Photos (clockwise from left): Courtesy of Rita Hazan, Drybar, John Barrett Salon, Shampoo Avenue B
Best Hair Cut For Short Strands: Rodrigo Padilla At Sally Hershberger Downtown
With a client list that includes Uma Thurman, Joan Jett, and Mary Louise Parker, Padilla has been mentored and trained personally by the Queen of the Shag herself, Sally Hershberger. As such, Padilla really understands the specific technique required to make short strands lay just so, while still providing versatility and styling options that let hair's natural texture and growth patterns blend in seamlessly.
Sally Hershberger, 425 W. 14th St; 212-206-8700.
Best Hair Cut For Long-Haired Ladies: Bumble and bumble
Girls with long hair can tend to suffer from mane malaise, especially when their stylist keeps doing the same basic cut at every visit. Thanks to their backstage presence at New York Fashion Week and their in-house University, Bumble and bumble stylists are never at a loss for cool and innovative things to do with long locks. We're particular fans of the charming Q, who makes you feel confident and at ease when you sit down in his chair — something that comes in particularly handy when dealing with girls who have snipping anxiety.
Bumble and bumble, 415 West 13th Street, 8th Floor; 212-521-6500.
Best Salon For Girls With Curls: Hair Rules
The problem many stylists have when dealing with girls with curls is that they either are completely clueless on how to cut them, or they don't pay nearly enough attention to the natural curl pattern and texture of each individual client. Recognizing that one woman's kink is different from another gal's curl, the team behind Hair Rules approaches each head of hair as texture-specific, rather than ethnic-specific, paying close attention to your curls and devising a plan of action with them in mind, not just using your skin tone as guide.
Hair Rules, 828 9th Avenue, 212-315-2929.
Best Salon For African-American Hair: Edris Salon
Caribbean-born, Warren-Tricomi-trained Edris Nichols' salon in the Meatpacking District is like the U.N. of hair: She doesn't care where you or your hair came from because she's come one, come all textures. While she can do pretty much any type of hair, many African-American women have pronounced Edris as their cut of a lifetime, simply because she understands not only what ethnic hair needs, but also what just plain looks good. Thanks to her backstage work at Fashion Week and her bold-faced client list, Edris knows not only how to style your mane, but how to showcase its natural texture to best effect.
Edris Salon, 430 West 14th Street, 3rd Floor; 212-989-6800.
Best Blowout: Drybar
While there's no shortage of blowout joints in our fair city, that doesn't mean you have to trust your mane to any salon with a blowdryer and a spare chair. We're big fans of the blowout-only salons — they do nothing but dry and style, so you better believe they've mastered the art of the round brush — and after careful, repeated testing, we have to throw our lot in with Drybar. What sets this styling haven above the rest is their careful attention to atmosphere — from the chick flicks playing on the screen to cocktail-bar decor, a visit to Drybar feels like a treat, but at just $40, you won't feel like had to empty out your bank account for a visit. We also love their style menu, which guarantees you get exactly the look you were envisioning, rather than some junior stylist's interpretation of smoothed-out strands.
Drybar, 4 West 16th Street, 212-561-5392.
Best Highlights: Rita Hazan Salon
Ask any well-coiffed blonde in the city where she gets her sunkissed streaks and you can almost bet the answer will be Rita Hazan. At this Fifth Avenue hair palace, discerning light-haired ladies flock to get their flaxen fix from the pro behind Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lopez, and Renee Zellweger's red carpet color. Hazan's technique guarantees that your hair comes out with dimension that looks au natural, thanks to an almost painterly understanding of the importance of blending and mixing.
Rita Hazan, 720 Fifth Avenue, 11th Floor; 212-586-4343.
Best Hair Color: Marie Robinson Salon
At Marie Robinson's expansive Flatiron salon, clients undergo strand transformations at the hands of the famed celebrity colorist, who counts Rachel McAdams, Natalie Portman, and Anne Hathaway as clients. Robinson can not only whip up any color you can literally imagine, she has also perfected her technique so well that she can make it look like that hue sprang from your head at birth.
Marie Robinson, 155 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor; 212-358-7780.
Best Fancy Updo: Braid Bar at John Barrett
Watching the master weavers work at this chic salon, nestled over top Bergdorf Goodman, is enough to give you a very powerful appreciation for braiding. Using little more than their imaginations, their excessively flexible fingers, and a handful of bobby pins, the stylists here can twist and manipulate your mane into an intricate, mind-bendingly complex 'do that not only looks good, but actually stays in place — we've gotten gorgeous updos from the talented Kaylee that lasted us through two cross-country flights, four sleepless nights, a rowdy wedding, and an uncomfortable hair patdown from airport security (the one downside of wearing such a complex, pin-heavy style). Braids are just $50, and starting this month, the salon will also offer customers the new Ponytail Bar, where they can have stylists concoct sculpted tails with the same level of artistry.
John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, 9th Floor; 212-872-2700.
Best Bang Trim: Michael Angelo's Wonderland Beauty Parlor
While many salons offer their customers a free bang trim, we chose Michael Angelo's as our top fringe benefit thanks to his no-BS attitude towards bangs. Michael Angelo understands the art form that goes into a perfectly-cut, face-framing fringe, but he's also not above teaching you how to do a DIY trim at home. Most stylists would drop dead in horror if you casually mentioned cutting your own strands, but Michael Angelo will tell you straight up if your 'do needs a professional hand or if you could save yourself some time and effort with an at-home cut. We appreciate that kind of honesty, especially when it comes to our hair.
Micheal Angelo's Wonderland Beauty Parlor, 418 West 13th Street, 212-524-2800.
Best Eco-Friendly Salon: Ion Studio
Hair salons are by nature a giant meet-up for various harsh chemicals. If spending an afternoon inhaling the toxic fumes coming from your neighbor's keratin treatment isn't really your idea of a good grooming experience, SoHo-based Ion Studio is your new green oasis. Built from mostly recycled materials, the salon uses organic styling products from Davines, plus natural hair color. Add to that a trio of Italian imports —Leonardo Manetti, Marco Santini, and Pasquale Ferrante — with legit editorial credentials, and you are guaranteed to get a flattering style that won't kill your lungs, or the environment, in the process.
Ion Studio, 41 Wooster Street, 212-343-9060.
Most Affordable Cut and Color: Shampoo Avenue B
Located in the heart of the East Village, Shampoo is the go-to destination for high-end, yet still affordable service. We love that stylist Clara could not only take our multi-tonal, ombré (RIP) hair to one blended shade of golden chestnut, but she did so using a non-damaging gloss, and still managed to keep our long locks at a length we were happy with — even after cutting off inches of damage. All that and with enough $$$ left over to take home a few posh products. The tiny space is filled with chandeliers, graffiti, Bumble and bumble, and Kevin Murphy products, along with a super-friendly staff that will make sure you feel right at home. And in true East Village fashion, students get 20% off of all services.
Shampoo Avenue B, 42 Avenue B, 212-777-2031.
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