Today, I got a haircut. Seems simple enough. I Googled salons in London and found what I believed was the cheapest…. And yes, the cheapest was 45 Pounds for a cut and style. Granted I am in central London and I didn’t look for any available Groupons and deals, but I’d still like to share my overall experience.
Some background information is necessary first. Before today, I have never spent more than 20 Dollars on a haircut. That’s about 12 Pounds. And when I get my haircut at my grandmother’s hairdresser in Bulgaria, it costs 8 Levs… which is just over 3 Pounds. Thus, I’ve always avoided paying a lot of money for a haircut. I respect the profession and the hairstylists; I’ve just never been in the loop of stylist number 1, head stylist, top consultant, Brazilian blowouts, and highlight colouring. But this London Hair Salon experience was so much more than a haircut… it was luxury and marketing at it’s finest.
The Salon was very chic with white, brown, and light blue as it’s modern colour palette in Covent Garden. I walked in and quickly recited my name and appointment time, as if to prove that I belonged. A Nice Lady asked to take my coat, scarf and purse. The Londoner in me immediately thought about whether or not it was safe to hand over my bag. I hesitated for a moment and passed over my accessories… standing bare in the entryway. Then, the Nice Lady asked, “Can I make you something to drink? Tea? Coffee?” My though: “Am I allowed to do that?” My response: “Uh, no thank you.”
Next I was escorted to a chair where my stylist introduced herself and together, we discussed what ‘look’ I was going for. When we reached an agreement, I was escorted downstairs for shampoo and washing. Apparently, it was crucial that my hair be washed in the salon with their products… never mind that I had washed it one hour before to avoid extra costs. I sat down as the chair reclined and I placed my head into the sink. Next thing I know: the seat has transformed into a massage chair, my stylist is kneading my scalp and asking again if I want coffee. This time, my hesitation results in a “umm…yes, black simple coffee please.” The stylist turns to the Nice Lady and says “A black Americano for my lady please.” I was now “her lady.”
By the time we where done downstairs and I was escorted upstairs with my freshly washed hair, the Americano was waiting for me at our station. In the classiest manner I could pull off, I took out my gum and took a sip. The stylist then started cutting my hair; the moment had finally arrived! In the time it took her to add some layers and a little fringe to my brown mop, she politely asked me 9 times – and yes I counted – if she was pulling my scalp too much. Every time, I repeated, “no no” and smiled. I was probably doing something wrong because I kept adjusting my head to try and make it easier for her…
And there I sat. Getting a simple haircut. And I felt awkward, clumsy, and out of place rather than stylish and pampered. Every time my white coffee cup clanked on the plate, I got self-conscious. Everyone in the shop was trying his or her absolute hardest to make me feel comfortable, but the “girl who got a 3-pound Bulgarian haircut” was feeling something else. I felt spoiled. I felt like a haircut shouldn’t cost this much. I felt like I was out of touch with reality as a university student. True, that is a strong reaction to have against a haircut.
This might just be me, but if anyone else feels like this, know that you’re not alone. Getting my nails done, having my hair professionally cut, getting relaxing spa massages and trying on shoes for over 50 dollars makes me feel awkward and elitist. I can definitely afford it, but it doesn’t make me feel good. And isn’t that the point of these places? They want to pamper you and make you cappuccinos while you read Vogue. I’m not here to say that there’s anything wrong with it, but simply that it might not be for everyone. Just because something costs more, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more enjoyable for everyone.