Find Mr (or Ms) Right
Step one - no big surprise - is finding a good stylist. Do some detective work. When you see a hairstyle you like - a friend's blunt cut or a layered 'do on a stranger - ask who created it. Check out a salon's website to see samples of the handiwork. When you call for an appointment, ask if a stylist on staff specialises in your hair type. Some cutters are pros with curls, others at turning baby-fine strands into lions' manes. Another trick: seek out a stylist whose hair type is the same as yours. She'll be able to relate.
Case the joint
Before booking, visit the salon to check the vibe. Is it too chaotic (or low-key)? Are women leaving with Posh pixie 'dos or Winehouse beehives? Walk if you don't like what you see. '''
An early appointment is always best. Sure, a good stylist should always be on top of her game, but wouldn't you be less fresh if you'd spent seven hours on your feet? Ask how far apart appointments are spaced. Look for a salon that schedules clients at least 30 minutes apart - rather than an assembly line of one every 15.
Have "the talk"
Any stylist worth her straighteners will find out your styling routine and vision for the 'do before picking up the shears. And by all means, bring a photo of a hairstyle you like. "A picture is easy to translate," says Steven Hanna, co-owner of Christopher Hanna Hair in Sydney. "Your vision of layers may be different from mine. A picture can clear that up."
Stare and share
You probably prefer to ogle James McAvoy than your own mug but, if your eyes are glued to a glossy, you might be in for a nasty surprise. Watch the cut as it progresses, and if you're unhappy at any point, speak up! Watch how your hair is being styled and what products are used so you can replicate the look at home.
Ask for a re-do
"There's nothing wrong with going back to your stylist if you decide after a few days that you hate the cut," says Hanna. "In fact, most salons will fix the problem for free." Just be prepared to articulate exactly what you don't like.