When it comes to choosing a new hair salon, the decision is nearly as important as choosing the right obstetrician to deliver your first child (ok, maybe choosing the right obstetrician is a lot more important, but you get the gist). Sure, we've all heard of those nightmare stories of hair falling out at the hands of an inexperienced stylist, or precious locks turning straw-like after three to four too many box-dye sessions, but when done right, color is definitely not something to be afraid of! After all, hair is one of our best features, and changing it up every so often can be a fun and refreshing experience.
Jess: As the one in our duo who has always been a little more fearless when it comes to changing her hair, I did plenty of research when it came time for me to start looking at hair salons for my second balayage. The first time I did anything extremely drastic to my naturally, dark mane, I came out walking out of a popular Maryland salon with gorgeous pink and auburn locks, which unfortunately faded quickly despite how beautiful it was while it lasted. I wanted my next hair color to be a more low-maintenance, ash blonde balayage, which is exactly what I got from the fabulous, Effie, from Hair Philosophy back in September. I chose the salon purely from spending hours on Yelp, reading all the reviews and client testimonials, and checking out photos and their associated stylist for reference. I ended up making an appointment with Effie, and you can read all about it here. It was only a matter of time before I could finally convince Mel to change up her hair for the first time, by bringing her to my new favorite hair salon for my second round.
1. Check out the Salon's Website and Social Media Pages Gone are the days when choosing a new stylist was simply out of convenience or only through word of mouth, and in are countless Instagram photos and creative, digital masterpieces that influence our decision to choose a new hair haven. My greatest advice when it comes to picking out a new salon is to check out their website and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc.), and spend a few hours going through photos, reviews, client testimonials, tutorials, and any resources you can find that gives you an idea of what the salon and its stylists can offer to you. Even the professionalism and quality of the photos you find can be a telling sign of what the salon is like.
I spent a few hours stalking every media outlet from Hair Philosophy (Website, Instagram, Facebook, Yelp) before I was brave enough to make an appointment. If you want to take it one step further, I would even recommend taking a trip into the actual salon and meeting some of the stylists if they are available just to see if you like the overall feel of the salon and the people who will be handling your hair. Sure, this may seem a big extra, but after all, you are paying for an experience, and you should step out of your appointment happy and looking like a million bucks. 2. Ask for a Quote/Prices
Of course, you don't want to spend a million bucks to achieve the perfect mane, so make sure you do some research on prices a salon you are interested in charges for the service(s) that you want. Many websites have a standard pricing list that you can see, although the amounts can definitely vary depending on each individual. Some salons may charge more if you have very long hair, or simply hair that is quite difficult to work with if it has been processed with too much dye before, etc. When in doubt, always call and ask if you can get a quote by sending in photos and describing in detail what you want done. You may be able to get a more accurate quote if you do this than simply relying on prices straight from the salon's website or Yelp page. When I first chose Hair Philosophy, I noted that junior and senior stylist prices were different since skill levels vary, and I made sure to get a quote over the phone before making my appointment.
I also recommend discussing price with your stylist once you are in the salon to make sure that you are not slapped with unexpected fees at the end, and have the pricing disappointment cancel out the joy of your new hair. A balayage these days (especially a great one) does not come cheap, so it's imperative that you work out your finances and keep gratuity in mind when you are trying to figure out how much you can spend to get your hair cut and colored. Effie and I discussed pricing during our first half hour long consultation, which made me feel extremely comfortable since I knew how much I would be spending by the end of the appointment. This way, we could dedicate more of our time to talk about the hair color and cut I wanted. As you can see from these photos, I chose to go darker after sporting blonde ends for quite some time now, and I absolutely love how natural and rich the brown came out!
Mel: I am definitely someone who was always a bit late to anything beauty or hair related. In high school, I watched Jess experiment with her make-up and hair color on a pretty frequent basis, while I always remained adamant by staying au naturale. It wasn't until my sophomore year of college did my interest in anything beauty related peak and I actually considered getting my hair colored, though the fear of my hair being permanently damaged had always deterred me.
3. Collect Inspiration Pictures: We both came armed into the appointment with 3-4 pictures each that showcased our ideal cut and color. Having a variety of inspiration pictures not only gives your hairstylist a better idea of what you are looking for, but it also helps you decide and narrow down your choices before going in for a cut and color. Just be wary that your hair may not turn out 100% like the pictures you pinned on Pinterest since everyone's hair has its own history and each color/cut session begins at a different starting point. Always remember to keep an open and honest dialogue between you and your hairstylist, so you don't leave the appointment disappointed!
4. Ask Friends/Family: Before hitting up the world wide web and pouring over hundreds of reviews to find the perfect salon, we definitely recommend asking around your inner circle to see if there are salons that any of your friends or family have had great experiences with. Honestly, 99% of my reasons for choosing Hair Philosophy was because Jess constantly raved about how attentive and well-experienced from a technical perspective the staff at Hair Philosophy are. Of course, seeing Jess return here for her 3rd balayage a mere 7 months later also reaffirmed the level of quality I would receive should I choose to be a client of the salon.
5. Know your stylist's abilities: Since this was the first time I was getting anything done to my hair aside from my bi-annual haircuts, I definitely had a million questions racing through my mind and a sense of anxiety the morning of the appointment. After all, I have had negative experiences before with my stylists going all scissor happy and having my hair chopped 4 inches shorter then I have asked, which I consider to be quite a scarring experience. However, from the moment I sat in Nico's chair and walked him through my Pinterest inspiration photos, he genuinely listened and gave me feedback on my thoughts and expectations. Turns out, since I was starting with virgin black hair, Nico shared with me that my hair would not turn out as blonde as I had initially wanted to go and instead he worked with me on choosing the right shade of warm, golden brown for a more natural balayage. Throughout the 3-4 hour process with Nico, he took the time to explain exactly what he was doing to my hair each step of the way as well as walked me through some general technical facts about hair coloring to broaden my very limited knowledge.
We also wanted give a shout-out to makeup artist, Kama, for giving us a fabulous makeover and be sure to check out her Instagram for some cool shots! Thank you so much for reading this post, and we hope that you found our tips helpful for when you choose your next hair salon! If you are in the NYC area, be sure to check out Hair Philosophy for your next fabulous cut and color! Seriously, you won't be disappointed.
Outfit Details: Both dresses are from Urban Outfitters (linked here)