For the past month or so I’ve been on a mission to find an affordable (but convenient!) place to get my hair cut. Coincidentally, like clockwork, people have been posting over all my social media various posts on haircuts: how you know it’s time to get one, when not to get one, which to get, and on and on.
I knew it was time to get cut when 1: I saw split ends and weird breaks appearing, and 2: when my old bangs were finally long enough to join the rest of my hair at a single length (I’ve been waiting so long!).
No matter what makes you decide it’s time for a cut, whether a trip or a chop or anything between, knowing what you want is only part of the battle.
This time around (my first cut in London), where I went was the real struggle.
I said I was on a mission for a month and I’m not exaggerating. While this month let my bangs grow out the tiniest bit more, the real dilemma was finding a place that wouldn’t butcher my hair, wouldn’t take the whole day, and was something I could afford.
For context on my usual hair ritual, back home I am 100% a Supercuts girl. I always go to the same store where everyone working knows me and my family so I know I’ll be taken care of. I’ve had my hair grown out past my waist and I’ve had it shaved down to a tight pixie and with all the levels and layers between, there have been plenty of times things could have gone wrong (and not just with me picking a bad length and insisting on doing it!).
The only time I’ve ever had a problem (that I didn’t cause myself) was when a new girl was afraid to cut my hair, so really didn’t do what I wanted but it was easily fixed by getting someone else to do the cut—not hard done (but that girl didn’t last long in the store…).
The problem with London is I don’t have that connection so it’s starting from scratch in a town where there seems to be a clear division: Pay a lot for satisfaction and customer care, or go cheap but you risk getting a butcher over a barber or you go to a school where you’ll wait 3 hours or longer (and you still can end up with a butcher).
And then I found Tower Salon.
I could go into the details of my experience (25 pounds and I got my hair wash—including a great head massage—cut, blow-dried and styled), but what I think what more important was finding a place where they take care of you.
That’s what I think is the most important part of finding a salon/parlor/stylist: you have to find someone who cares as much about your hair as you do.
So here are some things I look out for to know if I’ll be coming back or make a quick cut and run:
- They ask you questions about your hair (and lifestyle!) and really listen, even asking questions to clarify along the way.
There’s the basic “so what are you looking for?” but then there’s the question of layers, slants and shapes, hair type, damage, ect. some of these are about what you want done but others are about what you may have already done to your hair (is it fried because you don’t protect it when styling, or do you have color damage, ect). Also, what do you do with it? Are you a wash and go person or do you tend to use products and work different styles? All of these are important for them if they are going to give you the best results.
Which leads us to:
- They don’t go straight to washing, wetting, brushing, or cutting your hair, but feel it out.
Yes, they may do some of these (ie, brushing out) while getting a feel for your hair, but since you tend to come in to the store with your hair the way you usually would have it or maybe at the most natural if you aren’t doing anything special except getting your hair cut that day, it’s a good idea for them to see what your hair naturally gets up to (including a tendency to knot!)
Again, this may be the point what they ask you about coloring or damage or texture—just remember, they aren’t getting after you; just feeling out the situation so they know how best to proceed. On this trend, don’t lie about what you do to your hair! If you’ve damaged it in a DIY attempt, they should be told they’re dealing with that and not hair that is naturally dry—the way they handle these could be very different.
- They’ve listened to what you want, but they aren’t afraid to make suggestions.
Yes, it’s your hair and you want a specific look, but a good stylist will tell you if there may be a problem (just because a cut works on a model/celebrity, doesn’t mean it will work on you!). When I had a pixie, my stylist and I discovered I have 5 distinct cowlicks, including one at the nape of my neck. We switched up the cut a little and changed how she was cutting those parts and it all worked out. But remember, just because it’s suggested, doesn’t mean you have to go with the recommendation—it’s still your hair.
- They check in during the cut.
Unless they have a really strange method which continually changes the whole style at every turn, you can more or less, see what is going on as your hair is cut. This also means that you can probably tell if something is or is not turning out how you want before the end of your cut. If your stylist checks in with you at each stage you’re a lot more likely to get what you want and much more quickly than if you both wait until the end.
But if your stylist isn’t checking in and something looks wrong, SPEAK UP? I’m in no way saying jump in and say something like “what are you doing to my hair?” or “that doesn’t look like what I asked for!” but asking a question (always politely!) like “is this going to get shorter when it dries?” can get a conversation going where you can point out parts that you don’t feel look quite right. The questions can prove that they didn’t understand and get you on the right track, or they may explain the method to their madness which will help you feel better during the process.
This leads us to our final, make it or break it point:
- A good stylist won’t be upset/offended if you ask them to change something.
Of course this may be annoying especially if YOU weren’t specific enough in explaining what you wanted in the first place, but if you politely ask for something they can do (ie, they can’t make it longer but adding another layer or two or taking it up a bit more isn’t a problem!) shouldn’t send them into a tailspin.
If you get flack for that, you should definitely take your business else ware.
So besides being competent and having general good service, these are my 5 big checks to finding out if I’ll be sticking around for another hair cut or moving on.
Lucky for me in this ungodly expensive town, I’ve found a place that meets all of these requirements, doesn’t break the bank (if you don’t need your hair cut too often!) and lets me feel pampered at the same time.
I highly recommend it!
Next week I’ll be taking about packing for Paris but until then, live well and let me know your biggest do and don’ts of the hair cutting/styling world!