Sunday, September 1, 2013


A good portion of my job is to take what you are telling me and translate it into something we both understand so I can give you what you want.  And, let me tell you, it's not easy.

I had a mother bring in her kids on Tuesday night (the night before school started...busiest night of the year), wanting their haircuts fixed.    Tina had done their haircuts the night before and rushed them.  Mom was seeing all kinds of things...picking the hair cuts apart, really.  A lot of what she was pointing out on the older boy (15 years old) had to do with his cowlicks.  However, the hair cut wasn't all that blended, so, off I go.

I asked her what they were looking for in a haircut.  What she told me was nothing like what Tina told me they had asked for (which was to have a haircut similar to the picture on the wall that we have).  When she described what she wanted, she said "I want the back down to skin, and faded up into hair."  "So, you want a high and tight?"  "Yes." 'You want me to remove all this hair, from here to here and blend it upward" (pointing from nape of neck to above the ears) "Yes.  And I want about half of the hair on top of his head cut off." So, I commence to cutting.  When I informed teenage boy he would be losing his sideburns, panic ensued.  And, guess what??  A high & tight was NOT what we wanted for a haircut.

Mom asked me "what was it again we decided on?"  "You told me you wanted all the hair gone from here to here, and blended up, taking approximately half of the hair off from the top of his head"  Teenage boy complained "we just should have shaved my hair off.  It was better before".  SERIOUSLY???  You're going to pitch a fit NOW??  Why, yes.  Yes we are.  Mom's reply "Well, it looks better than it did before"  Until we get to the end of the haircut and she sees that his bangs are a bit wonky, due to the multiple cowlicks in the front of his hair.  And she makes the point of pointing out "Why can't you get his bangs straight?" and points to a nearly minuscule section of his hair.  Which I snipped off and replied "he has cowlicks in the front which messes with how his bangs lay against his head"  "Oh, yeah, they've got cowlicks, me too"  and points to her head.

Guess what??  There is NO CURE for cowlicks except to cut it short or grow it long.  None of us has a pair of magical scissors that makes cowlicks go away.

So.  Terminology. 

High & Tight:  Military style haircut.  No hair, skin, bald to a certain point, usually near the top of the head.  The remaining "circle" of hair is also quite short.  Where this line appears is different on every person, but the bald part is always BALD.  No hair left behind in those areas, including side burns.

Fade:  Also a military haircut.  A true Military Fade is also known as a buzz cut, or a "butch" (back when I was a child).  It is one size guard used all over the head.

Modified Fade:  What a lot of people ask for and call it a fade.  Two different sized clipper guards making this haircut.  Usually the top is longer than the sides, but all of it is quite short.

It's my job, as a hairdresser, to figure out what you want, educate you on what you're asking for, then give you what we've figured out you're asking for.  Your part of this is to retain the information given to you so you can correctly ask for the right haircut the next time you come in to get your haircut, regardless of where you go.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"I need you to help me!!"

I get that, a lot.  Especially on social media.  This is what I got today in a private message:

"Help!  I put a box of reddish blonde on my hair and XXXXXX (young adult son) went into the shower when I was ready to rinse, so the color stayed on too long and now I'm bright red!!  And it's not even even."
To which I replied, "I don't have any stuff at home, sorry.  :(  Come see me at the salon"
"I can't afford the salon.  Can't you tell me what to put on it to fix it??"  " I really can't do anything without seeing what was done"  "So, the last time I got my hair done, it cost $120.  What do you charge for color?"

Well, to fix the hot mess your hair probably is??  $120.  I haven't responded to her yet, because she'll whine no matter what the price.

Want to know why we charge such a price??  Because fixing what you did is LABOR INTENSIVE.  Even if I were to mix a magic potion to cover up the "bright red" (God only knows what the color really is), it WILL fade and the red will pop right back out.  Especially since I know darn well she's going to wash her hair in screaming hot water and flat iron the crap out of it.  Did I mention her hair is between the middle of her back and her waist??  And everyone seems to think it should cost $1.98 to fix their hair.

Here's why her color turned "bright red":  On the back of the box is this "nifty" chart of pictures of what your hair color SHOULD be (mind you, these are computer generated photographs, so they're not even CLOSE to accurate) in order for this box of hair color to be remotely effective in turning your hair "reddish blonde" (which, by the way is roughly a level 7-8 coppery blonde).  Now, if your hair happens to be fine in texture (meaning when you hold up a single strand of hair, it's practically invisible) and you happen to have a lot of hair per square inch, your hair is going to develop FAST.  Why??  Because you have all that hair to trap the body heat to your head, causing the color to develop.   Here's the other problem with box color:  The pictures on the box aren't even remotely close to accurate, and most people don't even know what their natural color is.  This nice lady's natural color is a level 6-7.  Which means when the color is developing, it will "lift" the natural pigment to a level 7-8.  Which is hair colorist code for ORANGE.  Which supports a red head quite well.

The uneven-ness:  In a standard box of hair color you purchase in the department store/grocery store/drug store/dollar store, there is a 2 ounce tube of color and 2.5 ounces of 20 volume developer.  When you have hair 3/4 of the way down your back, one box of color will NOT cover your head.  And, I don't know anyone who applies the color to themselves that manages to get the color onto every single area of their head.  The "corners" ALWAYS get missed.  The nape will get missed.  Sometimes, even in the front of your head will get missed.  Hence, the "uneven-ness".

Seriously.  When will people EVER learn??  I realize that a lot of this is the fact that the hair color companies just cannot put all the important information into the box of color because that little "pamphlet" would be the size of my cosmetology text book.  And when I usually explain to people exactly how they should color their hair, they usually either give up and don't do it, or they come in and get it done correctly.  No matter how "good" I am, or how "good" people think I am, I cannot accurately diagnose what needs to be done.  I will need to talk to you, in depth, while looking at the hair on your head, to determine what can be done.  Then, and only then, can I quote you a price.  And this is what I'm going to have to tell her.  Sigh....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes....and other stuff...

So, we've had some staff changes.  Which is why I haven't been on in EONS. 

Joan quit back in May.  No great loss, there.  She turned out to be more trouble than she was worth.  I've learned (because of her) that if someone says to me "Oh, you can confide in me.  If someone tells me something and they say "don't say this to so and so" you can bet I won't" is usually lying through their teeth.  Basically, Joan didn't like the fact that I wouldn't give in to her scheduling demands, and after the great scheduling fiasco back in April, she wouldn't work when I scheduled her to without a fuss, so, no great loss when she gave her notice.  And, just for fun, she left a full two weeks earlier than what she said she would.  LOVE people like that.

So, then, Tiffany lasted exactly one month longer than Joan did.  And left for similar reasons.  I know that I'm no picnic to work with, especially when I'm stressed.  But, if you work WITH me instead of AGAINST me, life goes much easier, for everyone.  I'm not demanding undying devotion.  However, if you want to WORK in your chosen profession, you need to be at work.  And you need to work when you're scheduled.  Help us out.  It's called TEAM WORK.

So, Tina and I have been working alone for the last two months.  We also got a new District Manager, Diana, who lasted less than a month.  And I knew, right from the moment I met her, that she and I were NOT going to get along.  She came in with the attitude that she was the "Lady of the Manor", which doesn't tend to sit well with me.  And on her last visit with us, she helped herself to a lot more things than the box of gloves I knew she was taking.  And had no intention of returning those items when she ordered them.  Love people like that.

So, then, we got Kelli as a District Manager.  And that's been working well, so far.  We've had some issues, mostly stemming from the fact that I've been left alone (as a salon manager) for a really long time and now I've got a DM up my butt.  That's taken some adjusting, let me tell you!  But, we're getting there.  She did, however, find me some applications!

Here's the story:  Apparently, two people applied for positions in our salon WAY BACK WHEN and I never knew about it (this is stuff I don't have access to as a salon manager...don't ask).  So, when Kelli found them in a file on the computer, she pulled them up and made preliminary phone calls.  She then gave me the numbers of these people to call.  And one actually responded.  Who is now working in the salon.  Her name is Lisa.  (again, a name change to protect the "innocent")

Lisa has been a stylist since 1991.  She got out of hairdressing back in 2007, after an accident at her second job, lifting a patient and hurting her back.  She decided, last year, she wanted to get back into the game.  And, so she has.  She's fabulous, confident, and will be a steady influence for Tina on the weekends. 

And, Lynn is coming back!!  I'm super psyched for this, also!  We're just working out the details of when she can actually start working.  So, things are looking U-P at the salon.  We just had our best Tuesday in a long time last night because Lisa worked with me from 1-8.  AWESOME!!  I thanked her profusely and told her how glad I am she's working there.


Lisa had a potential highlight/color in her chair last night.  Her first one since she started last week (the poor lady has had trial by fire the whole time she's been here!).  Her consultation was lengthy, and with good reason.  A mere few months ago, the client had heavily highlighted hair...almost totally blonde, in fact.  Who then put a box of brown over it, thinking "There!  I fixed my hair.  It's back to my natural color (kinda) and so I can highlight it again later if I want to!"  Yuh.  Not so much.  Lisa talked to her, at length (and thank goodness the client understood what she was getting at, even though she kept looking for loop holes to jump through) about what would more than likely happen to her hair if  she went ahead and highlighted it.

So, Lisa wound up doing a test strand on the client's hair.  Rather revealing, which it's supposed to be.  The first four inches of her hair, which were virgin, lifted beautifully.  The next 5-6 inches, not so much.  They did lift, but there's some major issues because of color build-up.  The last 3 inches of her hair turned CRISPY.  Through some more conversation, it was discovered that not only did she have multiple layers of hair color going on in there, she'd also had a chemical hair straightening.  So, kids, she had a head full of heavily processed hair!!  While she was pretty disappointed that she couldn't get what she wanted (and may wind up at another salon who will not care about the chemicals in her hair and do what she wants, anyway), she left after receiving a great haircut and purchased some products to help her hair along.

I'M SO GLAD I HIRED LISA!!!  Now, once I get Lynn back on board, the place will ROCK!!  WOO HOO!!!

And, lastly, Katie Katherine and I are moving!  I bought a house!!  We're super-psyched about this!  Right now, we're living in "box city" because most of then apartment is packed up, ready to go!  Just a little bit left (bathroom, my bedroom, empty out the closets, wipe down the walls) and we're good to go!  Signing the papers on September 4th!!

Stay tuned!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blog Fodder...

I love reading people's posts on the professional pages on Facebook.  Definitely gives me something to write about!!  Here are the latest examples:

Pro color vs Box color:  "It looks dry & over processed due to the metal base in those box dyes are just what they are not color ".

 Okay, skipping the lousy grammar, let's look at the rest of this:  It's dry and over processed due to repeated applications of an ammonia based product where ammonia is not needed, not due to metal bases in the color.  Most over the counter colors don't have the metallic bases they used to have.  Technology has come a long way, baby!  And, my personal favorite with in that quote "dyes are just what they are not color".  "Dye" and "Color" are the same thing...artificial pigment for the hair.  SERIOUSLY?!?!  DID YOU GO TO COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL???  AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, DID YOU PAY ATTENTION AND PASS COLOR CLASS?!?

Bottle vs Brush:  "Ummm don't some professional use bottles over brushes and bulls (sic)? Me personally can't stand the bottle it looks cheap!"

(Really trying hard to ignore the grammar and word usage here!)  Which is right for the job you are doing??  Bowl & brush or bottle??  Personally, if I'm just doing a retouch, the bowl & brush is just fine (Sprush, actually.  I feel brushes are too messy).  If I'm doing what's called a "global application" (meaning the whole head) I'll use bowl & sprush for the regrowth, bottle for the ends.  Why??  Because I feel the B & S is more precise for the face framing areas and the bottle gets the ends more evenly saturated without wasting the product.  But, that's me.  And, when you're interested in speed, the bottle doesn't fling the color around as much as the b & s does!

"If I could afford a hairdresser, I'd have one". 

And, how is that home haircut working out for you??  Nice & even??  Exactly what you wanted??  You don't have to spend a ton of money to find a good hairdresser.  SHOP AROUND.  PS: learn how to budget your money and you can afford LOTS of things.  Just sayin'...

"Exactly why I don't go to the salon!  Thankful I know a professional that will do my hair at a very fair price"

Does this "professional" work in a Salon or does she "work" out of her kitchen??  Because I'll tell you this, based on my experience:  If someone is a "professional" and does hair on the side, at home, it's because they're not making enough money at work.  And why would that be??  Because they're undercharging all their clients, who are probably mostly their "friends" in the first place.  And probably because they don't have the ability to budget their money, up sell to their clients, aren't confident enough to sell product to their clients to get them to spend more money, which, in turn, puts more money in YOUR pocket, by way of commissions and tips.

When I have someone in my chair and I can clearly see that they are coloring their hair at home, I ask them about it.  "Are you coloring your hair at home??"  And proceed to let them know how to do the service properly so the color comes out even.  Generally, once I'm done explaining what they need to do, 7 times out of 10, they wind up in my chair for color because to do it "properly" is too much of a pain in the behind to do at home.  I tell people all the time "the biggest difference between box color and professional color is ME.  I can assess your hair issues, what you want, what you need, go out back, look at what I have, and figure out how I'm going to get you there.  By the time you get done purchasing the 3 or so boxes of hair color to do what I have at my disposal out back, you're paying almost as much as if you were to come in here to get your color done."  Oh, personal favorite "And you get to sit for 1.5 to 2 hours and have someone take care of you for a change!"  Works every time...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The things I see...

I was just on Facebook, reading "memes", and one of them said something about remembering the last haircut you did on the person in your chair.  Which, unless they come to you REGULARLY, it's difficult to remember what you did.  My memory is pretty good---I can pull up all kinds of weird stuff from my memory banks.  Except people's names when they're new and particularly when I don't see them very often.  If something memorable happens during the appointment (say, a hilarious or serious conversation, head lice, a bump on their head, unusual hair line) I don't always remember people.  It gets me into trouble sometimes because I'm honest enough to say that I don't remember and it hurts people's feelings.  I see probably 200 people a month, between clients sitting in my chair, customers purchasing product or asking questions, not to mention when I spend time with my friends!  So, it's hard to remember people, but I try.

Something that happened the other day also popped into my head.  Pauline & Warren are a cute little retired couple.  (Pauline actually trained me for my very first job, a million years ago, when I was in high school)  To save money, Pauline & Warren cut each other's hair.  Which makes it hard to cut Warren's hair, because he's used to how Pauline does it, and expects the trained professional to cut like the untrained housewife.

Pauline was in the other day to get a perm.  On the surface, her hair looked fine.  I could see where there was some "creativity" on the top, near her bangs, but otherwise looked okay.  Until I washed her hair and started sectioning it for her perm.  Which required me to do some seriously creative wrapping of her hair to get all the hair in the rods.  While it's tempting to make a note to cut her hair first next time, I don't believe I will....I'll wind up cutting too much hair off and won't be able to give her the soft perm she's looking for.  Pauline's comment to me regarding cutting her hair : "I almost don't want you to cut my hair...It's just starting to turn under nicely" (this was before I started wrapping her hair).  "Well, I'll take a look at it as I'm wrapping and see what needs to be done"  OH BOY.

So, when I got done with the perm part, I started sectioning her hair.  Once the hair was curled, you could definitely see where the bulk was in the hair cut.  YIKES.  She commented again about not losing any length, and my reply was "Well, I see a lot of uneven sections in your hair, so I'm just going to even everything up".  Thankfully, I haven't run into a home haircut yet that I can't fix, but, DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!  STOP CUTTING EACH OTHER'S HAIR!

She did comment on the fact that her arthritis has gotten bad enough that she can't hang onto the hair any longer and would be coming in to see me more regularly for her hair cuts, Warren, too.  We'll see if she shows up in 6 weeks to get it trimmed.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What my days are like...

I was just on a professional site on Facebook, where they asked the stylist if they were to write a letter to their client, what would it say.  All were quite funny, yet sadly true at the same time.  And it got me to thinking:  What would I say to my clients??  Not so much my regular clients, who are fabulous people, but to the ones that hop from salon to salon, for what ever reason.  So, here we go:

Dear client:

1)  When I ask you to hold/manipulate your child's head, please do exactly that.  Hold their head FIRMLY and move it/hold it where I need it to be so I can cut their hair quickly & efficiently.

2) If your child is crying and pitching a fit, this is NOT a good time to cut their hair.

3) When you tell me you're not fussy about your haircut, don't be.

4) Please don't ask me to recommend shampoo, conditioner, styling products or hair color from the drugstore or department store.  I do not use those products myself and have no idea what any of them are.

5) Whether you book an appointment or sign up when you walk in the door:  when we give you a time, please be on time.  If you walk away after we tell you "5-10 minutes" it's going to suck to be you if you don't come right back.

6)  When you ask how much for a corrective color, don't be all shocked when we tell you the price.  it's a CORRECTIVE COLOR.  These things take time and patience.

7) When we quote you a price, that's the price.  It's not negotiable.  Do you haggle with your dentist, doctor, mechanic??  Didn't think so.  Keep haggling and the price goes UP.

8) Please don't ask me what a good tip is or if you tipped enough.  If you ask me these questions, I will tell you a good tip is $50, and, no, you didn't tip enough.  Google it if you want to know what a good tip is.

9)  When you color your hair at home, and have severly damaged hair because you followed the directions on the box, please don't expect miracles when you sit in my chair.  The easiet, least expensive way to fix all that damage is to CUT IT OFF.  If you would just sit in my chair for your haircolor in the first place, we wouldn't have this problem.

I know this sounds like I'm an ungrateful twit.  I'm really not.  I enjoy each and every one of my clients.  Without them, I wouldn't have a paycheck!  These are just the things I (and other hair care professionals) hear ALL THE TIME.  I hope you see the humor as well as the lesson in these.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The things I see...

This very nice lady came in yesterday to purchase some product.  When I looked at her from a distance and from behind, her hair looked pink.  I was soon to find out this was not intentional.

The scenario: Older woman, late 40's to mid 50's.  Darker complexion (sort of olive-y), brown eyes, hair is on the coarse side of things, maybe to the tops of her shoulders. MAX.  Recently divorced, had been looking for a less expensive hairdresser to take care of her hair.  Thought she'd found what she was looking for.

What she wanted (and what had been previously discussed with her hairdresser):  Coppery brown with some highlights.  Put in a bit more highlights than what she'd been doing over the winter to brighten things up.

What she got:  Heavily highlighted hair that was breaking off every time you touched it.  And a seriously pink hue from lifting the brown copper out.  She also had amazingly blonde color at the root area.

Product she was looking for: Something to put moisture back int her hair because it's so dry now.

Holy Mother of God....her hair was more than "Dry" was FRIED!!  Her stylist was sooo freaking aggressive with her hair!!  I felt so bad for this lady!  I actually told her "If it were me, and I got this done to my hair, I would go back and explain to her that this isn't what was discussed previously, this isn't what I expected nor wanted, my hair is breaking off and I need you to do something about it, at no cost to me, since this isn't what I asked for in the first place."

The thing with being a hairdresser is that people TRUST us.  They trust that we'll be professional and do what's right for our hair.  They trust that we'll actually KNOW what we're doing and why we need to do it.  NO ONE, EVER needs to destroy some one's hair!! 

From the sounds of things, a consultation wasn't done.  Why??  Who knows.  Maybe the stylist thought about things, came up with a plan, and decided to go for it, thinking that the client wouldn't let her do what she wanted.  Of course, what may very well happen is this client may never go back to this stylist ever again.  Maybe she was feeling rushed??  Tough to say, really.  Unfortunately, the end result isn't a great one.

I also suggested to the client that if the stylist started to approach her with hair color to fix it, to step away.  Her hair is so compromised right now that coloring it will only make it worse, not better.  The best thing she can do right now is lots of conditioning treatments, and let it grow.  Cut, grow, cut, grow.  And don't go back to that stylist again.