Beauty Shop, My Eye.

That’s what they used to be called, remember? Then they put some teeth in the truth in advertising laws and, presto change-oh, beauty shops turned into hair salons. A trip to the beauty shop was as eagerly anticipated as a dental appointment and there was nothing beautiful about it. This I know from years of personal experience. I’d arrive a little shaggy, a little tousled and wind up resembling Woody Woodpecker on Prom Night, albeit a heavily moussed and hair-sprayed Woody Woodpecker.

Once settled in the styling chair and wrapped in the plastic cape my fingers would clamp onto the armrests in a death grip, every muscle tensed for flight. The stylist, fingering my hair, would ask “what are we going to do today?” I’d freeze, I had no answer. That’s where it started to go wrong. Twenty minutes later, the stylist spun the chair to face the mirror, “What do you think?”

After showering and shampooing, I was stuck with hair cut for a style I’d never, ever achieve. With all the ‘product’ washed out I looked like, like, Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber. What can I do? There’s no remedy for it, but to pick up a book and make myself comfortable while I wait for my hair to grow back. Once, I read Shelby Foote’s Civil War Trilogy, thousands and thousands of pages. Even now, I have flashbacks whenever someone mentions hardtack, which happens more often than you’d think.

So who’s to blame? The stylist? The hair products? No and no, it’s fate and it’s genetics. I inherited my mother’s straight-as-a-stick, baby fine hair. There’s no body, no curl, no volume. Yet stylists insist they can make it look awesome, just awesome. It’s a challenge. Thus the carnage began: they’d cut and snip and spritz and lacquer and shape and curl and spray and ssssssspraaaaaaaay. Et voilá!? A ridiculous ‘do.

I’ve had wedges (think Dorothy Hamill), ledges (think a layered Dorothy Hamill), mullets, page boys, bobs, pixies, shags; I’ve been feathered, cropped, permed, highlighted, and colored. No clear winners in the lot. Not one. My hair is a sliding scale of disasters.

Lately, I’ve begun to speak up when a stylist asks “what are we going to do today?” I ask him / her to leave enough hair for a simple, low maintenance hairstyle and let them know I can only operate a curling iron (without mentioning the burns) and a blow dryer. And you know what? It’s worked. I haven’t needed a stocking cap in months, post-haircut waits are down to a few days, mirrors don’t scare me. As much, anyway. All in all, a miracle.

Just watch. Now that I’ve discovered the secret passwords to a decent haircut, all my  hair will fall out.

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

8 responses to “Beauty Shop, My Eye.”

  1. At last, after seventy four years, I’m finally wearing my hair the way I like it. Short cut, run comb and fingers through hair and go. Love it! I wore my hair longer to please my husband until he died, I now have a haircut that pleases me. Cut and go is my dream come true.

    When I was very, very young I can remember sitting under a machine getting a perm with these flat rubber things attached to sections of my hair then a metal roller with a clamp from the machine on top the roller. Absolutely electrically wired up. The rubber things were to keep the machine from scaring me for life while the machine heated up the perm. EGAD!!! Talk about painful and scary! And the smell was awful.

    I’ve now have my haircut at Great Clips salons. So far, so good!

    I love this piece about your beauty shop experience. Fun read…so true.



    1. Thank you. I only wish my experiences had been fun.


  2. The first thing I would normally do after paying a crazy load of money at the salon is to find the nearest bathroom and fix my hair until I was somewhat happy with it. A year ago I finally found a stylist I adore and who makes me look and feel good. I knew I had a perfect match when I didn’t run the the washroom after to try and redeem my new “do”. But, I am so sad to say she is moving next month to another city far, far away. I’m not happy because the search for a new stylist must begin again!


    1. Each time I’ve found a good stylist I had to relocate. My favorite was a guy in Raleigh — he was a genius with color and had a light hand on the scissors. How I miss him. Good luck.


  3. haha well, then the hair stylists overthere must be very different from what we got here. Sure, you will never be happy with what they do here neither, but a visit at the hair stylist is still something special here in germany. It is kinda a tiny bonsai vacation. The chairs are more recliners than chairs, everything smells so good, you get a fresh coffee . . . well, they just spoil you with much care and attention. You can sit back and relax, who does care about something uninportant like a hair do when you have such a great time. Of course, the first thing you will do when you are back home is to wash your hair and get your old look back haha. I think here the “way” counts more then the hair do it self.

    Have a great day and be safe. =)


    1. Oh, I bet they’re pretty close. My experience with them is what’s different. I bet you have good hair. I wish I had good hair. Can I have yours?


      1. *snicker* sure, I’ll send them along with my neighbors hehe no you do not really want my hair. It is somewhat stubborn and it always does what it wants. Trying to get a halfway elegant or fancy hair do done is a waste of time because it would last for about 3.5 seconds. It is curly and reminds a lil bit to horse hair. The word “bad hair day” has a special meaning to me, because as more stress I have, as more my hair looks fuzzy. About 20 years ago I figured that it is best to let it grow long and just twirl it up to a bun. Takes about a minute and always looks proper. The only reason I would visit a hair stylist is for the “wellness and get spoiled” aspect. Hair ribbons for the win! =)


        1. That would br a huge improvement over what I have. Huge.


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