True Confessions of a Salon Slut
When it comes to my hair and that most intimate of personal services, I have commitment issues.
Like so many stories about a person’s deep-seated insecurities and issues, this one begins in high school. I was a sophomore, awkward in every way. I had just finished growing out my rockin’ ’80s bangs (my hometown in Oklahoma is about 20 years behind the rest of the country in fashion, hair, dining, everything), and I needed a new look. I talked to a friend who was an artist. She offered to draw a picture of a haircut. It was perfect. I took my friend’s folded piece of paper and went to my appointment with the only hairstylist in town.
He took the paper, looked at the top sketch (which was only of the front of the head), and started chopping. To this day, I don’t know why he didn’t flip the paper over. But he didn’t. And within 30 minutes, he had ruined my hair and, essentially, my high school experience.
Twelve years later, I’m still getting over that haircut. Something about that traumatic day rooted itself in my subconscious and has made me a very unloyal customer to dozens of hairstylists in Dallas, most of whom have done nothing wrong. I’ve lived in this city for five years. In that time, I’ve gone to approximately 15 salons, driven to each by whatever deal of the day I could find.
The first salon I visited was Osgood O’Neil in Snider Plaza. A coupon got me there, but the kind people and easy location kept me. That is, until the day I bawled in the stylist’s chair. This was in 2008. The last time I went to Osgood O’Neil was the day I heard that there were going to be layoffs at my company. I sat down in the chair, the unsuspecting stylist asked me how my day was going, and I started crying. I couldn’t bear to face her again.
My friends then bought me a gift certificate to Avalon Salon, just a block down the road from Osgood O’Neil (I think they could tell my ends were in need of some help). The hairdresser was sweet, but a co-worker’s husband worked at the same salon, and for reasons unknown, that seemed awkward to me. I never returned.
I hopped around for a couple of years, testing this place and that. I went to the Aveda Institute a couple of times. Though cheap and resulting in a decent cut, each appointment took four hours longer than it should have. Also, making awkward small talk with someone learning the art of small talk is really painful. I stopped going there.
At one point, I was so desperate for a trim that I ended up at a Supercuts. I’m not proud of that one.
I tried Pure Spa and Salon near Mockingbird Station. I thought maybe I could settle down there. I liked that it offered a whole slew of spa services (though I never used them), and the location was convenient. I gave up on my last appointment at Pure Spa when I was waiting to be seen 30 minutes after my appointment time. My split ends and I left. Still needing a trim, I perused Groupon and found an offer for Matthew Tully Hairdressing in Uptown. I made an appointment for a Saturday morning and ran into a couple of friends while I was getting the trim. A tattooed gentleman who talked a lot about his mom made a big deal of correcting the wrongs of my last hairdresser. Though I enjoyed the experience, I again couldn’t commit.
I got a blowout before a holiday party at the Hotel Palomar (had a gift card for that). I enjoyed the reclining chairs and TV monitors placed perfectly in my line of sight during my shampoo. Nothing like getting a scalp massage while keeping up with the Kardashians. As I left, I thought maybe I could get used to that salon. But then I remembered I had to valet. That was a deal breaker.
The only problem (well, one of the problems) with all this salon hopping is that I don’t have a go-to hairstylist on speed dial. So when something unexpectedly comes up and my hair hasn’t received any care in three months, I have to scramble. Thank goodness for Groupon’s Now Deals, which are deals you purchase and use the same day. This recently led me to Eleven 11 Salon on McKinney.
I got paired up with Craig. He was fantastic. He’s the only person I know who lives and plays in Arlington and likes it. Between stories about his clients in New York, he gave me a few tricks for avoiding flyaways and taught me how to unravel knots. He told me I had a “mermaid’s mane.” I was smitten.
Craig charges $95 for his services. He’d like me to come in every month. He begged me to stop using grocery-store products. I tried to explain that I paid $95 total for my three hair appointments last year, which were bridged with bottles of shampoo that cost $2.79. I told him he was asking for a lot.
As I checked out, I made an effort to pretend like I was going to book another appointment (normally, I walk away before they can ask). Maybe, just maybe, I have found a salon I can commit to.
But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. My husband hasn’t seen the bill yet.