Beauty Salon Blues

Years ago when I first started to get my hair cut and colored and my nails manicured or artificial nails put on, an appointment at the beauty salon was an experience where I always felt pampered and special. Am I being old fashioned in thinking that’s still true, or should be?

Almost a month ago, I set up an appointment at a new salon to have a cut and color done on my shoulder-plus-length, medium brown hair. I had researched salons in my area and was impressed by an ad I’d seen in which the owner had expressed how professional she and her staff were and how her salon was a dream come true for her. That sounded good to me, so I set up an appointment with (we’ll call her), Breanna.

I did my due-diligence rounding up photos of favorite styles and examples of color that I liked so I could better explain to my new hair dresser the results I was expecting. Since the examples I selected were actual photos of me, I knew it was possible to cut and color my hair to look like those photos. And I was being realistic in knowing the results I’d see in the mirror would include the wrinkles I now wear, as opposed to some of the early photo examples, sans wrinkles.

Beauty day arrived and I was excited and very much looking forward to meeting and learning about my new hairdresser and explaining to her what I wanted done to accomplish my spiffed-up look, and also to getting my head massaged during the shampooing portion of the appointment. I think just about everybody loves that part!

I arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and Breanna, a twenty-something girl, came forward and led me to her chair. When she asked what I wanted I showed her the folder of photos and explained that as far as cut was concerned, I’d like a page boy that curled under with a length just below my chin but above my shoulder. She looked at me with a blank look and then pulled out her comb and scissors and started cutting my hair with it dry. Other hair dressers had always cut my hair when it was wet, especially since I have some natural curl, but I‘m not the expert so I didn’t say anything.

After cutting my hair she went to get the color chart. She picked out three reddish samples and I selected a medium reddish-brown that had very definite warm, reddish highlights. She mixed the color, applied it, set a timer and went and sat down and started looking at her cell phone. The owner of the salon (about the same age) was in another chair and they spoke to one another and pointed out things on their phones to each other and ignored me.

Just about the time I was feeling totally neglected, the timer went off, I was directed to the sink and my hair was shampooed very quickly. No massage. In fact, I wasn’t sure she even got the nape of my neck wet. Then the towel was wrapped around my head and I went back to her chair where Breanna started blow-drying my hair. She had me facing away from the mirror so I had no idea what I looked like until she was done.

After spinning me around to face the mirror, someone with dark brown shoulder-length hair stared back at me and the bottom of her hair was flipped up in some places and hanging limp in others. Along with the feeling of neglect, I was trying to understand where the reddish color was and what had become of the page boy I had asked for. Then it occurred to me that Breanna may not have known what a page boy even was. That would explain the blank look she gave me, but I had had a photo of one that I had shown her and I remembered pointing to it. If she was too young to know what a page boy was, why didn’t she say she hadn’t heard that term used before?

I was so disappointed and exhausted by this time, I paid her and left, thinking I’d just not ever go back. When I got home, I went into my bathroom and ran my spread-out fingers up through the bottom of my hair at the nape of my neck and my hand came out covered in wet, gooey, dark-brown hair dye. How could Breanna have dried my hair and not noticed she’d not rinsed all the dye out? I couldn’t believe my eyes! And to make matters worse, there was not a hint of any red in the dye. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. The cut she gave me was too long, too. I had asked for a length between my chin and shoulder. What I got was hair that hung down and split at my shoulder because it was too long. To top it all off, not only did she do a poor job; she had no social skills whatsoever!

Clearly, I made a bad choice in salons, but I never dreamed I could be off that much. Throughout my adult life I worked in a service oriented business and I always gave my customers more than they expected. In other words, I treated people like I would like to be treated.

Is this a millennial thing? Or is this an unqualified stylist thing? Or both? Are young people unable to communicate with the public because of their isolation as a result of technology; the cell phone? Is that the problem? I have noticed people don’t communicate much anymore in doctor’s or dentist’s offices, restaurants and such, but this oddity seems to have totally crippled young people in particular. I might even be so bold as to say this lack of communication has become what appears to be an act of rudeness. Am I alone in thinking this? Do they know this is how some older people feel? Do they even care? Can I ever hope to get my hair done in a salon and feel pampered again? I’ve lost my confidence in being able to tell. Am I being unreasonable? Maybe so, if I didn’t say anything. I guess I should I have told her, but didn’t because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings? This is really bothering me.

Let me know your thoughts, dear readers.


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under How To, life, musings, writing

13 responses to “Beauty Salon Blues

  1. Renee Latty

    OM goodness! I would love to see a real photo now that I have a photo only in my wildest imagination! You needed to go back immediately and show her the “wet, gooey, dark-brown hair dye” and not be such a nice person! I do not believe the entire industry is like this and certainly hope you find someone you absolutely love! I know they are out there waiting for YOU! You deserve the best!

    • Thank you, Renee, for your comment. I agree with you absolutely. I should have gone back. I was just so tired and disappointed, I didn’t. I finally made another appointment yesterday with another salon. We’ll see how this one goes. I’ll ask a lot of questions beforehand!!! Cross your fingers!

  2. Al

    I would not care if her feelings were hurt or not. You clearly told her what you wanted. The dye left in your hair was inexcusable. I would definitely want my money back.

  3. Wow. I am so sorry this happened. Unfortunately, and I don’t mean to generalize, but I think this is pretty typical of the modern day mindset. Good service is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I occasionally find a young person who can converse with adults and portray an attitude of caring and concern to family and customers. What a rare gem they are! So… the part of me that likes to see justice done says call her boss or the owner and let them know what happened – or post an online review. As a boss, I would want to know why you aren’t going back so I could re-train my staff. You are a lot kinder than I am if you let it slide. I’m just saying that once you’re over your very understandable anger and disappointment, a constructive conversation might be a help to them. How else will they learn?

    • Sherrie, I had to laugh at your next-to-last sentence. Yes, if I’m angry, I wait awhile before I talk with anyone! Hahaha!!! But I thank you for your sympathy concerning my ordeal. I’m actually surprised I did let this slip by without saying anything. In trying to decide what to do, I remembered the salon owner was involved with ignoring me, so maybe I thought saying something would be a waste of time and effort. I have found another salon with a totally different attitude and I have an appointment on Wednesday. I’m excited and looking forward to it, so all is well. I may write a nice letter, however to the first salon and explain nicely why I’ll not return. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my plea for answers. I appreciate it.

  4. Salustra

    You are right on many counts but especially the “young people unable to communicate with the public because of their isolation as a result of technology”. They can’t communicate and many simply have no real interest in anyone but themselves and their small circle. Many also consider jobs in the service industry as beneath them so have no interest in doing a good job.

    I do wish you had gone back and I would suggest that you still do. Times have changed and we need to let those know that the behavior/job is unacceptable. I talk to the manager, I usually will tie it to money, explaining that I spend/tip well and they have now loss immediate & future income, that I will go on yelp, etc., tell friends and warn others away. As for a beauty salon I encourage reporting them as well. I have a friend my age who had the most beautiful thick, wavy gray hair who went to a salon to color it light brown for a job interview (unfortunately she thought she needed to look younger). She too thought things a bit off but didn’t want to say anything at first and did indeed wait to long. She ended up having her head completely burned and the scars are permanent, she now has to wear a wig. She is trying to recover medical bills at least but doubtful as salon has now “closed’, they too had good reviews.

    After her disaster it was amazing how many other co-workers/friends mentioned issues that while not as horrible still were hazardous or caused undo stress. You could have had hair loss or damage from dye heated and on that long yourself. We are so used to salon services we forget the chemicals are caustic and in the wrong hands can be dangerous. We grew up thinking most people want to do the best job possible but that is no longer true.

    The old “I love your hair where did you get it done” probably still the best recommendation or at least a salon with a very established presence. I lucked out found a lady at Great Clips via my new neighbor (her hair was similar in texture & color) when moved 4 yrs go and I now follow her where ever she goes. So good luck and speak out, better to ask too many questions to make sure they understand and just explain you are nervous than to be too polite!

    • Salustra, I was actually shocked to read your answer to my post and I feel really terrible for your friend who was treated so badly. While this “entitled” tendency is well documented (I even saw Dr. Phil complain about this attitude), it has occurred to me that in this day and age, many parents cautioned their children as they grew up not to talk with strangers, because it could be dangerous. That may also be another reason young people have resorted to staying in their tight circle of safe friends, and their lack of general social skills. Since you have such a stellar background in law enforcement, I always regard your opinion with serious regard, because you have been “out there” to see all kinds of behavior. Thank you so much for your opinion on my problem.
      Since all this happened, I’ve found another salon and have an appointment set up for Wednesday. I spoke with this stylist at length, explained my hesitancy and loss of confidence and I truly believe this gal will be excellent. I may write a nice letter to the first salon owner to explain why she has lost my business. I haven’t decided, yet.

  5. Susan Coggins

    What an ordeal! Since the stylist was in her 20’s, perhaps you should have “conversed” via facebook, twitter or one of the many other methods of communication floating around. I agree with the other ladies that customer service is slowly going away. At my age, I am not afraid to speak up about poor service, bad product, etc. If I can’t talk to them personally, they get a hand-written letter (also going away) and request an phone or face-to-face conversation. So far I have found hair dressers who do at least a pretty good job –knock on wood–and my current is a really good colorist and stylist. She works my cow licks! Good luck with you second try and remember you are beautiful with any color/style!!!!!

    • Susan, Thank you for your comment. So far, everyone says I should have spoken up. I agree, I should have. I may still send a handwritten letter to the owner. Since she was partially involved in my visit and in ignoring me, I won’t expect too much. But I’m happy to report that I have found someone who I think will redeem the industry for me. I think the Lord took mercy on me and sent her my way. Anyway, my appointment is Wednesday and I’m excited again. Thank you for your last sentence compliment! I’m blushing. 🙂

  6. Art

    Please let us know how tomorrow’s appointment works out? Being a guy I am way out of the knowledge base on this post but I am anxious for you to receive some renewed faith in millennials. Hopefully one of them can restore some trust in our society.

    • Just back from my new appointment, Art, and I am pleased to tell you everything went well. However my new stylist isn’t a millennial. She’s 40 and we communicated well with one another. She understood the term Page Boy. She actually put her hands in my hair to feel it’s texture and told me what she thought I should do and I agreed with all of she said. So, I am back to being a happy camper. I’ll let you know if I complain to the first gal. Thanks for asking, but sorry I didn’t have a better answer for you. 🙂

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