I had an older friend many years ago who cut and styled her own short hair. She was well acquainted with the good points and flaws of her hair and knew what to use to bring out it's best. One time she had gotten tired of doing it herself and wanted to try a hair salon. The last time she had been to a salon had been in the 60's or 70's and she was only familiar with "hair technology" from that era. This included perms and hairsprays and setting styles with curlers.
By the time she visited the salon next it was the late 80's and none of the techniques and products that had been in use in the 60's or 70's were still in use. Hair stylists should be taught the history of their art - not just what the latest fad is. If the history of hair style were known, they might know what "marcel" is or "water wave" or "pin curl". Some terms last forever, like "bob". Hair was first bobbed in the early 1920's and it has remained a style ever since - hair cut straight, the same length, all the way around - about shoulder height or higher. In any case, my friend was not happy with her 80's salon experience. They tried to blow dry her hair - curlers were out of fashion by that time, although they could be used under duress, but curlers were never in the first string anymore. LaVerne knew they should NOT blow her hair dry - she was unfamiliar with the custom and the results, and she knew that curlers worked. They tried to tell her about her hair as if she was unaware what was best for it. They tried to use new products and techniques on her hair when she knew exactly what would work and what wouldn't. In any case, the poor, unprepared hair stylist became frustrated because my friend would not listen and did not like what was being done - and my friend was frustrated because the stylist would not listen and did only whatever was the latest thing.
I was thinking about all this when I went to a new stylist yesterday. For years I have gone to a median upscale salon. It isn't Hair Cuttery, but it isn't frou frou and too expensive either. It is in the middle. However, there are cheaper alternatives, and in this economy, I can't bring myself to spend beaucoup bucks at a salon when I can spend less elsewhere. So I did something I haven't done in perhaps 20 years - I went to a totally new and unknown stylist because the price was right. The salon is only down the street from my job, so I could get a wash, cut and blow dry during lunch - all for $25.00. That was not bad - it doesn't include the tip, but it was a lot cheaper than where I had gone in the past. The same stylist washed my hair and cut it, so I didn't have to divide a tip between a shampoo-ist and a stylist. The lady cut my hair - actually a trim - exactly as I wanted. When she shampooed my hair she did a thorough job and made my head feel good. She combed creme rinse through my hair and didn't rush through anything - it was lovely. The only problem is that nowadays the prevalent custom is to use a flattening iron on the hair and then put some oil on it. I'm a child of the 70's and 80's - I like lots of body and no gunk on my hair. When the stylist had blown my hair dry I was very happy. She then proceeded to get out the flattening iron - and I cut her short and said I did not like what it did to my hair. It makes it flat and limp and stuck close to my head - ugh. She did, however, put oil in her hands (I didn't know it was oil or I would have stopped her) and rubbed it through the finished hair. It smelled good, but by 2pm I looked as if my hair was oily and dirty like when I had been a teenager with skin problems and greasy hair - ew.
This was easy to solve - I just went home and re-washed my hair and blew it dry myself - voila - it was great.
This whole episode reminded me that hair stylists just take for granted that whatever the prevalent fad, the customer must want it - and that's not true, especially of older clientelle. No problem - I just have to keep on my toes. My old stylist at the more expensive place always had to be reminded. Every time she did my hair I had to tell her - no flat iron - and she would pout because she could only judge the quality and correctness of the cut if she flattened everything out. Plus I didn't let her use oil either, but she got used to that and just applied a little hair spray.
That said - I only get my hair cut every 6 months or so, just to keep it from looking awful. The other issue that could put me in the poor house is roots. I started 20 years ago with highlights over my natural color. That progressed about 8 years ago to full color to cover gray. Now, every 3 weeks, I have ugly gray roots. I was having the roots done in the salon at $55.00 a pop - no blow dry, just a shampoo to get the gunk out, and out the door I'd go. That didn't include tips. Since I couldn't stop my hair from growing, in 3 weeks I'd start really noticing those stupid gray roots again, and I'd try to hold off for 6 weeks, thinking of the expense. I finally bought professional color and developer myself and apply it myself. It surely isn't as good a job as the stylist could do - but it covers my gray mostly - and it costs about $7.00 - that's one heck of a lot cheaper than $55.00 plus $10.00 for the stylist and $5.00 for the shampoo girl (who used to give head massages that would make you weak in the knees - she was fabulous, hence the $5.00 tip - but I don't NEED that.)
So I have succeeded in cutting down the cost of upkeep on my hair for now. The next step is to let it go gray (my husband says "NO"!) and let it grow to my knees. That would cost......nothing.