Trying out a new hair stylist is one of the scariest adventures for those with curly or coily hair! Hair is deeply personal and intrinsically tied to our identity. It's easy to feel as if you're putting your life in someone else's hands when going to a new salon for the first time. And with the myriad of curly hair horror stories buzzing around the natural hair community, the life of your locks may truly be at stake.
Of course, that's simply the "doom and gloom" side of the hair stylist coin. The right hair stylist will elevate your curly hair to new heights, bring your style dreams to life, and highlight your natural curl pattern. A natural hair-trained stylist can also offer expert advice on all things curly to coily hair, including protective styles, textured hair extensions, growing and stretching natural hair, and more.
Don't fear the salon chair. RevAir has created a simple list of tips for finding the right hair stylist, along with questions to ask your hair's new BFF. Feel confident walking into your next salon visit!
Ask About Their Training
Like any professional service, hair styling is a highly specialized position. Many new clients shy away from asking their stylist questions about specific education and credentials. We're here to empower women (and men!) in asking the tough questions. Consider inquiring as to how many years of training your prospective hair stylist has had, where this training took place, and if they frequently practiced on your specific hair type.
Specialization in the world of hair styling is often referred to as levels. Ranging from 1 to 4, the higher the level, the more experience and training your stylist boasts. Color specialist Christopher Fox of L'Oreal notes, "a Level 2 qualification is the minimum standard required to cut and color hair unsupervised. This takes two years to complete. Level 3 is the requirement for a senior stylist and takes a year to complete. Level 4 is moving more into the business management side and doesn't necessarily mean a person is more skilled than a Level 3 hairdresser."
Your curls deserve the very best. Stay informed on hair stylist credentials and training so you can accurately compare and choose the best fit.
Scope Out Their Product Catalog
Finding the right hair stylist is only half of what makes a salon your go-to style spot. Maintaining your hair between visits is vital. The right products can make or break your curls -- literally. When it comes to growing healthy, long, luxurious locks or maintaining chic short styles, stocking up on products tailored specifically for your hair type is a must. Colored hair, hair that is often heat-treated, and chemical-treated hair (think relaxing treatments, perms, and bleach and tone) are especially prone to breakage. That means extra moisture and nourishment.
The right hair stylist should be able to recommend a home hair care routine for curly hair that takes your hair's specific needs into account. Curl pattern, salon schedule, porosity, and other factors all contribute to the kinds of products that will give your curls the added lift they deserve. Don't be afraid to ask stylists for their opinion on how to care for the cut, color, or style you're considering in advance of booking the appointment. You can compare this information against our curly hair knowledge base and feel confident walking into your first appointment.
Spend some time browsing your new salon's product selection. Are there options for a range of hair types from loose curls to tight coils and corkscrews? Do the products feature mainly natural, sulfate, and paraben-free ingredients that won't dry out your hair and scalp? Have you researched whether or not the salon's recommended brands are good for curly hair and browsed a few product reviews from others?
This information can provide a hint as to whether or not the hair stylist you're considering is familiar with curly hair. The best hair stylist should not only be knowledgeable about your hair type, but well versed in the right products and passionate about your curls.
Budget is Not Always the Best
We're not saying you can't find a great deal on cuts, colors, and styles, but prioritizing price above experience could be a mistake. In fact, walking into the nearest budget hair salon chain will often result in more money spent to correct a bad cut or color. Remember that your hair is an investment in yourself. The best stylists may be a bit higher in terms of budget, but there's no price tag on the feeling of a fresh haircut or style and that amazing boost of confidence we feel walking out of the salon.
When it comes to finding the best hair stylist for curly hair, boutique salons are a good choice for an average price point and services that go above and beyond the typical commercial chains. Look for local, neighborhood salons as these are often likely to have the best deals and the best service. Of course, if you're really wanting to treat your hair to a fabulous new look, the best luxury salons often boast a wide array of hair types they specialize in. Think of this indulgence as a way to support stylists working in the natural community. The more we prioritize outstanding curly hair salons, the more curly hair-centered salons we'll see popping up.
Ask Their Preferred Technique
Even the most experienced curly hair stylists vary in terms of technique. One of the best questions to ask a new stylist is what their approach to cutting curly hair is. For example, do they typically cut hair wet or dry?
For curly to coily hair, the dry-cutting technique is often preferred because this form allows the stylist to see the exact shape of the cut as it develops. This is especially true for tighter curl patterns. Wet hair can be deceptive in terms of length, especially for curls. However, many stylists also swear by cutting wet hair depending on the unique hair type. Sculpting the shape of the hair when wet and cutting when dry often creates a perfect harmony.
As Ethan Shaw from Curly Hair Austin puts it, "I will rough in [sculpt] the shape while the hair is wet. Then when the hair is dry, I fine-tune it."
Lead the Conversation
Your hair is your art and you're in control of the canvas.
Lead the conversation by telling your hair stylist what works and what doesn't work for your curls. This includes things like wet brushing, thinning shears, layers, and more. If your hair is highly sensitive to humidity, let your stylist know in advance. A complete hair history of any colors or chemical treatments in the last six months is a great way to provide a new stylist with a snapshot of your hair's health. Bring pictures of styles you've loved and discuss the technique your previous hair stylist used or the techniques you use at home.
Hair stylists might be magic, but they are not necessarily mind readers. In fact, most hair stylists love it when clients take the initiative and feel empowered in leading the conversation about their preferred styling methods and techniques. This is a great way to establish a fabulous relationship with the person with whom you're entrusting your curls' health and vitality too.
Connect Before the Cut
Thanks to the power of the internet, we're closer than ever and able to connect with professionals in the hair, beauty, and wellness industry from the comfort of our laptops or mobile phone. Treat your new hair stylist like a date. Do some digging into their background, their clientele, and the kind of cuts and colors they love doing. Hop on Instagram and browse their portfolio. The best hair stylists for curly hair should have an established online presence and a stellar reputation.
Take the time to check out client reviews. Go through the positives and read any cautionary tales prior to booking. If you love a stylist's work but are unsure about if they're experienced with your hair type, take a look at who they're connected with on social media. The people and pages they like to follow can often lend a clue as to their professional expertise. When in doubt, reach out and reference whether or not a specific photo might work well on your hair type.
The perfect hair stylist is waiting to work with your curls. Finding the right salon for textured and natural hair can feel like a daunting prospect. With the right knowledge and a little preparation, clients can feel empowered sitting down in the salon chair.
Learn more about questions to ask a new stylist and reach out to the RevAir team with your own curly hair queries today.