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LaurelLee Loftsgard, Published June 22 2012

A good stylist is key to avoiding hair trauma; Try these tips for finding someone right for you

FARGO - Jill Kurtz of Fargo started going to a hairstylist when she was 15 years old.

Thirty-six years later, she’s still getting her hair cut by the same guy.

“I’ve never had my hair done by anyone else,” she says. “Even when I went on vacation for three months, I just didn’t have my hair cut until I got back.”

Even though she admitted she’s been displeased with his cut a couple of times, she’s never even thought about going to anybody else.

Let’s face it: A good haircut is important, and it all comes down to finding a good stylist.

To help the search, here are some tips for finding “shear” perfection:

• Talk to your friends. If you and your friends have the same style and personalities, there’s a good chance you’ll like the same hairstylist.

Word of mouth is one of the biggest indicators of a good (or bad) stylist, so ask around to see which stylists have the skills or which salons have the ambience you’re looking for.

• Don’t be afraid to ask complete strangers. If you see someone in the mall whose hairstyle you really like, ask who styled the person’s hair. Most of the time, people are happy to tell you, and everyone loves a good compliment.

Shawna Willson and Kara Andring of the salon Shear Grace, which opens July 1 in Detroit Lakes, Minn., agree that most of their clients at previous salons have come to them through word of mouth.

“We have had maybe four walk-ins in the last year or two,” Willson says. “The rest are referrals and word of mouth.”

• Try people out. This can be a scary proposition, but just ask for a trim. See how they handle your hair and if they listen to what you have to say. There’s nothing wrong with being a one-time walk-in.

Talk to stylists. Most people are attracted to others because they have a similar personality. If you’re going to be seeing this person every five weeks for an hour or two, you’ll want to feel comfortable and be able to carry on a conversation.

Willson says she loves the socializing aspect of being a stylist, and talking to people is half the job.

“It’s not like the dentist,” she says. “People usually look forward to seeing you and getting their hair done and being able to relax and chat.”

• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For many of us, it’s a big commitment, so you shouldn’t be shy in asking a prospective stylist about their experience, training and specialties, such as working on curly hair and/or coloring.

Mickey Moen, a hairstylist at north Fargo’s Hair Success, says asking questions is the best way to find a good fit.

Moen recommends asking what kind of hairstyling is their favorite, what they enjoy most about their job and what hair types they prefer to cut.

But there is one question Moen warns against: “How long have you been doing this?” She says this doesn’t accurately reflect a stylist’s work.

Moen recommends communicating what you want and then seeing if your personality meshes with the stylist’s.

“Ask if they like their job or what their work environment is like,” Moen said. “Then their personality will come out.”


If a client is moving, Moen says they can recommend stylists in surrounding areas that would be a good match with their client.

If one of Wilson’s or Andring’s clients are moving or end up going to someone else, they try to help make the transition as easy as possible.

“We will send their color formula with them so that whoever they go to next can do it just the way they like it,” Andring says.

Sometimes people don’t get the choice to pick someone else first. Stylists can move away or retire without much notice.

Susan Fortier, a hairstylist of 36 years who is now retired and has been a stylist in four different cities, says she tried to make it as painless as can be.

“I either refer them to my partner or someone else I know is good, I’ll give them their records of what they do or have done to their hair and help them out as best I can,” Fortier says.

Forum reporter Jessica Ballou contributed to this report. Loftsgard is multimedia producer for Forum Communications Co.