How to Choose a Hair Salon

Two Parts:Making an Initial AssessmentTrying the Hair Salon

Choosing a hair salon that works for you isn't always simple. The one closest to you may not be the one that has stylists who understand your hair's needs or you may not click with them. Or, the salon everyone is raving about might turn out to be the biggest disappointment for your particular needs. Choosing a hair salon all depends on trying a few, feeling the ambiance and getting the exact hair results you're after. It's worth the effort, as once you've settled on a favorite salon, it might be a customer relationship you continue for a very long time.

Part 1
Making an Initial Assessment

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    Decide upon which type of hair salon you would like to visit. Decide whether you would like to visit a hairdresser or a barber.
    • Ask friends or family for recommendations.
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    Look in the phone book or online for hair salons. Check the addresses, to see which hair salons are local to you. It's worth trying local salons first, for if you find one you love that is close to you, it removes the stress of having to add travel as a consideration whenever visiting the salon. It won't always work out but it's worth at least looking.
    • Go to your local shopping mall or plaza, and check out what kind of salons they have there.
    • Don't presume that just because a hair salon has a fancy central business district street address that it must be automatically the best place to go to. Sometimes such a place can be snooty and overpriced while the local one might be spot on in affordable pricing and filled with lovely and caring stylists.
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    Ask the hair salon receptionist for a menu of the salon's services. Look at the prices of the various services, and compare them with the prices of some of the other salons that you have been to. Consider your own determination of what is reasonable by way of prices in the salon. If you don't think they're reasonable, then that salon won't work for you at all. On the other hand, if they are reasonable, you can try the place out.
    • Ask about special deals and customer loyalty programs. Many good stylists will offer some sort of regular customer deal that can end up with free treatments, haircuts or styling if you attend regularly over a period of time.
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    Check out the cleanliness of the hair salon. Take a look at the presentation of the place. The whole place should be clean and tidy. Notice how the brushes and combs are kept clean. Look at the bench tops and floor to determine how often these are wiped and swept. Check the neatness and cleanliness of the staff aprons. See how clean the sinks are.
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    Consider how receptive the staff are. As soon as you walk in, there should be a staff at the reception. Do they greet you warmly? Is someone available to assist you fairly quickly? Or, are you made to wait a long time or rudely waved to sit down until someone is free? Each of the ways in which you're treated upon arriving is an indication of how the salon is run as a whole and provides you with notice of what to expect by way of service.
    • How comfortable does the place make you feel upon entering? Trust that initial reaction.
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    Take a look at the staff. The staff should be respectful and present themselves smartly. This counts for uniform (not scruffy) and personality. They should meet the standards of professionalism, should be friendly, and nice to talk to.
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    Take a quick look at the range of the hair care products. A hair salon should use professional products only (that means not products you'd find in the pharmacy). The products should be new, clean (not dusty) and obviously getting a good turnover. Check the prices as well; are you going to be able to afford the products if you want them?
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    Take a look at the quality of other people's hair and hairstyles. Study the quality of customers' hair as soon as they walk out the hair salon. Don't judge it when it has gone a day or two, as not all customers have the ability to keep their hair looking good. It all depends on what products they use to maintain the look, how long they leave the colour (if coloured) etc.

Part 2
Trying the Hair Salon

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    Book a first appointment with a hair salon you think might be good. This isn't a firm decision, it's a trial. If this place doesn't turn out the way you'd like it, you can go somewhere else next time. If you're unsure about the service, don't ask for the complicated styling options first; try something easy to begin with, to allow you to gauge the manner of the stylists and their competence. For example, begin with just a shampoo and style. It's a great way to "interview" a stylist without the commitment of a haircut. If you trust them after that, you can book another appointment for the full haircut and color, etc.
    • Give the hair salon a quick ring. The member of staff answering should answer with "good morning/afternoon", mention the name of the salon, and ask how they can help you. They should be professional, not use slang words, be friendly, and pleasant. But most of all - they should be polite and have good manners.
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    Expect a full consultation before anything is done to your hair. This should include filling out a card with details about yourself, your preferences and the like. A stylist should always conduct a thorough consultation. Questions may include likes and dislikes with current hairstyles, showing you images and respectfully dealing with any images you've brought along.
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    Assess the stylist's competency. Does the stylist actually know what they're talking about? For example, if you ask what hairstyle would suit your face shape, does the stylist actually know how to match face shape to haircut or do you have the impression that the stylist is just making it up or simply going along with you by agreeing the latest celebrity trend would look good on you? You want honest assessments that truly work out for you, not someone just after money or moving you along quickly. You also want competence, not someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about.
    • Do you "click" with the stylist? Sometimes you might need to change stylists within the same salon, perhaps one that is more senior and knowledgeable or one with whom you feel a better connection. Don't be afraid to ask for this switch, they understand that customers have different needs and likes.
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    Consider how the stylist makes you feel. A good stylist won't spend time pointing out your imperfections and try to push hair care products on you from the moment you start. A good stylist will aim to accept your hair's limitations, work with those realistically and will do their best to make you feel good about yourself, not worse. Things to watch out for include:
    • In what way does the stylist point out how "thin, lank, weak, terrible, etc." your hair is? It might be a fact and you're probably well aware of it but going on about it for five minutes will only make you feel worse. If they mention it politely and provide a quick, positive solution, then that's a sign they're not going to keep harping on about it.
    • Does the stylist make statements about your hair that are patently untrue, in order to sell you store products to "fix" it? In this case, be wary. What happens when you insist you already use decent products at home? If the stylist grimaces and suggests that your choices aren't working, that's just rude.
    • Is the stylist considerate of your scalp, face and body in general? Some stylists are gentle and careful, others poke combs, scissors and equipment into your head and pull hair, or use overly hot water on your scalp, all without apologizing or even noticing. What happens if you ask the stylist to be more careful? Does he or she respond or just lapse back into hurting you again? This goes toward the conscientiousness and considerateness of the stylist and salon as a whole.
    • How much undivided attention do you get? Does the stylist stay with you or keep running off to attend to other clients? If they do so, are they polite about it or are you made to wait far too long? Consider how you feel about this.
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    Be honest about your final assessment after the appointment. Did you feel comfortable? Are you happy with the results? Was the stylist receptive to your requests? Was the whole service in line with your expectations? If the answers are predominantly yes, then you've found a great hair stylist for the coming months or maybe even years. If not, select another salon and keep looking until you find the one that works for you.


  • If you find a hair salon you like, don't be afraid to try more than one stylist. It's always nice to be familiar with more than one hairdresser, just in case you need a back-up.
  • If there are two or more hair salons which meet all the standards yet you can't decide which one to visit, then take a look at the products. If they are organic, and you prefer organic things, then they are probably going to be your best choice. Also, go with your gut instinct.
  • Perhaps in addition to getting your hair done, there might be other beauty services which you would have. For example, nail care, massage, etc. Why go to several different salons when you can get all your services at the same salon? If so, do your homework on the types of salons which are multi-serviced.


  • If you are not happy with the result, let the manager know. If nothing is done about it, go to another hair salon.

Things You'll Need

  • Salon addresses
  • Images of hairstyles to take to the hair salon (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Personal Care and Style