Perhaps it’s because I’m always strapped for cash, but I never understood the financial and physical lengths women go to for their hair. I have friends that travel back in time to visit the hairstylist they had before they graduated from high school. I have other friends for whom money is no object when it comes to their hair. Still others I know seem to have a new hairstyle every month. I’m a Hair Cuttery, Clairol in a box kind of gal, and it shows. I've had variations of the same haircut for over twenty years.
My local Hair Cuttery is a cultural stew. Both stylists and customers are speaking English as their second or third language. For me, this often results in some pretty interesting miscommunication between how I want my hair to look, and how it actually looks when I leave the shop. And yet each and every every time I enter, the stylists have no trouble telling me how awful my hair looks. “Did you color this (insert shocked look) yourself?” “You should never use hairspray – look how hard your hair is.” Or my favorite, accompanied by a disappointed scowl, “Who cut your hair?”
The language barrier also means I miss out on the stylist/customer relationships I hear about from my friends. But honestly, I’m not sure I really want to know about their relationship and family problems, nor would I want to fill them in on mine. If I’m going to pay those kinds of prices for relationship advice, I’d rather spend the money on a qualified therapist instead of a really great colorist.
I have tried to conquer the language barrier by bringing in pictures of the hairstyle I might like to have. This never goes well. First of all, the people in the photos are usually models and celebrities, so I’m disappointed in my looks before the first snip. Still, I always enter with that wishful feeling that if my hair was cut exactly the same as theirs, I might have Reese Witherspoon’s check bones, or Charlize Theron’s eyes. Although a picture is supposed to speak a thousand words, showing the stylist the image always results in a painful discussion about what I want and what they think I want. I have to learn to stop requesting NO layers. The result, 100% of the time, is layers. Hand motions are also ineffective.
Hair Cuttery stylists work on commission. I know this, because I can see the commission chart in the back room from one of the stylists’ chairs. (The stylist who never has people waiting to see her.) So all the while she is layering my hair, the stylist is also trying to sell me a variety of expensive products promising to give me volume, make my hair shiny, or give me Reese Witherspoon’s check bones. I often feel like I’m in a brothel with women promising me a variety of hair miracles if only I’d buy their magic mousse, smoothing serum, or a $20 bottle of shampoo.
OK, so I’m not known for my great hair. And I’m almost never happy with a new haircut. But by adding up all the time and money I save by getting my hair color at the CVS and seeing the hair stylist whose station overlooks the back room, the result is a lot of cash in my wallet, loads of spare time….and some really bad hair days.