Ten years ago today, I began my career as a hairstylist. At the time, I was just feeling it out a bit, not entirely convinced that this was an excellent long-term decision. Oh, how wrong I was! Given the fact that I’ve had a steady history of restlessness and Grass-Is-Greener Fever, you could have bowled me over with a feather had you promised that I’d be at the same job an entire decade later.
And yet here I am. And it has NEVER felt like “the same thing.”
As I explained in this post, I’m completing my daily blog commitments at the end of this month. With only a few more weeks to tickle you with raw honesty, I thought it might be fun to navigate you through the confusing waters of hypothetical hair consultations. Rest assured that I always keep a straight face and try to take everyone very seriously. But sometimes… Well, sometimes I’m laughing on the inside.
- Client #1: “I’m bored. I want something different. But I like the length and I don’t want to go any shorter. And I don’t think that I look good with too many layers, so let’s keep them where they are. And I don’t want bangs. I had bangs when I was five and they were awful. And we’ve texturized before, but I couldn’t get my hair to do anything after that, so I don’t think we should do that today. I don’t have money for color right now, but I’m just ready for something new.
STYLIST WISDOM: The magic trick here is to change the way the hair is STYLED, not so much the haircut.
- Client #2: “You can do ANYTHING you want. I don’t care. Anything. Surprise me.”
- Me: “Okay, but first, what would be worst case scenario? Is there anything that you definitely don’t want?”
- Client #2: “A mullet. And for my hair to be purple.”
- Me: “Sure. Is there any length that would feel too short?”
- Client #2: “Well, I have a round face, so I think I need length or else my cheeks look to fat.”
(E.V.E.R.Y woman thinks that she has a round face. And I mean every woman.)
- Me: “Okay, and what types of things are you comfortable with in terms of styling your hair at home? How much time can you take?”
- Client #2: “Well, with three kids, I don’t really have any time to style it. It needs to be low maintenance. Something that looks good if I don’t do anything.”
- Me: “Uh huh.”
STYLIST WISDOM: Never ever ever ever ever ever ever start cutting the hair of someone who gives you free reign without getting more information. We are rarely as open-minded as we wish we could be.
- Client #3: “I know it’s fall now, so what do you think about lowlights?”
Before I proceed, let me explain that Client #3 was born with blonde hair. It wasn’t until she hit puberty that her hair began to darken and then two pregnancies later, it’s now what she calls “mousy brown.” She’s highlighted her hair since high school and hasn’t seen but a half an inch of her natural color for the last twenty years.
STYLIST WISDOM: Newbie stylists, beware! This is a trap! This is the Danger Zone! The colorist in you wants to create gorgeous, multi-dimensional effects. But most blondes don’t see levels of color the way that we do. We colorists see the world this way:
Level 1: Black
Level 2: Black-brown
Level 3: Darkest brown
Level 4: Dark brown
Level 5: Brown
Level 6: Light brown
Level 7: Dark blonde
Level 8: Blonde
Level 9: Light blonde
Level 10: Pale blonde
Level 11: Platinum blonde:
Level 12: Now you’re sweeping it off the floor.
But that’s not how blondes see hair color. True blonde psychology results in this level system:
Level 1: Black
Level 2: Black
Level 3: Black
Level 4: Black
Level 5: Black
Level 6: Black
Level 7: Lowlight
Level 8: Golden blonde
Level 9: Blonde
Level 10: Whee!
Level 11: Do you think I should get more highlights?
Level 12: But it’s summertime!
But – oh! – how I love my blondes! I could highlight all the live-long day. This isn’t about judging, this is about understanding. We all have different lenses.
I do thank God for landing me in the world of cosmetology. What a blessing this has been! Each and every one of my clients has sharpened and strengthened my skills all the while bolstering my confidence and leaving me feeling like I don’t even work, but play, while standing behind that chair. Best. Job. Ever.