Our Best Tips For Finding The Perfect Hairstylist For You

For beauty queens who love their hair, trying out a new hairstylist can be more stressful than going on a blind date. Finding a good hairstylist is far more complicated than doing a quick search on Yelp. Your hairstylist not only needs to have expertise in your hair type and style, but they also need to be someone whom you trust and feel comfortable around (you're letting this person put scissors and chemicals near your head, after all!).


If you've already had some negative experiences with hairstylists, you may be ready to give up. Before you resign yourself to an eternity of bad hair days and awkward visits to the salon, it's worth the extra time to find a talented hairstylist who makes you feel confident and beautiful. Discovering the perfect hairstylist for you requires thorough research and some honest consultation appointments, but, in the end, you'll have built a meaningful relationship with someone who can make your hair a part of your authentic self-expression. Here are our best tips for finding the right hairstylist for you.

Search online

When looking for a new hairstylist, the Internet will be a huge help. Online reviews and local business rankings can be a great starting point for narrowing your options of which salons and stylists you want to check out. Don't forget to use social media as a search tool as well. Instagram and TikTok are especially good resources for determining which hairstylists in your area are receiving a lot of praise.


Once you have a few potential candidates in mind, you can start researching each stylist. Most hairstylists these days have a strong online presence, whether it's a website or a social media account. Looking at photo galleries of their work and reading anything they've written about their experience and styling philosophy will give you a better understanding of what to expect during your appointment. If you want more information before trying out a stylist, you can always contact them through their website or social media accounts — hairstylists are typically happy to answer questions from potential new clients.

Prioritize your styling needs

There are many talented hairstylists in the world, but no hairdresser is an expert in every single style and technique. When you're looking for a new hairstylist, you should prioritize your unique styling needs. Even if a stylist gets excellent reviews and has the most popular salon in your area, they might not be the right fit for your hair type and style.


Fortunately, salons and hairstylists will usually specify their skills and make it clear if they cater to certain needs. For instance, stylists may share that their area of expertise is with textured and curly hair and will list the services they can provide. Similarly, some hairstylists are hair colorists as well and specialize in hair dye, while others have been trained in certain hair cutting techniques, such as French cutting.

Keep in mind that your styling needs are about more than just your hair type. Your hairstylist and salon should affirm and celebrate your identity and self-expression and act as supportive collaborators for your hairstyle vision. Salons and stylists often share if they frequently work with clients from certain communities, particularly Queer clients. Looking for hairstylists who offer support for all of your needs will make your experience much more positive.


Start with a consultation

If you've had a hard time finding a hairstylist you like, don't dive in with a full hair appointment when going to someone new. Instead, schedule a short consultation, which is a quick visit with the hairstylist at the salon where you can discuss your preferences and needs. This helps to ensure you and the stylist are both on the same page.


During your consultation, you should look out for a few things. Obviously, find out whether the stylist is familiar with the hairstyles and techniques you prefer. You can also try to get more information about the salon, including the pricing system and other services they offer. Additionally, a consultation can be used to get a better feel for the hairstylist's personality. Consider how well the two of you communicate with each other and how comfortable you feel around them. If the consultation goes well, you can go ahead and schedule a styling appointment.

Pay attention to the salon environment

When looking for a new hairstylist, the quality of the salon can matter just as much as the stylist. If you have a hairstyle that requires either long or frequent appointments, you could be spending a lot of time at your hair salon, so it should be a positive and welcoming environment. During your consultation or first hair appointment, pay attention to the salon in general. Consider how the receptionist treats you and whether it seems like a healthy and happy workspace for the employees. Not only is it ethical to go to a salon where the employees are treated well, but it's also an accurate way to gauge the quality of service you can expect and how well the salon is run.


You should also consider the kind of salon experience you prefer. Do you like your hair salon to be a social experience where you can build community? Or do you want a salon visit to be your time to relax and have some alone time? These preferences can be big determining factors for whether a salon and hairstylist are a good fit for you.

Communication is key

A hairstylist isn't a mind reader — if you have something specific in mind for your hair appointment, you need to make sure you're communicating clearly. An easy way to improve the outcome of your appointment is to learn your terms ahead of time. There are a lot of technical terms in the hairstyling world, and familiarizing yourself with some of them will give you and your stylist a convenient shorthand for understanding the end goal.


This is especially true if you're interested in a trendy haircut you saw on social media. Hairstyles can get lots of different nicknames, and your hairstylist might not be seeing the same social media posts you do. For example, if you ask for a wolf cut, some stylists might immediately know what you're talking about, but others could be less familiar. While it's ideal to have a hairstylist who is already plugged into the trends you like, you should still come prepared with the more standardized terms for a haircut. If you aren't sure of the right terms for a style, a quick Internet search should give you a helpful vocabulary cheat sheet. And, if you like the way a hairstyle turns out, you can always ask your stylist how you should describe the style for future appointments.


Choose your photos carefully

Bringing reference photos to your styling appointment is an excellent idea, but it's important to choose the right images. If your photos aren't of good quality or don't accurately depict what you want, you probably won't love your results. The first rule of choosing reference photos is to find ones that are realistic. That heavily edited picture of a model wearing super-long extensions might be your hair goal, but it isn't helpful for communicating with your hairstylist. Look for images of people with hair that is similar to the texture and density of your natural hair. It's fine to use photos of celebrities, as long as the photo is reasonably achievable — a red carpet picture, for instance, is closer to reality than retouched images from an ad campaign.


If you're trying to recreate a hairstyle you've had in the past, then you already have the perfect reference photos. Scroll through your phone's photo library or your Instagram account and select a few images from the last time you had the hairstyle. Look for unedited photos that are well-lit and show your hairstyle from a clear angle. When you show the photos to your stylist, be sure to clarify what you like about the hairstyle in the pictures and if there's anything you'd like to do differently this time. Remember, the photos you bring to your appointment are best used as a jumping off point, rather than as a sole guide for your hairstylist.

Advocate for yourself

If you want your hair appointment to go well, you need to advocate for yourself. It's worthwhile to listen to your hairstylist's professional expertise and factor it into your decisions, but it's your hair and your body, so you get the final say. Be honest with your stylist if you disagree with their suggestion or want them to make a change. This applies to everything from haircuts to styling techniques. If you're certain you want bangs, you should go for it no matter what your stylist thinks. If you don't like using heat on your hair, politely tell your stylist to put that blow dryer down.


Setting a boundary with a new hairstylist can feel awkward, but as long as you aren't saying or doing rude things to your hairdresser, a professional stylist should respond with an open mind and adapt to your request. Sharing your preferences is the only way your new stylist can get to know you and provide the best service possible. If advocating for yourself doesn't go over well, that's a good sign you need to continue seeking out other hairstylists.

Don't be afraid to shop around

Trying out new hairstylists can be a frustrating experience, and it's tempting to settle for the first person you find. However, you're much better off exploring your options before making a commitment. The temporary challenge of shopping around for stylists will feel worth it once you are working with someone you truly like and trust. So, if you feel you need to end things with your hairstylist, trust your instincts. You'll feel happier about your hair, and your appointments will be stress-free.


And, for all the people-pleasers out there, don't sweat over offending your new hairstylists. As a professional, your hairstylist should be used to a new client needing time to decide whether they want to become a regular. After a few appointments at different salons, you'll have a stronger understanding of what you want from a hairstylist and will be much more confident when making your final decision. Looking for the perfect hairstylist isn't easy, but your efforts will be rewarded with a positive new relationship, fabulous hair, and a major boost to your self-confidence.