LIFE IN NEW JERSEY: Spoiler alert!
Expat whinging (Australian for whining) straight ahead.
WARNING: Stop reading now to avoid.
Yes, it’s been a while but I am about to throw an expat-style dummy-spit about my adopted home country.
Going to the hairdressers here has never been easy. It’s not that there’s a lack of available services, it’s just that so far I have been seriously underwhelmed with the quality of most of the hairdressers I see.
To date, I have tried six hairdressing salons – everything from the big salons to the single owner small business.
My requirements from a hairdresser are not really very stretching: my hair is cut in short and long layers and coloured with a blonde and chestnut colour. In four years, there has been only one person out of six who has gotten the colour right, even after showing each one a photo of what I wanted. And the haircuts haven’t been too crash hot either.
If these two major things aren’t enough, here’s a few more reasons to hate it:
You have to know the US hairdresser lingo here to explain what you want
It took me a few years here but finally I started to understand and remember what phrase is used to describe my color job: partial highlights with a single process. Mind you, I had to learn the US phrase by writing it down, and repeating it several times. No longer does “half-a-head of foils” spring to mind when booking my appointment over the phone.
Having to tip for an already expensive service
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind tipping people, especially when they’re not well-paid. But when you line up at the register on the way out (with a colour job you know isn’t what you asked for), and find the price of the whole hair and colour package is $240+, you don’t feel like tipping much on top of that small fortune. Tipping is expected though at around 20-25% (higher than restaurants). You don’t want to look stingy or ungrateful, so you dish out another $40-$60 and the hairdresser visit is moving into the realm of $300. In my book, for that amount of money, you damn well ought to be getting something you like!
Hair color applications are Russian roulette
In Australia, hairdressers would spend considerable time putting your hair in foils with the blonde bleaching colour in exactly the right proportion to get the right result at the end. It was always something like 2-3 blonde strands to one dark strand. Here, this seems like too much trouble, with many slapping all my hair into foils, in any proportion, so it looks like I painted bleach on my own hair in an unprofessional look. And so often, the actual colors are wrong-too dull; too bright, too much…..
You have to wear your shame for all to see
Going to the hairdresser is always an adventure. A bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates except with a chocolate you don’t like, you can spit it out. With a hairdo you don’t like, you have to wear it literally. Not only you can see it but everyone else can too; for a long time until you take the chance to go back to a different place and do it all again.
The worst haircut since I was an adult
I’ve had a few questionable haircuts since I was here but two weeks ago, I experienced my own personal Chainsaw Massacre. I turned up for my appointment thinking it would be with the one talented salonist that did my hair well previously, only to find out this girl no longer worked here. The owner knew I wanted this girl when she took my booking but neglected to mention it until I’d arrived and saw I was getting someone different. “Oh” she said. “… I had to let her go…. She was too unreliable …..”
My heart sank. I looked at my new red-lipsticked and gum-chewing stylist in dread. “Aw, don’t worry” she said. “I’ve been cuttin’ hair and colourin’ for twenty years!” Somehow, that didn’t put me at ease. So I proceeded to sit in the salon for the next two hours while the gum-chewing stylist made a meal out of my haircut and painted my hair colour on in a haphazard manner. Instead of thinning my hair as I asked by cutting it, she texturized it with a razor cutter (something no good hairdresser does). When I got home, there was hair strands she missed cutting that were longer than the rest. Worst, she’d given me the same haircut she had, delivered with the teeth-grating sound of gum chewing and bubble-popping in my ear the entire time. This was without doubt the worst hairdresser experience I’ve had in many years.
But you know what they say… there are worse things in life. Eventually, my haircut will grow out.
However my search for a good hairdresser continues….