When good hairdressers turn bad

Most hairdressers I've visited truly care. I have friends in the profession, so I appreciate the physical and emotional demands, the hours, the client hassles.

At the same time, a good haircut in Toronto often hits three figures, and the custom of not tipping the owner (as my mother did) has vanished.

These Seven Deadly Sins are behaviours that keep me switching salons. Not all are deal-breakers, but if several happen during one visit, I'm gone forever, and will tell the world about you.

1. Inconsistent
Brilliant cut one visit, and the next I leave wondering if I saw the same person. Yes, consistency is challenging, but it's your business, especially at $100, to get the the June cut as brilliant as the April one.

2. Bored

Is this why my beloved late hairdresser, James, once coloured my hair shocking strawberry (rather than deep auburn), without quite telling me?
("I'm just going to pick up the colour a bit for summer.")

But James didn't have to stand in front of a corporate board of directors looking like an Ozzfest swag-seller, did he?

3. Pressure-Sells

You can create your line of hair care products but if they do not best the ones I use, I'm not buying. If you want me to try it, a sample would work. Stop asking me at the cash if I need any product. Stop pitching facials, lowlights or satin pillowcases ("to protect your hair"). If I'm interested, I'll ask.

4. Pain in the Neck

Go to one of your sinks and lean your neck back. Hold it at that weird 60-degree angle with no support, not just for a shampoo, but while the shampoo girl takes a call, wanders off to get someone a tea, changes the music or chats with the receptionist.

I've been to precisely one salon with adjustable and padded neckrests (Toni & Guy). I have neck pain for days from the typical salon setup.

5. Values Productivity Over Results

When my bright red faded after a week despite colour care shampoo, I asked why, and learned the salon had changed product. The new one processes faster, but a disgruntled ex-employee said almost all customers complained about colour lift.

However, productivity is king, and they can get 'em out the door faster if the goo steeps for 10 min. instead of 30.

6. Dishonest

When my colour turns out too brassy, do not recruit the youngest stylists, have them ring my chair and pronounce it "awesome". Their sweet young faces give it away, and you're turning them into the next generation of dishonest hairdressers.

And it's sleazy to tell me that you discontinued carrying my preferred product line (Phytologie) because "the company was sold to Estee Lauder, and we prefer boutique brands." Not true.

7. Unprofessional

Be on time.
If your previous client arrives late, rebook her, rather than imposing a domino effect on me, the punctual one. Keep your person, workstation, lounge and bathrooms clean. I especially dislike having the hair whisked from my face with a rancid brush.

I do not want to hear about your mother's substance abuse issues, your boyfriend's failed club. Don't ask me to mention you when I visit a hot restaurant whose chef is a friend. If you want a publicist, hire one; if you see me with a magazine in my lap, reduce your chat.


Anonymous said…
i have generally had good luck with hair dressers, but that is in part because i don't stick with one who isn't working out. i had a regular stylist for a few years straight, and early on things were great (oh, ps he had the most amazing shampoo sink, from japan, that felt like your head was floating on a cloud, i kid you not. in fact, that sink probably extended my patronage by a year), but lately i was less enthused to go to him (though i would still recommend him whole-heartedly. very talented).
Anonymous said…
oh, and a pet peeve that comes up at every salon i go to is that the stylist so often sees us after we've put on the robe. the hair is part of a larger style, and i'd rather they look me up and down and take it all in, rather than just see me as an isolated head.
I just recently had a hairdresser turn me from red to brown without my permission. First roots were too light. When she tried to fix them she asked if I would mind going a little darker. "No, not a little." Next thing I know I have brown hair. Arghh!!!! Thanks for creating a forum for me to rant about this. The only thing I can do now is rant--because to get back to red would involve stripping the colour with bleach and damaging my already over processed hair!!!

And, I have each and every pet peeve you have and I add Up and Down Town's pet peeve to my list too. Great post, Duchesse.
greying pixie said…
Well thank you la belette rouge, yet again I've been inadvertently talked out of becoming a slave to the dye bottle!

Yes, duchesse, I also hate the hairdressers and put off my visit for as long as possible until I can no longer stand my hair, by which time I'm so desperate that I'm grateful for any cut at all!

My lovely half Indian neighbour once said she thought hair styles on older women had to be extreme - either very long or very short. The trouble is that for me to get to very long again would involve 5 years of invisibility and life's too short for that. So I'll stick with the pixie for now!
Duchesse said…
Up&Down: You've identified huge one, that and not looking till your hair is slicked to your skull. That sink! if only they know how heavenly; I long for it.

Belette: Perhaps some Parisian magic to discover for your bunelle ennuyante?

Greying Pixie: Agree with your Indian friend, mostly b/c mid-lengths are rarely a definite style. But I have seen some great chin-length bobs.

I also see some scary too-short looks- the wash and wear carved ear look.

Mine: 2 inches short for years till one day saw photo- looked like Gertrude Stein! Weight gain plus ultra short = too severe, and annoyed my then-hairdresser just kept cutting it that way.

That's another sin- not really looking at you anymore. A woman I know told me she changes every year because it's inevitable.
Anonymous said…
i've changed my haircut/style on nearly every visit for the past... forever. right now i'm content and will ask for a repeat on my next visit. and unless something happens that frazzles me (i always turn to a haircut when i'm upset), i imagine myself sticking with the current shape for a bit, which would be novel for me. i love the opportunity for individuality that hair provides. short, long, you name it, but i really respect hair with some guts.
Anonymous said…
I have never even had a good hairdresser, they all just start off bad for me. I think I need to lower my expectations.
Also duchesse, did you want to exchange links? I like your blog very much.
Duchesse said…
Up & Down: Does your stylist propose the style, or do you? For me, the eye is even more important than cutting skill. What's current style you like so much?

Cybill: Had the same response to your blog and will link you, thanks.
Deja Pseu said…
LBR - I had the same thing happen to me once! I went to a friend's colorist who actually fixed it (somewhat) by adding a boatload of red highlights.

Ach, the sinks! I have a bit of arthritis in my neck, and leaning my head back on a cold, hard surface for long periods of time is no fun. I usually ask them for a towel to put under my neck.

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