Best Hair Salons in Chicago and the Suburbs
Great stylists and studios for for men, women, and all types of hair—long, short, curly, African-American, Asian, and more
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The Circle Salon
Best for women’s short cuts
Jamie Bushman at The Circle Salon: “It all comes down to lines,” says Bushman, who focuses on the geometry of the face to shape her up-to-date angled bobs and on-trend pixies (think longer in the front and tighter on the sides). Not an atypical approach for a student of the Aveda Institute—but, as a trained makeup artist, she also pays attention to how light and shadow interplay with a client’s best features in building a style. “They all go hand in hand,” says Bushman, who’s not afraid to take bold steps such as undercutting, in which she shaves stealth sections of hair on the underside of a bob to smooth or balance the overall effect (from $80).
ALSO RECOMMENDED: Red 7 Salon co-owner David Kafer can take any hair texture from long to short (first-time clients $145; subsequent cuts $115). Laura Kelley of Genacelli Salon specializes in “angle-forward,” above-the-shoulders precision cuts (from $45). Mandy Schoenbein of Karen Marie Salon says a current trend is to keep short cuts (from $70) tighter near the nape and sides to emphasize movement and length near the crown.
Best for women’s long cuts
Charles Lord at Taylor Reese Salon: In Lord’s mind, a great long cut isn’t a technical feat; it’s an art. He might ask you to stand while he buzzes around your head, carefully snipping strands, or to shake your mane vigorously so that he can observe movement. Those who can accept a little eccentricity from their coiffeur are rewarded: Lord, who has styled hair for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, delivers a beautiful, modern cut, and he has the patience to coach clients through the dreaded growing-out phase (first visit $250; subsequent cuts $150).
ALSO RECOMMENDED: No scissor-happy type, Tina Salerno, the co-owner of James Anthony Salon & Day Spa in River Forest, lusts after long hair ($75)—and the salon’s crepuscular Lather Lounge soothes haircut anxiety. Christina Crosthwaite at Fringe in Wicker Park gives bold clients an edge with her asymmetrical do (from $43). At Maxine, Becca Panos excels at the subtle art of interior layering (from $90).
Best stylist for African American hair
Michelle Dixon at Maxine: Though Dixon is a pro at applying chemical straighteners ($95), clients who opt to stay relaxer-free say she’s also the woman to see for face-flattering cuts and a serious blowout ($95). Dixon’s Vidal Sassoon training and 12 years of experience with multicultural hair have taught her tricks to working with curly textures—she even developed a popular technique using pin curls to create waves that she calls “temptress curls.”
ALSO RECOMMENDED: From relaxers to cuts and color, Evvy Kirkpatrick, Danielle Robinson, and Venita Hobson at Van Cleef Hair Studio do it all. Need a blowout before breakfast? The salon opens as early as 4 a.m. some days (cuts from $73; color from $83). Yehia & Co. Hair Designs has locations in Hyde Park, the South Loop, Oak Park, and Country Club Hills. Insiders say to make an appointment with Yehia himself (wash, style, curl, and cut, $75)—he’s been styling for more than 40 years and rotates among salons.
Best stylist for Asian hair
Robert Lam at Styling Studio Image Factory: Lam doesn’t believe Asian hair is all that different. Yes, it’s coarse and heavy, and it doesn’t always show off layers and shape well. But it can be tamed, says the salon owner, who trained at Pivot Point in his native Hong Kong. Lam explains that because the ends of Asian hair have a tendency to split and frizz, he uses regular shears, instead of texturizing or a razor, to cut cleanly, straight across the shaft ($75 for women; $41 for men). He relies, too, on a straightening blow-dry to assess how the hair will accept or resist control.
ALSO RECOMMENDED: Originally from Tokyo, Suzuki at Sho Studio in River North cuts hair of all textures (from $100). At Bex Hair in Lisle, Hong Kong native Keena Ngai offers impeccable styles that don’t break the bank ($38 for women; $28 for men). At Urban Roots Salon in Chinatown, Andy Zhu gives precision cuts (price based on hair length, averaging $34).
Photograph: Courtesy of the Circle Salon