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June 16, 2011
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Linda's Blog - Salons to Choose From

There are so many salons to choose from today, each with its own ambiance and style…

How can you decide which one works best for you?  

First decide your priorities. For example, do you prefer a neighborhood salon or is distance not a problem for you?  What about the prices? Is money no object or do you need to stick to a budget? Do you enjoy a quiet, more private atmosphere or do you really love a Steel Magnolias type of salon where clients chat freely with one another and the social experience is an important part of the salon service? What about the salon’s reputation? Do you seek out the latest bold-face-name stylist or do you stay loyal to the one who has been doing your hair for the past ten years or more? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions…it’s all a matter of personal choice. However, there are a few warning flags to look for in a salon, whether it be your first or your umpteenth appointment there.

1.    Front Desk: Are you greeted by name when you come in and when you leave or does the receptionist barely look at you? If it is your first time there, are you personally guided to where you have to be and introduced to your new stylist? Most importantly, does the reception staff make you feel welcome there?
2.    Assistants: Do they engage you in a pleasant non-personal conversation or do they take this opportunity to gossip about other staff members, inform you of their personal lives, or gripe about their job? Do they speak to you in your own language or do they chatter away with a co-worker in a language that is foreign to you? Do they give you a professional shampoo/conditioner: warm (not cold or hot) water, comfortable (not excruciating) head/neck massage, thorough (but not soaking) rinse, and a gentle drying followed by a wrapped towel turban?
3.    Stylist/Colorist: Do they discuss your hair with you before it is shampooed? Do they listen to what you want or do they dictate what you should do? (I don’t mind a professional suggestion, but I hate being bullied into something.) What is their attitude afterwards? Are they willing to change something you are not happy with or are you simply dismissed?
4.    Salon: Is it clean? What about the restrooms? Are there old magazines piled up everywhere? Is the furniture in good shape or is it in need of replacement?  Are the mirrors clean? Are there old color stains everywhere? I am not suggesting that your salon be newly renovated but if it is not well maintained, that sloppiness often transfers to the staff and their work ethic.  
5.    Promotions: Does your salon offer seasonal promotions, workshops, events for you? Many times, a professional salon will team up with a major product line to launch a new shampoo or treatment line, which means that your salon’s reputation is #1.  Another way to know that your salon is keeping up with what’s out there is if they either offer overall workshops or if your individual stylist discusses the latest trends with you. These types of events should take place at least twice a year, at the start of Spring and Fall.  

These 5 points may seem obvious, but they do forewarn of serious shortcomings in both the staff and the management.  Here are some first-hand examples to prove my point; however, these are not indicative of my overall salon experience:

I once was at a salon where the manager had to call the police because a physical fight broke out between two colorists and that was not at all pretty or entertaining! No matter how much we get a kick out of shows like “Jerseylicious,” do we really want all that drama while we’re trying to look gorgeous?

I used to go to a salon where the owner’s overbearing wife insulted everyone who walked into the place, including top name celebrities and fashion icons. Needless to say, he lost most of his A-list clientele and is now no longer the hot commodity that he once was…

I’ve had my neck thrown out thanks to an overzealous massage given by an inexperienced assistant. Now I quickly stop any uncomfortable moves with a quiet “No thanks, I just had a massage” explanation.

When I first began going to professional salons as a teen, I lacked the courage to protest as a well-known stylist blithely cut off my beautiful Lady Godiva length hair…I ended up with his signature chopped-off above-the ears cut that was all the rage for a few seasons. He never had the courtesy to ask me what I wanted; he just did what was easiest for him.

On the other hand, I have also had a lifetime of wonderful experiences with every type of hair professional, from the ones who offered me practical advice on at-home hair styling to the ones who patiently created customized color blends for me, according to my wishes. They were there for me through both the good and the bad times, enhancing those days by making me feel and look better.  It is these experiences that have happened far more frequently and, as a result, I have made many good friends within what is often misidentified as a “shallow” industry.

I’d love to hear your salon stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so feel free to share either by emailing me at linda@hairdirectory.com or simply post a comment below…. Wishing you all a “good hair day!”


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