The Cutting Shop: Getting Your Hair Done Abroad

When I was younger I was way more adventurous with my hair. Around 6 years old I got them to chop it all off like a boy and in my teenage years, after watching Dirty Dancing, I got a perm! I don’t know whether I should thank my mom or not for giving me such authority over my own hair. Then, In university I went from long blonde hair to short and dark brown- just like that. Also, I once allowed my friend to cut it all off. These are all hairstyle decisions I wouldn’t be so blasé about making these days. I seem to have either learnt from my mistakes or just realized what (I think) suites me best.

So in recent years I’ve gone months at a time (up to a whole year) without visiting a hair dresser. ‘They’ say one should get a haircut every six weeks, but that’s really not a rule I follow. I have unruly hair (which does seem to be getting better with age) and often make use of my GHD so I’m aware that my hair cannot be in Pantene-commercial-condition….. But I let the months roll on anyway.

A cool barber shop I came across in Seattle, Washington.

A cool barber shop I came across in Seattle, Washington.

I loved living in Chile, but there are a few things I don’t miss: their tasteless cheese, their lack of non-long-life (fresh) milk, their bad fashion sense and bad hairstyles. When the moon-bag forgot to go out of fashion, so did the mullet. And this is just one of the bad hairstyles on show in and around Chile. So naturally I was concerned about letting one of them near me with a pair of scissors.

Some ex-pat girlfriends of mine warned me against getting my haircut there, which compounded my difficult situation. After about 6 months of being in Santiago, I You Tubed ‘How to cut your own hair’. This bought me a couple extra weeks but in all honesty, I needed to see a professional.

Notice anything strange about this picture? The single, long dreadlock hanging down his back perhaps? Commonly found in the streets of Santiago

Notice anything strange about this picture? The single, long dreadlock hanging down his back perhaps? Commonly found in the streets of Santiago

So I plucked up the courage and headed to a salon right by my apartment. I was an English teacher living on a salary that allowed me the lifestyle of a student so I wasn’t prepared to part with a large amount of money. Which is ironic considering my apprehension. At this point, about 8 months in, I was finally able to converse with people in Spanish. So I managed to communicate: ‘It’s been a long time, but I still don’t want you to take off a lot’.

When she started snipping away at my dry hair I really thought I was going to come out of there one of them. I mean, is it not a universal hairdressing rule that the hair gets washed (not least so that it is wet) before the cutting begins? Well not in this salon. They washed my hair after the cut… Interesting. Anyway, the outcome wasn’t completely horrendous.

Skip to the South of France where the sea, sun and wind have taken their toll- it’s time for another haircut! This time, at least, I am in the country’s most touristy town. If anything this means that I can get by without speaking the language. Everywhere there are Germans, Russians, Brits, Americans and Italians (I don’t know what the Chinese have against France. They’re nowhere to be seen with their oversized cameras). So English becomes the best tool for understanding one another. I can go to the pharmacy and get by in English, the same in the restaurants and bars.

So needless to say, my choice of salon, The Cutting Shop, has a lovely bilingual lady at the front desk and hairdressers that can communicate with me. But there’s always a catch. I’m in the South of France during peak season which means paying tourist prices. For this particular haircut I paid 3 times the amount I would back at home.

It could have been a bit cheaper if I had opted for the ‘no conditioner’ option which is just silly. Who washes a client’s hair with shampoo only and then wack on 10 euros extra if you’d like conditioner?? I think hairdressers worldwide need to take a leaf out of South Africa’s book and just wash clients hair with shampoo AND conditioner BEFORE the cutting begins (for FREE). 

in 2013 I'm embracing my natural colour and enjoying spending less on it

in 2013 I’m embracing my natural colour and enjoying spending less on it

Have you ever had your hair done abroad? How was the experience for you? 

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