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In Which I Write 2000 Words About Getting A Haircut
cap, captain miss america

So, I’ve been meaning to write about this for about two weeks, but Tea has been a busy lady!! Busy, busy!!!

Let’s start at the very beginning. You all know by now that I have a very long and tribulation-filled history with haircutters.

When I was very young, I loved going to the haircutter. I was about eight years old, and I went to a salon that was just s short walk or bike ride from my house, so my mother even let me go alone sometimes. I went to a hairstylist named Michael, and in the 1980s, he was the height of stylish, with long, beautiful curly locks that weren’t that different from mine.

But then he got sick. It wasn’t until later that I understood that he had AIDS, which he eventually died from. At the time, I assumed “sick” meant “pneumonia” or “chickenpox” or something, because at eight, in the 1980s, AIDS wasn’t really a concept I’d been introduced to. There was a middle-aged lady who worked at the salon who cut my hair instead, and she made such a botch of it– I left with my hair in a giant poufball.

I don’t think I got another haircut until I was thirteen.

I went to a great hairstylist as a teenager and college student, but she was on Long Island and isn’t at all convenient to where I live now.

So, my adult life has been a long, long slog through a parade of hairstylists who don’t know what to do with very fine, multitextured hair that is the product of a very exciting genealogical background.

Sometime in my adult life, I decided that the only thing to do was actually ante up and try out the salons that were noted for being “curly hair specialists.” I did this for the first time in 2009. The results were disastrous. I went to a salon called Ouidad, where I had people prodding me to buy their line of products the entire time, until I explained to them that I was not going to buy their products, at which point the stylist clamped her mouth shut and didn’t speak to me for the rest of my appointment. Furthermore, she explained that their “trademarked” haircutting technique involved thinning shears, something I had already had a very bad experience with. I told her I wasn’t comfortable with those being used on my hair, and she insisted they would be different.

They were different, in that my hair looked gorgeous when I left the salon, but two moths later, all the bits where my hair had been cut to different lengths began to show, and it made my entire head look ragged and frizzy. This was the most expensive haircut I’d ever had in my life.

Last year, I found out that my company, owning several fashion magazines, got a very generous discount at Bumble and Bumble. So I booked. I made it very clear on the phone that I had my hair and had them book me with a stylist whom they said was an expert at dealing with my hair type.

Yeah, that didn’t go so well. I walked in and told her I had been wanting a shorter haircut. She told me she wouldn’t cut my hair short because it was too beautiful. I told her I at least wanted it evened out and the split ends gone.

I walked out of that place with split ends still on my head, after waiting forty minutes from my appointment time before the stylist even saw me. I booked a “fix” appointment immediately. The stylist was snotty about it and barely did anything, in spite of the tons of split ends.

That was now the most expensive haircut I’ve ever had, even with the discount.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having multiple friends telling me to go to devachan for years. The women I know who go there have curly hair, but it’s much more typical of the kinds of long, tendrilly, wavy curls that don’t even seen that curly to me. Plus, I’m familiar with their products that have the kind of prices that will break ordinary people’s bank accounts (I generally don’t believe in buying hair care products that cost more than my monthly food budget). So I had always been skeptical about going there.

On top of that, it’s one of those “celebrity” type salons, not unlike Ouidad and Bumble & Bumble, and my experience there made me leery of trying another one. Plus, I’ve read lots of reviews online, and for every positive review, I’ve seen one that says that they find devachan to be a bit creepy and cultish, with customers who seem like devotees more than patrons.

Finally, this year, I decided that I might as well try it at least once. After all, it couldn’t be worse than Ouidad or Bumble & Bumble, could it? So I books an appointment with a stylist named Jackie and showed up on their doorstep a couple of weeks ago.

Jackie had the same kind of long, not-really-curly hair that I’ve come to dread from stylists, where I’m used to being told “Oh, yes, she has curly hair, she understands all about curly hair” when in reality, said stylist tends to freak out on contact with my hair. But she started by looking at my hair and asking me about my current regimen.

And that’s when everything changed. Now, I do some pretty wacky stuff with my hair– I haven’t shampooed it since 2009 (obviously I’ve been washing it with other things), and usually when I tell stylists that I wash my hair with a combination of honey and soap made from goat’s milk and shea butter, and honey, they just look at me funny. When I tell them that I use castor oil, jojoba oil, and vegetable glycerin in it, a lot of them make “ew” faces. Jackie did neither. She said she didn’t know about honey but she could see how goat’s milk was probably a good idea, and then said that oil is typically good, but given my hair type, she thought I’d get better absorption from using olive oil and coconut oil. She talked to me a little about their products, but the first time I said that their product line was out of my price range, she said that was understandable and she’d be happy to recommend some cheaper alternatives.

At devachan, they cut hair dry, which seems to make a lot of sense for curly hair– since the curl patterns are hard to make out when your hair is wet. They wash and style it after it’s cut. Jackie took a good three inches off my head, trying to even out the raggedy bits that are still left from my hideous Ouidad cut from two years ago (one of the things about having very tightly curled hair– it takes years for a hairstyle to grow out).

I had my hair washed by Brian, who was similarly very friendly and talked to me about my hair care, and read the labels on several products to see what the chief ingredients were so I could try to get the beneficial effects without shelling out a ton of money, especially since most of the ingredients were all natural. One of the spritzers he used, he even told me that it was basically a few drops of lavender oil in water, and I could just make it myself.

Then they dried my hair, and styled it. Drying was a very complex process that involved a long time under a traditional salon hair dryer, followed by more drying with less direct heat.

After that, Jackie came over and did a few corrective snips. She told me that I shouldn’t vcut my hair more than every six months, and that she didn’t think I needed a haircut more than once a year– and if I needed a little trim in between, it was fine to go somewhere else, since she knew their services were expensive. The people there were so lovely and knowledgeable that I decided to suck it up and try one of their products– especially since they had been so good about not pressuring me to buy something. So I asked Jackie, if I was going to buy one thing, which should I try, and she suggested a specific conditioner. When I checked out, I bought a bottle of it to try.

I started walking out of the salon, when I noticed white flakes falling from the sky. Snow!

I have this bad string of luck in that every time I get a new haircut, it seems to be a bad weather day. So by the time I get home, the hairstyle is wrecked and not fit for photographs. So I walked back into the salon and asked very politely if it would be possible for me to take a couple pictures of my haircut in their waiting room. The receptionist kindly waved me in, even though by now it was close to closing time, and I went to take some photos with my new camera.

A woman with magnificent strawberry blonde curls followed me in and offered to take my picture. I couldn’t tell if she worked there, or if she was a customer. I said it was all right, I just wanted to snap a couple of pictures to show my mother, and I’d do it myself. She insisted, saying that it was always better to have someone else take the pictures. She tried to figure out my camera– her phone was an older phone than mine– and after a couple tries, got a few good shots. I thanked her, and she started asking me questions about my experience there, which is when it became obvious that not only did she work there, but worked there in such a position where such things were important to her. I told her Jackie was great and I would be coming back.

Then she asked me my name, and I introduced myself. She said it was nice to meet me, but didn’t introduce herself. So I asked her her name.

And she said, “Lorraine.”

Lorraine Massey is the owner of the salon. She’s also the author of Curly Girl, which is one of the premier books about curly hair care. I said, “oh, Lorraine who wrote the book?” She said yes, and seemed delighted that I knew about her book.

So here, after having gone to two high-end salons where the stylists barely seemed to give a shit that I was there, at devachan, the owner of the salon, who is purported to have a year-long wait for appointments, and appears on TV and at major hair care events all the time, offered to take my photos for me when she didn’t have to. I thanked her very much and assured her that I’d had a great experience at her salon.

She saw my bag and seemed delighted that I’d purchased one of their products. She asked what I’d bought, and I told her. She asked if I had any of a sulfate-and-detergent-free shampoo they make. I told her no, and she said, “oh, you really should try it.” And I told her that I use honey in my hair.

Again, I didn’t get a “What?!” from her. Lorraine said to me, “well, honey is good, but it’s not quite the right ph level.” And she went on to explain something about ph levels and how she thought the optimal ph level for washing my hair was something I don’t remember now. And she actually [i]knew[/i] the ph level of honey. And then she goes up to the front counter, takes down a bottle of the shampoo she had recommended to me and gave it to me for free. We chatted for a little longer, I thanked her and went home.

I was just very charmed by the fact that Lorraine took the time to talk to me, and gave me free products rather than pressuring me to buy anything. I feel like you have to really believe that your product is better than what someone is using to do that.

So far, I’ve been pretty happy with the products, though I don’t know if I’ll continue to purchase them regularly given the high expense. But the people were all so kind and seemed to know so much about hair and actually really cared about hair and about me as a customer that it was actually worth the expense of the cut. So, if that’s what they mean by culty, I guess I’ve been converted?

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Wow, that sounds worlds better than your other recent haircut experiences!

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I have gotten good haircuts other places, but I didn't get into that because I sound like the Typhoid Mary of hairstylists-- one of the other best haircuts of my life was by a guy who was murdered less than a year after.

Okay, so they haven't all died. But really, two dead hairstylists is probably a pretty high number.

Also, I just finally added you back. You are local and we should know each other better!

You should totally know regyt better! I was thinking just the other day that the two of you really ought to be friends, given that you both love complex food and you both keep bees and you both have awesome hair and you both are incredibly smart and quirky.

Ah, you know regyt also? I know regyt via rosefox! I did not know you were friends as well!!!

We went to CTY together in 1995.And then we were pen pals for awhile. And then we got back in touch via the magic of the internet. She's also friends with penguinjunky.

Wow, gorgeous hair! Almost makes me wish I was a curly girl! Oh, except for that living on the other coast thing.

Thank you! It was pretty awesome!

I'm so glad that you finally had a good experience! Not just a good experience, but a great one! If I am ever in New York, I will definitely try devachan for my wavy tendril-y hair.

Well, you need to come to New York to do the Heads of Houses Official Photo Op. I mean, if we can get Pika back up here!!!

I don't use shampoo and conditioner either because I've had really bad experiences with them. I'm curly too and it just dries my hair out (coconut oil has been great for me). I agree, most hairdressers just look at you as if you've got the plague or something when you tell them you don't use traditional products.

I'm really glad you had a great haircut and a wonderful experience as well :D And your hair looks great!

Yeah, I still use conditioner, but I'm very careful about reading the product list!

It was definitely a good experience. Expensive, but well worth it, I think.

Wow, awesome! And all 2000 words were worth reading, ha ha.

Thank you! I don't normally think that blathering about haircuts is worth reading but I am super glad you thought it was.

OMG YOU MET LORRAINE MASSEY!?! Is her hair as gorgeous in real life as it is in pictures? I bought some DevaCurl products on a whim because they had sample sizes and they were on sale, and now I swear by their dry shampoo mist. I don't like to wash my hair more than twice a week, so it's great.

(I remember your B+B experience. Ugh. And Ouidad's products are just terrrrrrrrrible.)

I've always loved your hair (because I feel like it's a bit like you--fun and interesting and complex), but it truly looks fabulous in the pictures. How is the cut holding up?

This was an awesome post! And I love the pictures you've shown off. Your hair looks amazing!

I'm super-happy to hear that you finally found a place that's not gonna mess you about when you're trying to get a good haircut! The road you took to that sounds just awful.

And getting to meet a celebrity AND getting free stuff AND people who know a bit about how to make hair do good things? Victory.

You have the most amazing hair!

Wow, your hair!!!! That's such a nice haircut!! And like everyone else, it's so great to hear that you have found somewhere you like :)

Also SO MUCH EMPATHY with this:
Furthermore, she explained that their “trademarked” haircutting technique involved thinning shears, something I had already had a very bad experience with. I told her I wasn’t comfortable with those being used on my hair, and she insisted they would be different.

I don't have curly hair, but I have deceptively thick, wavy hair that looks at its best when it's layered and not thinned out. It's taken me years to find a hairdresser who understands this. Most hairdressers I've found are scared of super-thick hair and don't know how to style it.


The lavender mist stuff I make using the directions in Curly Girl. I use it pretty much every day.

When I was getting my hair cut for Locks of Love I thought about splurging for the stylist in my city trained in her method but when I contacted her she immediately shot down my use of diluted vinegar for conditioner saying that they have all these new products (I'm using it because 1 it doesn't dry out my already dry hair and 2 it's way cheaper than "products"). She definitely seemed like one of those pressure sellers - to keep up with this fabulous cut I've given you for $100, you have to twice that on products.

The person I go to now I've been going to for probably 12 years, she used to go to the same church as us. She sometimes cuts my hair wet and she doesn't really pay attention to the curls but I have the wavy hair you were talking about (though it can do ringlets when it wants to). Anyways, got my haircut by her yesterday for $19. So I'll deal for now.

THAT is a sign of a really freakin' good hair place. They listen, they work *with* you, they give reasonable advice, and they put you and your hair first.

Some things, I just look at as investments. Haircuts is one of them. I used to not get regular appointments for haircuts. But now that I have a salon that I like, and with a woman who has come to know my hair and do a good job with it, I make my appointment before I leave. I even have my husband doing the same thing.

It ain't cheap compared to something like the Hair Cuttery or Great Clips, but I know that they know my hair, they know ME, they know my preferences, and they make me look damn good. So to me, it's worth it.

I also don't buy so much of the products. I do when I have the money, and I don't when I don't. But my hair now is pretty manageable overall, even if I just let it air-dry.

I have recently been having trouble finding a good hairstylist, even though my hair is super easy, but they all try to shove these expensive products down my throat and I just... don't want. I think I may have found a pretty good one for relatively cheap a few weeks ago, but I'm waiting to see if the cut lasts for a reasonable amount of time at all. Very short hair can be more of a pain than one would think... Anyway, I'm glad you found someone good, and your hair does look fabulous!

Your hair looks AWESOME! What a fabulous haircut experience!! I've lived here almost 20 years and have only recently found a hairdresser who does a *decent* job, though a friend in Raleigh swears by some frou-frou salon that I've never felt wealthy enough to try. My hair's not as curly as yours, but lately I've had many days I look in the mirror and see Weird Al Yankovic staring back at me, and think "God no, no.... I really need a good haircut!!!"

I've been thinking about splurging on some Deva products - I kind of feel better about that now! They may or may not be for me, but it's nice to know the person who owns the company is so great.

Eee, it looks great! I'm glad you were finally able to find someone who could do what they said they could. That's some pretty amazing service there too.

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