Thursday 17 February 2011

The Not-So-Obvious Challenge of a (female) Expat

Whats the hardest thing about being an expat?

Missing your family?  Not having any truly relatable friends?  Constantly having to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius?  Initially having to hold up your left hand in the shape of an L as a reminder to drive on the left?

Yeah, ok, I guess those things are difficult, but they don't measure up the real challenge which slaps most female expats squarely in their face with surprising force...

Finding a hair stylist! 

Walking through a shopping mall today, I quickly caught a glimpse of a dowdy looking girl with the most boring, drab, lame hair in all of the United Kingdom and wondered why she wouldnt put in a little more effort... and you guessed it, "she" was me.   Ugh.

Back in the States, my Aunt (who is a real hair stylist, not like that Aunt who might cut your bangs with kitchen scissors when you could no longer see) used to do my hair for free, whenever I asked and if I didnt like what had been done, she'd fix it.. for free, whenever I asked.  Yeah, I know - what a spoiled brat, eh?

When I moved here I learned how the other half live - they have to pay for hair cuts and make appointments within regular business hours.  Can you believe it?!

Once this had properly sunk in, I made my first appointment at a local salon which came highly recommended and was charged £50 for a haircut that closely resembled the times I decided Barbie was tired of the same ol' same ol' and gave her an "updated" look with my dad's weed trimmers.  Seriously.  My hair was hacked.  I then got two ok cuts at two different places, but they never understood exactly what I wanted and they certainly didnt suggest anything new or different, and then there was the conversation ... so repetitive and predictible at every place:
18 year old hair stylist girl:  "where are you from?"
Me: America.  Colorado, actually.
18 YOHSG: Oh is that near California?
Me: Yeah, kinda.
18 YOHSG: So why did you move here?
Me: My husband is from here.
18 YOHSG: But aren't American boys so much cooler?


So I've given up - I've let my hair grow to where it doesnt need to be cut every four weeks, can be pulled back on really bad days and is so dreadfully boring even on good days. 

What's a girl to do?   Pay £100 instead of the £50 to see the man behind the curtain rather of one of his trainees?  Suffer bad haircuts until you find someone who "gets" you?   Pretend you are mute when you finally do choose a place?

Had I just moved to the next state or even cross country, I'd go home to Aunt Linda every four weeks, but international travel for a hair cut seems a bit excessive, even for me.


  1. I'm an international hair customer. I always get my hair cut when I go home for a visit. I got my hair done twice outside of the US in the 4 years I've been away (both from the same girl here in Ireland). The cut was okay, but I wasn't keen on the color.

    My hairdresser in the US said if I see someone who had a cut/color that I liked, I should ask them where they get their hair done. The problem in Ireland is that it's very rare to find people with natural looking blond hair.

    Good luck finding something!

  2. Oh I feel your pain! I am going through this right now, and in fact just got home from the mall in a sad attempt to find a walk in appointment somewhere non-scary. That didn't work so I am getting to know my bobby pins intimately well (growing out a pixie isn't so much fun...) Sigh. But thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!!! If Aunt Linda ever makes it over to this side of the pond will you let me know??? :)

  3. oh tough. Where have you gone? I can give you some recs based on experience!

  4. I will make an announcement if Aunt Linda comes to visit. We won't let her leave until all the expats in England are satisfied with their hair! :)

    Jessica, I've not tried any of the chains - only local places in my area. Are any of the chains any good?

  5. I've had an awful experience at Tony & Guy so I can't say they are- I ended up going to a Super Cuts to be fixed! I've heard good things about HeadMasters but it depends on the branch.

    Depending on where you live I could make a suggestion. I used to go to a place in Kensington which was always amazing and quite cheap. The last few time I've had a cut here I've gone to Daniel Hersheson on Conduit St and had good results. The cheapest cut there is £60. I've had a £60 cut and a v.expensive cut (was going drastically short!) and both were very good.

  6. I have an Aunt Linda too, but she's not a hairstylist :) I'm from Colorado too!! XoL

  7. Hilarious! I look forward to following your blog...I blog about my family's life in Spain! congrats on being named Blog of the Month!

  8. I so feel you on this. I am still growing out my hair from an awful hacking I got at Toni and Guy in Leeds TWO YEARS ago. And it cost me £75. What a bunch of crap. I ended up finding an Aveda salon nearish by and they (thus far) have done an okay job with cut and colour.