Friday, 18 November 2016

Hairy Tales

Ever since I had a "friend divorce" who also happened to be my business partner a decade ago, I have been on the constant prowl for a steady hairdresser.

Like most of you, I would just have a automatic standing booking every 4 weeks with Stephen Andrew Jones if he was even just a two hour flight away just to to get a haircut / color / blowdry and find out which of you are natural blondes / are greying / are actually really nice or bitchy.

But alas my former hairdresser was introduced by this former friend so she got custody of "Sara" 
( not her real name ).

I miss Sara.
She was the best type of hairdresser.
She spoke fluent English and I never had to explain using a translation app which, mind you, they didn't have in those days.
She was Australian and furthermore, a Victorian which is my Australian home state so we had cultural notes that overlapped.

She was a no nonsense Aussie girl who was frank which was much appreciated in terms of 
Should I chop my hair off ?
Nah - won't suit you.

She had a great sense of humour but she had emotional intelligence so knew when to chat and knew when I just needed to hear the hairdryer whizzing around my ears.

I had a standard cut that she just knew to do that when I went for my first post divorce haircut, I didn't know what to ask for.

These two pictures of my blow dried straightened hair is when I went to my local hairdresser that isn't even Italian - they are a Neapolitan establishment. 

Their English is just as pronounced as when they speak Italian.
This is what I got when I asked for bouncy with volume and curls at the end.
This explains my defeated look.
I have been in England too long to complain so instead I smiled and said - Si, me piace, grazie.

Then I went home complained to my husband and what-sapped my friends with wtf emojis.

So now I do what must really annoy hairdressers...
I show them pictures of my hairgoals from Pinterest.
Ok - so can you make my hair like Giselle's?
Cheers luv - you've got 45 minutes because I am running late.

Definitely not Giselle, but the following time I needed a blowdry, 
I showed them pictures which don't need google translate and they put more curl in my hair.

Thank you Pinterest.

Now you are thinking, hang on Naomi, you do live in London.

Let me explain.

London does indeed attract a great pool of talent an ambitious people.

However, hairdressers are split into several categories.
They want to do fashion editorials for magazines or 
they want to set up their own proper retail boutique.

So once most of them are successful, they tend to go back to their country of origin with their London street cred or they go into the suburbs or other cities where it is cheaper to rent a shop on the high street.

Indeed, even my "Sara" returned to Melbourne a few years ago so I wouldn't have had her in any case.

When I was in Korea, I thought I would use my time there to experience real life scenarios rather than going to the restaurants and living just the best bits of any city.

Going to a hairdresser was one of them.

My Korean is okay but it is a colloquial version not one of proper education as I was never schooled in it.  So I lack the nuance that I might mistakenly think I have in English.

I wanted bangs / a fringe.

So I showed the hairdresser various photos.

He looked gingerly at the selection I showed him.

"But you have neither proper Asian hair nor Western hair so your hair won't fall the exact same way.
We must find a solution." he said.

I thought he was taking the piss.

I was like, are you kidding me? 
It's not a UN resolution that needs a back up plan.
It's just bangs dude.

But of course that was just in my head and I did a polite Asian nod that you see in those let's compare cultures segments on TV.

But the issue really came in when I said I wanted not only bangs but in combination with a side sweep.

He vetoed it.


I told him that is what I wanted and showed him a pic of a recent haircut that did what I wanted it to.

He said that it looked lopsided and and heavy.

I insisted I am a civilian and it only matters if I am comfortable and I don't need to look good for camera.

He insisted he has a reputation and if people ask where I got my haircut that he would be judged.

I said I don't live in Seoul and I wouldn't tell anyone.

He says his reputation is important and he has his code.
Needless to say I won't be revisiting his salon.

You would think that brunette hair is easy to color but actually I find it surprisingly hard to get the brown I like.

While this is beautiful, for my it is too stripey.
This is a bit dull and flat.

The next two pics are too red.

I like a mix between the bottom two.
Rich chocolately brown with a warm hue.
But how do you say that in Neapolitan?
I have booked an appointment in two weeks.
Wish me luck.


  1. You know what I think you have gorgeous hair! But I feel your pain. I'm fortunate to have a standing 4 week cut and colour with my friend Jules who is a colour master. I had a stranger (who was a hair salon owner) ask me at a party if I even coloured my hair because Jules makes it look naturally highlighted somehow. So you could try Jules but if you're coming this far just go see SAJ!
    You have to let us know how the next appointment goes. XOX

    1. Aw thanks Dani, it must be the lighting! You are soo soo lucky. You can just sit down and relax where as I am always watching what they are doing and trying to understand what they are saying to each other about me...hehe. I hope it goes well too xx

  2. Naomi
    Understand so well how important it is to have a good simpatico hairdresser. I don't ask much of mine except that I should be able to leave the salon in a state of euphoria.
    I used to tell my previous hairdresser she was better than therapy because she always made me feel so relaxed and wonderful. Fab shampoo and head massage and then she always blow-dried it perfectly. She's Iranian but with a University degree as well. She studied hairdressing in case she needed to find work quickly if she left her homeland, as she did when she came to Oz with her husband. She's now on maternity leave - her first baby due in a couple of weeks. I'm thrilled for her but I really miss her. Before she left she organised for one of the other girls to look after me - she's good too but it's not quite the same.
    Because I've never coloured my hair I tell my hubby I've saved him thousands so now he can spring for me to go the hairdresser once a week just for a shampoo blow-wave. I look forward to it every week. Sometimes have it blowdried completely straight, now that it's quite long.

    My fab hairdresser in Paris when we spend a month there every year is at our local walk-in salon only a few minutes stroll from our friend's apartment where we always stay. He's great, originally from South Africa so speaks English fluently although he came to Paris with his family as a small child. Sometimes he talks me into having "movement" - sometimes I just have it straight. Whatever, he's a master. But it's not an expensive salon, cheaper even than my local where we live. In Paris my hairdresser only charges 23 euros for a full shampoo blow-wave for quite long hair. It seems very cheap to me (when we were in London last year I went to the local Toni and Guy and they charged 80 pounds just for the same - and no better). And he's a sweetie.
    Good luck with your search for the perfect hairdresser. Of course if only Stephen Andrew were nearby we'd all go to him! Pammie xx

    1. yes it is a peculiar relationship and usually like everything else you only realise when they aren't there! I can't get over the price of the blow wave! Even with the lower exchange rate that is still a deal - hang on to the Parisian hairdresser. He must have lots of clients though. Yes if only SAJ were nearby but I think he might be fully booked though xx

  3. Oh I'm so sorry! Sooooo agree with you on brunettes. They are surprisingly difficult for people to get right I think it's due to the much maligned and misunderstood ash pigment. It can be a scary line in color formulation between natural and drab cryptkeeper disturbingly greenish ash brunette but it's important because not everyone wants to be warm rich ultra gold chocolate. Even harder because many of the color lines are made with what's called a blended base-sort of an insurance policy for the hairdresser that the color will be neutral even if they overshoot a little on the red or green (two most dangerous/present tones in brunette colors). The danger with pure/true/single based color like the line I use is that brunettes can and will end up radically different from one another based on formulation. Because there isn't really a standard set of classification for color outside of levels (1=black--10=light blonde) it's hard for the consumer to talk intelligently with their stylist about tones and formulations of color because the vocabulary is entirely different line to line. Of course I've only been an American hairdresser so I'm sure it's different but I think any stylist that makes clients feel anything other than comfortable and welcome in his/he chair has really failed at the craft. It's our job to help our clients arrive at their happiest hair not impose our ideas on you. Of course that doesn't mean hand over the reins and do whatever they say when you know it won't work. But it means communicating clearly to find what they're liking in the idea photos and what translates well to them. What might help is if you ask your next stylist for a brunette that is about 70% neutral, 20% clear ash/green ash, and 10% gold. You still want a little gold in there because it helps with grey coverage not going too cold. That might be a good jumping off point.
    Also you could probably go back to Sara because good hairdressers know better than to get their hands dirty with cross-client drama. It's always a losing situation! I have clients who were best friends for decades, one had an affair with the others husband so I make sure they're never on the same day (they are still so in tune with each other that they often want to schedule back to back!) and when they ask about the other I only share something innocent like "she's looking forward to the kids coming home for break!".

    1. I am going to quote you but the problem is I am going to go to the italian around the corner bc it is winter and I can't be bothered walking or taking a cab as I am a lazy git. I will go and google ash in italian as a back up.

      but yes language is so nuanced in hair that to be fair even in english i find myself searching for the right word.

      So they still ask about each other eh? I think they should just bury the hatchett bc they still care about each other!

  4. Naomi, You are so fortunate to have thick, shiny hair. I love the two top pics! Your hair is lovely. I think here it's trial and error with salons too. I finally stopped going in my town as they charge a premium and found a great person a little farther away who I love. I have to go at least every 6 weeks for grey and my cut is not so special. I had a friend who recently got fed up waiting for her fancy hairdresser to get a spot and drove that day to a Supercuts, which is like $15. Her hair looked fabulous, so sometimes I just wonder about all the money. However I do believe you have to take care of your hair and skin if you want to look good. xo Kim

    1. There is one supercuts across the park from me but guess what - they are always soooo busy! I dont' think dearer is better plus they can charge an astronomical amount over for hair but I did try but my hair wasn't that much better so I can't justify it. If I had that special someone I swear I really would fly for two hours for a great hairdresser!! xx

  5. Women seem to have more complex problems with their hair. But don't think that the grass is greener on the other side--even as a man living in Taiwan I still have problems because they just don't understand how to cut curly hair evenly.

    1. hi Jim, back in the day in Korea, there weren't too many foreigners so my father would go to the barber on the US military base otherwise the Korean barbers would just keep playing with my father's blond hair!

  6. A good hairdresser is so important and the relationship and dialogue are essential so having a language barrier would be awkward...I have been going to the same hairdresser for about 10 years...the previous one for about 15...unfortunatley she got sick and retired so I had to find another one.
    Good luck and those pinterest photos are a good way of showing what you would like to have done to your hair.

    1. How I envy your long standing relationship - you just sit and they know what to do without explaining 10 minutes before hand. I have tried cutting my own hair to disastrous results too!!

  7. Oh my, it is fascinating to get a glimpse into others' beauty necessities. Until a few months ago I had a very low-maintenance style, long and straight down to my @$$. (I'm fortunate to have good color and texture, one notch darker than the chocolate you're looking for, but that's genetics and I can't take credit for it.) I could whip it up into a chignon, Gibson roll, or ballerina bun in minutes and look polished and "done" even if I had't seen a hairdresser in months.

    Last spring I decided that it was a little undignified for a woman of 50 to look so much like Cousin Itt and I had it chopped into a severe flapper bob. And now I realize I'm at the mercy of my hairdresser, with a cut every few weeks and a trim in between. I'm subject not just to the whims of her work and vacation schedule but also (gasp) whether she is having a good day. A couple of MM too short and my 'do reveals a certain . . . lack of firmness . . . under the chin. Being so reliant on another for a core aspect of my appearance leaves me feeling so dependent and resentful!

    P.S. I'm sorry about the friend divorce. I had one of those fifteen years go and it upsets me to this day.

    1. I am very jealous of you!

      One of my favourite things is when my hair feels right - I dont' care if my outfit isn't great but I like it best when I feel my hair is right.

      Oh bobs...I had one of those once mistakenly thinking it was easy to do and maintain. That is why even though I get tempted I keep mine longer than shoulder length so it can just be out of the way when needed.

      Yes, indeed it is a loss that stays unlike says most love relationships. It was a trying time and I wish we could be friends - she tried to reconcile and I thought I might forgive but alas the trust was gone so it was not even about forgiveness at that point...

  8. Love your choice and wish you all the best in hair translation.
    Realized that my hair after a blow dry by a hairdresser, is the picture on the left in "bit flat & dull".
    Only started going to hair dressers regularly in my mid 30's as I had a very basic hair style & my mum used to cut my hair ( tragic of sorts I know...but it worked for my mum & me)
    Like my current hairdresser but only changed after an awkward moment with manager of last salon. Let me explain- used to go to salon in our local shopping Centre and was very happy with any of the staff doing my hair. Manager was a young guy whose brother owned the salon. He made a couple of comments over time about my daughter being beautiful ..who then would have been 12& 1/2 but I didn't get fussed about it. My mum also cut my daughter's hair. My daughter needed a hair cut and as mum could no longer cut hair I made an appointment for one of the girls at the salon to cut her hair & blowdry it. (Think daughter's hair is like your preferred option but realize I suffer from the dreaded mother's rose colored glasses that my child is fab so I'll just leave it).
    As I didn't want to sit in salon and wait like a hawk ( much to my daughter's horror) I went for a walk with my son, bought him some afternoon tea and realized that about 150 meters away ( kind of hidden behind the escalators, I had the perfect vantage point. All good. Her hair had been washed, cut and she was having her hair dried. I saw her hair dresser leave her and the manager took over. Now I admit I flinched as I knew my daughter wouldn't say anything to him about why etc, so I told my son let's go and get our darling girl as she's finished. What had me breaking my own speed records (not hard I admit as I'm more of a plodder) was the oldest hairdresser telling, actually shouting at the manager as he kept running his fingers through my daughter's hair that that job was finished. I didn't want to alarm my daughter so I tried to speak calmly & rationally, "oh you're done darling fantastic." (Ps my husband and the kids would disagree with both my claims about being calm & rational but they would, wouldn't they).
    The senior hairdresser looked disgusted and said to me he didn't need to do this. I paid for it, thanked the hairdresser who did most of the work and never returned.
    We went home and after kids were asleep, told my husband what had happened and we agreed I had to change hairdresser. My big sis who is my daughter's angel just said no way are you going there again. Didn't even tell my younger sister as she would have lost it. There ends my story.
    Wishing the hairdressing gods to be on your side. Den xx

    1. Den - I am sure on you it isn't flat and dull but with my tone it would make me look pale and I would need bronzer. Ok, that is just so worrying. I am just thinking she was lucky that she had people around her that are aware because this could have gone unnoticed without an eagle eye. You are lucky to have such good sisters too Den and your daughter to have such aunts. I used to cut my hair for a bit with thinning shears to various results. Lucky I am not that vain but still there are limits. Will take pics of my hair without a filter xx

  9. Seems torturous, what you have to go through!

    He is from NAPLES.........well born there raised in ROME!
    This will be OUR HOT DATE NIGHT discussing YOUR HAIR!!!!!!
    I was thinking yesterday about flying to SAJ for CONSULT!!!!!!!!!!

    1. He needs to see Gomorrah! I'd fly there to if it wasn't a connecting flight of at least 10 hours

  11. My lovely haircutter retired from VS after almost 20 years there, got one promotion after another but she always found time for loyal clients. With her gone,I was bereft. I mourned. I refused to go out. Then I learned that she missed her clients, too, and so every 6 weeks or so (yes, 6 wks, the VS cuts last and grow in beautifully) she turns up chez moi and when she leaves I am much improved. I wish you the same kind of good luck, it's misery living with a bad haircut.

    Colorist is another story. I used to color my own hair, but then it got beyond my skill level and i needed professional help. One awful experience after another. Once I actually bought a cheap wig so I could continue going to work while an orange dye job grew in enough to be safe for "color correction." This after I had unwrapped a Hershey bar and told the color lady "This is the shade of brown I need." Ultimately my hunt paid off, but I always wonder what I'll do if his worldview changes. Our election has frightened him.

    1. I used to get VS cuts too but my girl there had two kids and now has quit. The others diverge a bit and have their own take and kept giving me blunt cuts so I have now given up. I am actually thinking about getting a wig for a change so I can change pop one on instead of getting a blowdry

  12. Go see Sam at Ena a Salon in Great Queen Street. He is brilliant. I travel and hour and a half just to get my haircut!

  13. I went to the Toni and Guy training salon in St Christophers place when I was living in London. It cost me about 15 quid, although you get none of the special treatment - I brought my own reading material. But I did get a reasonable colour job as the educators are keeping a close eye on the trainee hairdressers. I also gained a new respect for colouring as the hairdresser told the educator what she was planning to colour my hair with and then the educator shook her head, took out a whiteboard marker and wrote lots of percentage style numbers on the mirror to show her it was all ash, and would look terrible.
    Here in Oz, my hairdresser divorced me. He had some health issues, and owns the salon. So I got a very good stand in, but she doesn't blow dry like he did. No one there does, so my hair always looks flat and thin after I've been there. He was the master blowdryer and I feel sad that my hair just doesn't have that big bounce I used to love after my 8 week appointment/ torture (because I hate sitting in a chair having hair done for 2.5 hours). I guess at least they all speak good english? I did once have some French guy attempt my colour who had been in the country for 2 weeks. He started doing the weirdest things for my foils (starting at the part line, and scrunchin up the foil rather than packets), and I'm usually very passive and give in to the expert, but I stopped him, waved over another hairdresser and said something is wrong!! So they scraped off what he'd done and started over. Thank god I averted an expensive disaster. I think it's the waste of time I hate the most about going to the hairdresser xx

    1. I need to learn to be more assertive on the spot. I know that they say to speak up but the few times I have - they have taken such offence that it isn't worth it. The training places now are hugely popular and they are booked out and there are ones that are completely free but only if you let them do what they want. So no to that! Blow-drying is such a skill I agree. There really is nothing I love more than a great blow dry and wish there was a perm for it like they have with straight hair. If someone invented that perm they would be a zillionaire!! xx

  14. Interesting read Naomi!! I totally feel your pain! When I was travelling around with work... I had to go on the search for a new hairdresser in every city... nightmare!! Firstly, I didn't have the time to trial & test & secondly I would more often than not leave the salon very deflated!!! Colour is of utmost importance... & there are many different shades of brown (which I have come to discover) you need the right amount of ash to counter balance the red etc... I would sometimes end up with very dark brown/almost black hair, which isn't me at all or ginger hair (& greys hardly covered!!) Oh for the art of that warm, rich, chocolate brown!!

    As for the blow dry... well don't even get me started... all I will say is I often resembled that of a 'cottage loaf!' It was a struggle time & time again & like you, I could never relax, I would just sit there in anticipation & worry... scrutinising over ever move they made!!

    Happy to say I am now back in London... & I have found a great little salon, just around the corner! 'Salon Sloane' in Sloane Square, just around the corner from the tube! I see Ben for my colour & Giovanni (Gio to his friends) for my weekly blow dry!! They are both great... although Gio has been trying to get his precious scissors on my tresses for months... much to my dismay!! Although, I have finally succumb to a 'very small trim' next week!!

    If you decide to pay them a visit... tell them I referred you & they will look after you for sure!! Oh & ask for Fabi (the receptionist) when booking an appointment (over the phone).... she's very friendly & known me for years... & has travelled around various London salons!!


    1. YOu are right - cut - hair grows but color lasts longer and effects that goes on and oddly the good color don't last as long but bad colors seem to last for the whole time your hair is there!! Can someone please just invent yuko but for blow dried hair already?!! I will put a note in my phone xx

    2. You are right in what you say though... they get very offended if you tell them you're not happy with the end result! But I am a firm believer in opening my mouth, if I am not happy! Of course we need to be dipolimatic, for fear of offending anyone, as they do take it personally when their 'work of art' is criticised! The problem is that many hair stylists/colourists don't listen to their clients wants and/or needs & they often do what they want! Of course, we need to keep it realistic... I'm not going to walk out of the salon with a mane of 'Gisele' type hair, if my hair is fine & curly... but I do know my hair's capabilities (having lived with it long enough), to know that I can get that perfect 'blow wave!'

      If I am not happy, but believe the hairdresser has potential, I will tell them my likes & dislikes & give them another chance. Sometimes it's hard to get it 'just right' that very first time, as they don't know your hair and it's reaction to colour etc... however, if I find myself having to complain each & every time... I know it's time to move on!!

      Let us know how you get on....🤗

    3. It's like that famous saying - But you can't handle the truth!

      Most say they can but in reality they can't and the looked of being miffed is etched on their face and then I squirm in my seat bc I know they are only going to bitch about me and say - can you believe it!

      Also - I know coloring is an art - it is painting one's hair for goodness sake - and one's mood can be so altered by a good or bad hair day. Plus previous chemicals take its toll so I do understand it is a hard job so I do feel I need to learn more to help explain what I need. But I will try the formula what Stephen Andrew wrote above as he is a colourist and give them the percentage breakdown. Will let you know how it goes!

  15. I feel your pain! I went through several years (!!) with one hairdresser who was actually pretty terrible. During those years, I tried finding a new one a few times, but ended up with haircuts that were even more disastrous, so I kept going back to the original one. Finally, I got really fed up and searched for Japanese hair dressers in the area and at the time, I could only find two. As luck would turn out, my first pick turned out to be an amazing hair dresser and I have been with her ever since. If she ever decides to stop cutting hair, I am in trouble!!!

    1. Isn't it funny how we can be really dependent on these things and really impact one's life. I like Japanese cuts as well though their precision doesn't suit my hair bc it doesn't fall well. Keep her sweet and on your side!

  16. Great, great post! I love the pics of you, I knew you were gorgeous, I have suspected it all along! Hair stylists are tough, I know everyone feels your pain! My lady is Russian, very glam, in her 50s and super bossy with both me and my hair, which I appreciate. I have been seeing her for nearly 10 years I believe. She knows I love my bob and she always manages to angle it or somehow give it movement, even though uptight me wants it ONE LENGTH, and she knows this about me so she just does it and I find out later. Ha. I totally agree with you re brown, brown is tough! I am seeing more gray in my hair so I know something will have to change soon but I think I will just go Anna Wintour blonde. I don't know how else to describe the color I think I will probably end up with. Because if I go darker to cover the gray I think I will look older and not so good.

    Side note, is that a Rouge Vif Jige I spy? We are bag twins if it is. Best clutch ever, am I right? xx

  17. I wish SAJ was available to action my hair too, because you just know he'd have all the best anecdotes.

    Like you I feel my best when my hair is looking Olympic Qualifying. Unlike you I attend to its needs myself (well since March 2011) because I couldn't be bothered trecking to a salon, wasting time and spending a fortune. Thank God Old Mr FF is handy with the Kitchen shears xx

  18. I hade to laugh out loud when I read your post. Too funny. How come we are so afraif of speaking our minds with hairdressers?
    I only just found your blog, but I will keep reading.
    And side-swept bangs would look great on you. Just saying.

  19. The straight hair look is way overdone these days and oftentimes when I see a gal just pulling it back and tying it up it looks fab so of course tell them so.
    About 12 years ago my Estella had what we still refer to as "The Bangs Incident"; upon receiving her distress call, I first thought both her parents brutally murdered as I'd never heard such whimpers of grief.
    Both the straight and bouncy looks good on you as you've got great hair but I'd recommend bouncy or tied back and up.

  20. Eeeek! I've been away from the Blogosphere - my blog and everyone else's just for various reasons I wont bore you with but how lovely to come back to a post of yours showing a glimpse of you in your selfie with your new hair do which looks much healthier than mine at the moment. I need to get to my hairdressers who I have been loyal to for over 20 years! i hope you have been keeping well x

  21. Can I have your hair? Such gorgeous, shiny tresses! Gurrrrl, Gisselle and Helena should have YOUR hair!


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