Why are we afraid of our hair dressers?

Okay, “afraid” might be too strong of a word, but how many times have you suppressed your feelings when sitting in “the chair”? How many times did you get a bad haircut because you were too afraid to say: “Hey, I don’t like the way this is turning out.” How many times did you bite your tongue when you just wanted to say something, and then spent the next two months crying every time you looked in the mirror?

If you’re like me, you’ve done this a lot. Too many times. I’m sorry to say that in the past fifteen years, I have switched stylists after every haircut in an effort to find someone who “got” me. I could’ve tried to speak up for myself, but I found it easier to just find new salons. And yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that.

Getting a haircut can be difficult for all of us. It puts us in a vulnerable position. I don’t think any of us enjoy walking into the salon, getting our hair wet down, parted into sections, and pinned up, and then glancing up at the mirror in that state. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Especially when many of the stylists out there are young and extremely hip. (Mine is about six years younger than I am, with streaked hair and an asymmetrical cut. I love her, but I feel positively matronly whenever I see her.)  And of course, you are putting yourself in the hands of someone who, in most cases, knows more about hair than you do, which can be intimidating. And if that all isn’t enough, you will not likely find a stylist who is on the same page as you are. They have their opinions on hair care and style, and you have yours.

I have personally been struggling with this lately. A little over a year ago, I found a stylist whom I love. (The young, hip gal I mentioned.) I have never had a person cut my hair so well, so consistently. I always leave the salon feeling good about the haircut. BUT…there are a few other things I don’t like about getting a haircut.

1. I hate having to get shampooed with traditional products, when I’ve gone two years without using them in everyday life. Believe it or not, I hate the fake smooth feeling it leaves on my hair, and I hate the way it smells.

2. I hate having products put in my hair. Hate, hate, hate. I never, ever use hair spray or gel or serum on my hair, and when my stylist puts it in my hair in preparation for the post-haircut blow-day/straightening, I cringe. I can’t STAND the way it feels in my hair (sticky and heavy), and the smell makes me sick. I also can’t bear to think of what those chemicals are doing to my beautiful, toxin-free hair. Plus, it makes my scalp itch.

3. I hate having my hair styled after a cut. I don’t ever style it at home, so what’s the point of styling it once every two months? I feel that blow-drying and straightening my hair (and melting all those gross products into the hair shaft) ruins the healthy fresh ends of my haircut. And it makes me feel hyper-aware of my hair – I find myself constantly fidgeting with it to make sure the wind hasn’t blown it astray. Too much to worry about!

Every time I go in for a cut, I tell myself that I will ask for no products or styling, and every time, I crumble. I don’t know why – it just feels like I’m “making trouble.” Today, I decided I was going to do it and there’d be no wussing out. It was easy, though because I had an excuse – I was in a hurry. So I just told her that I didn’t have time for styling, and I also mentioned that I’d been having reactions to the products, and would like to avoid them. I didn’t even think about tackling the issue of shampoo, but when I mentioned my reactions to the products, she told me she has a client who brings in her own shampoo and conditioner! Hmmm….something to think about for next time.

In any case, I am partially proud of myself for walking out of the salon with clean (product-free), wet hair (no styling, or blow-drying). But I realize it is time to take it to the next level. No more products, no more styling (whether I have time or not), and I’d like to bring in my own shampoo. What am I so afraid of? I think I’m worried that she’ll think I’m a crazy granola-munching, hairy-armpitted, tree-hugger! (And I am, minus the hairy armpits.) I don’t know WHY I care what she thinks, though. (The disease of the modern woman – caring about what other people think.)

Ultimately, I don’t think she’d mind these requests. She’s very kind and accommodating. Plus, the no-styling issue has benefits for her. I have found that cutting out the styling knocks about $4 off the price of the cut. Whether I get it styled or not, I try to pay her the same every time, which means she gets a bigger tip when I don’t get the styling. I would much rather give her a big tip for being such a great stylist than endure 15 minutes of blow-drying and straightening. I think she’d be more than amenable to that, as well, if I would just honestly explain it to her.

So what are you afraid of? It’s time for us to speak up in the salon. Your concerns might be different than mine, but we have every right to say what’s on our minds. We are paying for a service, so it’s okay for us to be clear about what we want. If you aren’t happy with your stylist, don’t torture yourself – find a new one! Look for someone who asks you lots of questions about what you want, and who is open and receptive to what you tell them.

Imagine going to the salon and getting exactly what you want. I’m almost there…