Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why I kicked the hairdresser habit

I have a love/hate relationship with hairdressers.

This is partly because of my hair. I don't have good hair. It's thin and fine and since I've headed down the rocky road towards menopause it's become thinner and finer, like baby's hair. I suspect that should I make old bones I'll be one of those poor old ducks with too much pink scalp showing through my hair.

For me going to the hairdresser's isn't a pampering experience. I heartily dislike the obvious being stated: "Ooh, you've got very fine hair, haven't you?" while a stranger washes same for me. I'm not keen on other people washing my hair. I feel embarrassed and ugly, even moreso with male hairdressers so I only go to women.

I also don't need to be told by hairdressers in loud voices so that everyone can hear that I have two lumps on my head. I know them very well. They are sebaceous cysts. They are harmless and the only discomfort they cause is mental in a salon situation.

Then there's the cut. This is an uncomfortable process for me as I am requested to take my glasses off and, being blind as a bat, can't quite see what's being done to me.  I guess young hairdressers are trained to layer hair whenever possible, and with hair as fine as mine too much layering can be disastrous. I hate putting my glasses back on and finding my hair so heavily layered that you can see through the ends of it when the light is behind me. If I'd have wanted to look like a scrawny freak I would have told the hairdresser so.

The last time I visited a hairdresser was about four or five months ago. I took a photo with me of a short inverted bob, the style my hair was already cut in anyway, but took the photo along as insurance so she'd know what I meant. I was visiting a different hairdresser as my old one had got too expensive. I always take photos with me and typically wear one of two styles: a Meg Ryan-type bedhead with not too much layering, or a 1920s angled bob. Trial and error has shown I can wear either of these styles and my hair can look reasonably full.

So... the back was fine, the sides were looking good and she had followed my 'no layering the sides!' instructions, then for some daft reason instead of leaving the bits at the front sharp and pointed, so the bob came down in a straight line from the back to just under my chin, looking rather 1920s, she rounded the bits at the front - instantly turning me from interesting and creative into middle-aged and conservative. I may be middle-aged but I don't feel it and I'm certainly not conservative.

Rather than complain, as the only solution would be to cut it shorter and there's at point at which a bob on me is too short, I simply thanked her, coughed up $50 and spent the next six weeks with my hair tucked behind my ears so I didn't have to see the rounded bits at the front.

Today's cut and colour job.
Probably not quite as good as a pro job but at least it's the style I want
Since then I've been cutting my own hair; I got it back into the sharp bob shape at the front pretty quickly. Doing the back can be a trial as I have to work by feel more than by sight, and it's not a case of simply chopping it off level with the hairline, I have to cut the back so the bob comes out as a bit of a wedge shape under the occipital bone with the back layered short under that. I've cut it twice since my last visit to a hairdresser including today, and nobody has given me a look that says my hair looks home cut. Phew!

The other reason I have quit hairdressers for the time being is cost. For a couple of years there I'd gone blonde, with foils. It looked good and hid the grey regrowth reasonably well but the cost was horrendous, even at a local salon rather than a big brand name chain like Toni & Guy. Think $150 a go with cut and blow dry as well. Eek!

These days I colour my own hair at home. I haven't attempted to do streaks, even though you can buy two-tone hair kits for home. Unless you have someone to help you - and I don't and I'm too embarrassed to ask anyone else to help 'cos I'm shy and self-conscious - they can look disastrous.

So I've dyed my hair dark red, and with the use of a dye brush and plastic bowl get as good a coverage as a hairdresser would for under $20. Given my recent tax bills and current lousy salary it's an obvious cost-saving measure. :-)

We're planning an overseas holiday in July, so I'll probably have to visit a hairdresser before we go and get a professional cut just in case I stuff up the DIY job :-), but I'll be paying close attention and taking photos with me that show the style from every angle.

Anyway, here are some tips for hairdressers who may stumble upon this blog post:

  • Don't comment loudly on anything you think the client may be embarrassed about: fine hair, grey hair, lumps, scars. Whisper in the client's ear if you have to let them know about something they undoubtedly already know about
  • Don't talk about the client as if she isn't there. (Ah, the time I was having foils done by two young women fresh out of their apprenticeship. One to the other: "She wants this style in the photo but the woman in the photo has three times more hair than her." I have ears, thanks. Talk to me not over me.)
  • If you insist on layering your client's hair, take the texture into account and don't layer the hell out of fine hair. Layering might give it more body but scrawny ends look revolting. There's a point of no return. Don't go near it.
  • Listen when they client says what style they want. Take a good look at the photos they may supply. If you think it won't suit them, say so, and work out a compromise together before you start cutting. 
  • Inverted and A-line bobs don't have rounded fronts. Seriously.

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