Why I HATE Going to the Hair Salon


To paraphrase Dorothy Parker: I hate getting my hair done. I love it when it's done.

I like how I look with a nice, recent, even haircut. I like how I look when all my gray hair becomes the same color as the rest of my hair. I like how I look when strands of hair framing my face are highlighted a nice caramel color.

But I HATE the process of having it done.

There are several reasons for this.

One is that I'm cheap, at least when it comes to stuff like this. I have good hair, and I like to keep it simple, so I don't need an expert stylist: someone who can even up the ends is good enough, so I'm inclined to go for ten dollar haircuts, about once every ten to 15 months. And that's fine, when all that's involved is cutting. But add color, and you need to have someone who knows what they're doing, and you have to maintain it.

I colored my hair for a little more than two decades, starting the summer before seventh grade, when I was 11, and Sun-In was all the rage. I went on to color it red a few times, and magenta twice, and black once, but mostly I went with blonde highlights, especially during the 80s, when almost everyone had highlights.

And then I hit my late-early-30s and I quit with the color. I decided I was sick of the bother and didn't want to send any more nasty chemicals down the drain and that my real hair color wasn't so bad.

And that was great for a few years, and then I started going gray.

And I lived with the gray for a few years, and then Matthew asked me to be in his wedding, and I decided I didn't want to be gray in the photos.

That was a year ago, and I've kept up with the color since, more or less, for a variety of reasons, though the stylist always chastises me for the fact that I go as long as possible between touch-ups.

Yesterday I had it done again and I am just about to decide that I must STOP.

Yes, money is a factor. I hate spending a big chunk of change to make my hair look like it used to look on its own. Time is a bigger one.

I find sitting there by the dryers waiting for the color to work BORING BEYOND ALL BELIEF. I could be doing the most interesting or enjoyable thing in the world--say, writing a blog entry, or eating gelati, or reading Austen--but if I was doing it to pass the time while my hair was being colored, I would still be impatient and irritable and watching the clock and muttering under my breath, "You better come over here and rinse this shit out of my hair in the next five minutes, or... or else I'll just sit here and keep muttering"--because really, what am I going to do? Attack my stylist with a hot curling iron? Rinse my hair myself? I don't know why 40 minutes pass so very slowly and are so vastly unpleasant to live through while there are a bunch of toxic chemicals concentrated on my head, but the fact of the matter is, I just can't WAIT to have all that shit removed from my scalp.

And then it gets rinsed and then I get my hair cut, and while it's being cut I have to listen to shit like this from the patron at the next styling station, some well-to-do 40-something woman wearing really dreadful sandals with all sorts of glittery jewels on them:

"I just couldn't believe it when none of my kids have blue eyes! Damien, my husband, he has blue eyes, and so does everyone in his family--I mean EVERYONE! Whereas in my family, some people have blue eyes and some are brown, so I thought for sure the kids would get his eyes--but nope, all four them have my brown eyes."

And I'm sitting there thinking, "Lady, didn't you pay attention in seventh grade when they taught the introduction to genetics and told you all about Gregor Mendel and his sweet peas, and used blue versus brown eyes to explain, in a very simplified way, the concept of recessive genes?"

That's the real reason I hate getting my hair done: listening to the dumb shit people talk about in hair salons. I went to a new stylist yesterday because I simply couldn't stand my old one anymore: she was a nice person, but god, she was STUPID! I couldn't bear to hear any more statements like those she'd expressed over the last few appointments, such as 1) Across the Universe was the best movie EVER, and if I didn't like it I must not be a real Beatles fan like she was, never mind the fact that she born well after Lennon was shot, and whereas I was listening to their music when they were actually a band, or 2) she didn't really like Heath Ledger but thought it was too bad he committed suicide--because it HAD to be suicide; it couldn't be an accident, not if he was depressed, or 3) George Clooney was indeed very handsome, but that Michael Clayton movie just looked too serious, or 4) it's completely shocking that a movie made in Spain is in Spanish rather than English, and it's very weird of me to watch a movie by Pedro Almodovar when there are all these great American movies to see first.

I guess it makes me a bitch and a snob to feel so superior to people just because they're criminally ignorant fools.... I sorta feel bad about that, but I also think a way to avoid feeling superior is just to stay home and not subject myself to people who annoy me so much. So I may just live with the gray at my temples and not get my hair cut for another year, until it looks so ragged and unkempt I just can't stand it, and then get the cheapest, quickest hair cut I can manage.


I actually like going to the salon. I like not having to do my own hair once every few months.

I don't like that I have to go so often (short hair will do that to you). I also don't like having to talk to people so much. I hate the inane conversations I endure just to get a haircut.

I also like to have the professionals do the highlighting, especially in light of the fact that I tried to do my own this week and it did not turn out well. I'm doing damage control today.

"That's the real reason I hate getting my hair done: listening to the dumb shit people talk about in hair salons. I went to a new stylist yesterday because I simply couldn't stand my old one anymore: she was a nice person, but god, she was STUPID! I couldn't bear to hear any more statements like those she'd expressed over the last few appointments,"

I too am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge and general stupidity that abound in too many young people today. It is as though they take what pablum that passes for knowledge without any type of critical thinking. Then again, do schools actually teach critical thinking skills nowadays? Not from what I can gather. Test prep is emphasized over how to think and use skills. I see this too often, when I go into schools to lecture on organ and tissue donation. Occasionally, you will get a truly insightful and penetrating question, but in general, these kids today are more vacuous than I have ever seen.

Your hairdresser story reminded of the time, a few days before my wedding, when my soon-to-be wife and my brother and myself stopped into a Tops supermarket in Buffalo. (We were married in Buffalo, which is where my wife grew up.) We were honeymooning in England and Scotland, and were stocking up on a few essentials for the trip, including batteries. The checkout girl, noticing the large supply of batteries we were buying, asked us why we wanted so many. We told her about the trip, and after a few fawning "Oh, I wish I could go there.) comments, including a "I'll probably just be doing this for the rest of my life." comment, she remarked, "England? Do you need to take language lessons to go there?"

The three of us just looked at each other, trying mightily not to crack up, when my brother (who has the same sense of humor that I do) said to Ms. Fountain of Wisdom: "EngLAND, EngLISH. Do you hear the connection?"

Then, beck in the mid 90's, my young cousin's wife expressed the opinion that "All movies shouldn't be longer than 90 minutes, otherwise it gets boring." She said this after seeing the movie "Pleasantville," which, if you have seen it, deals with the subject of non-conformity, amongst other things. Yep, that movie left some series skid marks across the top of her head.

I meant to include this in the last post, my my computer screwed up. I think it falls in line perfectly with what you're writing about:


Hi LG:

I'm glad someone likes the salon. My hair doesn't involve any actually "doing," for me at least: I just wash it when it needs it; on the days when I don't wash it, if I want to wear it down and curly I rinse it so the curls come back as it dries (they get smushed overnight), and if I don't care about the curls, I just put it up somehow. Whereas at the salon, they always blow it dry and put product on it and make it all sticky. That's another reason I like cheap haircut places: they don't think I'm so weird if I want to walk out of the door with wet hair.

But you're right that it's best to leave the color to professionals. I got pretty proficient at coloring my own hair, even with highlights, but it was always a pain in the ass. I did it often enough because it was so much cheaper, but it never looked as good and it was hard. The worst damage color I ever had to mess with, though, involved what happened when I split a box of highlighter with my then 16-year-old brother and let him attempt the highlights: I had leopard spots of blonde hair on my head--and this the night before my grandfather's funeral. At least I've never made either of those mistakes again: attempting some major change myself the night before an event when I actually want to look respectable, or asking a straight teenage boy to help me with my hair.

Hi Mr. Nighttime:

I could offer some pretty appalling stories about youthful ignorance, stuff I've gathered from teaching both college and high school. And I am appalled by that ignorance.... But I also figure that some ignorance is to be expected in young people, since after all, these people are at school, where you're supposed to LEARN stuff. I remember being fairly ignorant at 17.... The person who really annoyed me this last time was the 40-something woman who didn't know anything about recessive genes. I am pretty sure that was covered in her elementary school curriculum; she just didn't pay attention, then or now.

Thanks for the link to the Newsweek article. I'm actually pretty much in agreement with its overall assessment:

No one knows what kids will do with the cognitive skills they hone rescuing the princess. If they just save more princesses, Bauerlein will be proved right: Gen Y will turn out to be not just the dumbest but also the most self-absorbed and selfish. (It really aggravates him that many Gen-Yers are unapologetic about their ignorance, dismissing the idea that they should have more facts in their heads as a pre-Google and pre-wiki anachronism.) But maybe they'll deploy their minds to engineer an affordable 100mpg car, to discover the difference in the genetic fingerprints of cancers that spread and those that do not, to identify the causes and cures of intolerance and hate. Oddly, Bauerlein acknowledges that "kids these days are just as smart and motivated as ever." If they're also "the dumbest" because they have "more diversions" and because "screen activity trumps old-fashioned reading materials"—well, choices can change, with maturity, with different reward structures, with changes in the world their elders make. Writing off any generation before it's 30 is what's dumb.

"The person who really annoyed me this last time was the 40-something woman who didn't know anything about recessive genes."

Ah, you see, that was not the impression I was left with, as I thought the person you were describing was younger. At the end of the day, the fact that she is in her 40's makes it even more disturbing...... ;-) You're right on the mark though; she should have been taught that stuff, and just did not pay attention....

VI thought the person you were describing was younger.

the hairdresser I quit going to was younger--born after Lennon was shot--but the annoying woman in the next station this last time I went was, as I specified, a "well-to-do 40-something woman wearing really dreadful sandals."

I really did try to make it clear, and identify the various ages of the people I was discussing.

"the hairdresser I quit going to was younger--born after Lennon was shot--"

Right, and that was the person that my comments were directed towards....

Got it. Yes. But I want to underscore my own perspective: ignorance is not simply a matter of age, and I was not singling out someone in her early 20s as being more egregiously ignorant than someone about twice her age.

Oh, I hear what you are saying. Ignorance knows no boundaries. I am amazed at what I hear sometimes sitting in the stylist's chair when I get my hair cut, from people twice my age. Ignorance may be bliss, but more often than not, it is just a damned annoyance......

The idea of finding a new haidresser scares the stuffing out of me. When I find someone who can handle my curly mop, I stick with them as long as they're in business. Luckily my current stylist is great with hair, and a pleasant person to be around for an hour or two at a time.

I hear some amazing stuff out of the mouths of young people these days -- amazing for their intelligence and ideas, as well as amazing for others' profound stupidity and arrogance. I'm not sure things are any different than they used to be, but they might be. Maybe the difference is that in recent years it's become fashionable to be arrogant about one's ignorance, and acceptable to denigrate intellectualism.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on May 31, 2008 9:28 AM.

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