AI: Hairdressers

I had a haircut yesterday. For once, there were no dramas; no pink hair, no skunk-like streaks, and no five inches cut off when I asked for a mere trim…

I certainly didn’t have the experience that Hugh Laurie had in this classic hair encutment sketch by Fry & Laurie.

Ever had a mullet? A mohawk? Green hair? A 1940s cut?

What’s your nightmare hairdressing experience?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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  1. I used to save a few bucks by having my hair cut at a beautician school. I went there for several years until one day.
    The young woman cutting my hair slipped and stuck her scissors into the back of my neck. Then she panicked and let go of them. Then she truly freaked when they stayed there, dangling out of the back of my neck. I couldn’t see where they were or I would have taken them out myself. Her supervisor came over, pulled them out, sent her home, and finished my now free haircut.

  2. For some reason, when I was 13, my mom decided I needed a perm. I had curly hair already; I’m not sure what the larger plan was.

    I ended up with a massive fro with big bald spots–some of my hair came off on the rollers. It just broke off.

    That was horrible.

    I did have a mohawk in college, and I liked it. But my nickname at that time was Wendy O :)

  3. this one is easy: when i lived for a short time in Fargo i had my eyebrow pierced (a small hoop). One afternoon i decided to go to a hair-stylist and the elderly man who was going to cut my hair spritzed my hair and then grabbed his comb to pull it back. My hair has always been long, so he did not see my eyebrow piercing, and when he went to comb back my hair the comb caught my hoop and ripped it out. The hoop then bounced onto the floor fully intact with a little chunk of my skin still attached to it. He then attempted to put iodine on my now-bleeding wound, which made it fucking hurt even worse.

  4. I tend to keep my haircuts simple. I used to just get it trimmed when I was a kid, but now I basically will have it buzzed all off, then grow it out for a year and a half. Been going in those cycles for the past ten years, basically.

    The longest it ever got was down to my shoulders after I graduated high school and did the whole ‘I don’t have to get a haircut, I’m in college’ thing. The next summer when it was that long, the first hot day made me rethink that. So I chopped it all off and resumed the cycle.

    What was weird was when I had it that long, and it was down, nobody ever questioned my gender. When I was at work I had to pull it back in a tail, and I would have people several times say “Miss” or some such to me when they saw me from behind.

    Speaking of cuts, it’s almost time for another one. I can pull it back enough to tie it in a short tail now, but I’m not getting it cut in the middle of winter, so looks like I’ll have a decent amount of hair to shave off this spring.

  5. Once when I got a professional dye job I ended up losing half my hair in the next week. It grew back eventually but I will never get my hair dyed again. Apparently that is where my vanity lies.

  6. Nothing really bad has happened to me but as a kid I wanted blue hair… I didn’t get it… And now I just don’t like getting my hair cut.. It’s really boring and I get the “you’re not girly enough” talk every time…

  7. After moving away from my childhood barber, I was actually near getting a pair of dog shears and taking a god at my own hair. My childhood barber would shave my head for $10, which was reasonable enough.

    All the hair style-eests down here want at least $20 to shave my fucking head. Bullshit.

    I finally found a barber that’d do it for $12, which is reasonable enough, and he’s a nice guy.

  8. my high school senior portrait. I was in the middle of growing out bangs, and my mom wanted someone ‘professional’ to style it a bit so they weren’t so obvious. the lady who normally cut her hair was out, so another lady in the shop did it. I ended up with giant teased-and-hairsprayed-to-death Southern Beauty Pageant hair, and in tears. it ended up looking ok once we combed and brushed the teasing and spray out, but it was bad. I think that’s part of the reason I spent the next 5 years just having my mom trim my split ends off in the kitchen.

  9. I got a short spiky fringe when I was 13. It looked truly hideous and seemed to take forever to grow out. I am now very nervous about hairdressers cutting my fringe (bangs).

  10. My hair straight, fine and essentially one big cowlick. After years of trying to get it to do anything, I finally gave up. The big advantage now is that I can walk into just about any hair salon and say “four on the sides, five on top”, and get a decent haircut.

  11. I like my hair a certain way, which may be boring to some, but I don’t put too much effort or time into it. Every stylist who ever heard my description did it just fine.

    Until I got my haircut by this extremely flamboyant kid with emo hair and girls’ jeans who told me as I sat down “You shouldn’t part your hair in the middle.”


    “You just shouldn’t. It’s so bad.”

    “I see. Well, I like it that way because it’s low maintenance. I don’t really worry about it that much.”

    “Oh. Well, I told my mom not to do it because it’s just bad.”

    “Oh. Well, I still like it that way.”

    Pause. Then, “Fine.”

    I gave him my usual instructions, and asked that he not make it too short because I don’t like those lame crew-cut things that so many guys have these days. He began cutting and before long had turned me away from the mirror. A few minutes of quick work later, he turned me back and I saw…Hair that was way too short. Not crew-cut short, but far too short to do what I want with it.

    “That’s too short,” I told him.

    He blinked a few times.

    “It is?” he asked completely unconvincingly.

    “Yes. That’s not what I asked for. That’s way too short.”

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, also unconvincingly. “You can do something else with it,” he continued, styling my still-wet hair into an awful fauxhawk.

    “No, I won’t be doing that.”

    “Oh. Well…I’m sorry?”

    “Whatever. I’ll deal with it.”

    I paid for the haircut I didn’t ask for, even though, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have. It was obvious that his personal sense of style was more important to him than my preference, which is why he gave me hair suitable only for a fauxhawk while my back was turned.

    When I got home, I realized that not only was it not what I asked for, it was really bad cut. It was all uneven and jagged, with a giant patch on the front right side of my head that was about an inch longer than the rest.

    And, to add insult to injury, my intrepid fashion-chauvinist stylist had been noticeably rubbing his junk on my shoulders the entire time.

    I later found out he had been fired for pulling similar stunts on multiple other guys whose hair he cut. Unlike me, those guys had complained.

  12. I too have a beauty school horror story. We went there because it was cheap, and they usually did a decent job (for an 11 year old, anyway). I was getting a perm (it was the 80s), but it didn’t take. So they re-did it. I had rows upon rows of chemical burns (wherever the rods were sitting on my head) that scabbed up. It hurt to wash my hair for a week. That was the last perm I ever got.

  13. I adore this sketch =)

    My mom decided to cut my hair short just before 1st grade, so on my first day in school people mistook me for a boy…always a pleasure.

    Then after a couple of years the barber gave me a haircut too short to fit into a ponytail, so I sported a big mess of frizzled hair all the time. One of the kids in class nicknamed me “loofah”, and the teacher heard in class one time and said, “I didn’t know that’s your name!”

    But really, hearing your “tore off my eyebrow hoop” and “stuck scissors in my neck” horror stories makes me feel much better about mine =)

  14. For several years (actually up until the middle of September this year) I had very long hair, down past my waist. I joke that my new haircut feels short being only to my shoulderblades when anyone else would think it long.

    Anyway I was pretty sensitive about the long hair and I went for a trim asking an inch or two to be taken off and the hairdresser (who lost my business forever) cut off about 6-7 inches. This actually followed me being mistaken for a boy in 7th grade when I cut my hair off very short. While I don’t think anyone would mistake me for a guy with my current figure I’ve been scarred and will never have short hair again.

  15. After an over-processed body perm, my otherwise dark blonde hair became faded to straw. I decided to forego a return to the salon and simply grab a box of dye at the grocery store. What I didn’t know was that the base of ash hair dye is green – and over-processed hair “seizes” the base colour. Fortunately, it was Hallowe’en, so few looked askance at my hair. The following day, I put on a floppy hat and walked into another salon. I removed the hat and asked if they could help – the stylist whisked me into the back room ASAP and repaired my hair. [Something about adding an orange-ish dye to counter the green.] The stylist admonished me never to do this again: ‘If you were meant to do your own hair, God would have sent you to beauty school!’

  16. No scissors in the neck or chemical burns, but at the end of my senior year I had hair down to my shoulders, all the way round. Not a good look whichever way I styled it.

    And when I voluntarily got a buzz-cut in the military I discovered that was definitely not a good look for me either…

  17. Chemical burns, yes…hair broken off at the scalp due to bad perm, yes…bangs so short I wore a hat 24/7 until they grew back, yes. All this before the tender age of 9. Repeat during the teen years…with acne added in for accent.

  18. I haven’t been to a hairdresser in years because the last one I went to gave me a mullet. I did NOT ask for a mullet.

    She was the first hairdresser I tried after my former one moved away. After she traumatized me with a mullet, it just seemed like too much hassle to find a reliable hairdresser again so I just grew my hair out.

  19. I tried to get a perm once, but my stick straight hair just stayed stick straight. My only real nightmare was when my mother’s hairdresser decided to feather my bangs and I got to be mortified for about two months until it grew out. Luckily, I could wear a hat most of the time, and it was only sixth grade. Kids weren’t being TOO too awful, yet.
    Since then, except when I cut off a foot or so for Pantene Beautiful Lengths, it’s just straight and long (that’s what she said).

  20. Got my 8-week cut at the hairdressers recently, and I’m wondering if I’m the only woman who hates to sit in the chair and chit chat. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read fashion mags, I don’t even wear makeup, but I do need my hair cut now and then. I have never liked being fussed over ( a “spa” treatment would not be a treat for me!) I always go for just the cut, no shampoo, no blow dry, so I can get in and out as quickly as possible – and of course, it’s cheaper. Am I just weird?

  21. My last year of teaching, there was a “theme” week for hoemcoming. One of the days was “come as your favorite decade”… which resulted in me putting on a ratty punk t-shirt, my worst jeans, some boots that were literally held together with duct tape, and a wonderful (though a touch short) mohawk. I spent the day playing punk music and went out to get lunch in the cafeteria that day.

    The next day, the mohawk was gone.

  22. Wow, this is nothing compared to some others I just read, but here is mine:

    I used to go to an Aveda Institute where the hair cuts were cheap and most of the products were vegan. I used to keep my hair in a pixie cut and one day I went in for a trim up. Well, 30min later after it seemed like she was cutting forever (and a sneaking suspicion she had cut my girly-burns too short), the instructor came over and made a face. I just remember him saying “Now rememer, when cutting a woman’s hair you leave this part long.”

    When I was finally able to see the side of my head — she had cut my side burns completely OFF! For those women who keep their hair super short, you know that there is a fine line between a “girly” cut and a “man’s” cut — I had a man’s cut.

    I cried for a week straight and bought a bunch of head bands etc. just to make it appear softer. From that point on I decided I was done with short hair (it’s rare I ever get it exactly the way I want it). My husband is disappointed because he likes it super short, but after that I am DONE.

  23. I’ve been cutting my own hair since 1994. I had a young airman come to work for me in Maryland from the USAF honor guard. His uniform and haircut were always perfect. Kind of like the mannekin at military clothing sales. He brought in his clippers and showed us how he did it.

    The first time I did it, I cocked it up and had to buzz it all off to even it out. Back to the basic training look. No worries though, a couple months later, I had enough to try again. It got easier over the years. I’m to the point now where I no longer bother with a mirror to do the back.

    Nothing to it. Ten minutes. I cut my boys’ hair, too. But, I won’t try my wife’s. Long hair is trickier.

  24. I scared the crap out of myself this weekend, actually.

    I never have been one to play around with my hair style or color. I just had a straight cut that my mom used to do up until college when I was “adventurous” and got bangs and a long layered cut… I dye my hair auburn every 6-8 months or so… but after my wedding in October I decided to do some white/light blonde streaks in my hair a la Rogue.

    Everything is fine, except I suck at foiling, so I was trying to figure out a better idea to keep my hair in place this weekend while the color sits. I decided it would be a great idea to wrap it around a comb. It worked the first time I did it, but after I re-wrapped it, I COULD NOT GET MY HAIR BACK OUT.

    I immediately knew this was the stupidest move I could have possibly done. “WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WRAP YOUR HAIR AROUND A COMB!?” I thought to myself as I panicked.

    I was having nightmares of having to cut my hair out of it, or get some massive shears to cut the comb bits off. Eventually, I calmed down and stopped tugging long enough to coax the hair off little by little.


  25. Many years ago before I started shaving my head I went in for a short summer buzz and forgot to tell the barber about a small mole behind my left ear. Had my doctor take the rest of it off the next day.

  26. I’ve always had fun with my hair. I like to play with it, it grows back. Starting in junior high I started dying it (my natural colour is “Ukrainian blonde” AKA the colour of wheat left out in the sun for three days) and being as pale as I am, it washes me out and makes me look a bit sickly. My hair’s been every colour of the rainbow (Mum was surprised and said pink looked “surprisingly natural” on me, it’s still my favourite), but the last few years I’ve been using henna to make my hair a nice warm red.
    My hair is naturally thick and curly, and it took me FOREVER to find a hairdresser who knew how to work with it. It’s very stubborn, and easier to coax it into a style than force it, it’ll just fall out.
    For my high school grad this hairdresser did this hideous mega-curled bun-thing on top of my head, I was in tears when I got home and called my friend, who came by and did something simple and gorgeous.
    I also once had that 1920s style finger-weave thing done, which was very pretty but the hairdresser used SO MUCH wax to hold it in place that halfway through the wedding it started to flake up and I had to spend 20 minutes in the bathroom picking off the visible stuff so it didn’t look like dandruff from hell.
    Still, I am happy I found a great hairdresser. She did this, and I wish I could do it every day, but at two hours and 39 hairpins, I’ll keep it for special occasions.

  27. When I was 5 years old my pony tails were cut off and I was given a boy’s haircut (that’s what my 5 year old self thought–very traumatic).

    In the 1980s I had a few years of perms. I look back now and shudder.

    After that, I’ve just had long hair. For many years I just cut it back to my waist once a year or so. But now I’m just letting it grow, though about once a year I hand my SO a pair of scissors and ask him to cut off about 10cm.

    I’d love to have purple hair. I bought some gorgeous Manic Panic hair dye and tried doing it myself. I just tried one lock. Since I can’t bring myself to bleach my hair, I knew I wouldn’t get a very bright purple color. I’m all thumbs when it comes to this–I’ve never colored my hair before. Turns out I got the best color on my nose. And on the collars of my t-shirts for the next couple weeks. *sigh*

  28. @CatFurniture: You are going to have to bleach it if you want a good colour. You can get away with a light blonde, but your best bet is the Manic Panic bleach. Start with a streak and test out the colour. Leave the colour on for a good long time (A couple hours if possible) to let it soak in and get a nice deep purple. Get an old housecoat and towel and keep that around your neck. Rub moisturizer or vaseline (lots of it) on your hairline and anywhere on your skin the dye will touch to keep it from staining. Make sure you rinse until the water runs completely clear and it should stay off your clothes.
    If you do lighten or bleach your hair, try to give it a day or two between before you put on the dye just to avoid overstressing your hair (it’s fine if you don’t though).

  29. I’m about halfway through trying to let my hair grow out longer. Halfway meaning I’m past the stage where I go insane from the tips itching against my face, but not so far that it actually looks even.

    Some people suggested long hair might be a good look for me, so I decided to give it a try while I can still pull it off. Now, some other people have confirmed it looks OK.
    Part of me is still wondering if they’re just being nice (what’s the point in asking if you can’t get an honest “sorry, I think it looks like crap”, which I’ve gotten from only one person so far).

    It looks somewhat OK face on, in the mirror, but I get the feeling the hair in my neck is growing much faster and constantly trying to give me a mullet, while the hair on the top and side of my head is taking forever to show any increase in length at all.

  30. @madfishmonger:
    Thanks for the directions. I think I’m to the point where I’ll be able to bleach one lock of hair. If it disintegrates, no big deal–there will be lots more! I think I’ll have to enlist a helper in this. I’d love to have it all purple, but that’s quite a commitment what with touching up roots and all of that. My hair got so long through benign neglect–I don’t like regular fussing with it.

    For now I’ve got a clip in lock of purple hair, which looks smashing in a bun. It’s only 18 inches long (that’s what she said), so it’s way shorter than my actual hair. I think I need to get more, like red and green.

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