Lifeskills: how to find a men's hairstylist that knows their stuff?
September 10, 2007 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Other than asking friends, what do I look for / how do I find an incredible men's hair stylist? And once found, how do I help them help me? It's time for a major restyling but it will be a tall order if it can be pulled off, so I fear most stylists are going to think they're up to it, then botch it. How do you sleuth which stylists are the ones to trust? (Bonus points for non-country-specific answers, so I can find good stylists wherever I go)

I've only really had disappointing experiences with stylists and need help changing this (problems include assuming that the standards aren't very high for men's haircuts, or they're used to doing women's hair and seem to think that styling men's can't be all that different, then discover too late that it's thinner than they thought, etc)

That was all years ago and I haven't been to one since, so I'm anxious, but I'm also sick of my boring hairstyle and want something stylish and trendy for once before it thins so much I have to shave it off. (It is thinner than it looks in some areas, making it quite easy to botch, plus I want to try something pretty radically different from what it is now, hence the desire stylists specialising in men's hair and styles).

And since to date I have no successful stylist experience, how should I help them help me? Since their time is presumably valuable, how much time can I reasonably expect to discuss things with them without committing to using their service? Stuff like that. And what (if any) options do you have if they botch it?

Any general and related tips appreciated too!
posted by -harlequin- to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The thing that has worked best for me is to look at women whose hair is similar to mine in texture, etc. and find one whose style I like. Then I ask who she goes to. That's it. Has worked like a charm, and I'm sure would work for a men's hairstylist as well.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2007

In my experience, anyone who can do anything really crazy with hair is an amazing sylist. The girl that cuts my hair is the Fantasy Director for Toni & Guy in my area. She can make hats out of fake hair and do stuff to people that looks completely insane - but that means she's got crazy skills under there to do that stuff. So look for someone who is good at complex things. If you have a Toni & Guy near you, so much the better, IMHO.

Also, be specific. Tell them your hair is thin in places. Show the person what you're talking about. If your hair is curly, ASK THEM whether they know anything about cutting curly hair.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:12 AM on September 10, 2007

I second agatha ... the way I've found superior hair stylists in my area is by asking people who had fantastic hair cuts/color who they went to. It may be more difficult for a guy to go up to another guy and ask them who cuts their hair, but I bet you could do it with a woman (who will then most likely take pity on you). Another option is asking any gay men you know with hair you like. My gay boyfriends have given me invaluable hair advice :) You might also want to tell us what city you're in. I bet you can get some great recommendations from Mefiers in your area.

Also, you may be limiting yourself with the distinction "men's hairstylist". Someone with great training can definitely do both and as a result has more experience with lots of different kinds of hair. I would not go to a barber if I were you. They tend to be less interested in "styling" per se.

As far as helping them help you--any stylist worth paying good money for (which you should definitely do for a makeover haircut) will take all the time you need to discuss what you want. My current stylist spent time to get to know me and my past experiences with my hair before we did anything else. (I present as kind of conservative, but I now have purple hair--which I always secretly wanted.) If someone is being short with you, get up and leave. A constructive thing you can do is go through some magazines and bring in pictures. It helps to notice the shape of their face and what kind of hair they have. When you present them to a stylist you can ask them if that style is realistic given your face and hair type. A discussion like this will take about 10 or 15 minutes at most after which feel free to leave if you don't like what you hear. That is part of the job (even though many people take it for granted). They may be annoyed, but it's your hair.
posted by Kimberly at 10:22 AM on September 10, 2007

I had 30+ years of unsatisfying hair experiences till I went to a salon owned by a tv star and made an appointment with a senior-level stylist. The cut costs $120. The first time, he sat with me for a good 15 minutes and examined my hair and the way it grows (I know this because he was explaining the process to an apprentice). The only other stylists who've done that were at high-end hair training schools (which are great, but you don't get to choose the hair style they're training on).

Tips I've learned: if you bring a photo, make sure that the person in the photo has the same hair type as you! When I was young, I'd bring photos of Meg Ryan with her wavy blond hair and dark roots, and wonder why my black straight hair couldn't look like that. Also, describe to the stylist how you want your hair to look; don't tell them how it should be cut. I say things like, "I like straight lines and sharp angles, edgy but not too unusual," or "I want more volume at the roots, and to keep the length in the back." I think a lot of people make the mistake of listing impossible constraints, like they want volume but say "no layers," or they want a look that can only be achieved with blowdrying and hair product but they want it to be wash-and-go.
posted by xo at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'll somewhat echo something xo said, in that (generally speaking) you get what you pay for. I'm sure there are some fantastic stylists who work for Great Clips and the like, but if you want, as you say, a major restyling, expect to pay a bit for the quality.

I'm not saying you have to drop $200 for a men's haircut, but the greatest lesson I learned after 12 years of really boring hair styles was that you have to go a little outside of your comfort zone to find someone really good. And sadly, that includes financially comfortable sometimes.
posted by ASoze at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2007

Agreed. I've found that I definitely get consistently better haircuts in the ~>40 range than from going to Supercuts.

Unfortunately, sometimes you also have to take a flier on someone (once you've gotten a recommendation...).
posted by leahwrenn at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2007

I used Yelp to find the stylist I use now.
posted by spec80 at 11:32 AM on September 10, 2007

Please tell me if you find the answer. It's been eight weeks and I'm dreading trying another random stylist. Paying a lot of money doesn't work, either. To date I've preferred my $15 Supercuts clipper jobs to the fancy $45 and $70 salon haircuts.
posted by Nelson at 11:54 AM on September 10, 2007

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