Sunday, June 13, 2010

Do you want your hair to look like pie?

Getting my hair done stresses me out.  (Anyone who knows me is nodding and saying, Yeah, but a lot of things stress you out ... and to them I say, Hush your mouth.)

Since moving to Austin, I have gotten my hair cut and dyed once, and it was a somewhat unpleasant experience.  I'm a bit of a control freak, and I tend to know exactly what I want when I walk into a hair salon.  But I'm also very corporate -- I respect the expertise of others.  So when someone who is presumably a trained hair expert tells me they think B when I want A, I find myself nodding in agreement.  Never mind that my stylist is covered in tattoos and has two nose rings* and I am hyperventilating; surely this person will not steer me wrong.  SHE HAS A CERTIFICATE TAPED TO HER WORKSPACE.

And the other annoying thing about me -- I have to admit, my hair looked okay after Austin Salon Experience Number One.  But it did not look how I wanted it to look.  And there's something infuriating about paying X amount, plus tip, for something I didn't want.  (On that point, I'm basically my father, but a 26 year old girl ... and unwilling to forgo a tip in almost every single circumstance.)

So after that experience, I decided to bite the bullet and go to a more "established" (read: expensive) salon. I didn't want to give up my firstborn child for new bangs and highlights, but unfortunately I was starting to look like Rapunzel, so I had to go suck it up.

My new, and hopefully future, stylist sat me down and listened to what I wanted.  She was also covered in tattoos, but hers were classier (yes, there's a difference, and I know, I'm a judgy mcjudgerton), and when she mentioned that she had started out doing hair and makeup for television and movies before becoming a teacher at hair school, I found myself becoming confident in her abilities.

Then comes my favorite part of getting my hair dyed -- picking the new color.  I knew I wanted light, golden brown highlights, but obviously there are a lot of different shades of "light brown."

But instead of putting the Big Book of Colors on my lap, my stylist pulled out a little flip chart.  "So I'm thinking we either want a red-based blond or a violet-based brown," she said.  "Here are the reds."

I leaned over to look at the chart ... and saw pictures of strawberries, fire engines, sunsets.  It was like Hooked on Phonics meets hair care.

She then flipped over to the violet-browns, where there were pictures of wire filaments and blackberry pie.  "I'm thinking that we mix this one," she said, pointing to the crust and then the filling.  "What do you think?"

I don't know.  Did I want my hair to look like pie or filament?

Revert to faith in professional training.  "Ummm ... sure.  I trust your judgment."

And for all you readers out there: "I trust your judgment" is Ru Code for, "Are you freaking kidding me? I don't even understand this question."

As the process went on, I became more and more concerned.  I know that stylists are trained to constantly compliment you, but it gives me serious pause.  Cammie, a friend who went to hair school, told me that whenever something starts to go wrong, you need to start complimenting immediately.  Nine times out of ten, you can convince the client that it looks good anyway.

So when New Stylist started rinsing out my hair and the first thing she said was, "Ooooh, the color looks so pretty!"  I really started to freak out.  When your hair is wet, you can't tell what color it is, especially when the difference is just dark brown to blackberry pie.

Then came the hair cut.  In most areas of my life, I find it comforting when people act decisively.  But when someone grabs a huge chunk of hair right by my face and cuts it off?  Eeep.  And the whole time, being showered with compliments - This looks great!  Your hair is so healthy!  I wish my hair was this thick! - each one, reminding me of Cammie giggling about how she once turned a lady's hair purple and still managed to get a tip.

But then ... voila.  My hair looked nice and soft, and still long and thick despite the mass quantities of cuttings littering the floor around my chair.  My bangs looked like bangs again, and not like I let a small child with scissors attack me.  I don't know what New Sylist did to mess up and start Compliment Offensive, but I really don't care.

What can I say?  Pie is apparently my color.

* Note: I have nothing against tattoos or nose rings.  In fact, I like a lot of tattoos.  I just want to note that my personal aesthetic runs more to the prissy end of the spectrum, and unpleasant experience has taught me that a lot of hair stylists tend to superimpose their own style on their clients.


  1. I actually am more reassured when they have piercings and tattoos, because I know I'm not going to look like a middle-aged mom.


    Maybe my favorite sentence, ever.