23 Nov 2013

Free Haircut On Twitter: Is It Worth It?

I'm pretty attached to my hair. I think most women can empathise with me on this one. Hair can make or break a woman. Seriously. A bad haircut or a style or colour that doesn't suit you, will have you feeling down for as long as it takes to resurrect the hair-rific situation. Which is why it's never a great idea to trust any old person with a pair of scissors. I've cut hair before and it's no easy task. So don't you dare get anywhere near me unless you've got five pages of qualifications under your belt.

Given the above paragraph, you may be surprised to read what I'm about to write. Those of you who have been following my rather dramatic Facebook updates recently will know that I had a good few inches hacked off my head. I use the verb "hack" because the guy essentially put my hair in a ponytail and cut right across it. The ponytail fell to the ground…All 6 or 7 inches of it. A lot, given I'd initially asked for about 3. 

A little backstory: I was on Twitter and received an update about some hairstylist in the Exeter area who had recently started 'following' me. I went onto the profile and saw something about free haircuts. Being the bargain hunter that I am, I thought "why the hell not?" I had so many split ends and my hair desperately needed some TLC and I wasn't feeling wealthy enough to splurge out on a £35 haircut in a salon. Not to mention my last haircut which cost me an extraordinary £65 in London (no colour, no highlights) - just a cut and blow-dry. That sort of money doesn't just grow on trees. Anyway, I tweeted the stylist and received a reply almost instantly, asking whether I was free that afternoon at 5:15. Luckily I was and he said he would drive over and do it from the comfort of my own home. What service. The only thing I needed to do was wash my hair in advance so that it was still damp when he came to cut it.

He arrived 5 minutes late and I'd set up a chair in the lounge. I needn't have because he instantly suggested doing it in my bedroom. Slightly shocked at first, I agreed. He didn't want to be in anyone's way. Understandable I suppose, but he was nonetheless a strange man, coming into my house, specifically my bedroom. He was young, 24, and I asked him about his experience. Apparently his mum is also a hairdresser and he'd studied it at college. I told him what I wanted and showed him some photos and he seemed to get the picture. But when he started touching my hair, I became increasingly nervous. He didn't seem to have much confidence in the way he was holding it. He told me he was going to put my hair in a ponytail and just chop across it. I had a moment when I thought "hang on a sec, is this guy actually legit? Or did he lose a bet?" I thought perhaps this was some sort of awful hoax - that I'd been duped into believing this guy had any qualifications whatsoever. Was I actually going to let him do this? I felt a mixture of fear and guilt. He'd supposedly driven 45 minutes to get here. If he was (contrary to what I thought) actually legit, how could I just dash his dreams like that? I stayed in my seat, shivering slightly. I started contemplating what sort of wig I'd have to buy after he'd done away with my locks.

When he started to chop off the ponytail, it sounded like he was snipping upwards towards my scalp...all my hair...completely off. I almost screamed but bit my tongue to stop myself. I was nervous, frightened, wishing I could go back in time. He continued cutting, again, with little confidence. It seemed to me that the layers he was chopping were completely at random. A cut here and there. Nothing too specific. Just a few jagged edges. I made it clear that if he messed up, I'd be a miserable human being. He was beginning to feel the pressure, and he told me. Hearing a hairdresser say "I feel under a lot of pressure" isn't the most comforting of thoughts. 

I hadn't been looking in a mirror so had no idea what it would look like. A brave move. I suppose I wanted to trust him, or perhaps I was too scared to watch his amateur attempt. When it came to looking at the finished product, I paused, breathing heavily.  It felt like that moment when you receive an essay back and you're too scared to look at the mark; the feelings of dread and anxiety, mingled with excitement and intrigue. I inched closer and closer towards the mirror and finally when I saw my reflection staring back at me, I almost screamed. Not necessarily because it looked awful, but mainly because it was just so much shorter than I'd wanted. We'd decided on a long bob, and this was far from it. This was verging on bowl cut (OK maybe a slight exaggeration) and I couldn't believe it. I smiled, one of those fake smiles, and thanked him. 

When he left, my housemate came in. After complimenting me on the new "do", she asked if it was meant to be asymmetric. Sorry, what? "Well, the right side is definitely longer than the left" she commented. "Surely he did it on purpose?" she continued. "You know, like Victoria Beckham?" I looked in the mirror and suddenly noticed what she was talking about. It genuinely was. I'd been given one of those awful, lopsided haircuts that only feature on those "BEST FAILS OF 2013" websites. The layers also didn't seem to blend in particularly well and random chunks of hair were sticking out. OH wow. I immediately called him but he simply responded with "I don't know what to say". Isn't it obvious? Surely you'd come back and fix it? I mean, this is my hair we're talking about. He started getting mouthy with me and was completely unprofessional. I went to my desk and picked up some paper-cutting scissors and went to the mirror. Did I trust myself?

Later on that evening I received a whatsapp message on my phone from the guy, asking if I was getting used to the new hair. I explained that I liked it, just that it was wonky which wasn't exactly 'ideal'. He agreed to come over the next evening and fix it, much to my relief. He seemed very apologetic which was nice and I thought that perhaps after all, he wasn't so bad a guy. But apologies soon turned into annoying comments such as "I always knew you'd try to find fault with anything I did", "Did the haircut not deserve a tweet then?", "Can you recommend me?", "Do your friends like it?" The desperation was coming out. It was verging on harassment.  It just doesn't seem very ethical to recommend a bad hairdresser, even if it is free. Nevertheless, I became his temporary counsellor. I told him not to lose faith, that he'd get better over time, and that I admired him for going freelance and setting up his own business at such a young age. I told him life was hard and that he'd just have to get used to it. Poor guy.

Anyway, long story short…I ended up booking an appointment at Richard Beaumont Salon the next day on Longbrook St which I've been to before. I paid £25 for a hair fix (so much for the free haircut) which involved taking another inch off my right side and neatening the layers (apparently he'd missed a huge triangle of layers at the back of my head). So reassuring. But to his credit, he hadn't completely screwed up. The left side was "nicely shaped" according to the hairdresser in the salon. It was just a shame that he lacked consistency.

So there you have it. If you're going to take anything anyway from this article, it's that you shouldn't trust random hairdressers on social media who try and throw free haircuts at you. Because you'll probably be disappointed. But then again, I enjoyed being a little reckless. When you spend all day in the library, sometimes it's nice to do something a little crazy. And it doesn't always have to involve alcohol.

And because a new haircut is one of the only acceptable times to take selfies (this was actually taken before I went to Richard Beaumont Salon)...