I’m going to cut (haha) right to the chase. I’ve been to five different hair salons in Dubai, ranging from top-end, super expensive “designer” hairdressers to little, back-street joints where the “hairdresser” also waxes legs, threads eyebrows and gives shoulder massages (hopefully not all at once, but I wouldn’t be surprised)! Regardless of the ambience of the place, regardless of how much the haircut costs and regardless of whether the gown they slip on my shoulders is made of silk or more closely resembles a plastic rubbish bag, all five of these salons do have one thing in common. They have, at one time or another, completely butchered my hair.
Now, I’m sure I can hear some of you rolling your eyes* and saying, “Really? This is what you’re complaining about? A bad haircut?!”. To you, I say two things. First of all, phooey!! And secondly, I’d like to tell you a story about two little girls. When my middle sister, Mari, and I were younger we had a particular Uncle (whom I shall name X) whose clumsy attempts to make us feel special and unique probably did more harm than good. He would say to my sister, “Mari, you are so beautiful, such a pretty girl. You should be a model.” And to me he’d say, “Chrysoula, you are so smart, so intelligent. You should be a doctor or a lawyer.” So, is it any wonder that Mari grew up feeling dumb, and I grew up feeling ugly! Thanks Uncle X, thanks a lot.
Anyway, neither of us lived up to his lofty expectations. But you know the great thing about being pigeon holed? It’s figuring out that you don’t have to conform to anybody’s ridiculous ideas of who you are and what you’re capable of. Taking a long break after high school, Mari eventually went on to complete a Degree (with Honours) in Sociology. Now she academises me under the table. (See how smart I am? I make up words because it’s fun!)
And no, unfortunately, I didn’t blossom from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I’ll never be Cinderella in anyone’s book. And that’s OK. I’ve come to terms with that. You know why? Because I’ve got great fucking hair!!! And that makes up for a lot! It’s bouncy and thick and has a little wave in it. And can I quote you a statistic here, for effect? Studies** show that 91% of Australians believe that hair is key to a person’s sex appeal and attractiveness. Ninety one per cent!!! That’s like…. practically everyone!!!!
So, pardon me when I get a little emotional, a little overwrought, a little hysterical at a bad haircut. But c’mon people, it’s all I have to work with! There’s no buffer here, no room for error. And when your whole sense of physical self-esteem is wrapped up in whether or not you are having a good hair day, then a couple of bad hair YEARS can be a blow to the ego.
I have never made the claim that my hair is EASY to cut. In fact, the same characteristics that make it great hair (thick, bouncy, wavy) actually make it really problematic hair. I’m the first to admit it and I always warn new hairdressers of the high difficulty factor. They usually dismiss my cautions with a confident wave of the scissors, probably thinking that THEY will be the one to tame my wild locks, as they start slashing and hacking. And then, when they fail (miserably) I’m the one who has to pay for it, and even worse I’m the one who has to live with it. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to defend the Salon Inks, the Ted Morgans, the Toni & Guy’s of DXB. Maybe they’ve had good haircuts at these places. But the fact remains that I have not, and if my hair is too difficult for someone to cut well, then as far as I’m concerned that someone is not a good hairdresser. Ergo, in my personal experience there are no good hairdressers in Dubai.
I’m not ashamed to name some names here either. After all, they weren’t ashamed to sabotage my head, so I don’t feel any compulsion to protect them in return! A lot of people throw the name Salon Ink around as the best salon in the city. I remember asking Narelle at Salon Ink to trim my shoulder length hair and, even more vividly, I remember her giving me a lopsided bob, with kinky layers sticking out around my ears!! Not exactly what I requested and it took me nearly a year to grow out. I recall showing Elaine at Ted Morgan a photo of a blunt fringe (à la Krysten Ritter) and walking out with a feathered Farrah Fawcett do which also took about 12 months to grow.
But the ultimate crappy haircut is the one that still hurts the most. I wasn’t joking when I said I measure my bad hair in years. I am still growing out a chop executed in April 2011 by a man called Shadi Nassif at Caritas salon. I walked out of the salon literally looking like a giant mushroom head. And that, ladies and gentleman, was the nadir (and the finale) of my hair grooming experiences in Dubai. After some serious crying, a lot of cursing and even a little bit of melodramatic wailing, I vowed to never EVER get my hair cut in Dubai again. And, despite the inconvenience, I’ve stuck to that vow. And will continue to do so! It does make hair maintenance a bit difficult, but I’m prepared to live with that.
I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful hairdresser in Amsterdam who seems to understand my obstinate mane. Raúl at LysandroCicilia is not only a delightful young man who loves what he does, he’s also extremely bloody good at it. He’s my Hair Whisperer and I simply adore him. I wish I could say that my life was so awesome, so filled with rainbows and unicorns, that I could afford to fly to Amsterdam every time I needed a haircut. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Through necessity, I have become very comfortable with split ends and annual haircuts. It’s not ideal, but I’m a stubborn cow, and like I said, I am never getting my hair cut in Dubai again. The end!
* And yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes. It’s a curse.
** Yeah, yeah, OK, it was a Pantene study. But it still counts!!!
I know exactly what you are going through, two years spent in Canberra, at the hairdressers every four weeks and only once did someone know how to blow dry my hair. In Abu dhabi they can blow dry hair, but a decent haircut……not a chance.
Ah, so it’s a country-wide problem! Why am I not surprised.
Oh my God! I think I am vowing the same. Those ppl in here are more than stupid, they are complete retards when it comes to hair! They ruined my hair SO much!
Hi Dina, I’m sorry to hear that your hair has also been butchered by the hairdressers of Dubai. I feel your pain. 😦
Same boat! I’m still looking for a great hair dresser here 😦
Loved the humor in your post 🙂 .. Sorry about the hairstylist problem… I know some arabic hairstylists are good, but they cant understand English well.. Its a real problem… they sometimes can be arrogant 😐
End of a haircut session is always a surprise…
Hi Shavi, thanks for writing (and for your sympathy!!!). The last haircut I had in Dubai was by a Syrian guy. He actually laughed when I told him what I wanted (long layers for volume) and then proceeded to butcher my hair. Ugh!! That was several years ago and I have stuck to my vow of never letting a hairdresser in Dubai touch my hair again!
Thanks again for reading – glad you liked it.