I spend most of my day talking to people about hair. I have spoken to many individuals that complain of going to the same stylist for years with no significant change in their hair. Or even worse, they complain of having even more damage and loss. Therefore, having some criteria for selecting a hair professional is critical. Selection criteria you may wish to consider include:
Customer Service - Select a professional that treats you well, from initial contact through the service and beyond. Look for signs that they care about clients, work cleanly, listen to your preferences, pay attention to detail, and schedule properly.
Qualifications - As you know, there are many stylists out there that will tie, dye and lye your hair any which way you ask for. Please ensure you select a professional with the appropriate licenses and/or certifications to perform your services. Chemical services, such as relaxers and haircoloring require a License! In many states, Natural Hair Stylists require some license/certification as well (please check your State law). Note: even with "paper" qualifications, you may find that the stylist does not have the experience you need. Look for details of their work, particularly with chemicals, color corrections, and interlocking loc'd hair.
Consultation - Seek out a professional who physically looks at your hair AND scalp and talks to you about your hair history, lifestyle, preferences and hair goals before ever performing any service! A thorough consultation builds the relationship, allows the stylist to recommend treatments that improve the hair/scalp, and identify scalp disorders and hair loss patterns (if applicable). A true professional will also advise you on how to maintain your hair between visits. Remember, hair care requires action on the part of the individual as well as the stylist.
In-depth Knowledge - Most clients want real answers that apply to their individual hair. As we know, individuals now have far more information about hair than in previous years. Yet, unfortunately, many seem to be trying "everything" on their hair that they read about or see. Seek a professional that has a thorough knowledge of your individual hair type, its handling and recommended product usage. Look for a professional that can listen to your hair history/current regimen and "customize" a plan to fit your hair and lifestyle. Properly done, you should see and feel the difference almost immediately.
Styling - Unfortunately, there are many individuals that select a picture of a hairstyle and then allow a stylist to do "whatever it takes" to achieve that style even though it may cause serious damage to the hair and scalp. Select a professional that is up-to-date on styling, but focuses on hair care and works closely with you to select and/or alter styles to prevent damage and still look good on you.
In the end, the results quantify whether or not you have selected the right hair professional. When the hair is healthy, less products are required, more length is retained and hair looks much better in the styles. Although some changes can be realized immediately, such as condition and moisture, it may take 3 to 6 months to see other changes and growth. If you are not happier with your hair after that time, you may wish to tweak your regimen again or continue your search for a professional.