A survival guide to good hair
My hairdresser left me for another man! But he won't be gone for long
It’s always traumatizing to find out bad news, especially when it comes in the form of a text message. “OMG David is moving to Italy!” said the text, from my best friend Candice.
“Are you kidding me?! Worst news ever!!!” I feverishly texted back. For a moment, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what was happening … was he really leaving us?
David Tran is our hairdresser and he’s been coloring, cutting and styling my hair for the last three years at Cutloose salon. The devastation of losing a beloved hairdresser is a feeling that only someone who has loved and lost before can understand. It’s like a bad breakup — except instead of your waistline suffering, your hair does.
I met David when I was going through a transitional period with my hair. After having been a bottle blonde for years and then regretfully dyeing my hair almost black, I was horrified at the thought of trusting someone to restore my hair to a more manageable and low-maintenance state. But David made me a believer again!
I must admit that initially I panicked at the news of his sudden departure. (I don’t remember him mentioning it at my last appointment as we chatted about the latest celebrity gossip and talked about my split ends!)
I was hurt. How could he do this to me?
I was confused. Who is going to do my hair now?
But most of all, I was sad, because not only is David my hairdresser, he had become my friend.
He’s the kind of hairdresser who puts up with all of my hair neuroses and deals with my threats of breaking down in hysterics if he cuts a millimeter more than a half-inch off of my hair (which, by the way, is in a perpetual state of “growing out”). He tolerates my crazy terminologies like “micro-trims” and my obsession with my highlights being spaced just so. That is hard to find in a stylist.
After the initial shock period, I finally got the courage to text him: “Is it true, are you really moving to Italy?”
I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I learned that David was indeed going to Italy to be with his lovely partner … but he would be back in three months. That’s how long most Americans can get a visa to travel to a foreign land.
I’m not going to lie … as much as I want him to be happy and with the man he loves (after all, I moved to another country for love, too) … there was a secret side of me (and my hair) that was so grateful that he wouldn’t be leaving me forever. Selfish? Maybe just a little bit.
David, some friends and I had a final farewell party last weekend where we celebrated both his birthday and his extended-stay trip to Italy. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but I know I’ll see him again soon. Would it be totally dramatic to “X” off the days on my calendar until he comes back? I was able to squeeze in one last color appointment with him so that by the time he gets back from his Roman holiday, I will be ready for a touch-up. Brilliant!
As I wait for David's return, I’m going to leave you with some tips so you can find an amazing hairdresser like I have (and hopefully they’ll never leave you!). It takes a little luck and a lot of communication.
1) Don’t be afraid to stop someone on the street
How many times have you seen a woman with gorgeous hair and thought to yourself “I wish I had her cut/color/style"? The reality is, you can have her fabulous hair! Don’t be hesitant to approach her (in a non-creepy way) and ask her who her stylist is. She will feel flattered and you may score a fabulous hairdresser. It’s a win-win, and besides, most women LOVE to sing the praises of their hair guru, because the good ones are so hard to come by. Beware of the information-hiders though. Some women want their stylists all to themselves, because no one can have their fabulous mane … no one!
2) Trial and error
Have you ever gone to a hairdresser who constantly does the opposite of what you ask for? It’s called a breakup because it’s broken. It’s time to move on and find someone who listens to what you want. If you wouldn’t tolerate it in a partner, don’t tolerate it in a hairdresser. “Hoping” he or she will “get you” one day is not a strategy. Next please! (See point above for how to find a good stylist.)
If you decide to stay at the same salon and are embarrassed for the inevitable confrontation try to book an appointment on your previous stylist’s day off or simply tell them you wanted to try something new. If you’re bold, you could just be honest. You just didn’t click.
3) Pictures speak louder than words
Caramel highlights. Long layers. Inverted bob. Honey-blonde. Soft waves. These commonly-used terms to describe hair colors, cuts and styles may seem natural to use to describe what you want. But here’s the problem: To you, soft, caramel highlights might mean something completely different than what your hairdresser thinks. So do your research. Scour magazines and rip out pictures of hair you like (and hair you don’t).
Show your stylist exactly what kind of color, cut or style you want. I promise a picture of Carrie Underwood’s locks will allow your stylist to understand exactly what you want more accurately than actually saying “baby beach blonde.” Pictures will also allow your stylist to gauge if the color or cut you’ve selected will look good with your skin tone and face shape.
4) Speak up!
If you’ve communicated what you want to your hairdresser and something doesn’t feel right about what is happening to your hair — having your entire head filled with foils when you asked for a partial highlight, cutting off seven inches when you asked for two — say something immediately. Do not under any circumstances let the color or cut continue if you have concerns. You should receive the service you are paying for.
If something looks or feels “off” speak up before seven inches of your hair hits the floor and you’re reduced to tears. The stylist shouldn’t be offended — after all, he or she should want you to be happy with your cut so you brag to all of your friends how amazing the stylist is (hello, referrals!).
5) Tip for great service
If you are really happy with your color, cut or style, tip accordingly. It will show your stylist how much you appreciate his or her work. I swear the scalp massages are better when you leave a nice tip. Besides, when you find someone who finally understands you and your hair … it’s worth every penny!
Veronika Javor Romeis writes about fashion and beauty on her blog Veronika's Blushing.