Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cost of Being a Woman (Hair Edition) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 9

Tonight, I just got back from getting my hairs did**. See.....?
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It looks great...I know! I am in love with my hair stylist in every possible way. Even though I have done it myself, I prefer to go to a professional for my hairs for the following reasons: 

1. I suck at it.
I'm artsy but not coordinated.  I can't envision color very well and reaching each part of my head is equally different and frustrating in its own unique way. I'm also not Linda Blair: I can't see the back of my head. And I have no idea how to "lift" effectively and evenly. I also am very swayed by marketing so every brand becomes the best brand based on the convincing wording. 

2. It's messy as fuuuuu. 
It seems like no matter how careful you are, you ALWAYS end up with color everywhere - your face, your clothes, your nails, the sink, the counter, anything on the counter, the bathtub, the shower curtain, the floor, your cat, your dog (yes I've had color all these places). 

3. It's toxic as tits.
It seems to take days for the smell of some OTC hairdyes to get out of the air (and all the places you got dye from #2). 

4. I don't have the right tools.
Everytime I go into Sally's with the goal of buying hair dye accouterments, I end up coming out with makeup, face masks, and gemmy barrettes. 

5. It takes FUR-EVAR
I mean, it's pretty much an entire evening to setup, dye, clean up, shower, clean the shower and clean the cat. Not to mention the time it takes to actually go to a store and buy dye. I aqin't got that kind of time.

6. I'm afraid I will burn my hair off.
See #1. Plus chemicals. 

7. It's a major pain in the ass
Usually after a few attempts of unsatisfactory self-done color, I end up going to a salon anyway. Then it takes them twice as long to remove the crap I put into it when I didn't know what I was doing. 

On the way home, I got to thinking about my life-long great hair journey...

The name for this post was incredibly intentional. In using the term "cost" versus "price", I am attempting to emphasize that I am looking at more than just a monetary amount. I am referring to (one of) the financial detriment of being a woman ("pink-washing" apparently) and wanting to have great hair. 

First of all, before I talk about my own personal experience, let me present to you some "raw" data. I did a search for "hair salons" around my area in Thornton. Here are the results of 4 "top picks":

#1: The Station (Click for link)

Women's Cut.......$20

Men's Cut.......$15
Child's Cut.......$12
Color & Cut......$60

In looking through these pricing lists, you probably noticed that 3 of 4 have a common theme for haircuts - Women's haircuts are more expensive than men's. The last place doesn't list men's vs. women's (though, as it's a spa, you can tell that it is likely targeting mostly women), however it does list the difference between "stylist", "master", & "owner". 

Let me rant a bit about that. At Zandi, I can pay a lot ($30) for someone who is "fine", too much ($45) for someone who is better, or a ridiculous amount ($60) for someone who happened to have the foresight to buy a franchise. Ooh yay....! I can just imagine the conversation at the front desk;
Me: "Hi, I'd like your most mediocre stylist today." 
Salon: "OK, this is Blanca, she's been cutting hair for $20 years but never took the certification to become a master." 
Me: "I love Blanca!" (Tries to return next month) 
Salon: "Oh, Blanca took the certification test and has worked here 2 years, she's a master now."
Me: ".............................."
Or (I've had both of these experiences)

Salon: "This is Lacy, she just graduated from beauty school yesterday, but she's adorable, bubbly, and has nice tits. Hopefully she can make your hair look as good as she makes our shop look."
Stylist: "...Ooops, you wanted bangs, right?"
Me: "What?! No! I just wanted some layers!" 
Image result for squinty glare

Of the other 3, Tangles is the most reasonably-priced with only a $5 difference. What I don't understand here, is why are adult haircuts more expensive than children's? If anything, kids haircuts should be more because children are impossible to keep still! Maybe they're just operating under the assumption that  kid won't care if their hair is imperfect.... 

Platinum, which sounds the most expensive, is next in line with a $28 "Haircut" and a $25 "Men's Custom Cut". Talk about that wording! Why the hell do men get a special shoutout for a "Custom Cut" when women just get a "Haircut"? Is it inferring that if a man wanted a "generic" haircut he would have to pay $3 more.....? Doubtful. Many guys I know have 2-3 instructions and get the same haircut every time for their lives (see: my dad). Women are more often to try and change it up in sometimes very subtle ways.  Sometimes we don't even know what we want (imagine that! *sarcastic face*) until we chat with our stylist. (Note: these are just generalizations and when I say "women" I'm mostly referring to the "me, myself, and I" of this story).

The last salon that differentiates gender-priced haircuts is "The Station". To be honest, this is the place that sounds the most low-class. I feel like it should be a strip club, dispensary, or office-bathroom-products supply store....Maybe because I've seen the 1st two establishments named thusly and the last one...well that's just ridiculosity! Anyway....a $20 difference?! Are men's and women's haircuts so different that it warrants a $20? 

Let me be plain, I've seen many dudes with my type of haircut - hipsters, yippies, young professionals, gay guys, straight guys, metrosexual guys....even androgynous people. Yet, I would have to pay $20 more than a high-maintenance hipster dude who (also) uses a blow dryer and 5 products to style his hair? Out-freaking-rageous! Additionally weird is that if I had curly hair, as a girl I would actually not pay a higher price, yet a curly-haired guy would pay $5 more. Most curly guys I know generally keep their hair SUPER short for the stereotypically, guyly low-maintenance routine. Is this is a new form of discrimination (Maybe we should call it "hair-ist")? 

Maybe the rationale is that a woman's cut takes more time (because she has more hair), however, that's not true either. I have had my same haircut take 20 minutes or almost an hour. I feel that this largely depends on the stylist. Now, I suppose if you had 3 gallons of hair and wanted a million layers, then it may take longer, but in that case maybe just add a surcharge for time or sheer volume. 

Maybe they think that since men need a haircut every 3-6 weeks, they should get a price break b/c they come in so often. Versus women who get their hair cut every 2-4 months. Again, I usually go anywhere from 4-6 weeks between cuts (8 if I'm becoming slovenly).  That means that I just can't afford $50/mo. That's between $500-600/year or a plane ticket. Nope, nope, and nope...there is just no rationale to keep men's and women's haircuts separate.

Next, let's talk color. Here where I can see the difference in price based on how much hair you have (and thus how much product you'll use) and how complicated you want your color. Ombre on butt-length hair will definitely take more steps, more product, and more time than highlights on a pixie.  However, all of the above pricing structures don't take one important thing into account. The "starting at" price is not for short hair. Trust me, I have A LOT of experience calling places like the aboves and saying:

- "Hey, I just want 4 foils."
- "Well, our partial highlights start at $60".

What. The. Actual. Fuck. For 4 (count 'em) FOUR foils, you want to charge me for a partial highlight? Fuck off. At The Station, if you wanted to change your dirty blonde hair to red with bleach-blonde highlights, you will likely end up paying over $200 to start. How is it even ethically acceptable to charge that much? 

One other thing I noticed is that at Tangles, a cut is $15 with a color, but with a color & highlight, a cut is $20? What the shit?

Now that I have gotten you acceptably outraged, wanna know my secret? 




Wow, I could almost feel the gender-specific reactions through the Interwebs. (Again, generalizations are for emphasis). 

Most guys are probably like: "Heck yeah! $15 haircuts and $2 off coupons!"
Women, on the other hand, probably just shuddered and thought quietly, "I hope she doesn't ask for something too complicated." or "I went there once and they did a bad job". 

It definitely seems like much of society holds the impression that chain salons like Cost Cutters or Great Clips hire sub-par stylists, beauty school dropouts, or those that don't have any ambition to improve their skills. Some might even think that the only people who go to these places are dudes who want clipper cuts, children, or little grannies to get their hair set. If any "normal" person did have to stoop this low, they probably only needed a supes-basic trim or cut.

Well, lemme tell ya, I've had several good experiences at these types of places and here is why (honestly, these tips would work at any salon). 

1. I take a look at the people doing the hair. If they have good hair, fun hair, or a friendly personality they will likely know what they're doing and be willing to listen to you. 

2. Be specific for your first time. Bring in pictures, explain what you want/don't want. Tell them if you have cowlicks, or how you like to part your hair. Tell them what you've tried in the past that's worked or not worked. And if you don't know what you want, look at books and ask their opinion. If they tell you things that you like hearing, you're probably good. 

3. Pay attention to their reactions*. If they actually let you get through your lengthy description, providing input only on how they would achieve your desired result that's good. If they say "we'll figure it out as we go along," or "no, you don't want that, but I know what you do want." In this case, make like Flock of Seagulls and RUN so far away.

*This is a very important one. 

4. Don't worry about a shampoo or style. Plan ahead and wash your hair. If you're going somewhere after, usually if you mention that, they'll throw some product in it or blow dry it a bit w/o charge. And if you really want these services, you can pay a reasonable amount extra.

5. Hair grows back. For anything short of a Brittney-moment, It's unlikely that you'll have such a catastrophic fail at a salon. You usually can either fix it or wait for it to grow out. It's not like you're getting an eyelid tattoo of a swastika. And even for Brittney-caliber fails, they make wigs and hats. 

Now, here's my story: 
In 2014, my hairdresser decided that she hated me so I had to look elsewhere. 

I chose a punky, upscale, Boulder salon, Voodoo Salon, that I'd gotten a great style from for A&H's wedding a year before. All their stylists looked straight out of a rockabilly band. They charged $60 for a hair cut but they gave you a free glass of wine or a beer. Sadly, the woman who had given me the hair cut had either left or was booked up for 2 months. The closest opening was 2 weeks away. 

The stylist I ended up with was a guy who rushed me through the description of what I wanted and didn't even bother looking at the pix I'd brought as he was setting up his station. I said "I want to go short, but I'm nervous to go too short. Can you cut conservatively at first and then continue to trim down as necessary?" And he actually said to me, "Well, I can adjust it some, but I'm not, like [sic], gonna give you a second hair cut." I should've walked out right then. But I didn't.

I thought he knew what he was doing so I trusted him with my hair life. He didn't. This hair cut took almost an hour, somehow turned into almost $80 w/ tax & tip, seemed barely shorter than it was initially, and had been styled in a way that didn't complement any of my features. I actually left the salon feeling worse about myself than I had when I went in. I cried on the walk back to my car. I swore off expensive hair. The price may have been $80 but the toll on my wellbeing for feeling belittled, ripped off, an unattractive was as a Citibank commercial: Priceless (and not in the good way). 

I swore off high-end stylists forever. I decided that if I was going to feel mediocre to bad about myself after a haircut, I should at least save a lot of that money for consolation booze afterward. That was when I went to Cost Cutters and found Ashley. She is a bit (~10ish years) older than me, and has been doing hair for years. She has funky, partially colored hair, sleeve tattoos, dark makeup, boots, and black clothes. She talks fast, faster than me, and she's one of the biggest proponents of "girl power" that I've ever seen. She listens to my style, isn't afraid to take risks, has fun suggestions and takes my suggestions and adjustments seriously. She also recognizes that my hair is short and takes very little product so that she doesn't gouge me.  

She also recommends me addictive clothing websites, interesting TED talks, fascinating books and is in a band. She also says great things like, "Yeah, I don't want to work at a high-end salon. 1. I don't want to deal with the people in those places and 2. I want everyone to have good hair. Not just rich people." And, it's not just her. At least 2 of the other have followings and their own style and specialties. They both have also been cutting hair for many, many years (though I'm loyal to Ashley). 

Even if the haircut sometimes goes a slightly different direction than I want, I know I can adapt it for the next time. And regardless, I always leave feeling powerful, gorgeous, and (most importantly) as me. Not some poser, not someone else, not what the stylist thought I should be but me. And it's a "me" with just a bit less money in my pocket, who can still make her car payment and buy food. 

And ultimately, that is the most important thing, isn't it? 

 **The hairstyle above has 3 colors, a cut and a style. I also bought 2 products (BOGO 50% off). My whole total, with tip, was $101.00.  Suck it The Station, Zandi, Tangles, and Platinum.

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