So I was halfway through writing my next blog (it’s really good, by the way) when it was getting a bit too emotional. So I took a break. And it was during this break, that this blog was born.
Because during my break, I decided to visit the hairdressers.
It was an impulse decision after I visited the Instagram “popular” page and was faced with the most beautiful shades of ash brown and blonde – the type I had always wanted but never achieved. My Asian hair, I was repeatedly told, was “had too much red in it”. But here I was, inspired to try again.
I am an English teacher, so before telling any good story, it is important for you to know the context: I have been colouring my hair since my 16th birthday- that’s nearly the last ten years. In those ten years, I have been everywhere from the most expensive and most renowned hair salons to the smallest and cheapest. I have tried them all… but I have yet to find the one. It is devastating: as a woman, your hair is your crown and glory- it can make or break you. But getting the right colour simply seems impossible.
I have even strongly considered giving up teaching and training as a hairdresser myself. I have had water sprayed mercilessly into my ears and eyes as I was left with the new fifteen year old trainee to wash my hair. I have spent seven hours of my time in the salon and ended up saying “I love it” to avoid the sheer embarrassment of complaining. Countless times I have completed the inevitable walk-of-shame, knowing I am £200 poorer and my hair has been bleached and stripped of all life, with no prior warning, consent or discussion. I wouldn’t say getting my hair done has ever been a fun pampering experience, but rather a time of perpetual fear.
So, I thought I would share with you just a few of the key moments of my hair journey:
Age 16- I entered one of the most popular British hairdressing chains for the first time. In there, I met my hairdresser: Bob. “What do you want to do today?” He asked me. I showed him a picture of a Bollywood actress with light brown hair. A few hours later, he told me: “I have made you look like Paris Hilton. I love Paris Hilton.” (Note: I am Pakistani. The thought of a Pakistani Paris Hilton is not pleasant). My waist long hair was now cut into trendy layers and fair enough, the blonde highlights looked hot. Bob was hired.
Age 17- The day before I started college, I went in to see Bob again. “Just the usual” I said to him. “I’m going to make you look beautiful.” He replied. Starting from the back… Bob cut off my hair to my chin. It was gone. “Wow!” the other hairdressers exclaimed as I struggled to conceal my watering eyes. “You look like Victoria Beckham!” I paid my £200 bill. And I walked straight over to the hair salon down the road and asked for a head full of waist-length extensions.
Age 18- Soon after that ordeal, I found out that Bob had been fired for taking cocaine at work. I wasn’t enjoying my sewn in hair extensions; I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t properly wash my hair, and it was expensive to keep getting the tracks sewn back up to my scalp when they grew out.
Age 19- I googled “best hairdressers in London” and requested my usual: light brown tint with blonde highlights. I showed her some images. “You know hair never comes out like a picture” she stated simply, brushing away my hours of research. While I was at the sink, all the other hairdressers started telling me how good my hair looks. “Wow!” They all exclaimed. Oh my God… I had heard this secret code before. But this time it was worse; they were calling each other over and screaming compliments at me. She must have really messed up. I got taken to the mirror, where I had what I call ‘The Bumblebee’. My all over colour was a deep black and across the top were a few orange streaks. “You know, your hair has a lot of warmth so I had to make it that dark to get rid of the redness” she said. The cheek! Thankfully, after washing my hair with Head and Shoulders for the next month, my old highlights started to come through and the orange tones started to fade.
Age 21- Accepting the fact that my hair would never grow back to its previous length, I invested in bonded extensions. They were microloop hair extensions (each strand had a small metal loop which was tightened onto my hair with a plyer). Though these looked great, they got knotty very quickly and pulled on my hair. A section of my hair has never grown back. I finally got rid of them when I was twirling my hair at a shop assistant and the entire strand pulled out into my hands. Not cool.
Age 22- The day before my cousin’s wedding, I decided to bleach my own hair. I might as well mess it up myself instead of paying £200 for someone else to, right? That’s what I thought. Well, it looked like my head was on fire. I ran to the small local hairdresser with a scarf wrapped tightly around my head. “I’ve had an accident with bleach” I told her. Luckily, she managed to get me back to a warm brown and blonde.
Age 23- I woke up one morning feeling like Rihanna…and dyed my hair bright red with a bottle of Crazy Colour in shade ‘Fire’. Despite my Asian friends saying I looked like a traffic light, I liked the change. But it was too much trouble to maintain; every time I showered or it rained, it looked like my head was bleeding. I lasted a month.
Age 24- “Back to light brown with blonde highlights please. Like this picture.” It looked nothing like the picture; I ended up with my hair ombred, which just looked like I had really bad roots. Possibly because my hairdresser kept telling me how hungover she was and kept going for a nap at the sink while she was “waiting for the colour to develop”.
Age 25- I thought I would try the new local salon. Hmmm… this was a different tingling sensation. You know, the type that feels like… your head is on fire. Well, my hair colour was lovely indeed – but my scalp was completely burnt and blistered by the bleach. That night, I ended up in a&e. When I returned to the hairdresser, she told me “that was there before, babes.”
So ladies… comment below to share your worst hair stories or best hair advice. Meanwhile, I’m going to try wigs.