I started my career shampooing old ladies and rinsing perms. After that, I worked at a family salon in the suburbs before moving on to a barbershop in the big city. Now I’m at a “hip salon” in a different big city. Being behind the chair for almost 10 years now means I’ve seen some things. I’ve heard some things. Being a hairdresser is different from most service industry jobs because you’re physically touching people (and you’re not a doctor). Things can get a little awkward at times. Please enjoy my cautionary tales and unsolicited advice.
1. The most irritating thing that happens (mostly with men) is when I say, “Alright! so what are we doing today?” And they respond, “Uhhh...a haircut?” No fucking shit, but just saying “haircut” gives me zero direction. I swear to you, a guy once came into my shop walked straight up to the desk and said to the receptionist, “Do you have anyone here that’s good at cutting hair?”
2. Once, a woman in her mid-20s walked into the salon, looked me right in the eyes, and (unbeknownst to me at the time) gave me a fake name and fake phone number and sat in my chair. I proceeded to cut and style her hair. She was very sweet and pleasant, asking me about my general interests, talking about where she was from, etc. When were done, she tells me she has to run to her car to grab her wallet so she can pay. She even asks if she can pull right up front, near the door. “Of course,” I reply, “just leave your hazards on.” Five... ten... fifteen minutes later I’m shampooing my next client and stop mid shampoo, look down at her and say, “I don’t think she’s coming back.” Girl dined-and-dashed a hairdo.
3. I think it’s great you go to Bikram yoga. Health and flexibility are important. But why must you run errands afterwards with your gallon of water and yoga mat under your arm?! Go home, shower it up, come visit me afterwards and tell me all about how healthy you are. I don’t want to touch your wet bun that’s been twisted up on the top of your head for the past two hours in 107 degree heat. Yuck. It’s better to arrive at your appointment with your hair clean and styled like you normally wear it so we can see what’s going on up there, especially if it’s your first time seeing us.
4. Please don’t breast feed your child while getting your hair cut. There are little hairs everywhere that can burrow into your baby’s skin and cause an infection. Plus: chemicals. Plus: your boobs in my face without warning.
5. Tell me before I start your service if you have any bumps, scars, missing ears, allergies, and so on. It’s my responsibility as your stylist to ask you these questions, but just to be on the safe side I always appreciate knowing before hand to avoid any irreversible damage. Nothing worse than cutting off one inch only to learn the cowlick underneath that section bounces it up two inches and then you tell me you actually want a chin length bob. Or I apply a full head of highlights and you say, “Yeah, every time I get highlights my hair breaks off it’s so weird…” If you have any information on your skin or hair, share it with me and let me decide what I will do with the information. I worked at a salon in high school as a shampoo girl. There was a stylist there who had been doing hair for 20+ years. A client walked in and wanted an eyebrow wax. No big deal, routine service for this stylist. She lays her back in the shampoo bowl applies the wax, pulls the strip and next thing you know there’s blood everywhere and the stylist was in the back room dry heaving. Apparently, every single time this lady gets waxed, her skin COMES OFF WITH IT and she knew this, but didn’t warn anyone. Share your knowledge with us, please.
6. Working at a barbershop that stayed open late, inevitably a few drunks would stumble in. We were surrounded by bars. I was once cutting a gentleman’s hair (I’m using that term as a joke). He was drinking out of a Vitamin Water bottle. I would’ve thought nothing of it if he hadn’t had been so quick to tell me it was vodka, like I was going to high five him about it. Just as I’m finishing up his haircut, he asks me, “What about the happy ending?” Um…well, my happy ending is when you trip and fall on to your drunk face.
7. Please don’t ask me, “Did you go to school for this this?”
8. Don’t try and sneak a text out the side of your cape. 1) I don’t care. I don’t even think it’s rude. 2) Unless you’re moving your head. I’d rather you hold your phone out front of you and text your little heart out.
9. Please don’t be late. We work on a schedule that is to the half hour or even 15 minutes. If you are going to be late, please call and make sure we can still take you.
10. I love what I do and I love the clients in my chair, but sometimes I just need to rant. Thanks for listening.
Cassie Krepel is a licensed cosmetologist currently residing in Los Angeles.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.