Blind dates aren't relaxing. There is so much expectation, and the pressure to look your best can be stressful. You want to make a good impression, you'll worry about about they'll think of you, and you might even think back to a past date disaster which will give you some hesitation. Very few situations feel exactly like a blind date.
So, how can you make the search for the perfect hairstylist a successful one? There are a few steps you can take to find the hairstylist of your dreams, not your nightmares.
1. When you see someone with great hair, ask them where they got it done. Don't be shy, they will most likely be happy to share the salon and hairstylist's name. If possible, take a front, side and back view photo with your smartphone to show the stylist, and get the name of your new friend. Be sure the light comes in behind you as you snap the pic to show off the cut and color.
2. Look up the salon on Facebook, Yelp, and check out their salon website. A well-populated Facebook page is a good sign. Daily status updates and new photos says a lot about the salon: they are interested in communicating and connecting with customers. An up-to-date website will give you a chance to understand their services, see photos of their salon and their stylists, and even have information on the stylist's education and specialities. Many even offer online booking, making it easy to schedule from your mobile phone.
3. Book a consultation appointment. Some salons offer free consultations, and some charge a small fee. The fee can be a good investment, since the consultation is generally more thorough and you'll get good tips and advice. Sometimes the salon will apply your consultation fee towards your first appointment. And if you decide not to go to that salon, you'll at least have some great information to consider.
4. Bring in photos (hard copy or smartphone camera roll) of the best haircolor you ever had or the worst haircut you ever had to grow out. Hairstylists love to see your hair history. Also you can find hairstyles online and print out or save to your phone's photo library. You can show the hairstylist what you like. Caveat: the model in the photo may have completely different hair texture, length, or color, and the skin tone and eye color might create a totally different result. Be realistic. If your hair is a mass of tightly wound spiral curls, you'll only get a Jennifer Aniston sleek look if you also sign up for a permanent straightening service or go into the salon for weekly wash, blow, and iron appointments.
5. Sometimes it takes a second try. Hairstylists meet people for the first time a lot. It's what they do. But sometimes people just don't click on the first try. Hairstylists try to strike a delicate balance between asking icebreaker questions and seeming nosy. They want to know what your lifestyle is like (busy mom, full-time student, type-A CEO) so they can tailor your hair and the subsequent home care and maintenance around it. Help them out with your own list of what you can and can't do with your hair.
BONUS: How to make your hairstylist crazy about you. (It's not the tip, although that's always appreciated.) The line between patronage and friendship in the salon can be hard to see sometimes. When the hairstylist and customer are really connecting and it seems more social than professional, it's easy to forget that a business transaction is taking place. If you aren't happy with your hair, be gentle, but be honest. Hairstylists want you to be their best advertisement in addition to making you happy. They won't take it personally.
Also, please call ahead if you have to cancel the appointment that you made. A hairstylist makes a living by reserving time for you and providing a service. If a customer fails to show up, that time doesn't generate income for the her. If she has a waiting list of other customers who want the time slot you have, giving her a day's notice allows her to call that list. It's also nice to call if you know you'll be late. She might be able to call her next customer and give her a fair warning. She'll appreciate it.
When the hairstylist/customer relationship is good, it's really great. The hairstylist will do everything she (or he) can to make your visit amazing. The rest is up to you.