New salon somehow exceeds expectations

Before visiting Salon J, I had only let two people cut my hair: my longtime hairdresser and myself. I had only had my hair colored in small bathrooms with crappy products. After experiencing the kindness of the hairdressers and the quality of the experience at Salon J, I will probably be paying them another visit come September.

My first impressions were comfortable and welcoming, foreshadowing the experience. Greeted by friendly hairdressers, a cozy atmosphere, and the fresh and fruity smell of high-end hair products, it becomes immediately apparent that this salon does not try to be an overpriced, upscale New York spa or a dump that plasters heavily Photoshopped pictures of different hairstyles on its windows. Its options are as varied as the former, with everything from a simple wash and blow-dry to keratin treatments and feather extensions, while maintaining the prices of the latter: $50 for a single-process coloring, $75 for an updo styling and $10 for an eyebrow wax.

Everything about Salon J is homey. Each of the five hairdressers was born and raised in the area and is familiar with everything New Haven, from the debauchery at Toad’s Place to the specials at Miya’s. The comfort of patrons is their first priority; everyone is immediately offered coffee, water and magazines.

I had come into the salon with bright orange hair, hoping to dull it to a blonde. At first, Jenna (my hairdresser) looked skeptical, but was enthusiastic about getting it to the color and length that I wanted. After having my hair stripped of color, then re-dyed, then toned, I expected frayed ends, coarse hair and not much of a color difference. But I was wrong.

My hair was soft and repaired, blonde and healthy-looking (and maybe even healthier than before). When I left Salon J, I may have looked more like a Southern belle than the angsty Northeasterner I was upon entrance, but my hair was light and airy and I felt great about it. Not to mention the attention that my hairdresser gave to me was nothing short of meticulous. She even stayed open an hour past closing time to make sure that my hair was the color I asked for when I walked in.

Salon J has no delusions of grandeur. It does not try to be a mom-and-pop shop, a boys’ club or a girly salon. It is a salon for college students. The prices are reasonable (women’s haircuts are $45; men’s are $20), the decor is hip, and the stylists are young and attractive; plus they offer a 10 percent discount to all Yale ID holders.

The salon offered me the client-stylist relationship I had only seen in movies: Jenna talked to me about everything from boys to music to fashion to food, all while giving me a great hair experience.

Salon J is open Monday through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is located right next to J.Press on York Street.

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