seems obvious but still needs to be said. If you have hadn’t had a cut, style, or color in a while, bring photos on your phone of the last time your hair was coiffed to the gods. Point out what you liked about the look to the stylist you’re working with, otherwise, they will just be going by what you have when you sit down in the chair.
Trust your gut.
Finding a new stylist isn’t just about their talent, it’s about how the two of you vibe together. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up, or feel like your stylist isn’t hearing your feedback, you’re likely not going to be happy with the final result. When you call to make an appointment, tell them it’s your first time and you’d like to talk with the stylist first — and show up early. If you feel like they don’t get you, or they’re rushing you to get your hair washed without even feeling your texture first, it’s totally okay to cancel and leave. Just make sure you’re up-front about this before going in, as some salons may try to charge you for your time.
This is not the time to experiment.
The first time you go in to see a new stylist is not the time to lose six inches of hair and go from brunette to platinum blonde. You need to work with them to build up trust and get into a groove. Treat your stylist like any new relationship. When I first saw Jean at Otto & Grand for a cut and color, I asked for a simple trim and for her to follow the exact color formula my old stylist used. It came out perfectly, and from there we went on to further appointments where we played with the color, trying a pink gloss and a longer look.
Find an expert in your style.
As a (faux) redhead, I always look on salon sites and search the web for stylists that are not only experts in red shades, but love using red on a canvas of hair. I also look for someone who primarily cuts straight hair, and I wouldn’t send a friend with curls to the same stylist I use. Most salon websites have staff pages that list stylists expertise, so be sure to take a look before you make an appointment or call and ask. You want someone who specializes in your hair type and concern.
Learn the terminology.
As I’ve been searching my latest city for a permanent stylist, I’ve realized how important it is to know the terms stylists use to describe cuts and styles. Ghost layers and long layers are not the same things (which is why I have layers I’m not 100 percent in love with right now, but my color is perfect). If you’re getting a protective style like braids or twists, be clear about which look you want. Again, we’ve all got phones with Instagram, so if you don’t know the terms, bring some pics.
They want to make you look good.
Remember, stylists and salons are not the enemy. They want you to be great, and the good ones know communication is key. Speak up, collaborate and you’ll walk away looking like the star you are.
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