Where can you get a great haircut–a flattering style that makes the most of your hair and requires little maintenance?
In our search for the area's best stylists and salons, we talked to beauty educators, salon owners, friends, neighbors, and perfect strangers whose hair looked good. We surveyed hundreds of women. We spent time in salons, watching stylists at work.
Judging a salon isn't easy. Sometimes women would rave about a stylist but also complain about the overall service at that salon. And stylists change salons as often as some of us change hairstyles.
The salons on this list run from chic to cozy and from bustling, full-service day spas to intimate hair-only establishments.
Different salons meet different needs. Some clients want fashion-forward styles even if snooty attitudes go with them. Others expect to be pampered. Some women think beauty has no price limit; others blanch at a $90 haircut.
In the end, finding the right hairdresser is a lot like finding the right spouse: It takes time, trust, communication, and chemistry–sometimes that most elusive of elements.
Aqua, 1513 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-337-3477. This salon, in a yellow brick building in Georgetown, is airy and professional. Cuts: women $80, men $55. Color: $70 and up. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $160 and up (full).
Avatar Salon and Wellness Spa, 8395-C Colesville Rd., Silver Spring; 301-608-9344; avatarwellness.com. This full-service spa, rated one of the top in the country by Salon Sense magazine, is a good choice for African-American hair. In addition to cuts and color, it does dreadlocks, twists, and weaves. Cuts: $45 and up. Color: $40 and up. Styles: $65 and up.
Axis, 1509 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-234-1166. Professionals looking for a little edge frequent this bright, two-story salon near Dupont Circle. The atmosphere is welcoming and sophisticated. Co-owner George Dant is known for great cuts. Cuts: $40 to $90. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $85 and up (partial), $120 and up (full).
Bang Salon and Spa, 1612 U St., NW; 202-299-0925; bangsalonspa.com. This three-year-old salon has lots of personality. Its funky, unpretentious feel draws a crowd of fashion-forward twenty- and thirtysomethings. Cuts: women $35 and up, men $30 and up. Highlights: $75 to $90.
Bill Lawrence Salon, 2120 18th St., NW; 202-387-8310. This low-key Adams Morgan salon is known for doing African-American hair very well. Owner Bill Lawrence is the star. Cuts: $35 and up. Color: $65 and up.
Bristles & Shears, 22237 Shaw Rd., Sterling; 703-421-9460. Owner Dianne Lang stresses training–four stylists are certified colorists. A bright, airy salon with a professional attitude. Cuts: $25. Color: $45. Highlights: $85.
Bubbles, various locations; bubblessalon.com. This chain is popular with women in their twenties and anyone who hates to spend a lot of money on hair. You get a free deep-conditioning treatment (normally $20) with every full head of color or highlights. Cuts: $30 and up. Color: $45. Highlights: $45 (partial), $80 (full).
Celadon Day Spa, 1180 F St., NW; 202-347-3333; celadonspa.com. Think minimalist decor–dark wood and celadon green. Kevin DePew is the favorite, Garlin Nicholas is good for conservative cuts, and Miguel Mejias has a way with Asian hair. Cuts: $75 and up. Color: $75 and up. Highlights: $130 and up.
Christie Adam Salon & Spa, 1025 Seneca Rd., Great Falls, 703-430-4800; 11710 Plaza America Way, Suite 40, Reston, 703-481-9006; and Fair Oaks Mall, 703-591-1810; christieadam.com. Other salon owners praise this fast-growing local chain for its well-trained stylists. Cuts: $55 and up. Color: $56 and up. Highlights: $81 and up (partial), $110 and up (full).
Cristophe Salon, 1125 18th St., NW; 202-785-2222; cristophe.com. This salon caters to the polished K Street crowd–you'll find some clients on cell phones who look vaguely familiar. Although owner Cristophe Schattman is here only a few days a month, there are other good stylists. Krista Depeyrot and Katy Ghirardo are both good for color. Isabelle Goetz, known for tending Hillary Rodham Clinton's hair, gets high marks. Cuts: $50 and up. Color: $80 and up. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $145 and up (full).
Cornrows and Co., 5401 14th St., NW; 202-723-1827; cornrowsandco.com. Pamela Ferrell and husband Taalib-Din Uqdah opened this African-American salon 25 years ago. As the name suggests, it does braiding and also emphasizes natural hair care and treating hair loss. A consultation is $25. Styles: $50 and up.
David's Beautiful People, 12121 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-881-2540, davidsbeautfulpeople.com This salon offers urban styles in a suburban setting. Hadar Goren at the Bethesda location is good for subtle highlights. Cuts: $45 and up. Color: $60 and up. Highlights: $50 and up.
Designing Image Hair Studio Day Spa, 4550 Montgomery Ave., Bethesda; 301-961-8640. The atmosphere is homey and informal. Salvatore Piazza is a whiz with scissors. Cuts: women $70 and up, men $40 and up. Color: $65. Highlights: $130 and up.
Eclips Salon Day Spa, 6661 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, 703-821-0022; and 44110 Ashburn Village Plaza, Ashburn, 703-858-7555; eclipshair.com. A mix of fashion-forward and conservative stylists means clients of all ages and tastes can find someone to like. Men feel comfortable here. Cuts: women $60 and up, men $40 and up. Color: $60 and up. Highlights: $85 and up (partial), $110 and up (full).
Evolve, 2905 M St., NW; 202-333-9872. Area stylists admire the edgy work done at this tiny Georgetown salon. Its four experienced stylists attract a loyal clientele of all ages. Cuts: women $65 and up, men $45 and up. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $125 and up (full).
George at the Four Seasons SpaSalon, 2828 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-342-1942. A renovation this month of this 19-year-old salon will mean a more modern space. Murat Durak is good with ethnic hair; Mistik Halici, Turgay Yavuz, and Sertac Ozturk, George's son, have an eye for color. Cuts: $90. Color: $90. Highlights: $140 and up.
Georgette Klinger, Chevy Chase Pavilion, 5345 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-686-8880; georgetteklinger.com. This bare-bones salon–it plans to move to the new Chevy Chase Collection this fall–is bustling. When Vidal Sassoon in Tysons recently changed ownership, several stylists came here. Heather Reed gives great cuts and has a way with bridal updos. Cuts: $82 and up. Color: $78 to $93. Highlights: $152 to $192.
Ilo Salon and Day Spa, 1637 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-342-0350; ilodayspa.com. This salon, with an all-white first floor and large skylights upstairs–is usually hopping. Co-owner Terry Bell is a recommended stylist; Jack Howard is great with color. Cuts: $80 and up. Color: $100 and up. Highlights: $190 and up (partial), $260 (full).
Jean-Luc, 3240 P St., NW; 202-625-2220. This salon, temporarily at 1726 Wisconsin Avenue, will return to 3240 P Street early next year to a completely renovated three-level day spa. Owner Jean-Luc Vivier is great for cuts and color. Cuts: $70 and up. Color: $65 and up. Highlights: $95 and up (partial), $150 and up (full).
Le Shoppe for Hair, 11934 Democracy Dr., Reston; 703-435-5555; www.leshoppesalons.com. Owner and stylist Daniel Bensimon runs this nice salon in Reston Town Center. Cuts: $40 and up. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $80 and up (partial), $100 and up (full).
Luna's Hair Design, 2014 P St., NW; 202-785-0011; lunashair.com. This small, second-story salon near Dupont Circle is no-frills–just clean, sunny, and friendly. Luna Howard, the salon's owner, is recommended for her reasonable prices and creative cuts. Lots of men go here, too. Cuts: women $35, men $30. Highlights: $50 (partial), $80 (full).
Molecule, 1800 M St., NW; 202-822-1588; moleculesalon.com. A team of young, talented stylists occupies this all-white, trendy salon. This September, the owners are opening a new branch, Molecule Saint Germain in DC's Penn Quarter, that will emphasize color. Cuts: women $75 and up, men $45. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $140 and up (full).
O Salon, 1079 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-338-9100; osalon.com. The three-story building that houses O Salon is modern and minimalist, with natural wood and black-and-white accents. Guillaume Choquet is known for great color. Cuts: $80 and up. Highlights: $120 and up (partial), $150 and up (full).
O'Hair Salon & Spa, 424 Main St., Kentlands, Gaithersburg; 301-977-0800; ohairsalon.com. Women with curly or wavy hair emerge with 'dos that look shiny and natural. Co-owner Domenic Cicala is a first-rate stylist. Cuts: women $57 and up, men $40 and up. Color: $105 and up. Highlights: $8 a foil (partial), $155 and up (full).
Okyo Salon, 2903 M St., NW; 202-342-2675; okyosalon.com. This Georgetown salon has good stylists, with owner Bernard Portelli the star. (He takes new clients by referral only, though.) Cuts: women $80, men $50. Color: $85 and up. Highlights: $130 (partial), $150 to $170 (full).
Piaf Salon and Day Spa, 1023 15th St., NW; 202-783-3334; piafsalon.com. Open seven days a week, Piaf has an old-world look with deep-coral walls and gilt-framed mirrors. Clients range from trendy young moms to executives. Owner Lisette Attias is adept with both curly and straight hair and takes time for free consultations. Cuts: women $60 to $70, men $30 to $40. One-process color: $40 to $60. Highlights: $65 and up (partial), $90 and up (full).
PR @ Partners, 14 locations; pratpartners.com. Women in their twenties and thirties love these salons, which have reasonable prices and are conveniently located throughout the area. To help you navigate the sea of stylists, PR @ Partners posts stylist profiles online. Cuts: $40 to $75. Color: $50 to $75. Highlights: $90 to $150.
Progressions, 12211 Nebel St., Rockville; 301-231-8757; progressions.com. This high-energy salon is busy even in the early morning. Co-owner Ira Ludwick and his staff keep up with styling trends. Cuts: $35 to $136. Color: $65 and up.
Roche Salon, 3050 K St., NW, 202-775-0775; and 1170 22nd St. (Sports Club/LA), NW, 202-974-6633; rochesalon.com. Paige Gentry, at the 22nd Street location, comes highly recommended for cuts and color. Cuts: $60 and up. Color: $70 and up. Highlights: start at $120.
Ronnie Elias Salon, 2952-I Chain Bridge Rd., Oakton; 703-255-1114; ronnieeliassalon.com. Ronnie Hier does consistent, beautiful work. Cuts: women $60 and up, men $45. Color: $60. Highlights: $95 (partial), $115 (full).
Salon Cielo, Dupont Circle, 202-518-9620; Tysons Galleria, 703-821-8136; Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, 703-415-0406; and Columbia Mall, 410-730-6165; saloncielo.com. Both men and women like Jamie Simon, at the Dupont branch, for his good cuts and unpretentious manner. The Pentagon City and Columbia locations offer spa services. Cuts: $40 and up. Color: $50 and up. Highlights: $90 and up.
Salon Daniel, 6828-A Old Dominion Dr., McLean; 703-893-5000; salondaniel.com. This girly salon caters to a wide variety of clients–from the teased-and-sprayed to younger, hipper women. Cuts: $60 and up. Color: $60 and up. Highlights: $95 and up (partial), $130 and up (full).
Salon Jean-Paul, 4820 Yuma St., NW; 202-966-4600. This salon has been around for more than 20 years. Newscasters, businesswomen, politicians, and ladies who lunch come here for sophisticated coifs. Jean-Paul Amsellem made his name as Jackie Kennedy's stylist during the 1960s. Gabriel DeBakey used to do Princess Diana's hair when she came to town. Mustafa Corumlu and Nadia Niedojadlo get high marks, too. Cuts: $80 and up. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $210 and up (full).
Salon Nordine & Day Spa, 12233 Fair Lakes Promenade Dr., Fairfax, 703-278-8232; 7526-28 Old Linton Hall Rd., Gainesville, 703-753-6971; 11955 Freedom Dr., Reston, 703-437-6444; salonnordine.com. At these full-service spas, soft colors are paired with unusual touches such as fountains and murals. Cuts: $60 and up. One-step color: $60 and up. Highlights: $75 and up (partial), $110 and up (full).
Salon Privé, 7818 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda; 301-654-4808; privehairsalon.com. This salon is modern–dark cherry wood and sleek track lighting–but not too trendy. Teens to older professionals feel comfortable here. Cuts: $50 and up. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $85 and up (partial), $110 and up (full).
Salon Red, 224 Main St., Kentlands, Gaithersburg; 240-631-0163. The reception area is bright red, the downstairs salon cozier. The stylists are well trained and up on the latest trends. Cuts: $45 and up. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $85 and up (partial), $100 and up (full).
Subairi HairSalon, 1635-B R St., NW; 202-232-2974; subairisalon.com. A small, no-frills salon near Dupont Circle, Subairi's tile floors and dark wood accents create a welcoming atmosphere. Men can get a good cut here. Cuts: women $35 and up, men $25 to $30. Highlights: $80 and up.
Sugar House Day Spa & Salon, 111 N. Alfred St., Alexandria; 703-549-9940; sugarhousedayspa.com. This full-service spa is housed in a 200-year-old townhouse with mahogany stairways and fireplaces. Cuts: $50 to $70. Color: $60 and up. Highlights: $95 (partial), $115 (full).
33 West Salon, 4733 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-656-9501; 33westsalon.com. Young, hip, and multicultural, this blond-wood-and-chrome salon is up on the latest trends in color. Cuts: women $45 and up, men $35 and up. Color: $50 and up. Highlights: $85 and up (partial), $95 and up (full).
Toka Salon, 3251 Prospect St., NW; 202-333-5133; tokasalon.com. Women praise this salon for creative cuts and good color. Owner Nuri Yurt is responsible for Laura Bush's recently updated 'do. Cuts: $80 and up. Color: starts at $70. Highlights: $105 and up (partial), $145 and up (full).
Tranquility Day Spa & Salon, 10360 Portsmouth Rd., Manassas; 703-257-7200; tranquilitydayspa.com. This well-run salon and spa is relaxing and friendly. Clients, mostly baby boomers, enjoy free cookies and other snacks. Brittany Kepler is said to give good highlights, Monica DiPaolo is the go-to person for color correction, Kirsten Bergquist is great for curly hair. Cuts: $45 to $65. Color: $89 and up. Highlights: $83 and up (partial), $119 and up (full).
Urban Style Lab, 1341 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-223-2066; lab-dc.com. This salon, opened by eight former stylists from Molecule, offers professional cuts in a fashion-forward atmosphere. Cement floors and exposed brick walls give a shabby-chic feel. Owners Kelly Gorsuch and Melanie Smith are recommended. Cuts: women $75 and up, men $45 and up. Highlights: $110 and up (partial), $140 (full).
Watergate Salon and Day Spa, 2532 Virginia Ave., NW; 202-333-3488; watergatesalon.com. This full-service salon, open almost 40 years, has an old-fashioned beauty-parlor feel. Luigi Parasmo gets rave reviews for elaborate updos. Cuts: $90. Color: $70 and up. Highlights: $100 and up.
Zin Hair + Colour, 7711 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-2229; zinhair.com. The four stylists at this intimate salon do nothing but hair. Brothers Ouri and Lior Kandero are good with color. Cuts: $95. Highlights: $120 and up.
Salons to Watch
Alanya, 3285 M St., NW; 202-339-9500; alanyadc.com. This new salon–opened in May–is airy, with hardwood floors and peach walls. Owner Cevat Topcu is said to be good with color and highlights. Cuts: $75 and up. Color: $70. Highlights: $100 and up (partial), $145 and up (full).
Easel Hair Studio, 1616 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-342-3999. Walk into this colorful year-old Georgetown salon and you might think you've wandered into an artist's studio. Haircutting stations are shaped like easels, and hairbrushes rest in "palettes." There's artwork for sale on the walls. You'll find a team of young, talented stylists. Cuts: $65 and up. Color: $55 and up. Highlights: $100 and up.
Salon Bleu, Tysons Galleria; 703-448-1300; www.bleu.com. This salon has a lot of style and certified colorist Brandi Middleton. Cuts: $65 and up. Highlights: $125 and up.
How much do you pay for a haircut?
Most Washington women spend more than $50.
over $75 25%
Did We Miss Your Stylist?
Just because a salon is not listed here does not mean it isn't a good place to have your hair cut or colored. Thereare lots of good hairdressers in the Washington area.
If you would like to nominate your salon or stylist for the next Great Hair article, please send a note, with the subject line "Great Hair," to Mary Clare Fleury at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your biggest complaint about hairstylists in Washington?
Here is what women we polled said were their pet peeves:
They don't listen 2%
Keep you waiting 6%
Too expensive 39%
Give cookie-cutter cuts 8%
Push products 1%
Too chatty 1%
Cut too much 3%
How would you describe women's hairstyles in Washington?
Our survey said: Women here look professional although maybe too conservative.
Too many blondes 8%
Not hung up on trends 15%
This is highlight heaven 16%
Too many "helmet heads"/not adventurous 23%
Nice professional looks 26%
Not enough natural ethnic hair 2%
Too many bobs 10%