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Fashion & Style: Gina Rivera on Selecting a Hairstylist

Sherrie Wilson

Let’s say you just moved to a new city. You’ll be looking for a stylist in the time it takes your roots to show. Where to begin?

Maybe you postpone the first trip with a quick box-color treatment, or maybe that just makes it worse – suddenly, it’s an emergency. Regardless, it’s just a matter of time (and not much of it), before you need to find a new guardian for your hair. Here are some tips for making that happen:

1) Start your search in the right frame of mind. Specifically, don’t be afraid to walk. If you don’t like the first stylist on your list, try the next one, and be ready to do that. I see people who settle for stylists they don’t really like. That’s just crazy. This is so important. Get the right professional behind your chair.

2) Ask friends and colleagues for referrals. Look for people who have the hair you love. “Who did your hair?” That’s the way many of us will find a great stylist. And if your friend smiles and hesitates or tries to change the subject, you may need to bribe her with lunch or a latte.

There is risk here. If you ask your boss, for example, you may feel pressured to follow the advice, whether you like the stylist or not. Just remember this: the CEO may worship her stylist but that doesn’t make her ‘the one’ for you. Refrain from asking if you’re worried about that kind of baggage.

3) Ask a great stylist for a referral. The best ones, understandably, may not have an opening available, at least not in the short run. Ask her for a recommendation. Lots of stylists are more than happy to suggest a colleague and they may even take a moment to ask you what you’re looking for.

4) That brings me to this point … Know what you want to do with your hair. A lot of stylists specialize, and if you can provide her with some descriptions of what you want to do with your ‘do – maybe you’re transitioning to a deep red in a geometric bob – she may light up with anticipation or point you to someone who will. A picture is worth a thousand words, so bookmark some favorite hair photos on your phone.

5) We all know that a trip to the salon is about more than getting a cut and color. The stylist behind the chair may be a truly gifted artist but if the salon is too loud or the drama is withering, you may want to look elsewhere. Maybe the music on your stylist’s iPod makes your skin crawl, or she’s stuck in an open-floor salon and the owner gets to choose for everyone … better love the Black Eyed Peas!

6) If cost is a concern, and it is for most of us, ask for prices. Don’t risk a surprise you can’t afford