Does anybody else out there really look forward to getting their hair cut? I mean like, really look forward to it. Like it’s your treat for the month, your appointment with relaxation, almost up there with getting a massage. Your ‘me time’. I might be alone on this one but for me getting my hair cut is a special treat that I thoroughly look forward to.
Although I’m not the best at booking regular appointments with my hairdresser, I’ve always enjoyed the process when the day arrived. I enjoyed the consultation at the beginning of the appointment. The attention my hair stylist would give to what would actually look good on me. I enjoyed the smell of new shampoo and conditioner, and of course, the scalp massage to stimulate hair follicles. That was just pure bliss, especially after a long day at work. I would even feel a little sense of pride when the hairdresser told me my hair is really healthy, the ultimate stamp of approval! I would also get equally nervous of being scolded when I had left an appointment too long and my hair was rife with split ends.
Choosing a hair stylist and salon can be tricky, especially when you move to a new place. In the past, I used to choose my hair stylists and salons with absolute care. I had a bad hair cut once (yes once was all it took) and since then I’ve made sure I proceeded with caution when selecting a new hair stylist. As a result of the time I took to find my hair stylist, one of the other things I enjoy about my hair appointment is sitting back with a magazine, not really paying attention as they work away with my hair and then looking up near the end to see what they have created. And then I start to watch as they style my hair, so that I can attempt to recreate that salon finished look.
The service you receive in London for a haircut is top notch. I had formed relationships with my hair stylists and it was hard enough when they left a salon and I got reassigned to a different stylist. I knew parting with this service was not only going to be difficult but risky. I didn’t really want to experience a bad haircut again.
Sadly, when we moved to Qatar I didn’t have time to get a hair cut before we moved and I did desperately need one. Had I got one before we moved, it could have bought me some time to find a new, decent hair stylist in Doha. But by the end of September I was dying for a trim and my hair was looking tired. So I did what I usually did, asked around and went off a recommendation to a salon.
The salon was located in the Marriot Marquis hotel so I figured it would be good. It was fairly easy to get an appointment. I would say almost easier than in London. When I arrived I was greeted by the front of the house and then told to sit and wait. I waited patiently as I watched the two stylists finish their work, trying to gage their talent by the results on the client in front of them. And then I was called up. There was no greeting from my hair stylist and no discussion about what I wanted that day. I was told to go to the hair wash area where a woman proceeded to wash my hair. I don’t even remember the hair follicle massage. Next, the hair stylist came over and asked what I wanted, but at this point my hair was wet and it was hard to see what my hair looked like before. I tried to describe what I wanted and hoped for the best. This time I did not absorb myself in a magazine. I watched. Through the mirror to make sure they weren’t making an absolute mess of my hair. When she was finished she quickly dried my hair, no products or styling (because that would be extra) and then I was finished. Out I went. And although the hair cut in itself, was fine, the whole experience just felt cold. Like sex with no foreplay, it was disappointing.
That was in September and for the next 9 months I put off getting my hair cut. My hair grew very long but surprisingly it wasn’t looking that unhealthy. Until June. And then once again, I needed to get a hair cut. My husband told me to just wait until we went home to London as at least I knew what I was getting there. A good idea in theory. However, as our time in London was limited, I didn’t want to waste time getting a hair cut in London, when in theory, it was something I could get done in Doha. We had the Entertainer book, so there were vouchers for various salons, some in reputable hotels. I figured they would be good so I booked in with the salon at The Sheraton this time.
When I arrived the salon was dead. There was no one at the front of house, no one in the salon. But I could hear voices and see through a frosted door a few women chatting away. I stood and waited for a little while thinking, if I could see them, surely they could see me…. nope… In the end I had to do one of those fake coughs to alert them they were no longer alone. A pretty lady with shoulder length hair came and saw to my needs. She told me to sit down and then asked what I wanted done. I showed her my voucher which said ‘haircut and blowdry’. She told me the haircut cost ‘x’ and the blowdry ‘y’, but if I wanted my hair washed it would cost ‘z’. Puzzled, I asked ‘how will you cut my hair then, just spray water?’ This was the correct answer, which I went for because already this hair cut was costing more than a hair cut in some of the best salons in Covent Garden. However I was disappointed that once again, the hair cut process was a cold affair.
So I told the lady that I wanted to keep the length but just clean up the ends and put some soft layers in. She said ‘ok, no problem’. Again, I watched anxiously as she cut off my hair. Although she did show me what she was cutting off, I didn’t expect the result that was my hair cut. Instead of keeping the length, my hair, which was long before, now sat just past my shoulders. The layers at the back were fine but at the front it was choppy and short. I looked at my hair cut in the mirror and then at the lady and realised that my hair cut was rather similar to hers. She was one of those hair stylists that gave you her own hair cut. It suited her so I remained positive but self-conscious of my shorter hair.
When I went home and looked in the mirror, I still tried to remain positive but I couldn’t see how I could make it work and make it look like me. It’s been 3 days since I got my hair cut and like most things in Doha, I’m getting used to it. I probably should’ve listened to my husband and just waited to get it cut in London. I have met a few girls in Doha that have been afraid of this very situation and not got their hair cut the entire time they have been in Doha (for good reason so it seems), but rather, waited until they went home. But, in an attempt to embrace my life overseas, I took a risk. It’s not a bad hair cut… but it’s not the best one I’ve had and I certainly don’t enjoy the process or lack of care I’m used to for the service. Whether I return back to the Sheraton to claim the second half of my ‘buy one get the second one free’ voucher remains to be seen.
If you are an expat exploring unchartered waters in the realm of hair stylists, I’d love to hear your stories. How have you approached the task of finding a decent hair stylist in your new home?