Trust is key at the hair salon. Photo: Getty Images

Midway through my first visit to Reyad Fritas at Frederic Fekkai, I peered into the mirror to admire my head full of Saran-wrapped highlights. When we both remarked that we'd probably just discovered Lady Gaga's next look, I knew Fritas would be a down to earth guy I could trust with my hair. Plus, the fact that he'd been recommended to me by multiple industry insiders didn't hurt.

We segued naturally into critiquing Hollywood hair we liked and disliked -- a big part of both of our jobs. I learned that Reyad was jetting to L.A. after my appointment to "touch up Heidi's hair," (that's Klum, to you) and regularly attends star-packed parties with famous pals like Graydon Carter. I was definitely relaxed to know that major celebs trust their locks to Fritas, but it wasn't until I saw the end results of his handiwork that I truly knew I was in good hands.

Now, I haven't always been in such good hands. In fact, I've had my hair broken off by bleach, burned off by a blow-dryer, and many more mishaps than I care to remember. How is it, I asked, that stars like Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga can change their hair so often, bleach it within an inch of its life, and still have strands left to work with? Fritas responded by giving me some great advice (and a fabulous new hair color) and I officially formed a checklist in my head of signs of a great colorist. If you don't have access to some of NYC's best experts like Fritas, here's how to tell if you've found a keeper:

5 signs of a great colorist:

1. He/she lets your hair's health inform all color decisions.
I had spent a year growing out my bleached-out, burnt-out hair, and thought I was ready to go back to blonde. Fritas nixed the idea, examining my hair closely and noticing that I still had some areas with breakage that wouldn't tolerate the bleach. Your colorist should never agree to anything without assessing your hair's current state, and factoring in how it will appear post-treatment.

2. He/she actually uses the products he recommends.
A salon will always recommend its own product line, but asking the stylists which products they use on their own hair is a great way to suss out the true winners. Stylist Lindsay Block loves the Fekkai Ageless All Day Hair Plump, which plumps up damaged cuticles with moisture, leading to thicker, healthier hair over time. The shampoo girls love the Fekkai Ageless Crème Luxe Hair Treatment, which improves the condition of weak, damaged strands. And Fritas likes the Fekkai Technician Color Care Mask to reactivate your shade and keep it fresh between appointments.

3. He/she gives you low-maintenance highlights.
If you don't want to come in for frequent touch-ups, your colorist should create a look that fits your lifestyle. Luckily for me, Fritas is an expert at Balayage, a technique of hand-painting individual highlights instead of wrapping multiple pieces at a time in foil. The results are more woven-in and natural-looking, which means less obvious roots and more time between touch-ups. If you can find someone with a natural knack for the technique (this is half the battle) ask your stylist to focus the brightest color on the ends of your hair, gradually darkening toward the roots. The effect is very Gisele-like, and is a great way to brighten up your hair without worrying about roots.

4. He/she provides tips for color care.
The shampoo girls confirmed what I've been suspecting for years: Don't wash your hair for at least 2-3 days after a color appointment to let the dye really grab onto the hair. Since color fades slighting every time you wet your hair, this gives your color a fighting chance to lock on.

5. He/she doesn't give you a carbon copy of a celebrity's hair.
Aside from the fact that a celebrity's color or style may not look the same on you, there's another big reason not to request a carbon copy: Celebrities wear wigs. Chances are, when you see a star with long, flowy waves or a crazy, artistically sculpted style, a wig (or at least a hair piece) is at work.