by Cristina Daglas, photo by John Cizmas Trying a new salon can be like going on a blind date. Exciting but a touch terrifying. Maybe you and your stylist will click. Maybe you won’t. Then you have to find a new one and try again. Some find the whole process intimidating and see salons as […]

by Cristina Daglas, photo by John Cizmas

Trying a new salon can be like going on a blind date. Exciting but a touch terrifying. Maybe you and your stylist will click. Maybe you won’t. Then you have to find a new one and try again.

Some find the whole process intimidating and see salons as places where an entirely different language is spoken (fringe, gloss, precision, razor cuts), and clients are in the dark, arms tucked under smocks, heads in sinks, patiently awaiting the results. It’s no romance for them.

Others are in the know and rather demanding. They want green hair products, better services and the latest trend. They’ve heard of Moroccan oil and powerful Keratin straightening treatments, know sulfates are bad and expect a scalp massage during the shampoo – and on the first date. Some are even dabbling in lash extensions and Botox.

Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. We want reliability. But we also want more options and more information should we opt to make a change. Most of all, we want affordable. Even as the economy leaves people banishing some items to the can’t-afford section of the budget, the one thing that isn’t going anywhere is hair care. That’s why new shops are popping up throughout the city and so many chairs are consistently filled.

So which are the best shops and stylists, and where are the best deals?

We surveyed the city’s salon know-it-alls, the people whom we’ve chosen in the past as top-notch as well as talented newcomers on our radar. And we asked them to do something out-of-the-ordinary: to talk not just about themselves but also about other salons and stylists. We learned an awful lot about area staples as well as new salons, micro-co-ops and mega-establishments. Frankly, the excitement of top stylists for their craft is contagious.

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“There are a lot of really talented people throughout the city,” says Ralph Van Atta of The Art of Hair. “We have a really sophisticated salon environment.” Indeed. We sorted through the surveys, did follow-up phone interviews and salon visits, read hundreds of user reviews on various websites and interviewed customers. After amassing all of that information, we picked the area’s best.

But one caveat: Even the best stylist isn’t a mind-reader or magician. Bring in pictures showing the kind of hairstyle you want (it’s an urban myth that stylists hate them) and take the consultation seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be clear about what you want. Our list of salons should make choosing a stylist much easier. But anytime you make a date, you have to do some of the talking, too. 

Read about all 44 included salons by purchasing below.

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