Best Hair Salons in Chicago and the Suburbs

THE HAIR AWARDS: We combed through our network of stylish Chicagoans for this list of 32 recommended salons in the area

The Hair AwardsUPDATE (August 2011): Find our newest—and most comprehensive—list of great hair salons in Chicagoland here.

PHOTOS: On the hunt for great haircuts, we stopped people on the street and asked them to dish. Some of the salons ended up on our recommendation list. Check out the folks and their stylish ‘dos by launching the gallery »

PLUS: Tell us in the comments below, which is your favorite salon?

LONG HAIRCUTS

At Michael & Michael, the ego-free owner Michael Jacobson whips up the priciest but sexiest long layers in town, with just the right energy and swing ($375 first cut and consult, $185 thereafter). Jacobson’s protégé, Mitch Kadlec, who has been dubbed his salon son, snips the same techniques for $80. The owner of Salon Buzz, Andreas Zafiriadis, hops between his two trendy but friendly Gold Coast and River North shops ($115 precision dry cuts). Upstairs off Oak Street, Melissa Conley and the staff at Free Nation of Beauty wrestle any tricky mane into a runway classic ($110). For a hip city vibe in the burbs, Taylor Reese Salon in Highland Park gets the nod. There, the former full-timer Emanuel Rodrigues ($110) swings in monthly from Vegas; book early. At Paul Rehder, the Bumble and Bumble–trained stylist David Elkayam ($85) and photo-shoot maven Jillian Seely ($150 first-timers, $100 thereafter) are well worth the buzz. The Siren Salon’s artistic team director, Donka Kuzmanovski ($63), gets what’s next. (We heart the cookies, too!) Fresh from Portland, Oregon, Aaron McClure has gals salon-hopping to Fringe in Wicker Park for hipster shags ($50). (Good for men, too!)

Related:

INDEX »
List of salons and their information

HOT HEADS »
Stylish locals dish about their salons

SHORT HAIRCUTS

Jeffrey Cassens, a frequent list topper and 17-year veteran of Marianne Strokirk, now rocks his two-in-one “convertible coupe,” a short-underneath and long-on-top hairstyle that allows clients to wear their hair two ways, at the newly renovated Studio 110 ($150 first-timers, $110 thereafter). In the northern suburbs, Renee Ferraro at Pascal Pour Elle has city girls doing the reverse commute to Glencoe for her cuts ($100 first-timers, $90 thereafter). Red 7 Salon offers more than sparkly chande-liers, hand massages, wine, and free bang trims—Crystal Thomas is a precision scissors wizard ($70) and resident brow guru. The salon has an Evanston location, too, where David Kafer comes highly recommended. The South Loop hairstylist Michele Lynn Minale is always up for some- thing new, face flattering, and life changing ($72). Need out of your cut rut? Valerie Isotalo (formerly Baker) of Sine Qua Non Salon in Lake View is a go-to girl for pretty, edgy cuts ($64). Stylists at the rock-and-roll­-pumped Twisted Scissors in Logan Square are tattooed, pierced, dyed, and well priced! Don a camo cape, snag free beer or wine, and let Anna Armes (formerly Gonzalez) start snipping ($30–$45).

MEN’S HAIRCUTS

Many complain about the no-appointment rule—only half-hour call-aheads and walk-ins are welcome—at Floyd’s 99, but trust us, it’s an affordable service ($21) that’s worth the wait. The Hinsdale salon Jeffrey Charles is the new home of Paula Wilkinson, an industry vet with a strong following of devoted male clients from the city and the western burbs. Those searching for a sophisticated, classic look (from $25) should seek the master stylist Daniel Dela Cerda at Robert Jeffrey Hair Studio in Lake View. Belmont Barbershop may have a traditional feel, but it offers clean, modern looks for less than $20. All cuts ($22) at the music-themed JMC Barber Shop in Elmhurst come with a hot-lather neck and sideburn shave from the Tricoci alum Jason Clarida; guests are also invited to play the in-house guitar and drums. Restoration Salon in Andersonville features Dawn Erika, a great conversationalist and remarkable stylist ($45).

SPECIAL OCCASION

UPDOS: No need to worry about how your hair will turn out for your long-awaited event. The traveling stylists at Beauty on Call hold trial-run appointments beforehand to ensure that you are completely satisfied ($175 for regional stylist, $275 for senior stylist). Vicki Tsafogiannis of Tsubo Chicago is a triple threat: She offers gorgeous updos (from $75), perfect cuts ($55)—and yoga. A longtime favorite of both city dwellers and suburbanites, Mario Tricoci has 18 locations to style for proms, weddings, galas, and everything in between (prices vary).

STRAIGHTENING: Though it’s pricey (from $700), Sho Studio applies the permanent Japanese treatment as well as Ioneat, a Japanese shampoo that reduces split ends and enhances shine. At Ayna Day Spa and Salon, the retexturizing service is a specialty (price varies upon consultation). After receiving the Brazilian Keratin treatment (from $350) from Free Nation of Beauty, hair—no matter the type—stays silky and flyaway-free for months.

EXTENSIONS: Studio 110 offers top-quality, natural-looking extensions that match any hair pigment (price varies upon consultation). For a more expensive yet longer-lasting product, Marianne Strokirk is the only salon in Illinois to offer Nordic Hair Contrast Extensions. The glue-free invention ($1,100) sandwiches strands of natural hair and can be used on a customer’s head more than once.

COLOR

Forget chunky highlights or Bree Van de Kamp’s fiery red mane. Subtle is the trend in sophisticated hair color today. Scott De Jong, a popular colorist at Salon Buzz (Superior Street location), says he rarely performs full highlights, noting that softer, more natural looks dominate not only his salon but the fashion runways (from $100). For those who truly want to keep their color under wraps, John Lusk operates out of a private room in Studio Within. He specializes in blond highlights and natural ways to cover gray ($65 for single-process color, $80 and up for partial highlights, and $120 and up for full). Another great find is the colorist Christopher Bozarth, owner of the two-person salon 2109 in Wicker Park (from $115).

It’s no secret in the color community that red, which fades fast, is the most difficult shade to execute and maintain. Linda Saimes at Marianne Strokirk’s Near North location boasts happy redheaded clients as well as head-turning highlighted blonds—including some television news reporters (from $75). Steven Smiss at Michael & Michael is adept with eye-catching but natural-looking blond, brunette, and auburn manes. (Single-process color starts at $80, and partial highlights start at $135. New clients pay a one-time $20 fee.) Frugalistas will appreciate the recession-friendly prices of the colorist Jenna Knasel at Glenview’s Pascal Pour Elle. Knasel uses a wide-tooth comb to distribute single-process color to certain strands, which creates a more dimensional effect. She also performs a version of partial highlighting for single-process clients for $100. (Single- process color starts at $50, and partial highlights cost $85.)

When Charles Ifergan, of Oak Street fame, opened its Naperville outpost more than a year ago, the senior colorist Sarah Goebel was transferred from its Oak Brook location to set the bar. Goebel specializes in beachy California-blond highlights and rich brunette shades. (Single-process color starts at $55, and highlights begin at $85.)

AFRICAN AMERICAN HAIR

For 30 years, Van Cleef Hair Studio has catered to African American women and taught them how to care for their hair. The list of celebrity clients (including Michelle Obama) is long; there, the stylists Evvy Kirkpatrick, Danielle Robinson, and Venita Hobson come recommended. In the Loop, the salon owner and stylist Lana Harris Jefferson of Variations Hair Studio keeps the downtown girls happy with haircuts and relaxers at reasonable prices. (Wash and cut from $75, relaxers from $80.) In Bronzeville, Lisa L. Banks, owner of Red Karma Salon, works to help women transition to natural hair. (Her Moroccanoil restorative hair mask runs $30.) Gilbert Valdez at Aniko Salon and Spa offers a three-step relaxing system and air-form styling to leave hair smooth (relaxing from $110, air-forming from $45).

Photo gallery

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4 years ago
Posted by Absyrd

I need a short hair stylist in the western suburbs. All stylists out here seem afraid to cut my hair past a certain length. A few weeks ago, I went to Colorific in Wheaton, and wasn't impressed; the cut was uneven and needed too much goop in it to make any sense. I want something that can be a punky, but still feminine with a little bit of styling. Recommendations, please!!

4 years ago
Posted by elspytrc

I do not know how a feature on Chicago Salons does not include FIREFLY SALON at 1227 W. Diversy. The owner, Ellen Dunn, is a veteran of two of the top salons included in the feature and her prices are a fraction! I have been to three of the salon's featured and none can come close to the skill and experience Ellen provides for both cuts and color.

Ann Klien

4 years ago
Posted by Valerie

Salon Echo on Bryn Mawr in Edgewater -- Maria is owner -- all natural hair products no toxins -- takes her time with clients -- a real find on the northside. Everything in the salon from floors to paint on the walls to windows to products is green, green, green. And when you emerge from Salon Echo you look simply fabulous. Women and men.

4 years ago
Posted by 579AboveSeaLevel

Sparrow in Logan Square is certainly one of the best if not THE best in Chicago. Sheba and Susan have the accolades to prove it. I'm guessing the authors know this...but the full page photo of these brilliant stylists in last month's magazine precluded a reapeat appearance here. Shame.

4 years ago
Posted by bailey50

I have been going to Claude Thomas Spa in Palatine for over 10 years. I would recommend them to anyone. Claudia is the owner and is extremely knowledgeable in color,extensions etc. I wear my hair short and the color changes everytime I go. People look forward to my changes every 5 weeks. It's a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I have seen numerous walk ins having problems with extensions and they take the time to explain and redo what someone already messed up on. Believe me, it's worth the drive.

4 years ago
Posted by bailey50

Forget Mario Tricoci, everyone that walked out of there walked out looking the same with the same haircut. I walked in and they asked what kind of hair cut do you want. When I go Claude Thomas I know she knows what will look good and what won't. She just does what she likes and I have to say, I have been stopped in stores and told how much they like the colors and the cut. Try her.

4 years ago
Posted by Kent

What about State Street Barbers for men's haircuts? It's manly, affordable and they do a great job. Lots of Chicago pro athletes go there and I won't go anywhere else. They have the best hot lather shaves in the city.

4 years ago
Posted by oh please

Absyrd,
Try Velarde Salon & Spa in Schaumburg...ask for Gina..she is gifted...'nuff said.

4 years ago
Posted by sophia

Linda at Marianne Strokirk is amazing... transformed my hair.....

4 years ago
Posted by jmh4434

i go to salon buzz gold coast, caitlin for color and erin for cuts and updo's. they are the fiercest Duo in Chicago. Caitlin always makes my color look rich and shiny- and it lasts. She's also creative, and allows me to change from brown to red, and even blonde. Erin is a magician with her scissors, and her blow dry's and updo's are top notch. both are perfection.

4 years ago
Posted by bruno33

Looking for a great stylist (for cut and color) in the southwest suburbs; any suggestions?

4 years ago
Posted by bruno33

In desparate need of a good stylist(s)or salon (for cut and color) in the southwest suburbs. Any suggestions? (I live in Oak Lawn).

4 years ago
Posted by JR82681

Thank you Chicago Magazine! Red 7 Salon has been one of the city's hidden gems for a long time now and its great that they are finally getting the recognition they deserve! And on top of it, my stylist Crystal!

The staff at Red 7 is friendly and courteous (even offering to pay your meter if you can't run out to your car yourself!). Incredible head massages while they wash your hair, free hand massages AND one of the few salons left that doesn't charge you for a blow out when you get cut or color. I used to get my hair blown out by Crystal when she was in their training program and she is just incredible. A doll, super sweet and amazing at what she does. And free bang trims? Now I know why I've been coming here for years!

4 years ago
Posted by jb23

For the person asking about a stylist in Oak Lawn, try Vogue Hair Designs at 107th and Cicero. I've been going there for years for cuts and have been very pleased with the results. I go to Jill, but Keith and Ashley seem very good as well.

4 years ago
Posted by ShelbyDoesHair

I work at Mops Beauty Shop in Logan Square. Check us out at www.MopsBeautyShop.com and check out my blog at www.ShelbyDoesHair.com to see some pictures of my work.

4 years ago
Posted by Saguaro

The BW and I liked Alex Jeremic who used to be at Anthony Salerno in Oak Park. Does anyone know where she is working now or how one could go about finding out? Thanks.

4 years ago
Posted by curlygirl68

If you've got curls, head over to Sine Qua Non! They're great with cutting and styling curly and wavy hair. Definitely the best in Chicago!!

3 years ago
Posted by midnight312

If you live in the western suburbs check out (imo) the burbs best kept secret..(kinda don't wanna say)
But they're awesome. Felipe salon in Oakbrook Terrace. I was referred by a friend and have to say definitely not a suburb salon.The vibe is fun and Juan and Lisa are magnificent. I'm of course gonna say that, a bit biased. I've been going for years.. but trust me. Been every where else out here
(ex-city gal.) Oh and they have a party every thursday night! I love it a glass of wine while
i get a cut.

3 years ago
Posted by Fun1

Check out Daniel Stevens Salon in Downers Grove. Its been around for over 25 years but its very modern and the people there are very down to earth and always want to make the customers happy! I have gone to several of the stylists there and have been pleased with all of them!

3 years ago
Posted by CHI

Please do not go to Variations Studio. I went there this summer and the owner took all my hair out with the perm she used on my hair. She did not base it at all. I have short hair. I called her and told her that it was falling out as soon as I got home from the salon and asked her what was happening, I asked her if I could come in for treatments she told me she is going out of town. She didn't even suggest any of her other stylist that worked in the salon to me that will be able to help with treatments. I am just getting my hair back, the worst experience I have every had.

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