Hair Styling Horror
I absolutely hate getting my hair done.
Melissa, if you’re reading this, it’s nothing about you – you’re fantastic and I love you, we’ve talked about this!
It’s just that the whole experience is such a sensory overload that I can’t stand it. It wasn’t so bad when I was little, and my parents took me to a barbershop where they just sprayed my hair wet before cutting it in a few straight lines. But as an adult, there is SO MUCH that goes into it.
At my hair appointments now, the first step is putting on the color. (I’m a chemically-enhanced redhead, and I’m not ashamed of it.) Putting color on my hair means that my hair is sectioned with a rat tail comb and cold, slimy, smelly color glaze is brushed onto the roots and hairline. It feels awful and smells worse. Sometimes it even burns a bit. My stylist, of course, wears gloves while she does this, and although the sectioning doesn’t usually pull too much, the gloves catch and pull my hair badly.
After the color sits on my roots for some time, the next step is to pull the color through the rest of my hair. Section by section, more color is brushed onto the length of my hair, and then the stylist pulls it through with her hands like you would with shampoo or conditioner. With the gloves on, it pulls and tangles and it’s just awful.
Next comes the shampoo. First off, those shampoo chairs are so uncomfortable. The edge of the bowl under my neck hurts, and my feet never touch the ground, so there’s no way to get comfortable. The water is always too hot or too cold – never a really comfortable temperature – and water gets in my face, in my ears, etc. While I do enjoy a good shampoo or even a good head scratch, sometimes the stylist gets a little one-sided or repeats the same movements so that I start to worry if my hair is really getting washed and conditioned thoroughly.
Back in the chair after the shampoo, the stylist combs out all the tangles. For the life of me, I can’t understand why hair stylists insist on combing out tangles so roughly! Sometimes it feels like the stylist is trying to pull my head off, and by the time she’s done, my neck is sore from trying to stay upright. I once saw a little girl nearly pulled out of the chair by her stylist ripping the comb through the tangles. When I brush my own hair, I hold a section about halfway up and comb out the tangles below that point, then move up. There’s no reason professional stylists couldn’t be a little more gentle!
The haircut itself isn’t really that bad, aside from the anxiety that I’ll get a bad cut. It’s only happened rarely, but I can’t quite shake the possibility. The only thing that really messes with me is the use of a razor or thinning shears, or pulling the scissors through my hair to get a tapered effect. Each of those techniques creates a weird, scratchy kind of sensation – not quite either a sound or a feeling, but kind of a form of both. Thankfully, any of those things only last about as long as a deep breath or two.
Lastly, there’s the blowout. This might actually be the worst part. This includes the use of a round brush, which pulls my hair, yanks my head in all directions, and inevitably hits me in the face, near the eyes, when she’s working on the front of my hair. There have been stylists who left me feeling beaten after a blowout (I never went back to any of those). My stylist uses a brush with metal bristles, so it heats up with the dryer and burns me occasionally. The blow dryer is always too hot and sometimes burns my scalp so badly that I can’t help but flinch away from it. And if I may borrow from Dr. Seuss, “all the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!” The blowout creates a real sensory overload for me. On one occasion, my stylist was doing something special with the blowout (no idea what), and it took longer than usual, and I actually shut down and couldn’t respond when someone tried to talk to me.
Of course, throughout the whole thing, there is the pressure to talk. Even some NT’s have issues with that. This is where having one regular stylist can really help, at least for me. Once I got to know my stylist, the pressure eased a little, and I got more comfortable not being talkative if I didn’t feel up to it. I don’t know if she’s noticed, but I really only make eye contact with her in the mirror, and that helps me keep enough distance to feel comfortable with the talking. Still, the whole experience is draining from a social standpoint as well as a sensory one.
Still, I LOVE the results I get from my stylist (see, I love you, Melissa!), and my hair is a big enough part of my identity and self-confidence that I put up with the stress of the experience. When it’s all done, I look in the mirror and I absolutely love what I see, which is fairly rare for me, so I consider it to be worth the pain.
Did I miss anything? What’s the worst part of a haircut for you? Is there something else that is a necessary evil?