How to Choose a New Hair Salon

Hair salon client and stylist
The Secret to Choosing a Salon or Stylist
I am regularly asked by new clients and readers to explain why stylists behave a certain way or why clients tend to stay with a stylist who doesn’t seem to listen to their client. These are never easy questions to answer because they require that one be able to know the motives behind an individual’s actions.
When it comes to discussing the client to hair stylist relationship, you can only speak in generalities and potentials, since the specifics are never easy to pinpoint, except by the persons involved in a given relationship.
So, in order to help the layperson get a better understanding of the dynamics involved, let’s take a look at the client to stylist relationship and the very specific facets of this relationship that make it unlike any other business relationship.
After we examine the relationship between the client and stylist, we’ll look at the things any potential client should pay attention to when looking for a new salon or stylist. Now that we know what we’re going to discuss, let’s get started:
The Client / Hair Stylist Relationship
There are many different service professions which we, as consumers, partake of on a regular basis. However, hairdressing is quite probably unique among these. If you need a car repaired, you take it to a mechanic or bodywork specialist, and if the repairs are successful the car runs or looks as it did before it needed repairs. If you get sick you see a doctor, and if the doctor’s services are successful, you get better.
Even the closely-related spa specialist has a different definition of “success”, since her goal is to make the client feel relaxed, refreshed and pampered. As long as the client feels good when the spa service is done, it rarely matters what another person’s opinion might be.
Yet the hairstylist provides a service whose successfulness is completely subjective, and can only be quantified by whether or not someone likes what was done. Generally, the person who needs to be pleased is the client, but if the client is unsure of what she wants, or is uncertain of her esthetic judgment, she may be convinced that something she would otherwise be unhappy with is good for her.
Before we get into the concept of the clients being weak-willed and paint stylists as manipulative, we need to note that the client/stylist relationship itself is complex. An individual goes to a hair salon professional because she wants to look her best. She may have chosen a specific stylist for any of a number of reasons: referral by a friend who is a client of the stylist, the stylist’s reputation or because she likes the work the stylist has done in the past, she may even have a relationship with the stylist outside of the salon (a friend who is a hairdresser). Each of these situations disposes the client to defer to the stylist in matters of subjective opinion.
There are plenty of clients who are sure of their tastes and know what they want. These clients are determined to get what they are looking for when it comes to their hairdressing service. However, they are usually in the minority.
Then there is the stylist’s side of the matter. Most hairdressers choose their careers because they like working with hair and have a genuine desire to help others look their best. But people want a stylist who is sure of themselves and what they can do.
So, in order to make the client feel comfortable, the stylist must project a sense of competence and confidence. The trouble is, in some cases, this can become a false sense of self-importance. The stylist gets used to projecting the image of the “expert” and believes it extends to the esthetic rather than the techniques. In other words, some stylists come to believe that what they think looks best is the ONLY thing that really matters.
When a client is unsure about a possible look, and defers to the stylist, that is fine, but when the client has definite ideas of what she wants, the stylist is supposed to accommodate those wants if at all possible, and to explain why it isn’t possible if that is the case.
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