When Nancy London learned her family was relocating from Connecticut, "the most traumatic thing was leaving my hairdresser of 20 years."
For many women, the bond with a hair stylist is the most important service relationship of their lives and may endure longer than friendships, jobs and even marriages.
Says industry consultant Geno Stampora, "You see a beauty professional before any important time in your life … marriage, graduation, reunions … They're a close friend, yet there are no ties."
Stampora, whose Virginia-based Creative Consulting works with salons nationwide, says for some women finding the perfect match is an endless quest. Up to 80 percent switch stylists after the fourth visit. And it may feel like adultery — complete with guilt and fear of discovery.
Then there are cases like Cathy Flaherty, who along with two daughters and "90 percent of our friends," loyally followed a Vienna, Va., stylist "from shop to shop" and — for years after he had moved to California — "would get the royal treatment" during appointments on his return trips.
So what's the secret to maintaining a good relationship with your stylist?
"The main thing is to keep your appointment or call in advance if you have to cancel," says Rose Campbell of Salon Christophe's Washington, D.C., location. "And don't do a bang trim at home."
Attitude also is important. Says Martyn Duff, Vidal Sassoon's Boston-based regional creative director, "One of the things is to keep your hair exciting. Keep your mind open to change. Make sure you've got a good rapport."