- Check for a Cosmetology License. Not everyone can do hair. Although most cosmetology schools do not offer natural hair courses, you still want to ensure that the person knows how to be hygienic. A license also suggests that the person is business-like and serious about their work.
- Call. Phone calls are one of the easiest tests to do. I've weeded out many-a-stylist by just assessing their customer service on the phone. Did they answer the phone professionally? Was the music in the background too loud for the operator to even hear me clearly? Those are warning signs that they do not approach their job with the reverence it deserves. If the environment is not to your taste, just don't be bothered. You're likely going to hate the experience there and you're a paying customer so you should be a happy one too.
- Do a Consultation. If they don't offer these, think twice. Consultations can be time consuming but it is very difficult to get to know a stylist and help them to understand your needs without first meeting them. Ask them if they use head protectant before blow-drying etc. Also, drop phrases like twist-outs and bantu knots. If they don't know what you're talking about, run away. This is your opportunity to find out whether this person is a good fit. Don't get someone who doesn't know what they are doing.
- Ask About Products. Some of us naturals are very picky. If you want all natural products, ask for them. If they don't offer them, be prepared to buy your own and find out before hand whether they are willing to work with your demands.
- Recommendations Please. Has anyone heard good things about the salon? Ask people who have the types of styles you want where they get their hair done. If their hair looks good, yours is more likely to look good too in the hands of their stylist.
- Drop In. I love to do surprise visits. Sometimes I even ask for a tour. If the salon is dirty and the stylists are unkempt, this is a warning sign. I also check to see how many people are waiting. I hate salons that leave you waiting for ages. I've even asked people how long they have been waiting. Heck, I have no shame... because I have no time to waste waiting for 3 hours. We pay them for their time. Our time should be respected too.
- Ask About Pricing. Don't spend more than you have. If the prices do not fit into your budget, move on or decide to go to the salon less frequently. Also, be sure to ask whether the price given is a starting price. Sadly, some people will want to charge you more depending on your texture.
Do you have anything to add to my checklist? Please leave a comment to let me know.