Help! How Can I find a New Hairdresser?

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As a professional I am often asked “how can I go about finding a new hairdresser?” This is a question I forever find difficult to answer. After years of being asked this very same question, I still have no formula. Moreover, I personally have been faced with this dilemma and I am a practitioner within the beauty industry. That being said, here is how I respond.

Price and availability

may be a measure of that person’s success at a given moment but is not necessarily an indicator of how satisfied you will be with their work, whether in a long- or short-term relationship. There is an old cliché that implies the best person will always be the busiest (that would imply I suppose that the world is perfectly logical). However there is an unfortunate truth so universal that it has also become cliché, and that is that talent often lives in the face of starvation; so following clichés will not help here. Take advantage rather, of the fact that most hairdressers are happy to give free consultations. If you shop around until you find someone you genuinely like, and who inspires your confidence, the chances are heavily weighted in your favor that you will be pleased with the results.

In a consultation

, here is what I look for on an interpersonal level: how well does that person listen, how present are they to you? In order to get the best long term personal service from a relationship, one that serves your needs, this person should be focused on you, not on themselves. I have known stylists who were great salespersons, and even a cut above with their skills, but still came up short when it came to putting their clients first. Competency is of course a given, but only part of the picture.

How can we assess competency?

Let me tell you what one of my most discriminating long term clients did. She came into the salon and solicited background information on all of the stylists. She then sat in the waiting area and just watched two of us whose resumes impressed her and whose personal deportment she decided met her standards. As it turns out the deciding factor in my favor was that she was a former New Yorker, and although she appreciated that I was graduate of Color Academy of L’Oreal in Paris France, more importantly to her, I had worked with the notoriously demanding uptown New York garment center clientele profiled more recently in the book and movie The Devil Wears Prada. This, she considered was my ultimate qualification. After observing and approving of what she saw over multiple visits, she then booked an appointment for my next availability. I of course had no idea I had been under such scrutiny, thank God.

If color is your concern

, your consultation is even more critical. Clients who are moving invariably ask me for their formula which I am more than happy to provide. However…It’s not about the formula. There is no magic involved-rather I tell my clients to just put themselves in competent hands and let that person work with what they choose. The same formula in four different sets of hands will lead to four different outcomes; so much for formula. Anyway, I don’t work by a formula. A good colorist pays attention rather to what they see in front of them at that moment and the end goal they have in mind. Knowing how to accomplish this has nothing to do with working with a formula. Formulas are for those who are unsure of how to get desired results consistently. Technical competency in color, in turn, reaps benefits in healthy hair and a good colorist is always protective of the condition of the heads entrusted to their care. After all, as a colorist I know that no matter how technically perfect color results may be, on damaged hair those results will never look anything other than sadly compromised.

It is especially true when it comes to color, finding yourself in the wrong hands can be painful and expensive. That is why maintaining professional relationships are so very important. A good colorist will save you time, money and, most importantly, the health and well-being of your hair (not to mention your sanity). My suggestion is even if you visit the salon infrequently, a hairdresser you trust is among those key relationships we should all maintain, in both good times and bad.