Did You Pick the Right Hair Stylist? Here Are 7 Ways to Tell

Every time you try a hair stylist for the first time, you have the right to be anxious. You don’t know if the stylist has much experience with hair of the same texture as yours. It’s impossible to tell whether this new hairdresser is actually going to listen to what you want done with your hair. You don’t know if you two will have the same taste in hair colors or even the same definition of the term “just a trim.”

It’s probably not much consolation that everybody hates seeing a new stylist for the first time. But it may help you to know that there are a few useful ways to tell whether you’ve chosen the wrong hair stylist. And some of them are even obvious before they’ve touched your hair! Read on to check out a few of the ways that your new hair stylist isn’t the right match for you or your hair.

1. The stylist doesn’t know anything about your hair texture

Woman looking at her hair

Run if it seems like the stylist doesn’t know how to work with your hair. | iStock.com

Particularly if you have natural hair — and are planning to keep it that way — you’ll want to steer clear of any stylist who makes it obvious that they have no experience with natural hair. Alix Tunell reports for Refinery29 that an unfortunate red flag is when a stylist refers to your hair as “nappy” during a consultation, instead of using a term like “textured,” “kinky,” or “curly.” A stylist’s outdated vocabulary is often an indication that their technique isn’t up to date, either. Whether you have coarse hair, curly hair, or simply hair that has a mind of its own, you want a stylist who’s comfortable working with hair, not against it. 

2. The stylist pushes a chemical texturizer

Salon employee has her hair steamed

Walk away if they insist on using chemicals you don’t want. | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Another red flag that your new hair stylist isn’t knowledgeable enough about your hair texture or your curl pattern? Their major recommendation is to use a chemical texturizer instead of embracing your natural curl pattern. There’s nothing wrong with making the decision that you want to chemically alter the texture of your hair. That works great for plenty of people! But if you don’t bring up the idea and a stylist’s only suggestion is to wipe out your curl pattern instead of working with it, you may want to look for a stylist who’s better prepared to work with your hair texture. 

3. The stylist makes unrealistic promises about lightening your hair

Woman getting her hair styled

A great transformation will not be done in one sitting. | Donald Bowers/Getty Images

If you want to go from dark hair to platinum blonde, you should be prepared for the change to take lots of processing and several appointments. If you go in for a consultation with a new stylist, and the stylist promises you platinum blonde hair in just a single short appointment, that’s a sign that something is wrong. Not everybody’s hair can handle the stress of a dramatic color change. And even if yours can, a good stylist probably won’t promise that your dream color can be accomplished in a single day. 

4. The stylist insists on cutting your (curly) hair while it’s wet

Woman having hair rinsed

Never get your hair cut while it’s wet. | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

There are many schools of thought on whether it’s better to cut hair when it’s wet or dry. But many women with curly hair have found that they get much better results when their stylist cuts their hair dry. We’ve all had the experience of trimming our bangs when they’re wet, only to have them shrink up and look completely different when they dry. (Or we’ve seen cautionary blog posts or Instagram videos on the topic.) If you’re really looking for a stylist who’s comfortable with curly hair, it’s likely a good idea to find one who will cut your hair dry. 

5. The stylist doesn’t talk everything through with you

Stylist spraying clients hair

You both should be on the exact same page. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

We’ve all had the experience of asking for a trim and ending up with far too many inches of hair on the floor. Communication is clearly key when you’re trusting somebody with your hair. If a stylist won’t take the time to really listen to what you want, and to ask you questions about the results you’re looking for, that’s a definite red flag. Especially if this is your first appointment, a great stylist will take the time to learn about how you take care of your hair and the look you’re going for. If the stylist isn’t interested in your inspiration photos and isn’t actively engaged in the conversation, it may be time to move on. 

6. The stylist seems uncomfortable with how things are shaping up

Hairdresser uses a hair straightener

If the stylist isn’t concentrated, how can you expect them to do an amazing job? | Britta Pedersen/AFP/GettyImages

It’s much better to realize that a stylist isn’t the right match for you before you’ve trusted them with your hair. But if you’re in the chair and the stylist seems uncomfortable with the way your cut or color are turning out, brace yourself for results that weren’t exactly what you wanted. Sure, anybody can make mistakes. But in the future, you’ll want to avoid putting your hair in the hands of a stylist who’s inexperienced or distracted — or doesn’t have the presence of mind to avoid freaking you out in the middle of an appointment. 

7. The stylist is distracted

Woman getting her hair styled

All of their attention should be on you. | Donald Bowers/Getty Images

Hopefully, the first time you meet a new stylist, you don’t immediately sit down in their chair and trust them to cut and color your hair. If you meet for a consolation and the stylist seems distracted, pay attention to what’s going on. Are the stylists at this salon more interested in socializing with one another than with talking to their clients? Is the stylist constantly on the phone? Do they seem to have way too many things going on at once? Everybody has off days. But if you aren’t confident that the stylist is present enough to know what you want, and not simply give you the same cut as their last half-dozen clients, this may not be the right fit.