Letters from Thailand

{January 20, 2008}   Hairapy

I’ve been asked by my good friend and hair stylist to give him some tips for an article he’s writing about what to look for in a hair stylist. My own personal history with hair stylists is similar to that a typical relationship history: a couple of serious ones, a few flings and several one-offs where I thought “Oh my God! What have I done?!” For many women, a goal in life is to find that one man who ticks all the boxes and to never let him go. I look for the same in a stylist.

In order to research this topic, I’ve been trawling the internet for ‘secrets to a perfect relationship’, which, to be honest, has been about as useful as tits on a bull. For example:

  • Kiss your spouse/stylist for at least 5 seconds before you leave in the morning and before going to bed at night – somewhat impractical as the salon is at least 40 minutes from my place, and in the opposite direction of my workplace. I also think his boyfriend may have an issue with me dropping by twice a day for a 5-second snog.
  • Hug and hold hands often, daily – all very well, but how the hell is going to hold the scissors if he’s holding my hands and giving me cuddles?
  • Take turns making decisions – so it’s ok if he wants to give me a buzz cut and dye the remnants bright green and pink, because it’s his turn to make a decision? I think not.
  • Teach him, preferably early in the relationship, how to give you a fail-safe orgasm because it’s unlikely he’ll find out alone – I don’t think so, especially if the salon is open-plan. Also, there’s bound to be someone perverted enough to introduce hair straighteners into the proceedings which could pave the way to all kinds of injuries and law-suits.
  • Laugh at the little mistakes in life, hold the drama for a major crisis – Surely in hairdressing, his little mistakes may be a major crisis for me – I’m thinking of a particular occasion when I had my hair coloured by a junior who left bleach on my head for the good part of 4 hours (I exaggerate not.)

So, what should one look for in a stylist? Most importantly, someone who listens to what you want and asks the right questions. At the first appointment they should find out not only what style you want, but also what kind of lifestyle you lead – how long you have to spend to get ready in the morning, for example. Not all of us have the 2 hours required to blow-dry or straighten hair into an artistic vision, that, after all, is what hair shows are for.

Also, be aware that sometimes the reason for visiting a salon is because a change of image is symbolic of a change in one’s life, be it a break-up or breakdown, and stylists should be aware of this. These are times when we make drastic changes to our appearance which don’t seem such a great idea the next day (or even in the next 5 minutes). So, if your twin-set and pearls wearing librarian client walks into your salon demanding a mohawk, talk her out of it. As evidence, I submit Amy Winehouse’s latest blonde haystack.

If you want to keep a client, be prepared to admit that you might get things wrong sometime. A fling with a stylist I had once turned very serious when I went back the week after our first appointment and told him I was having problems maintaining the style. He put me back in the chair straight away, made a few adjustments and told me there was no charge. From that moment, he had my undivided loyalty until I left the country.

A couple of other points, if you don’t have anyone to wash the hair of your clients for you, then please keep your nails short. There’s not much that’s more painful that having a set of talons scratch away at your scalp like a dog burying a bone during a drought. Oh, and be friendly – I went to a salon once where the stylist was lovely, but when I went back a few weeks later to buy some products, she blanked me. I never went back there again.

I have been lucky enough to come across a stylist who I also consider to be one of my great friends. And, if I haven’t stressed this enough already, good stylists and great friends always listen.

  • Don’t assume that you won’t be tempted to have an affair as almost everyone is. You need to learn to resist.

To my great friend and stylist, so far, I’ve not been tempted. It’s til death do us part as far as I’m concerned. Love you!


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