Choosing the right hairstylist for you can feel like a daunting task.   After all, this is the person in charge of your hair, one of the most defining features of your appearance.   While it may seem like just finding any hairstylist who is available will do, taking the time to find one that truly understands your hair goals and gets you is key for getting the results you’re looking for.

Step 1- Find a hairdresser that specializes in the services you are considering.

By doing so, they are more likely to have the knowledge and experience needed to give you the look you desire.   I am all for diversity, but I am a believer that if you are a jack of all trades, you are a master of none.   My specialty has always been blondes and extensions, I am not your gal for cutting a pixie or a sharp bob or giving you rainbow unicorn inspired color.   I used to panic inside when I would be booked to do these services, and it took me many years in my career to stop trying to please everyone.  Eventually, I swallowed my pride and was honest with potential clients and if it was out of my scope of work, I would recommend them to someone who was an absolute master in this area.   In the end, the client was happy and I didn’t disappoint them by trying to do something I really had little or no experience in.

Consider what service you are seeking—whether it’s something simple like a trim or something more complex like a color transformation or extensions- and be sure to ask if they frequently perform that particular service often.

I recommend checking their Instagram profile.   Instagram is an online portfolio for creatives, but be aware of the overuse of filters and lighting that alters colors.   It’s a red flag if they say they “specialize in blondes and extensions”, but their profile grid is short pixies and vibrant reds for example.   When I opened Blonde in Toronto in 2006 and started gaining success as a blonde specialist, I saw dozens of copy cats on Instagram in Toronto.   The proof is really in the pictures and when you ask them point blank how often they perform the service you are requesting.

Step 2- Make the time to go for an in person consultation and be prepared to ask and answer a lot of questions.

A stylist’s consultation style dictates their communication style and their overall vibe.   Questions you should be taking mental note of are- How do they show up?   Are they excited or checked out?   Do they seem confident in collabing with you or are they scatterbrained or disinterested?  Do you like them and their work space?   Will you enjoy being around this person for hours at a time?   A client-stylist relationship is an intimate one.   It’s gotta feel like a good energy exchange for both parties.

The consultation is the time to dial in on your look and expectations.  What kind of upkeep does this look require?   Are there products missing in your routine that are imperative to maintaining good hair health or style?   How many visits will it take to achieve your desired look?  Is it attainable?   If not, what is a satisfying compromise?   How many hours are needed for each visit?  Don’t be afraid to be honest- if you have kids to pick up from soccer practice or you have a new puppy at home who can’t be on their own for more than a couple of hours, let your stylist know before you have bleach on your head so they can book accordingly.

Come prepared with pictures of hair inspo.   No one should be offended by visual prompts like saved pics on Pinterest or Instagram.   Your stylist needs to know what you love and don’t love and why.   They may love a buttery blonde with curtain bangs and you prefer it to be more one length with a cooler tone.   Never say “Just do whatever you want”. 9/10 times it leads to tears and frustration for both parties involved.  Visual cues are the most universal language.

Step 3- Get crystal clear on pricing before you are at the register.

Once you’ve found someone who meets your criteria, get clear about pricing before committing.   This is a bitter pill to swallow for many, but it needs to be said.   Pricing varies based on several factors- How in demand the service provider or the service is, experience, availability, overhead costs and cost of goods.  Not your personal budget!

To get an accurate estimate of what services will cost, ask about this during the consultation so both parties can enter into an agreement with mutual expectations fulfilled.  Do not go by an online price list or what a receptionist says over the phone! Always double check with the service provider performing your service.   Pricing is an uncomfortable and emotional thing for many stylists to talk about, so if they don’t provide you with a price estimate or price range for the service, ASK!  And ask what it will cost to maintain the look based on the frequency you plan on committing to maintaining your look.  Nothing is worse than putting in the work with a client only to find out they can’t sustain the look on their budget.  Asking ahead of time ensures everyone knows what’s expected during each visit and therefore avoids any surprises along the way.

I cringe when I read bad reviews or comments about stylists, nail techs and aestheticians being “too expensive”.  The truth is if you think they are too expensive, they are probably out of your price range.  And they should have been forthcoming about their pricing to avoid disappointment.  Trust me, there is an amazing stylist for every budget!

In conclusion, finding the hairstylist that is right for you requires effort and research but ultimately leads to happiness with your look.   Taking these steps before booking helps protect against any guess work or issues down the line and ensures both parties are satisfied with the end result!

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