Is there anything more love/hate than getting a hair cut? It’s terrifying and exhilarating and I always have to sort of work myself up to it. I’ve had some really great ones. The ones where you walk out of the place feeling like a new person. The ones where you go to style your hair yourself it still looks good. The ones when 6 months later you are thinking wow I still look pretty great. And I’ve had some really bad ones. The ones where I’m wondering if I can pick it all up off the floor and maybe glue or tape it back on. The ones where I put my hat back on before I leave the place. The ones where I spend a week or two trying to figure out how to fix it then spend the next six months wearing barrettes afraid to ever get my hair cut again.
Once upon a time I had a woman who cut my hair right every time. For two years I got my hair cut by the same person every three months. It was wonderful. Then she moved away. To Iowa. Ugh. So for years now, Since I haven’t found anyone I can really count on since I lost the lovely Amy, I’ve gone to one random hair cutter after another sometimes spending lots of money sometimes walking into the nearest super cuts (I’ve paid a boat load of money for some really crappy doo’s and hardly any money at all for some really good ones so don’t knock the strip mall hair cut.)
My most recent experience was of the “oh hell no” variety. When the hair cutter person finishes up then turns you away from the big mirror to hand you the little mirror you would normally use to look at the back of your hair…you know its not good (and clearly she knows it too.) Thinking back over it all I can see that it really wasn’t all her fault. So I’ve been trying to sort out where we went so wrong that I ended up walking out of the hair cuttery wearing hair like 90’s Jennifer Aniston and 60’s Mary Tyler Moore‘s 21st century love child
The scene of the hair crime was a local walk-in type place where you get who you get for cutters. It’s a step up from strip mall though so I expect a bit better on the quality. It’s Mostly hipsters just getting started in the business behind the chairs. The last haircut I got there was a good one and the price was decent so I went back.
The woman who came to collect me from the waiting area was wearing sweat pants. Sweat pants. Not yoga pants which in spite of all the huge quivering asses walking down the street have become acceptably stylish (Not my taste but passable work attire for the time and place.) Sweat pants are pajamas. Sweat pants are the clothing equivalent of cereal for dinner. More importantly she had long stringy unbrushed hair (messy, not dready) with bangs she brought with her from 1986. I should have walked right then. I should have just said sorry I changed my mind. I should have guessed that if she couldn’t be bothered to make herself look good she wasn’t gonna be all that worried about making me look good. There is no reason I couldn’t have lived another day with my grown out layers.
So look here, hair cutting is a job in the fashion and style industry. If you are a person who is cutting hair you need to have some style. I don’t care what kind of style, just have some. And HAVE GOOD HAIR!!! There is a guy I see working at the super cuts (I probably should have gone there) whose style is somewhere between 50’s greaser and Texas cowboy and he totally rocks it. He’s at work, his hair is styled, his shirt is tucked in, he’s got his good boots on.
I didn’t walk. I sat down in the chair. I put my hair in her hands. I told her I was trying to let my hair grow out. I’ve had a couple years of super short hair and I’m tired of it but while I wait for it to get longer I still want it to look styled. I told her that I don’t really do anything to my hair. If I don’t let it air dry it’s a really quick shot with the hair dryer cause it’s cold and that’s it. I told her that I like something that is modern and funky and I’m not nervous about looking different. I know from past experiences that these things all work together just fine. I told her I have some curls in just one spot on my head and asked her would she please be sure to give me some layers so I don’t end up looking like Mary Tyler Moore (oh crap. Does she even know who that is?)….She said if I want my hair to grow out the best thing to do is just to trim a bit and let it grow. I should have spoken up. I should have repeated all my instructions. I should have ripped off the (mostly useless) hair catcher cape and announced that if she can’t listen to what I actually want I’ll keep my 35 bucks and my barrettes. Instead I quietly followed her back to the head washing station.
Two things hair cutters need to pay attention to:
1)What your client says. You are the professional you should know what to do with your scissors and comb. You should be knowledgeable about hairstyles past and present. You need to be something of a translator, your client knows a bit about their own hair and their own likes and dislikes you need to turn this into at least something they can work with. What you like or think a person should look like is really not relevant. I realize that this is a tall order but I would rather have a crappy version of what I asked for than high quality what you think is best….And a crappy version of what you think is best? …..did I say “oh hell no?”
2) What your client is wearing. If I walk in wearing mom jeans, a kitty sweater, and white keds you can make some assumptions about what I might like that are not the same as if I walk in wearing mini dress, sparkly scarf, and knee high boots. Because you are in the fashion and style industry you should be prepared to match the hair to the clothes….You don’t put Souxsie hair on Carol Brady ….and the other way around. (scarily enough Carols hair is really close to what I ended up with)(feeling a bit twitchy about the datedness of those references I took a moment to peruse the google thing for some more up to date examples and I got lost in just how far out of touch I am…so you will have to live with my eighties kid world view.)
So I sat through the hair cut. I have no idea what kind of mystical magic the hair cutter works to get my hair to do what it does and I don’t need to. She was busy with the scissors for a pretty long time then she pulled out the hair dryer. Yes I expect that the hair cutter will style my hair but I expect the style they give me to reflect the information I gave in the first place AND be something I can replicate. There is a time and place for a big fancy doo and when I want that I will say so before I even sit down. But for the most part a person walking in to a get what you get sort of hair cuttery is looking for an every day cut, hair they can live in. For some reason too many of the hair cutters I have gone to seem to translate my statement “I only quickly blow dry if it’s cold” to mean “please spend a ton of time blowing my hair out straight.” I don’t have totally straight hair. If I wanted totally straight hair, I would say so. Since I didn’t, don’t! Why didn’t I stop her? Why, when I realized what she was doing, didn’t I say “hey wait! please don’t do that?” What the hell is wrong with me? Did I check my spine at the door?
As I said before, as soon as she put down the dryer she turned me away from the big mirror and handed me a hand mirror. I looked at my blown straight yet strangely boofy hair and gave her a fake smile. She asked If I liked it. I pushed it around a bit. She pulled one piece away from my face and said one of the worst things a hair cutter can come up with. “You could put a barrette right here.” Listen carefully
IF I WANT TO USE BARRETTES I DON’T NEED A HAIR CUT!!!!!
Yeah. So I rolled my eyes, paid the lady, and was sorry I hadn’t brought a hat. As soon as I walked in the door at home, I headed straight for the shower. I washed all the weird goo, blow dried, helmetness out of it and spent about half and hour trying to restyle what she left me with. In the end I changed my part to the other side and did indeed use a barrette. Lesson learned: Speak up before the damage is done or live with the results. Check with me in 6 months to see if I really learned it….and Hell no, you don’t get to see a picture.