My first visit to a hairdresser in a decade

Way back in 1999, I moved to Canada for a year. Ottawa got down to -30℃ - so I grew my hair to prevent my ears snapping off in the cold.
A very young looking me, with neck length hair.
And then I kept growing it.

Very occasionally I'd go to a barber for a trim, but I hated the experience. I'm not good with strangers touching me, I don't like making small talk, and I resented paying for a needless expense. So I stopped going. Fun fact - nothing bad happened.

As I hit a significant birthday recently, I decided to let the "wisdom" of the crowds play with my fate.

I asked for suggestions of London salons to go through - and was equally bewildered and terrified. The majority of websites were achingly hip (I am not). They had opaque pricing structures. They were full of insider-terminology, almost deliberately designed to keep out new customers.

So I threw myself on the mercy of the wonderful Ann Kempster to recommend me a salon and hold my hand as I went. Which is how I found myself in the consulting chair at Not Another Salon.

I'd decided on a colour, and the lovely stylist brought be a big book of hair(!) to look through. The only problem was, they all looked the bloody same! I've no idea if I wanted a 4, or a 6, or with more bright tones. I don't know what highlights are, or whether I want bleaching. Should I use Innolux, or something else? I basically threw myself on their mercy and said "you're the expert - you tell me!"

I've never felt more out of place in my life. I don't often feel stupid - but I repeatedly had to say "I don't understand the question, sorry. What do you mean by 'product'?"

Oh well, it'll be done over Xmas. If I hate it, I can always shave it off... I paid the deposit (TWO HUNDRED POUNDS! FOR HAIR DYE!!!) and came back the next week.

I settled down, confirmed all the options I'd chosen, and tried to relax.

It was excruciating and I hated every minute of it.

Don't get me wrong, the staff were lovely and professional. They were friendly and happy to answer all my inane questions. They weren't pushy or trying to upsell me anything. But there was no getting around the fact that strangers were touching my hair and stroking my scalp!

The Not Another Salon team were so friendly, and I was heartened by this message on their website

We operate a strict no judgement policy and our clients are from every walk of life.

They also offer a silent haircut if you don't want to make small-talk. I'm not quite that anti-social, but was happy to read my eBook while PEOPLE I DON'T KNOW LATHERED CHEMICALS ON MY HEAD!

It only burned a little. And, again, I got extremely confused by the questions. Including:
"How would you like me to blow dry your hair?"
"Errr... With a drier...? I'm so sorry, I don't understand what you mean!"
"Oh! Straight or wavy?"
"Straight. Wait... I usually have it in a ponytail. Is that what I mean?"

*sigh* I'm not very good at this!

But, after a couple of hours, I was all done! Having read up beforehand, I knew that a tip is customary. Luckily the credit-card machine gave me the option of some pre-calculated amounts - hurrah for avoiding social awkwardness!

And I stepped out into the moonlight a new man. Well... the same man with purpley-red hair!

So, huge thanks to the gang at Not Another Salon for everything. I'm really happy with the colour and will see how I get on with it. Despite the team there being so lovely, I just can't see myself going back.

Partly, I think, it's because I never see my hair. I don't ever look in a mirror. Being faced with my... err... face for a couple of hours was particularly unnerving. It's kinda fun having coloured hair, but I don't seem to get anything out of it.

Perhaps if they can invent a robot which can dye hair...

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