Female Hairdressers

I’ve almost always had male hairdressers. At my most lucky, I had two – Amir for color and Alex for cuts and styles. Amir was funny and friendly and comfortable. Alex was a true artist – innovative and patient and talented. They were both bald.

Amir’s favorite joke was this: when he recommended a treatment or a product, he would say “I use it myself!” and point to his bare head. And then laugh. Like, really laugh. Every time. It was kind of hilarious.

And they were both quiet. I didn’t have to make small talk, which I appreciated more than I can say. And they didn’t flirt, which for some reason is a rarity among men in their profession, at least in this city.

I struggled to find someone good when they both left the country. And while I remember them fondly, they’re the only two hairdressers I’ve ever had that I miss.

I didn’t realize what I didn’t like about most male hairdressers generally until I went to a female hairdresser for the first time in years last week.

For one, she didn’t pull my hair while drying it or scratch my scalp during the wash. My neck didn’t have a crick in it for two days after my appointment. I simply didn’t realize that a trip to the hairdresser could be pain free. Every single guy I’ve ever been to seems to be a little more violent with my hair than she or her (female) helper were. Is it because they have long hair and can sympathize? Are their hands just more… sensitive somehow? I don’t know.

And the second thing is… she didn’t make me feel bad about myself. My former regular guy here used to shake his head disapprovingly whenever I went in for an appointment and my roots were out or the ends were broken. He’d tell me that the color I chose wasn’t right, and refused to entertain anything that wasn’t completely traditional. He was kind of a dick, in other words. And a boring one at that. And the last guy I went to in Egypt – though he gave me a great cut and amazing highlights, to be fair – reacted to my request for bangs by saying “well of course we’ve got to cover up that forehead”.

When I looked back at all the stylists I’ve been to, I remember that attitude to hair more than anything. The only explanation I can think for the behavior of the men was that… maybe they believe in negging? If you put me down, or criticize my appearance, do you think I’m more likely to ask for more treatments or come more often? It doesn’t work that way, for me at least. It just makes me dread my hair appointments and put them off as long as possible.

But the women were always patient and supportive. I felt more comfortable asking them questions about products, and they always had better answers. No woman hairdresser has ever said anything negative about my hair or even suggested a style or treatment that made me feel like she was criticizing my choices.

It might be a completely subjective experience. But I do see a pattern here.