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Finding the perfect stylist isn't always easy, but when you do, it's nirvana.

It takes a special stylist to work with curly haired clients, doesn't it? We're picky and we're fickle. We want the perfect curl and we want it now, and we want it affordably. And we want it on the second day, the third day ....

Most stylists don't get curl-specific training in cosmetology school, so a curl specialist has to be someone who's struck out on her own to get extra training, through classes or just lots of experience. Curl expertise is hard-won, and it's something to be treasured.

A few lucky CurlTalkers have found nirvana—curl-expert stylists who have made their curls shine. In this month of celebrating stylists, we asked these CurlTalkers to describe how stylists have affected their lives. Here are a few of their stories.

Wookiemouse

I had never even heard of the Curly Girl method before meeting my stylist, Sharon Pell. I just used whatever drugstore products I could find that could tame my massive head of frizz and just chalked it up to "just my hair type." I had a good curly stylist before and always got a good cut, but I still was lacking in product. When I left the salon, the frizz came back and I felt like I was back to square one. Whatever confidence I had coming out of the salon was gone as well.

When I moved to a new town, I called around looking for someone experienced in curly hair. A local salon said Sharon was excellent and a curly as well, so I booked an appointment — blindly. When I arrived, her hair was SPECTACULAR — like straight out of a magazine! I asked her her secret, and she said she shampoos maybe once every 6 weeks or so. At the time, I was beyond grossed out. Wasn't her hair supposed to be stringy and gunky at that rate, not full of shiny bouncy curls? That's when she clued me in to the whole Curly Girl routine with sulfate free shampoos and no-cones. I found it pretty easy to do and my hair responded pretty fast — I went from what looked like an '80s frizzy wave perm to actual curls! That was in 2007 and I never looked back — or went elsewhere. Sharon has changed salons since then and I just follow her around like a puppy. I have never once had a bad cut from her or walked away without learning a new styling tip. She has had a profound impact in my life — from going to "how can I manage my hair so it doesn't look like something is living in it today", to "let's see what this combo will do!" — because even on my "bad" hair days now, my curls still look fantastic! And that will give you one heck of a confidence boost.

sarahsmiles

stylist saved my curls

CurlTalker sarasmiles has accepted her curls, with the help of a great stylist.

Last year (when I was in 10th grade) I went to the hair salon, and as my hair stylist, Kristy Prescott, was washing my hair, she goes, "Wow! You hair is curly, isn't it?" I said "Yup." She asked me if I leave my hair curly often and I was a little embarrassed. I said, "No. Never."

As she was cutting my hair she told me all about curly hair and how to handle it. I learned to diffuse my hair, dry my hair with a T-shirt, etc. I got a mousse that day so I could leave my hair curly.

At the end of the school year I wore my naturally curly for the first time since 7th grade. People couldn't believe it was my natural hair. They all wanted to touch it, and spring my curls. One girl came up and said, "Wow, it must have taken you forever to do your hair." And I said, "Actually only about 10 minutes."

It was so liberating for everyone to see the real me. Now I'm accepting of my curly hair. I've learned to appreciate how special and unique my hair is. Instead of fitting in at school with my stick-straight hair I've found out it's way more fun to stand out!

Meghuney

From the Sun-In incident of 1994 to inverted bobs and finally, a desire to go natural — my hairstylist, Sharon, has been with me for almost 20 years.

I've been going to the same stylist since I was 11, if you can believe that. I am now 29. When I first went to Sharon, I was 11 and in elementary school. My 3B/C hair had become too huge for own 3A fine-haired mother to handle. Blown straight in the morning, by the afternoon of heat in Southeast Texas, my hair had reached the mammoth size of a blown-up cotton ball. Finally, my mother dragged me to an "ethnic" salon, as she called it. My mother had no clue how to handle hair with a little bit more kink.

Through flat irons and later, relaxers, Sharon helped me work my way through elementary and middle school without being called "Frizz Fest" as I had been not-so-affectionately named previously. One summer, when I was 12, I decided I wanted lighter hair and when Sharon wouldn't dye it for me at such a young age I turned to the hair-dye devil...Sun-In. As my hair fell out in clumps, Sharon was there for me each week with a trim and deep-conditioning treatment.

You should have seen her face once my hair grew back and I decided to do my own Halle Berry type cut that looked more like Bozo the Clown. Months later, when my hair grew out, Sharon talked me into going natural.

I saw myself in the mirror with loopy curls and fell in love. Years later — I still went back and forth with straight and curly but Sharon has always been there...every snip, cut and curl of the way.

pjsmommy12

I've had the same stylist for over 15 years. Her name is Cindy and have followed her to 3 different salons. She has done everything to my hair ... and that's NOT an understatement. I am totally comfortable with her and can tell her anything. The funny thing is that I went to make an appointment with another stylist who was recommended, but she was unavailable. I guess fate intervened. When I decided to start wearing it curly again (a little over a year ago), she went with the flow. When I started CG a few months ago, again she understood. Even though she is not "trained" in curly hair, she understand it, listens to me and gives me beautiful cuts. She uses sulfate- and 'cone-free products, but I do leave with it wet. I am just happier with how I fix my own hair. I love her like a sister and told her that if she retires, she'll just have to come to my house and do my hair. I have sent her several clients recently and they feel the same way. In a word ... she is awesome.

misfitcurls

Tiffany Anderson (aka our very own struttswife) is my wonderful curly stylist.

On my first visit to Tiffany I already knew a very good amount about being cg thanks to NC. It was fantastic to have finally found a stylist who was not only a great curly cutter but someone who knew all the acronyms and procedures!

She provided me with a pamphlet that she created on going cg (which I was able to pass on to my mother) that spelled everything out clearly and was very user friendly!

She also informed me of things I could not figure out on my own (texture, porosity, etc!) and was able to help me pick products based on what my hair needed. No more getting sucked in by advertising claims!

The best thing I have received from my stylist (besides beautiful hair cuts!) was the inspiration, advice, and support on not only being a proud curly, but to become a curl stylist myself.

She has helped me find a great school and promised to "teach" me her method so I can pass this wonderful gift onto other curlies!

She has been such an inspiration and I hope I can become even just half as good as she is!

She has changed my life and helped me find a career that I am sure I will really love.

M2LR

stylist saved my curls

CurlTalk's M2LR — her hair was "saved" by the right stylist.

A few years back, someone introduced me to the "Curly Girl" by Lorraine Massey. I’d just had my first baby, and my hair was a wreck. It started falling out, was no longer full due to the pregnancy, and I was back into the hair-hating days of my youth. I had tears, I had sadness…I felt like I was in my teens again. I was NOT happy.

I tried the Curly Girl (CG) routine. Stopped using shampoos, and anything with a 'cone in it. It was a miserable failure. My hair was frizzy, lifeless, and stringy. I know that’s hard to picture, but clearly my hair was in a war with itself.

In August of 2008, a thread was started on NaturallyCurly.com about haircuts. Someone mentioned a ‘Deva cut.’ A Deva cut is the cutting method developed by Lorraine Massey. It involves cutting the hair dry, at a specific angle. There is also a method to cutting the under-part of the hair, and then the canopy. I lamented on the site that the only salons that do the Deva cuts were in the San Francisco area, at least 2 hours away from me.

Another poster posted the link to the Deva site and said, “Hey! You never know!!!” I did a search for a salon, and there was one only 17 miles away. I could do 17 miles. I called immediately. I talked to the owner Susan. She said that she does the Deva cuts. It was about 10 a.m., and my appointment was for 2 p.m. I was shocked that something was open so soon! I took the appointment without question.

Susan then gave me my instructions:

Wash hair, let it air dry without touching it, and without product in it

I did so, and my hair didn’t look too bad. It was still a little damp when I arrived for my appointment, but that didn’t seem to matter too much. Susan explained how the cut works, and why they cut it dry. She then grabbed a small rolling chair, her comb and scissors and set to work. It’s a SLOOOOOOW process, your first Deva cut. I closed my eyes a few times, relishing in the feeling of the small pointed end of the comb searching out curly strands, and the quiet snip of the scissors. She worked all around my head and was done in about 30 minutes. During the cut, she explained that she also had curly hair, and always felt that knowing how curly hair works, how it’s formed and why it’s so different from straight hair was something she needed to do. She told me about her experiences in New York, meeting Lorraine and taking her course on learning to cut curly hair with the Deva method.

She didn’t wash it, didn’t do anything else to it, not even any kind of de-frizzing pomade! I looked in the mirror and I felt transformed. My hair didn’t have any product in it and it looked great. I had found a new like, no LOVE, for my hair!!! She explained some of the Deva products, how and why they work with curly hair. I ran out to my nearest ULTA and purchased her suggestions.

It’s been a year and I have been using these products ever since. Getting my first Deva cut from Susan was truly a transformation in my feelings towards my hair. I very rarely have a bad hair day, and two-day hair isn’t the nightmare that it was in the past. Spraying a bit of lavender-water on it, scrunching a little and it is good to go.

In the last year, I have gotten 4 Deva cuts. I go in maybe every 4 months, and my hair doesn’t turn into triangle-head like it used to with the “straight-across” cuts I used to receive. I have never received more compliments on my hair, either. It was as if my hair was something people started to notice more, and it actually looked GOOD!

TooSense

I found my stylist when I had to cut off most of my hair after straightening turned it into a frizzy mess. I had extensions put in and she was the only stylist in the immediate area with experience cutting hair extensions. She also happens to be African-American.

She did a beautiful job w/the extensions, so when I had them removed I went back to her for a cut. She is truly phenomenal. My hair has never looked better. When I first went to her I was crying myself to sleep every night. Today we can laugh about her holding my hand through all my hair trauma.

Why it took me 38 years to realize an AA stylist would be really good at cutting curly hair, I don't know. But I'm glad I finally did.