The Search for the Perfect Hairdresser

As a 20-year-old woman, being dragged into a salon by my mother was one of the last things I expected to be doing on a Sunday morning.

That is exactly what happened as we entered a JCPenney salon recently. When I sat down to wait for the hairdresser, I wasn’t extremely mad—my mom was paying for the services— but nothing could prepare me for what occurred after that. Once the Asian hairdresser emerged, her eyes practically popped out of her head.

She immediately told my mom that she couldn’t do my hair and that she needed to cancel the appointment. But my mom insisted. My scalp was yanked in all directions by not only the original hairdresser, but two others who dried my hair. And the price for the services? $135.

I’ve been to so many salons, and a lot of hairdressers refuse to tend to my hair because of the length. When they do want me as a client, I easily spend more than $100 at a local salon. This is unfortunately the case for almost all men and women who have hair longer than their shoulders, since that is considered ‘long hair.’

“Not everyone knows how to handle our hair,” remarked Gladys Lorenzo, a Dominican hair stylist. “We’re a mix of mestizo and Spanish heritage, so we either get hair that’s too thick to handle, or hair that’s easier. There’s no in-between.”

The problem of finding an ideal hairdresser not only persists for Dominicans, but for other cultures as well. Here are some stories that some in my shoes were willing to share.

Cielo Urbina

Cielo Urbina is a 20-year-old Nicaraguan college student. She has naturally curly hair that falls just above her shoulders.

“It’s so annoying,” said Urbina regarding treating her hair, “It’s super difficult to maintain and keep pretty, because if it’s not pretty then we look messy, cause that’s the stereotype.”

She shared her typical routine with us, which involved planning what days she should wash her hair to keep her curls looking nice.

“I plan my hair-washing days a week in advance. I have to wash it in the morning because it takes me an hour to wash it, and two hours to style it. I usually try to wash my hair the day before a big event because day one curls can either turn out really good or bad.”

Constantly advertising straight hair, salons were also a tricky situation for Urbina, who opts to keep her hair curly.

“I had to research curly hair salons. There are none in this area [Sweetwater, FL],” Urbina reflected. “I had to go to Midtown, and it was expensive! It was $140, maybe $150 because I left a tip. It took like three hours, and it was just a chop and bangs.”

Urbina’s story shows that those with shorter hair also have trouble finding an ideal hairstylist. 

Edita Pedret

“Going to the salon is a love-hate relationship for me.” admitted Pedret, a 21-year-old Cuban American college student.

She tells us that her hair is shoulder-length, but sometimes she encounters problems with salons as well.

“Last time I remember that they charged me and I looked at the receipt and I saw an extra charge for additional length, which is weird because I have shoulder-length hair or like a little below.”

She recounts one instance where she wasn’t satisfied with a salon visit.

“One time that it wasn’t even that I didn’t like the results, it was that I was going in with one idea and then I left disappointed,” Pedret said. “I went in, and I wanted to do a burgundy red. I book my appointment, I go, and I tell her what I want to do, and she looks at my hair and asks me if it had dye. It’s been over a year since I’ve dyed my hair, but like, you know, the tips are obviously gonna have some leftover product.

The hairdresser told her, “Yeah, we can’t do the red.”

Pedret replied, “You couldn’t even do a consultation to tell me this before?”

“We would have to lift the color and do this and that,” the hairdresser said.

Pedret persisted, “Okay, we can’t do that?”

“No, not today,” the hairdresser replied.

Pedret was appalled. As the client, she expected to be given the service she asked for, especially a service as common as dye. But the hairdresser refused.

“I was disappointed because you would think, especially if you don’t know the client, you would want to do a consultation with them first to make sure they’re aware of what you can and can’t do,” said Pedret. “I ended up just doing a blowout and a cut because I was thinking, ‘I’m already here, might as well get something done.’”

Gladys Lorenzo

Lorenzo works as a self-employed hairdresser. The office in her home is reserved for hair appointments.

“Many clients walk into my office and I immediately see that they don’t know how to treat their hair properly,” Lorenzo remarks. “They tell me that I’m wrong, but I’m the one who’s certified in hairdressing.” 

Although Lorenzo emphasizes that she is a certified hairdresser and that she is skilled, she admits that she doesn’t know how to style every hair type. 

“I had a customer who wanted to flatten her hair after blowdrying it, but she walked in with her hair alborotado (messy),” recounted Lorenzo. “It took two or three hours to do her hair because I had to detangle the frizz first.”

She empathizes with both hairdressers and clients, so she understands both perspectives.

Hair is a huge part of one’s individuality and represents decades of culture. It would be close to impossible for hairdressers to know how to handle every hair type, but at the very least, they can tell their clients what they can and cannot do. Looking for the ideal hairdresser was never meant to be easy, but knowing what to look for and understanding your type of hair helps narrow down a lot of options.

Anna Trinidad is a senior majoring in digital journalism. She hopes that her dedication to multimedia projects will land her a career as a news anchor in the future.