Searching for a Stylist
My quest for beauty includes a search for the perfect stylist– one that would know me well, give advice about romance, compliment my purse, oh, and provide excellent cut and color services.
Things I Hate About Hair
What I don’t want is a stylist that first comments on my haircut and how it’s uneven on one side, and then asks with disgust, who did your hair last? Then with even more abject horror, did you try to cut it yourself? (Occasionally the answer is yes).
If you keep using boxed dye, you’re gonna fry your hair. This stylist might continue to go on about how damaged my hair is and how it might fall out by 40. They would hold some pieces up to the light and then say, we can add highlights, but it will have to be corrective color, so it will take a while (and cost a lot more).
Can’t I go somewhere before they don’t insult me when I want a new look? Clearly, if I’m seeking a change, I’ve already experienced a chink in my beauty armor. I’m vulnerable and my salon budget is slim. Please don’t start this by picking on my hair.
The Cost of Beauty
I’ve had all of those experiences, dying inside a little more each time.
But somehow I continue the search. I’m still hoping to find the perfect stylist for me. I mean, most days I’m just hoping for someone who doesn’t cost too much and isn’t mean. It was always so expensive!
I have fairly short hair that is also fine, so I don’t understand why it is that expensive. Not to mention the tip, which should be extra inflated if you want to go back.
There’s often a $20 or so fee to style hair, to “make sure it looks okay” and avoid having clients “walk out of their salon with wet hair and make the stylist look bad.” So I’m forced to shell out the styling fee and sit and extra 30 minutes while they slowly use a round brush and blow dryer and all the product to make my hair look completely unnatural. I leave with a headache and strange do that I will never be able to replicate (if I wanted to).
There’s also the drink conundrum. Should I expect soda or wine? Some places provide drinks and others do not. For my last haircut, there was a cute set up with an open bottle of wine and glasses. However, the stylist didn’t offer me any.
Cut & Color
The whole cut, color, and cost can turn into separate items that make me want to cry. Last haircut, she cut off WAY too much. I had many clear pictures of what I wanted, but instead of an angled long bob, she did a short bob. It was supposed to be extreme, but the only extreme thing was how much she took from the front of my hair. And don’t give me the whole, I had to cut off the dead hair bit, because that was 4 inches of hair!
Sometimes I opt for layers. I love the shag haircut as well as short choppy styles. I go in hoping I will get a haircut that makes me look like a rockstar. It should be a little messy, have some volume and turn heads. Instead, I get even, organized yawny hair.
Highlights have the power to redeem a bad haircut. Bleach out some of my brown for bright bolts of blonde lightening. Maybe use a toner. I like choppy, striped highlights. The kind that were popular in the 90s. I don’t want skinny natural looking ones. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.
When we get to the end of the coloring and cutting, it’s important to know that the first thing I am looking for is that I look different. I go to the salon to look different, not the same. Some people want to get the same look over and over, but I mostly want to look different than when I walked in. And still, I won’t know if I like the cut for about 3 days. I wish I could wait 3 days to give my tip.
How to Find a Stylist
I read in Seventeen magazine once that if you are going to go for a cheap haircut chain salon, there is a secret to getting a good impulse haircut. They say to look at the stylists and pick someone whose haircut you like and whose clothing style is either similar to yours or a style that you admire.
This doesn’t work for so many reasons. You don’t usually get to pick your stylist if you just walk in. And pointing to someone and saying “Can he do it” isn’t really kosher. If they sign you up and you see that Sylvia is covered in tattoos and piercings, you can’t just ask for someone else.
You could also get someone with very different hair than yours, say super long and thick, and have no way of knowing if they would cut yours well. Once I asked a curly-haired stylist for a shag haircut, and she said, “like a salad.” I had no idea what she meant. She had cute curly hair, but my hair would never bounce the way her beachy waves did.
So with all this hair angst, I play salon roulette and try new places regularly. Once in a blue moon, I will go back a second time to the stylist. But usually, it ends there.
My Dream Salon
I like salons that have little chandeliers, tufted couches, good music, bright lighting and are clean. Occasionally, mall salons call to me. Sometimes sassy names, like Locks Myth, draw me in. If I walk in and smell peppermint tea tree oil Aveda shampoo, that might fill me with peace.
I always wanted a haircut from venti-iced-soy-chai Ashley, one of my Starbucks regulars, but I could never plan ahead enough to book an appointment for Clix, her in-demand salon.
When I see stylists with killer choppy short haircuts, blonde funky highlights, just the right amount of product, big earrings of some sort, bright lipstick, and classic leggings, I imagine a client-stylist future with them. In this scenario, I am a loyal customer. I tip well. I plan appointments 3 months ahead of time. I come back 3 days after my haircut and they kindly fix my fresh new side bangs and add some toner. They complain about their spouse, then tell me about the vacation they’re going on. And finally, they compliment my purse.