There’s a reason President Barack Obama has kept Zariff, his Hyde Park barber, around even after transitioning to the White House. Finding the right barber or beautician can take a lot of time and a lot of bad haircuts and hairstyles before finding the right fit.
When I was in elementary school, I had a beautician who would eat cookies and smoke cigarettes while she styled my hair. After my paternal grandmother got fed up with it, then I moved to another beautician who did a great job on my hair but would ignore sores in the back of my head leading to at least two perm burns.
In high school, I moved on to a beautician who would try to do at least five people’s hair at once, and I’d end up waiting eight hours for a two-hour hairdo. Although the beauty salon was in my Brainerd Park neighborhood, I realized quickly that I spent more time there than I would traveling to and from a further location. My beautician’s aunt didn’t know how to do feathered or stacked hairstyles, and not surprisingly, she always had an empty chair and no younger customers.
When I moved to the north side of Chicago, I had a bit of a dilemma. The south side of Chicago is full of black beauty salons and barbershops, but they were harder to find in the Edgewater community. I tried a north side beautician who assured me he was great at doing black women’s hair, but he’d ignore the hair photos I showed him, cut my hair too short and too mature for my age, complained about everyone he could think of and had more attitude than he had skill. No tip. I never returned.
I returned to a beauty salon I frequented in high school with a beautician who could whip my hair better than the other four. I loved her work, but she was an hour away from my home. I thought I’d finally found a winner until I realized she loved to talk about her customers as soon as they left her chair. I could handle the gossiping, but when the owner left for the night, my beautician decided she could sneak and smoke a cigarette while cracking the door. I’m not a smoker. While I was sitting under the hair dryer, she smoked a cigarette, ignored my coughing and never asked if I minded the cigarette smell. You never want to upset your beautician in the middle of doing your hair so I was quiet. But at the end of the night, she got no tip and I haven’t been back since. But that was both of our losses because she was excellent at doing hair but had mediocre customer service skills.
It’s hard to find good hair help these days. So how do you find a beautician or barber that you can get along with and who can do your hair the way you like?
Tip One: Do not immediately let someone do your hair just because their beauty salon or barbershop is close to your neighborhood. Location does not equal compatibility. Visit the shop and look around at other people’s hair.
Tip Two: Research your hair stylists’ clients. Ask can you sit in the beauty salon or barbershop with a friend or family member. Observe the finished hairstyles of other clients. Ask how long they’ve been going to this hair stylist. Pay attention to how clients are treated when they’re not within hearing distance.
Tip Three: Time how long it takes for the hair stylist to be done and how many clients are taken on at once. It makes sense to wrap one person’s hair while another person is under a hair dryer. But to stop doing one person’s hair in the middle of curling it or because another client usually tips well is counterproductive to your time and theirs. Every client should be treated with the same amount of respect.
Tip Four: Compare prices. If you find more than one beautician or barber in the same shop or in different shops who charges different prices, find out why one is more expensive than the other. You may think one beautician or barber charges too much out of greed, but it could be that the equipment they use is more high end or their products are designed better.
Tip Five: Check out the hair products being used in the shop. Every hair care item is not meant for you. If you’ve been using one type of perm your entire life and your hair stylist refuses to carry it, ask if you can bring in your product. See if there’s a discount since you won’t be using theirs. But don’t back down from hair care products that you know work better on your hair. If one hair stylist won’t use this product, there’s always another one who will. Your hair will suffer more than your hair stylist’s lack of flexibility.
Tip Six: Be polite and punctual. Hair stylists tend to make back-to-back appointments on their busiest days and by the type of styles they can do within that timeframe. If you show up late with no good reason, you’ll throw off your hair stylist’s schedule. Again, never make your hair stylists mad. Your hair may suffer. Be as cognizant of their time as they are of yours.
Tip Seven: Ask your hair stylist if she’s (or he’s) a licensed professional. If this person took the time to promote her work and get business cards, this hair stylist should’ve taken the time to learn how to do hair. Most of the time, you can find the license on the wall, but asking about the license shouldn’t be off limits. Just as a police officer shows you his badge and a dentist or doctor will have their awards and license in the waiting rooms, your beautician should as well.
Tip Eight: Tip at least 15 percent for a job well done. Your beautician has to make a living, too. If you give your beautician or barber the minimum amount and don’t tip at all, how will he or she know when the hair stylist has done a great job? A pat on the hand or dap isn’t going to pay their bills. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it, but double the tip next round.
The relationship between a hair stylist and his clients can be as tight as a regular relationship. And when you find one you like, always be appreciative of their services. It’s obvious that President Barack Obama clearly supports his barber. He shouldn’t be the only one.
For more info:
Zariff’s Web site