Fire Your Stylist: How to Find the Best Hair Salons

Hair Stylist

Firing Your Hairdresser

Hold on loosely. . . but don’t let go! It’s common for us to lose a client. With relocation, competition, dissatisfaction, personalities, chemistry, and many other factors, it happens all the time.

It may be noticed sooner in a smaller beauty salon than bigger busier hair salons. Sure we’ll miss you, but we understand the dynamics of a woman and her hair styles. Nothing is appreciated more than our loyal clientele, but we realize that sometimes things must change.

My advice is simply to stop showing up. If by chance you run into your old hairdresser, don’t dwell on an excuse. Politely say something that doesn’t require expanding on . . . such as, the new salonĀ is more convenient, flexible, recommended, etc. This might be a good time to put on your diplomat’s hat, and avoid saying something truthful like, “I just got bored with you.” Now that hurts!

Choosing the Best Hair Salon

Ask around

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your hair is to change your hair salon. I only say this of course, if you are unhappy with the results you’ve been getting from your existing beauty salon. If you are happy and have a hairdresser that suggests new hair styles, stay with them. However, if you are stuck in a rut or are not happy with the results you have been getting, it may be time to make a switch.

How do you find the best hair salon? Personal recommendations are the best. Who should you ask? Ask someone (even a stranger), who has a hairstyle that you admire, where she goes. You will be surprised at how appreciative she will be for your asking. You are really paying her a great compliment. Every woman is a walking advertisement for her hair stylist.

Even better than asking random women is to look for women with similar form and texture as your hair. Finding someone with a similar hair type and a great hairstyle that is designed for their hair type says a lot about the skill of a top hairdresser. When you are choosing the best hair salon, this level of skill is exactly what you are hoping to find.

After getting some recommendations, set up a consultation with the potential new stylist (this visit should not cost anything, by the way). Rely heavily on that womanly intuition you have been blessed with. Here are some observations to make:

  • Do we seem to click? First impressions are powerful and generally correct.
  • How does the hairdresser present themself? What you see is what you get.
  • What does her/his hairstyle look like? Believe me, this is a big clue. If you see terribly damaged hair. . . run for the hills. If she/he doesn’t care enough, or know enough to keep their own hair healthy, why should they care about yours?
  • Did they ask enough questions to be able to asses your best possibilities? On this visit, a top hairdresser should get your hair styling history, past chemical treatments and the reaction. They should get to know about your lifestyle and how much time you are willing to spend on styling your hair each day.
  • Ask about ongoing education and training in the salon. Do the hairdressers take courses and attend hair shows or participate in competitions? If so, they are more likely to be current regarding trends and the latest styles or treatments.
  • Take a look around. Is the hair salon clean? Do they appear organized?
  • Was your appointment handled professionally? Remember, you do have choices here.

Start off slow in your new relationship with a hairdresser. Go in for a light trim or have your hair styled for an event before going full force with a whole new haircut and hair color. This is a good way to test the water and see if you and the hairdresser are a good match. If you are happy with the experience and the results, you’ve found your new top hair salon.


How much experience should you look for in a top hair stylist?

New Hairdressers

New hairdressers often have lots of enthusiasm, ideas and state of the art technical hair styling skills. They are usually very knowledgeable about the latest in hair technologies. The downside is that they simply have not encountered enough outcomes to develop the intuition necessary to know what will work best in a variety of situations. There are good as well as the not so good hairdressers in this category, just choose wisely.

This is one situation where the hair salon can make the difference. Hair salons that have training and mentoring programs for new stylists also tend to have top hairdressers, particularly among recent graduates. The additional training in cutting, hair styling, coloring and other techniques results in a more knowledgeable professional who is prepared to deal with a broader range of possible problems. If the hair salon has mandatory requirements for attendance at training classes, this is a good sign.

Maturing Hair Hairdressers

Generally, a hairdresser who has been in the business over three years, but under thirty years is your best bet. Think of it this way. If they are still in the business after some years, it’s a reasonable conclusion that they have established a following of clients. They have enough clients who give them a vote of confidence to keep them in the hair business. They have developed a style of their own. Good older top hairdressers stay up on the current trends and they still have the enthusiasm, creativity and willingness to try new hairstyles. They are the suggestors, and the ones who are not only committed to the business, but also to your best image. Again, as you already know, there are the good and the bad in each category. There are some older hairdressers who are stuck in a rut and just working for the money. You’ll want to avoid them.

Been Around Forever

There are many hairdressers who begin to burn out, get tired of trying new things, and who will settle into ruts. They lose excitement, and every client, even new ones, becomes a chore. They will keep doing the same old things over and over again. They may have a following of somewhat loyal customers, but most of them will have been wearing the same hair style for years. Other customers will drift away from these hairdressers.

You need to use your own best judgment here. The number of years working in the industry isn’t the only indication of burn out. Burn out can occur quickly in a hairdresser. I’ve known stylists who were burnt out after only three years in the business. Yet, don’t assume that a hairdresser who has been around a while is burnt out. I’ve known top hairdressers who have been cutting hair 30 years and more, and who are as fresh as the day they came out of beauty school.

What kind of hair salon is best?

Upscale Hair Salons

The chrome and glass, high rent district hair salon often attracts and keeps the high energy, creative top hairdressers who are on the cutting edge of hair styling. The downside of this arrangement is that you’ll usually pay a big price differential and often get less personal attention, particularly in very busy best hair salons. You may feel rushed during appointments and not have time for in-depth analysis of your hair or discussions about hairstyles that are most flattering to you.

In addition, I have found that many times trendy top hair salons will try to make you look a little too stylish or cutting edge. You could come out with spiked emo hair. This is great if you are into edgier hairstyles, but may not work for older women or more conservative women of any age. Again, it’s important to find a hair salon that is a good match for you. This is just one more factor to consider.

Independent Mom and Pops

Look at the physical facilities; this will tell you everything. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but the facilities must be orderly and clean. Order is the key to the management attitude. If the magazines in the waiting area are old, full of out of date hairstyles and unorganized, or if the appointment desk looks like utter chaos, move on. What you see . . . is what you get.

Chair Rentals

In a chair rental hair salon, each hairdresser rents the chair from the hair salon owner. The hairdresser retains 100% of the revenue that they generate and pays a rental fee to the owner of the salon for the space. Generally, chair rental hair salons attract the better and more experienced stylists, as the economics require a large following of clients.

Chains and Franchises

Chains and franchises are usually the lowest paying jobs for a hairdresser. The big name on the front door draws the clientele; therefore, the commissions the hairdressers receive are usually very low. In addition, the low-cost of services in some chains results in even lower payment for the hairdressers, since they are getting commission on low-cost hair services. For this reason, the best experienced and talented top hair stylists in town rarely work for the chains.

Franchises have their own training programs beyond the training that the hairdresser receives in beauty school. I have found that the training is outstanding. Unfortunately, their hairdressers do not stay long before they move on to the more lucrative best hair salons. A top hairdresser who has a good list of repeat clients will look for a place that will pay a premium for bringing in the clients.

Chain Department Stores

Department store hair salons are usually owned by a large national hair salon management chain. The quality of service in these places can be very spotty. Some are outstanding and have top hairdressers, while others can be staffed by those just putting in their time. The exception is the JC Penney’s hair salons. I find that their salons are extremely well-managed and the hairdressers are extraordinarily competent.