Calif. stylists treat you like a star

With dozens of celebrity hairstylists parading their skills in Los Angeles, what's a travelgirl who's obsessed with perfect hair to do? I have long used a rotating cast of stylists, which I admit I'd selected primarily for their chic clientele, but now it was time to get serious.

Nearly every stylist in L.A. has a celebrity client list that makes for increased credibility – and prices.

I have gone from a dark brunette (my natural color), to caramel and eventually almost blond. I have tried long hair, mid-length, a Katie Holmes bob and an almost Jennifer Aniston look. I've gone back and forth with highlights and turned my hair deep chocolate brown for a stint.

So when a friend told me about a new salon in Santa Monica, Calif., that treats regular folks as if we were celebrities, I was more than curious.

For years, British-born Christopher and Sonya Dove educated other hairstylists (the ones with celebrity clients) on the “in” colors and cuts, and after winning numerous awards, the husband-and-wife team decided to settle down and open their very first hair studio and call it appropriately, The Doves.

Just one block from the ocean and without the pretense of Beverly Hills, this elegant, sunlight-flooded salon welcomes you with complimentary cappuccino and Dove chocolates. I told the Doves the story of my hair and then listened to their advice.

Christopher and Sonya converged over my head, like bees on honey, touching my tresses, lifting my hair up and tossing it to come up with the right diagnosis. They debated the right shade of brown and then Christopher, an artist by training, sketched my portrait with the new “do.”

After just one cup of coffee at the salon's Color Bar, while looking through their rich library of hair images, I was ready for my cut – and for heads to turn when I walked outside.

The new me wore darker and more sophisticated locks, with a side-swiped bang; my kids loved it, my husband grinned and my girlfriend vowed to make an appointment for herself.