How Do You Find That Allusive, Perfect Stylist That Just “Get’s It”? Here Are a Few Tips

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his past week I was feeling frumpy and and in need of a change so I decided to book a hair cut. Mistake. Yes, it happened again—I went in with high expectations and walked out annoyed, with bangs I could have cut myself. The only difference being, that if I cut them myself I would have ended up with results closer to what I had in mind. I told my stylist I wanted a heavy, swingy fringe, and ended up with above the eye, geometric styled, little dutch boy bangs. Not even close.

I went in with high expectations and walked out annoyed, with bangs I could have cut myself

Seriously what does it take to find a good stylist? And a stylist that 1) knows how to cut bangs and 2) Realizes that “bangs” could mean anything—there are so many different ways to cut bangs, so many different styles that you really need to communicate with your client to make absolutely sure you are both on the same page. And no, I do not cut hair for a living, but I am a graphic designer so I know of what I speak. Communication is key, and when I am working with a client the first thing I do is I give them an assignment—I tell them to go out and do some research and bring me examples of say for argument’s sake, logos that they like. But I also take it one step further and ask them to bring me examples of logos that they don’t like, and then I ask them what it is they don’t like about the logos, and I ask them what they do like about the examples that they prefer. I think all stylists would benefit from using this approach. To me there are three key things that make for a good stylist:


1) Technique—knowing how to cut hair effectively to get the best results. And knowing a variety of techniques. And not just the half a dozen, go-to styles and techniques to use on every client.

2) Aesthetic—and this is the hardest one to find. A stylist that not only has a good technique, but also “gets it”, is on trend, and knows what will look good on a client’s face. You would not give the same haircut to Christina Ricci that you would give to Sarah Jessica Parker.

3) Communication—Which I pretty much covered. But stylists need to make sure they are on the same page as their client, and this comes from listening and asking A LOT of questions. Something so many stylists do not do. They ask the basics and then just start cutting.

So I have learned over the years to apply my own advice. I research images of looks that I like, and I take it one step further and research images of styles/examples of what I don’t like. Then, when I arrive at my appointment I have multiple examples of both, and do not have to rely on just a verbal explanation, which as we know, can go very wrong. Yes, you run the risk of being perceived as high maintenance but there is lower risk of walking out with a cut that you don’t want.

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However, that said, even when I have followed these cardinal rules, I have still walked out with a cut I did’t want. Really, it seems to me the secret is in finding that one stylist that meets the three criteria I mentioned. And this ladies, as I am sure we can all lament, is quite the feat. My only other piece of advice when feasible, is to try to book your appointment early when the stylist is fresh. You can also use online review services like Yelp, the only caveat being that the reviews are subjective. So one persons’s idea of a good cut may not be your idea of a good cut. And if you are not shy and see someone on the street that has a cut that you like, ask them where they go, and who cuts their hair. Or, you could learn to cut your hair/bangs yourself. You would think in a city like NY finding a good stylist would be easy, but alas, I regret to inform you it is not any easier of a task here, then in any other city. Perhaps I should start an online review service that exclusively covers hair stylists. Anyone have any seed money they want to part with?

And if you have any advice please share, and for my NY readers if you know of any good stylists let me know. And for the time being, I will continue on my quest to find that allusive perfect stylist.

Top Photo by Garane Dore of, source for second photo here.

  • Cee
    November 17, 2014

    While I can’t recommend any stylists in NYC, I can definitely say that I know where you’re coming from. Finding the right stylist – and especially stylist who understands how to cut bangs – can be a next to impossible task. I had a good one about ten years ago, but then she moved to Europe… And it took me until this March to find a replacement who cut my hair as well as she did! I’m so grateful to have finally found a wonderful stylist but the terrible cuts I had in between while I searched were pure misery. I feel your pain.

  • simona
    November 17, 2014

    My advice? Cut your own hair, seriously, the only stylist worth it is the very best, all the others you can do it yourself better. I would ask somebody’s hair you love on the street or with friends, where they go.
    Good luck!!!

  • Rachelle
    November 17, 2014

    sorry to hear that, but yea finding a good stylist is hard and once you get her never let her go.


  • Jane Y.
    November 17, 2014

    i had so many tough experiences with hair stylists! i used to have someone in new york that i really loved. i just left her to do things to my hair and i really liked it. and it also looked nice even after i washed my hair. the only other time i liked my hair without giving full on description of what i wanted was the hair and make up team for my wedding. i loved how i looked. but as for the rest of the times — it’s been a nightmare. i went in with pictures and both times i ended up coming out looking the same! haha. and bangs have always been an issue. unfortunately i now don’t have high expectations of my hair and i trim my own bangs. eep!

  • Nina
    November 17, 2014

    Interesting post. xx

  • Rowena
    November 17, 2014

    Most stylists that I’ve gone to aren’t that good with bangs especially the wispy long kind. I’ve been seeing the same stylist in Chinatown for years because alot of Western stylists just don’t understand Asian hair.

  • Kathleen
    November 17, 2014

    I have totally been there myself and it’s so frustrating when your hair stylist gives you something that you did not want or even ask for. But these tips are great! Words of wisdom 🙂

  • Kim of A Very Sweet Blog
    November 18, 2014

    I agree with your advice Allie! Pictures really do help. One also must be realistic, about the type of hair they have. If you go in with a picture of someone, do they have thick hair…thinner hair? That could alter a hair cut. Oooh, sorry about your bangs 🙁

  • 365hangers
    November 18, 2014

    Awww sorry this one didn’t work out, and loving the tips! xx

  • Hélène
    November 18, 2014

    Ha I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find any woman that hasn’t had this frustration before! I feel like this is basically the story of my life. Which is precisely why I only get my haircut once or twice a year!

    xx Hélène

  • Sonia
    November 18, 2014

    I am so freakin’ lucky that I found mine when I did. I had been searching for her all my life too. I’d never even realised how unhappy I’d been with my hairstyles and colouring before her. I can walk in and ramble something incoherent and she somehow reads my mind and gives me exactly what I was thinking. It’s the perfect relationship. Sadly, I don’t see her as often as I should, she’s made her way up in the hair world and works for a big name and with it comes a hefty price now. So I have to go without some times. Plus she only colours hair now and no longer cuts it which leaves me kinda of back at square one. I suppose colouring though is far more important.


  • Kim
    November 18, 2014

    yeah i just trim my own hair, I really would like to style it better but curly hair is so unruly lol

  • Dressed2dNines
    November 18, 2014

    Awww man, I’m so sorry to hear about your bad experience. It’s happened to me a few times as well. Nothing worse then a cut you don’t want, bangs take forever to grow back. Hopefully you can find someone to remedy the situation? Thanks for the great tips!

  • Glamoury Armory
    November 18, 2014

    Hi lovely, so sorry to heard that, I know the feeling this happened to me some months ago, I will go to my favorite stylist this week, it not cheap but they do wonders and they really understand my fine hair, they just to be in Rockefeller center now they move this is the info.,
    big hug!

  • Melissa
    November 18, 2014

    It’s really hard to find the perfect stylist these days, I agree with you on that. That’s why when I have something in my mind I always take a picture with me and that mostly ends up good for me… These tips sure a great, so thanks for sharing 😉


  • Ashley
    November 18, 2014

    Aww, I’m so sorry you didn’t get the bangs you were after! SO disappointing and frustrating when a cut doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped. But these are great tips- hopefully you will find a stylist that gets it and what you want soon! 🙂

    Le Stylo Rouge

  • cat eyes & skinny jeans
    November 18, 2014

    The girl in the second picture. Her hair. I want it! So fabulous! And great tips on finding an amaze stylist – I’m still searching!


  • Gabrielle
    November 18, 2014

    I’m sorry you weren’t content with your fringe – when I used to have a full fringe, I lost count of the amount of times I’d walk out unhappy and exposing FAR too much eyebrow! An online review covering hair stylists sounds like a great idea for those in/near your area! 🙂


  • Mree
    November 18, 2014

    This is such great advice!! It’s always a little heartbreaking when the stylist gives you a haircut you don’t like. That is the worst.

  • Renfashionista
    November 18, 2014

    Ha!Allie! This is it! 🙂 Remember I asked you to recommend me a hair stylist in NYC? Hopefully, you didn’t go to the one you recommended?:O I went to my never-disappointing-hair stylist when I was in Europe two weeks ago so I can wait until the next hair adventure in NYC a while, not too long though :O Yeah, I don’t know why is it that it’s so hard to find a good one! I guess first, its “our vision”, as you say, and then “stylist’s vision” and , what’s more crucial, I think, his/her skills! Never-ending story. Good luck next time and I want to hear all about it!!:-)
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  • Akaleistar
    November 18, 2014

    Finding a good stylist is hard, and it’s frustrating when you don’t get the look you want. Bringing a picture definitely helps 🙂

  • Alex
    November 19, 2014

    Finding a great stylist is tough! I’ve gone to a few different salons over the years, and have left two salons because I felt the cuts I’ve gotten were really nothing special considering the price. I can highly recommend Fox and Jane, but it’s so difficult to get in (8-10 weeks in advance!). I can’t do that, but if you’re flexible enough it’s a great option. I see Katie at Soon now, and she’s really good about asking what I’m thinking about and will show me on my hair how short she’ll cut it.

  • Meghan
    November 19, 2014

    I think every girl knows this struggle! To the point that before my last hair style change, I did extensive research on hair stylists in the Toronto area and had a look at everything from reviews on Yelp, to their Instagram pages to make sure their styles were in sync with what I was after. Best of luck!

Ouidad, Cynthia Rowley and Window Shopping in Soho on a Crisp Fall Day
How Do You Find That Allusive, Perfect Stylist That Just “Get’s It”? Here Are a Few Tips