Have you ever had a bit of a downturn in your life, maybe a time when you were looking for a change? Or maybe a period when you were not sure exactly what you wanted, and things went from bad to worse when a personal relationship that had started so well crashed headlong into a brick wall?
If the loving cares of your female friends, who never shy away from telling you “get up from bed before you develop bedsores, and please do shower – you really, really need it”, are not enough, if the 20 AED wine bottle which you just finished off (and maybe you should have gone for something a little less cheap… as your heartburn is painfully reminding you) did not quite work as expected, there is only one thing left to cheer a woman up: a trip to the hairdresser.
Going to the hairdresser is like a rite of passage, a kind of magic we are waiting for to put an end to a time in our lives where there are far more “down” days than “up” days. Going to the hairdresser should be the healing balm for our spirit, an enchanted place where they read our minds and give us that extra touch to start our day with renewed vigor. Not unlike the fairy godmother of one of the many cartoons they made me watch (and I am still wondering where mine is… I can only assume that she has my same sense of direction, and therefore got hopelessly lost).
Alas, we live in Dubai, and this miracle does not always come true (or, should I say, almost never). Maybe it’s the language, maybe it’s old traumatic events, maybe even we ourselves don’t really know what to expect from our hair, maybe it’s the steep prices, maybe it’s one of a hundred other reasons, but going to the hairdresser here is, at least for me, a game of Russian roulette with a loaded gun. But as I always say: I like to live dangerously.
When I first came to Dubai I had firmly decided that, after many tragic experiences in other countries, nobody would be allowed to touch my hair except for my Italian hairdresser (and to be honest he did his share of damage, but everyone deserves a second chance, even someone who told you “relax, I will only snip away the damaged ends of your hair” and I came out sporting a short bob like a parody of a celebrity). So, during my initial days here I could not wait to go back home to give a proper form to my hair – which was starting to look like a bunch of bananas instead of a long, flowing mane. I guess that when they were handing out manageable hair I missed the notification.
Over time I started going home less and less, so I just had to take a leap of faith. And yes – changing hairdresser is indeed a leap of faith: we entrust a portion of our very essence to a perfect stranger. There is no denying that, to us women, a good hairstyle makes us feel stronger instantly.
On my first try I decided to spare no expense, and after some research I found the man I was looking for: the social networks sang praise for his skills and professionalism, so I booked an appointment. The outcome:
I am still crying over it. The bill alone very nearly made drop dead (I keep forgetting that outside of Italy the hairdresser’s bill is proportional to the hair length – life can be so unfair), and the hair which looked gorgeous at first soon became so dry that I had to cut it short by several centimeters to make them shine once again. I had to do this myself, of course – another trip to the hairdresser would have required several hours at the shrink to get over the shock.
After some more time I decided try the renowned keratin treatment, regarded by many as nothing short of miraculous. So I summoned my courage and bought a voucher on the Internet for a salon which the social networks once again recommended highly. The outcome: remember the cartoons, when a passing cow licks the face of one of the characters, and the hair sticks up, all oily? Same same. My hair was so straight and oily that I truly wondered if it would ever recover. But I must admit, after the initial flatness my hair grew in volume and tone, and was indeed good looking. So, over time, I tried the treatment several times (and yes, it is based on formaldehyde, but this just gives me an advantage for when the time comes to bury me).
So let’s turn the page and tell the story of when I decided to dye my hair or have highlights: effectively a beginner’s course to hairdressing. Have you ever seen that unlikely shade of blonde that is popular with grannies, the one which basically turns to even more improbable shade of pink? That is exactly what I felt when I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my grandmother, only 50 years younger (or maybe that was me 50 years older… it all depends on how you look at things). I managed to stay calm and asked for an explanation of the mess (because the next step for a woman in my situation would have been to burn the shop to the ground in order to hide all evidence of the tragedy), only to have the inevitable Filipina reply: “it’s what you have asked”. Because you see, over here when you ask for highlights, or a dye that is just one or two shades lighter than your original hair color (and you are never too sure of what that really means – but with your hairdresser back home it somehow seemed to work), the assistants, always ready to pass the bucket, make you choose the color on a palette: so first thing, they completely decolor your hair to a total white, and then apply the new hue. Imagine how happy I was when the color inevitably started fading away.
If you are partial to red hair, heaven forbid: there is a very real chance that you will come out sporting hair the color of a carrot. And even with hazelnut your chances are no better: a friend of mine who went ahead with this found that her regrowth was a totally different color. The only solution was a do-it-yourself dye that mercifully covered every inch.
But there is always a good day: perfect color, style exactly in line with your expectations, and you stand in surprise wondering why it all went well… but rest assured that the fatal mistake is always around the corner. Drying.
There are only two choices: your hair comes out so straight that it makes Cousin Itt look curly haired, or you look like a Barbie with locks and so much volume at the roots that when you first try hairdo the police have to be called in to understand how your hair can stand like that.
But as I already said a trip to the hairdresser is a leap of faith, sometimes you get lucky. And while we are always trying to get ourselves cleaned up, hoping to turn a new page, the assistants at the salon are always showering their attentions on us: cold or hot drinks, foot or neck massage, maybe a facial scrub while waiting for the hair to turn the right color. Little things which, in the “down” days”, can certainly help. And you if don’t feel like going out, there is always the option of home service, maybe in the company of the right friends, which can turn a day that started out so terrible into something a little better.
Translation courtesy of Dubaitaly.