There are many, many great stylists in this city and its ’burbs. And most of the greats can do anything you ask them to, and do it well. But the trick to true hair happiness is a little more complex, isn’t it? You don’t just want someone who’s great; you want someone intuitively attuned to your exact hair issues.
And that, reader, is what you’ll find here: 45 excellent stylists, each with a special knack for dealing with one issue or another, from cutting crazy curls to eliminating those wiry grays to helping with thinning hair, and beyond. We’ve also got the scoop on the five man-cuts that can instantly update a look, the secrets behind the city’s best heads of hair, the Center City salon that’s bringing back the perm … and more.
Prices listed reflect individual fees for the stylists and services mentioned. For complete pricing, check the salon website.
Oggi’s Cynthia Peditto Hansbury is a known entity in the curl world. She’s perfected a freehand twisting technique that defines curls; she tailors cuts down to the last detail (like, say, where clients touch their hair); and — get this! — she even makes bangs work. Cuts from $70. 1700 Locust Street, Rittenhouse, 215-735-0707.
Camille D’Attilio — a recent add to the Adolf Biecker roster — will likely whip out three types of shears to expertly remove weight from your hair and create bounce in your curls. But her cuts also work beautifully when — as one client puts it — “you want to straighten your hair and not look insane.” Cuts from $55. 1605 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse, 215-735-6404.
Lindsay Szabo at American Mortals understands curly textures and grow-out patterns remarkably well. So attuned is she to curls’ unpredictable nature that she encourages clients to check in after their first post-cut wash, so she can do a free touch-up if hair decided to lie differently at home. Cuts from $60. 727 Walnut Street, Market East, 215-574-1234.
Most color problems start with words, AMS Luxury Salon’s Megan Reilly says sagely: “Let’s get rid of verbiage, which can lead to miscommunication. Just bring a picture.” Reilly is so careful about getting it right that she’ll have you come in twice; the first time is consult-only. That many of her most devoted clients once started as “fix-it” jobs is telling. Corrective color from $185. 262 South 16th Street, Rittenhouse, 215-569-1515.
“It takes a lot of tweaking to make the right shade of red,” admits Tami O’Hara, of Fishtown’s punk-chic Parlour. The keys: persistence, and paying attention to what works. O’Hara logs every color formula she creates, for a whole Rolodex of gorgeous, proven reds. Color from $65. 1339 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown, 215-278-7613.
Laurentius Salon’s Edward Benner specializes in matching color to skin tone, so you’ll look more like a natural-born redhead and less like, say, Jessica Rabbit. “I have been every shade of red, black, brown and blond, and the red I’ve gotten here is by far the best and lasts the longest,” swears one devotee. Color from $85. 815 Christian Street, Bella Vista, 215-238-0764.
When it comes to achieving (and keeping) the perfect blond, Edmondo Blando, owner of the vaunted Salon Vanity, doesn’t mince words: “It will cost money, and it will take time.” (Read: an appointment every three to four weeks, depending on your color and hair.) For blondes (and wannabes) who can’t quiiiiite commit? Eddie is also a known go-to for natural-looking blond highlights (and honeys and golds) that still look hot but require a bit less discipline to maintain. Single-process from $90; highlights from $185. 1701 Walnut Street, Rittenhouse, 215-925-2211.
“If I was blond — or thinking about it — I’d actually run to Alan Gold at Haig & Co,” offers one brunette suburban scenester. Plenty of Main Line blondes do rely on the salon stalwart, who is known for meticulous care. “I test every product for six months before I use it on clients,” Gold says. Single-process from $100; highlights and balayage from $200. 401 City Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, 610-668-5373.
Privé Salon owner Kathryn Picraux attracts clients from D.C., Brooklyn, North Jersey and beyond for her shiny, layered color. One secret? Giving lightened hair the TLC it needs, from a post-color restorative glaze to protein treatments every few months. Single-process from $60; highlights from $100. 5 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, 267-470-4331.
Continuing their reign as the most accessible alterna-colors, pastels are still big; the crew at Moko has mastered the art of technicolor transformation. Up next? “Dusty mauves, silvery violet and almost-rose gold,” owner Monique Mason foretells. Price by consultation; Old City.
Even bolder souls are going for the brighter Katy Perry (Lisa Frank?) look, and they’re doing it in the practiced hands of Architeqt’s Brittiany Cunningham, who’s become known in fashion-forward circles for her head-turning multi-tonal hues. Price by consultation; Washington Square West.
Of course, bold doesn’t necessarily mean rainbow colors. Ashy silver — à la Kelly Osbourne — has been cropping up on the city’s most avant-garde heads; Narberth’s Salon Rosa M is using miracle-product-of-the-moment Olaplex to get the lightest silver possible without damaging a single strand of hair. Highlights from $75; Olaplex service additional $25; Narberth.
Ombré is so 2013; these days, you want an understated gradation of color from root to end. Enter sombré (that’s subtle ombré), and Garrett Olthuis at the small but buzzy Salon Bass. Olthuis’s sombré whispers rather than screams “cool” … and plays up the cheekbones to boot. Sombré from $120. 2056 Pine Street, Rittenhouse, 215-909-0911.
Monique Mason at Moko ups the ante by painting under-layers of your hair and leaving the top section intact, so that shimmery contrasting tones — warm ginger, maybe, or caramel — peek out from below for a pop. Just ask for “underlights.” Underlights from $75. 55 North 3rd Street, Old City, 215-922-6656.
Citing no-nonsense communication and an aversion to chemicals as major draws for her many enthusiasts, mobile stylist Catherine Ashly — known for her painstaking work with natural hair — says, “It’s about making you look your best when you’re not in my chair.” Did we mention she’s mobile? Cuts from $55. 215-480-0435.
Blowouts, relaxers, keratin treatments, color, natural styling and cuts: James Brown (hee!) — owner of James Brown Hair — does it all, does it well, and does it on time. His fanbase is diverse and evangelical. Cuts from $100. 1114 Pine Street, Midtown Village, 215-238-1121.
“I love to push the envelope of what nature offers people,” says Hush’s charming co-owner, Adrienne Rogers, whose clients rave over everything from her forthrightness about what will and will not look “real,” to her salon’s unpretentious vibe, to, yes, her unerring instinct for sophisticated, natural-looking color oomph. “You take what color you think can happen on this Earth and magnify it. People see themselves as beautiful because it’s still a version of them. It boosts ’em up.” Highlights from $140. 128 North 3rd Street, 215-923-5010.
Joseph Anthony’s Devin Delargey specializes in ionizing retexturizing, a three-hour bond-restructuring straightening treatment almost as potent as keratin — and even more permanent. Price by consultation; Glen Mills.
But the grass is always greener, and the straighties are loving Salon Vanity’s American Wave, which promises a beachy, Blake Lively-esque mane and boasts all the benefits of a perm (volume! Bounce!) without the suffocating fumes and damaging chemicals. Starts at $300; Rittenhouse.
Speaking of chemicals: The Chi Enviro Smoothing Treatment at Juju Salon & Organics is another “non-damaging” process that uses amino acids and protein to take the frizz out without removing the actual curl. $250; Queen Village.
Ready to make a big change but don’t know where to start? Laurentius Purnama of Laurentius Salon is known in this town (and beyond — he’s styled Britney, Demi Lovato and Joan Collins, to name a few) as a man with big vision and the talent to execute. That his local clients run the gamut from the young to the not-so-young, from hipsters to lawyers to ladies who lunch, is less remarkable than the fact that they all talk about how much they trust him and his instincts. Cuts from $150. 815 Christian Street, Bella Vista, 215-238-0764.
The name André Richard — he of the eponymous salon — pops up in relation to everything from man-cuts to balayage, but a lesser-known forte? The silver fox. “You see clients say, ‘I’m done with chemicals; I’m done with a salon every four weeks,’” he says. He’ll use foils to ease the color transition, products to brighten the gray, and a fierce cut to “make it look even hotter.” Single-process from $65; highlights from $100. André Richard Salon, 1218 Locust Street; ARS Lab, 201 South Camac Street; the new ARS Parlour, 204 South 12th Street; all in Midtown Village, 215-735-1590.
Not all grays are created equal, says Salon True’s Sarah Cunningham. And she would know: Roughly 80 percent of her clients are fighting the salt-and-pepper look, and she actually teaches classes around the country on gray coverage. A client’s genetic background helps inform her of the best way to restore the drier, wiry hair to its former texture — and that’s the first step toward natural-looking, lasting color. Color from $90. 29 West Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 484-572-8783.
At Head Area, co-owner Lee Clapson sees clients with wispy locks on a weekly basis — and says he doesn’t foresee that changing anytime soon: “Over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed that hair has changed drastically due to diet and stress.” The British stylist uses a straight razor to give fine hair a boost: The blunting technique he’s honed over the years makes an entire head of hair appear fuller and lie gorgeously. Cuts from $90. 238 South 11th Street, Washington Square West, 215-829-0699.
Philly, Hush’s Ruth Andolsen theorizes, is a Brunette City. (This as opposed to, say, Houston, which is obviously Blond.) It’s great, she says: “I think brunettes are beautiful.” As a rule, she’s careful not to over-highlight, instead playing up the natural color contrasts in dark-haired clients. Easy-to-maintain is her thing: “I love people who want to come back for a seasonal change, as opposed to needing to come back.” Single-process from $75; highlights from $135. 126 North 3rd Street, Old City, 215-923-5010.
Seiko Kubota, colorist and balayage expert at Studio CL, takes mousy-colored and muddy browns and paints in layers of golds and chestnuts and warm and cool umbers, for dark hair with drama and depth. Colleagues describe her as a kind of color savant: “She sees things no one else sees,” offers one. Single-process from $85; highlights from $130. 128 South 19th Street, Rittenhouse, 215-496-0604.
Who has time for a two-hour appointment before an event? The nimble-fingered Tasha Jetter at AMS Luxury Salon’s Braid Bar has you select your look from an extensive braid book (or she’ll happily “concoct” one); 15 minutes later, you’ve got a ’do more versatile than a chignon and more unexpected than a blowout. Prices from $20 for braid and $55 for braid with wash and blow-dry; Rittenhouse.
Not to knock the good quickie blowout, though: Every salon worth its salt can do a solid job, but Blo/Out (Washington Square West and Rittenhouse) and Heads & Tails (Rittenhouse) are all about the blowout, and offer a variety of fast, flat-fee style choices performed by specially trained experts whose dryers are basically attached to their hands. $35 at both.
“Every woman should have short hair at one point in her life,” proclaims Mirror & Mantel’s Kelly Hursh, a pert little thing who believes nearly everyone — not just other pert little things — can rock a short look. The trick, she says, is knowing your best style: cropped bangs? Cheekbone-highlighting bob? Jean Seberg chic? Just follow Hursh’s advice. Cuts from $65; free cleanups. 117 South 22nd Street, Rittenhouse, 215-988-9088.
To the delight of his myriad followers, Alexey Kats has opened his second Philly salon: Fairmount’s Architeqt North specializes in the same geometrically inspired dry cuts that helped put the original Wash West outpost on the map. “Long, wavy hair has been in style so long,” he says. “It’s fun that now shorter hair is coming back.” Cuts from $90. Architeqt, 265 South 10th Street, Washington Square West; Architeqt North, 1943 Callowhill Street, Fairmount; 215-567-5005.
Whether you need a total fix or just quick reshaping, Nick Berardi, 43-year owner of Richard Nicholas, is the man. Bernardi and his entire crew are specialists: Many of the city’s best stylists have taken cutting classes from him. One local salon owner gushingly refers to him as “The Godfather of Hair” in Philly, and though his client list reads a bit like a who’s who in this city, he’s humble, with his cuts priced the same as those of his employees: $60. (P.S.: Word is R.N.’s Kelsey Schaefer is also great with bangs.) 1716 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse, 215-567-4790.
Many Lakshmi stylists are lovers of long hair, so you needn’t worry about some scissor-happy diva ruining all your hard growing work. And while co-founder Danielle Carr is often (rightly) noted for her color skills, her ability to shape — and even bring a little edge to — longer tresses is worth the call-out. Cuts from $85. 21 North 2nd Street, Old City, 215-923-2272.
Clients love Angela Fong’s cuts at Salon Vanity because she transforms long hair into an actual look, instead of just hair that hasn’t been cut in a while. Cuts from $75. 1701 Walnut Street, Rittenhouse, 215-925-2211.
If it seems a bit melodramatic to describe Rescue Spa’s treatments for thinning hair as “life-altering,” well, just talk to a woman who’s trying to grow her hair back after chemo, or someone in the throes of alopecia areata. Hell, talk to a balding man. The spa’s hair gurus, Erica DiVario and Patty Gibbons, do more than just camouflage the issue with cut and color: They offer scalp treatments and at-home regimens using the French oil-and-plant-based René Furterer line to stimulate healthy hair growth — fast. It’s the real deal. Scalp treatments from $60. 1601 Walnut Street, Rittenhouse, 215-772-2766.
Joey Arzillo at the Midtown Village standby Giovanni & Pileggi is a master of the graduated bob. “That cut’s been a compliment king for me,” raves one regular. Don’t freak out when he breaks out the men’s hair trimmers — they help him create the lines that make for minimal maintenance later. Cuts from $60. 308 South 12th Street, Midtown Village, 215-568-3040.
Not all heads can handle the same type of extensions. Salon Ziza’s owner, Liz Stelmach, understands this, and will prescribe the right ones for your head, whether that means hair that’s 10 percent or 60 percent denser than what you came in with, very long or very short. (Yes, short extensions are a thing — and the salon does boast some male clients.) Liz’s line of body-boosting, non-damaging, low-maintenance extensions has garnered its own buzz on the Main Line. Extension price upon consult. 6 Greenfield Avenue, Ardmore, 610-642-5200.
The cheery Shelley Perkins-Rowland at Culture does wet cuts, dry cuts and “whatever it takes” to work with your wild volume, crazy kinks, cowlicks or what have you. An artist by trade, with a degree from Moore, she says she loves the transformative process — but she’s no prima donna: “My goal is always to work with you to come up with a plan that you love and can replicate at home.” Cuts from $58. 7201 Germantown Avenue, Mount Airy, 215-242-1314.
Jojo Clapson, the über-cool co-owner of über-cool Head Area, began honing her skills as an Asian hair authority more than two decades ago, when word of her talent got out amongst students in an Asian sorority at Penn. Twenty-five years later, she still counts some of those former students as clients, likely because the precision razor-and-scissor-cutting technique she embraces creates a look that’s subtle and layered, never choppy. Cuts from $90. 238 South 11th Street, Washington Square West, 215-829-0699.
She’s expert at taking clients from one color to the next, but Fedora Salon’s Jamie Valoris will lay down the law if need be. “If it’s not going to make your hair feel good, I’m not going to do it,” she says. So if Valoris says you’ll look good as a blonde, you can believe her. Single-process from $50; highlights from $85. 4167 Main Street, Manayunk, 267-335-2876.
Richard Nicholas’s Josie DiCarlo, whose own color changes often (she’s currently a silvery lavender), knows that tricks and little touches can add up to an entirely different look without wrecking your hair health or veering into the cartoonish. Single-process from $65; highlights from $130. 1716 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse, 215-567-4790.
Reporting and writing by Chelsea Edgar, Marina Lamanna and Annie Monjar. Originally published as “Right Hair, Right Now” in the December 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
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