"Proper hydration is huge," says Willhite. "Using a deep conditioning treatment like Ouidad 12 Minute Deep Treatment, $52, will moisturize and help restore the curl formation. This will help the stylist to get a clear visual reading of the natural curl pattern, giving you the optimum results in your desired hairstyle."
If your hair has been color- or chemically treated, or has any form of damage or breakage, don't even think about setting foot in a salon until you've conditioned it. "Damaged curls need to be treated with a lot of care when cutting," says Devachan Salon senior stylist Carolyn Long. "Focus on at-home intensive conditioning prior to getting your cut."
Know your best hair-cutting state
"Curls should be in their natural state -- meaning dry and curly, free of any sticky, greasy or gooey product [residue]," says Walent. "It's hard to see the true nature of the hair if it's [saturated with product]. If it's wet, you can't see where or how that individual curl lives. When the hair is dry you can see the big picture -- how the shape works with the face shape and features."
According to Long, a dry cut will also help preserve length. "Wet curls distort the true length of a curl when dry. And when the hair is wet you have absolutely no idea how those curls will react and respond dry. So, in order to maintain length, you should always get a dry cut."
Look for a standard toolkit
A double-sided comb with varied spaces between the teeth will give your stylist the ability to detangle and properly section the hair. This kind of comb helps control different textures and densities.
Sturdy clips to help hold curly textures and give your stylist the ability to have full control while staying organized.
Sharp shears -- no matter what the curl type or texture -- will give your stylist proper control for an efficient, seamless haircut.
Keep your specific curl type in mind
If your curls are on the kinkier side, Long recommends stylists use zero tension (i.e. no tugging or pulling). "The slightest bit of tension while dry cutting tighter curls and zigzags will greatly affect the finished shape and length."
Be clear about working your angles
There are a million reasons why styling curly hair is more difficult than styling straight hair -- the products, the curl manipulation, and ensuring they all look the same for (at least) most of the day. Not to mention the whole length issue (shrinkage, anyone?). Which is why finding someone who can cut curly hair without butchering it requires more than a neighborhood Yelp search. It requires research -- knowing exactly how to get the perfect haircut with hair so full of personality.