The day I moved to Phoenix it was 117 degrees outside, I had just got the keys for my apartment and as I walked outside to meet the movers, I began to sob uncontrollably–nothing could have prepared me for the Arizona heat.
Surviving the heat wasn’t going to be my only obstacle, between the combination of dry heat and hard water, my hair was having a crisis of its own.
Since most days I was throwing my hair in a pony tail or sock bun (best invention, ever), I began to toy around with the idea of going shorter, something I hoped would be less insulating.
While out with a friend one day I met Emily, she was a hairstylist with an adorable cut (just like the one I wanted!) and claimed to have ton of experience. Like me, she had just relocated to Phoenix, and since I was so out of the scene (I had an amazing 5 year relationship with my last stylist), I didn’t have any reason to doubt her. She gave me her card and told me to come in to her salon and she’d give me a perfect cut.
I admit, I may toy around with the idea of different styles but when I sit down in the chair, I know want. I told her I wanted my cut to be just above the shoulder, geometric angles (not blended), and since I was in my sixth attempt to grow out my bangs, to leave them alone. I was assertive, and clear.
In return, I got an obvious uneven cut and 4 inches shorter than I had asked for. I literally had her stop in the middle of the cut because in order for her to fix her mistakes, she tried to cut my hair shorter. If you don’t believe me, I attached this picture for proof.
So now that my healing is done and my hair is in its final stage of recovery, I thought I could offer some guidance on how to find the perfect stylist and how to create a lasting, and affordable hair-relationship with them.
1. How to Find a Stylist:
I’ve moved to San Diego, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles before moving to Phoenix, sometimes I had an existing group of friends and sometimes I didn’t know a single person.
What will always be a foolproof way for finding a hair stylist is through referral–& in my opinion, the only way.
First, put it out in Facebook, Twitter or whatever Social Media sites you use. In your status say that “you’re new to town, and you’re looking for a blonde specialist, an A-line guru, an extension professional.” The more specific, the better. We live in a world where most metropolitan people are connected by three degrees, someone will know of a good stylist. Or at least offer you a start in the right direction.
Another great option is to go up to someone with amazing hair and ask them where they go. It may be awkward, or you may want to shy away from this approach, but don’t. I’ve interrupted meals, movies, shopping excursions, trust me–it takes one minute and you’re giving someone the ultimate compliment. I’ve literally done this hundreds of times. If I like my stylists work, I take a stash of their cards and keep them in my wallet–literally in preparation for this exact scenario. The best part is that most stylists will compensate you for referring people (free treatment, cut, or even testing new products).
2. When Price Becomes a Factor
I went back to school in my late twenties, and the biggest struggle I’ve had is accepting the fact I don’t have an expendable income. I’ve had hundreds of girlfriends complain about their stylists raising their prices, that most people will seek out a new stylist (even if they love their old one!).
Here are some factors in why your stylist may raise their prices.
They too, deal with inflation. Most stylists have to pay for their own color (quality is more expensive), products, tools (shears), and booth rent. On top of that, in order to stay current in the hair trends, they have to consider taking classes and attending seminars (which they also have to pay for). If your stylist is suddenly becoming busier, then they may have to hire an assistant in order to meet the demand. All of these ensure a better result, as long as you’re still receiving a good cut and color, don’t leave because of this.
So what happens when you can’t afford your stylist? Talk to them. Sherri Belanger, of Roman Salon in Los Angeles, was my stylist for almost five years, and when she told me about her new prices, I worked with her on ways to afford it.
Since I felt there was nothing I could skimp on, she suggested I separate my cut and color appointments. The most popular misconception about healthy hair is that people don’t need a trim every six to eight weeks (unless you have an amazing short haircut or an A-line), so with that in mind I made appointments in to three possible combinations:
- Hair Cut and Base Lift* every 12 weeks: around 100 dollars
- Partial Weave every other 12 weeks: around 100 dollars
- Base Only every other six weeks: between 30-40 dollars
*Using a low volume bleach to create a blonde in order to hide roots and provide a contrast base in creating dimension.
I’m a blonde, which unfortunately requires a lot more maintenance–so to gain a better understanding this is what a series of appointments look like I’ve attached a visual:
So, assume your get a ‘cut and color’ appointment every six weeks at around 150 dollars a month (& that’s what you’re comfortable with spending), the total cost for the year is around $1,300 or $108 per month, compare it to my trifecta (separating appointments in to 3 different combinations), it ends up actually costing you less.
(highlights: 433/year)(cut: 433/year)(base lift: 347/year)=$ 1,213/year or 101/month, a savings of 80 dollars a year!
3. If you’re stylist is “too busy”
Easy fix, make appointments in advance. Notice how the calendar had every appointment on the same day? I tend to make my appointments the same day, same time. That way, by the time your hair is in need of some TLC, you’ll know that your appointment is coming up and you’ll have no trouble remembering the time and day. I work full-time, and go to school full-time. I’m super busy–so there’s no excuse for not planning ahead. This is a personal treatment, you deserve the pampering.
4. When you Cheat
It’s actually a lot more common than you think. I’ve done it, and I went back to my stylist, told them I had my reasons but I came back because in the end, they were the best. People are so afraid to go back once they do, and it’s silly. Nine times out of ten, if your stylist goes on vacation or is on any kind of leave, they will gladly recommend people to go to in their absence, I’m not encouraging your promiscuity in hairstylists but I am encouraging you to lose the stigma that your stylist will forever hate you because of it.
Hopefully I have helped in how to avoid a hair disaster by offering ways to find and keep your stylist, and I’d like to mention that my hair has found its happy ending, I’m now a client of Eric Tuvale at the Root Salon in Phoenix but I want to introduce you to a hair savior, friend and ex-stylist, Sherri Belanger. Not only is she an amazing stylist/colorist/person, but she has an amazing blog that will give you constant hair styling tips, secrets, and advice. You can find her blog on her website www.SherriDoesHotHair.com.