People shell out hundreds of their hard earned pounds every year to try and achieve the perfect hairstyle. They want shiny locks, a kick-ass cut and just the right colour. But how do you manage to find the perfect hairdresser?
How important to you is your hair? I sent out a survey a few months back and a full 100% of those who replied said that their hair is extremely important to them. With most saying that a bad hair day can have an effect on their mood. But ironically their answers to the rest of my questions didn’t really support this.
Do you spend adequate time looking after your hair? 42 out of 49 respondents said no!!
Do you mind spending money on your hair? More than half say they DO. With most saying they resent having to spend a lot of money at the salon. If money was tight many say they would stick with their original salon but they would just go less frequently. They also scrimp on products and home colour to save money. Haircare doesn’t seem to get a big portion of your expendable income.
What’s the biggest thing that keeps you at your current hairdresser? The top answer was loyalty, with most saying they have some form of relationship with their hairdresser, from them being in the same town to knowing them online. A lot would also be embarrassed to run into their hairdresser if they had home coloured their hair or went to someone else for a trim. Not surprisingly, when correlated those who responded that loyaly was a top consideration also lived in a town or village. The loyal customer mentality was much less prevalent in city dwellers. The funniest statement I got back with the results was from a woman who has been at her current hairdresser for over 10 years and hates her hair, gets no enjoyment from a trip to the salon yet feels stuck going as she can’t bring herself to go to anyone else for fear of upsetting her hairdresser!
Does a good haircut make you feel more confident? All said yes.
If someone compliments your hair does it make a difference to your confidence and mood? All but two said yes.
Are you satisfied with your hair right now? Shockingly, less than half said yes.
The results really suprised me. And yet, I’m not sure why. I am the first to complain about my podgy waistline one second, then tearing into a bag of crisps the next. I want to be more toned but don’t want to spend money on the gym. So is haircare really any different?
We are bombarded more than ever with carefully filtered Instagram shots which make us crave the impossible. (Many of which I have learnt are taken using models with wigs!) At the end of last year I went for a total change having a fringe put in and my hair bobbed and dyed red. I loved it for a few months then realised I didn’t have it in me to upkeep it. I let the colour grow out then was blinded by an amazing transformation picture from a stylist in a nearby town. I contacted her and she told me she could transform my washed out red locks to a glorious blonde in one sitting …yes,yes, I know! But sometimes you are a point where you believe in miracles. So I set off to the salon and went through an afternoon of hell.
Needless to say it was the biggest hair disaster of my life (at least since 1997 when I let a friend put a permanent plum dye on my hair in the ladies toilets of an ice rink).
My hair ended up a strong steel grey colour and while the girl kept telling me it was fashionable I couldn’t have cared less, it was so far from what I’d asked for. She didn’t seem bothered by how I felt. My head was agony and I was left with chewing gum hair. If you’ve ever bleached your hair you will have heard of this horror. She had left the bleach in for so long my hair was falling out and stretching like chewing gum. I went around for a week in a beanie hat – in April! I cried. It sounds so trivial and I understand it is a total First World Problem, but my hair is my everything. Without it I felt naked. You can’t just sort it out like a bad outfit or the wrong make up.
A few friends recommended a fantastic local hairdresser (Aggie Bash) who I went to a few weeks later and with a lot of care and a few conditioning sessions she managed to restore my hair to something I could be happy with. I spent the entire time that first visit in her chair with my stomach in knots. My trust in hairdressers had been shattered. She was incredibly patient and must have felt like saying what an idiot she thought I’d been. But her skill as well as her personality renewed my faith. She told me I wasn’t the first to have been through this experience. That more and more of her clients were coming in for hair fixes! So why didn’t I get sucked in in the first place?
I was then on a bit of a mission to find out more about why so many women have issues with their hairdressers.
I spent some time chatting to Nelson Brown of Nelson Brown Hair in Dumfries. He works with celebrity hairdresser Sam McKnight and is just back from ‘that’ Chanel show at Paris fahion week! His salon is uber stylish and all his staff look hipster chic. The welcome and friendly feeling in the salon was not what I was expecting. I’m not sure why I had such misgivings. After a few visits I realised that my initial intimidation was all to do with my own feelings. I’d felt that I didn’t belong in such a swanky salon. But after spending time getting to know the ethos of the salon my feelings have been converted. A new hairdo has emerged and with it a new outlook.
Nelson told me that there are 2 languages in his salon. What the customer wants and also what is possible with the hair. His stylists are trained to look for and ask about seven factors; hair texture, type of hair, face shape, head shape, lifestyle, limitations and growth patterns. A shaved bob isn’t the best choice for someone with naturally curly hair, a long face, with two kids who works 48hours a week – as I have discovered! Just because certain cuts and colours come into fashion doesn’t mean they are for everyone. A hairdresser has a lot of responsibility. When we go to them we are putting our hair in their hands and we need someone who takes the time to care about us after we have left the salon.
My hair disaster stylist didn’t ask anything about me. She had the bleach on my head 5 minutes after my bum was in the seat. It’s clear with hindsight how under-qualified and inexperienced she was. Even some great hairdressers that I have been to haven’t spent anywhere near long enough talking to me about my hair. I understand now that when I go to a new hairdresser there needs to be an exchange of information.
There is definitely a quick fix mentality around hair. If you are needing a boost, then a change of hairstyle is just the thing to change your mood. A new colour can make you feel like a new woman. And women in their thirties and forties are highly susceptible. It’s easy to feel a little invisible. We fear losing our looks. We don’t want to look frumpy. We still want to turn heads. Almost at a point of style uncertaintly, no longer as comfortable in our own look. We are in a bit of a fashion wasteland too. But rash decisions about our hair can leave us much worse off.
I have come to the conclusion that haircare has to start with us. Looking after our hair and getting to the best condition it can be takes a little effort. The health of your hair has to be paramount and it should be to any decent hairdresser. The more mature your hair gets the better care it needs. Having a hairdresser that gives you what you need as well as a bit of what you want is where it’s at. We need to take the time to do some research and sometimes just take a leap. A good hairstyle can give you power. Getting a style that suits you and a colour that works to enhance your best attributes is the holy grail. A great hairdresser is a key part of getting that. So ask friends for recommendations. Look at social media of course but take it all with a pinch of salt. Look for real reviews. Book in for a blow dry if you want to test the water and get a feel for a salon. Trust takes a while to build up so listen to your instincs when you chat to your hairdresser. Make sure you feel like they are looking out for what is best for you and not their own interests. Of course we all think we know best, but we do have to bow down to the experts sometimes!
- Ask around. Get recommendations from friends and don’t be scared to stop someone with a killer hairdo and ask where they get it cut.
- Do your research. Look up social media and hunt for real reviews.
- Book in for a blow dry to test out the feel of the salon.
- Ask for a free consultation to see how you click with the stylist. Trust your instincts.
- Remember that a mad change of cut or colour only gives you aa fleetin rush, you will feel so much more empowered by getting a stylist who can work with you to get your hair and your confidence where you want it to be.
- Don’t feel trapped at a salon. Take a leap.
- Try not to be fooled by Instagram perfect shots – most of them are fake!
Nelson set up his own training academy to share his experiences with other hairdressers. He wants to empower all levels of stylists to make them believe in themselves. He says that everyone has such different levels of knowledge and that his experience with Sam McKnight gives him a different angle to share. His teaching style is fairly new in hairdressing, where he takes a very non-dictorial stance and just wants to inspire other hairdresssers by providing information and knowledge. You can find out more here – Nelson Brown Academy
So do you have a hair horror story? Have you found your perfect hairdresser? Share your stories!