I used to be a hairstylist in a past life, before going the chemistry guy with an interest in forensics science (before CSI was but a spunk stain in someone’s pants, BTW) and multivariate statistics. There was a period where I managed an espresso bar and did a bunch of other things too, but my last real “career” type job was as a stylist.
And, that’s been a bit of a boon with four women in the household, saving oodles of money on paying other people to do hair that, even with my lack of practice, I can do mostly better than what they want me to pay oodles of cash for. Including my own hair (I used to go to a barber, but got tired of fixing the haircuts I received when I got home and decided to save that money as well).
I was a competition stylist, so some of the confidence in my abilities comes from the fact that I received accolades for my skills. Plus, word-of-mouth client building was pretty loud back in the day, as I often unintentionally stole clients from other stylists at my shops because of my willingness to go beyond their expectations. You know — your normal stylist is busy, but you are desperate for [insert hair service] for that big event and you didn’t plan ahead. “Michael has time, though.” Wave my hand and say, ‘hi’. It also didn’t hurt that in the derangement of “Rachel cuts” (Jen Aniston razor cuts during Friends period), I was one of the few people in town at the time doing actual razor cuts with a non-guarded straight-edge razor. Most stylists at the time were relying on gimmicky tricks with texturizing sheers and doing “slithering” with their blades to try and get the same effect. Me? Whip out the straight-edge, initially scare the bejesus out of the client and then show that I was getting a softer cut than the thinning/texturizing or standard sheers could ever hope to get unless you purchased high-end Japanese blades (which I had), but a straight edge could still do it in a fraction of the time.
And then, because those shags were all about the texture, I did fun things like back-comb with the razor to rough up the cuticle layer of the hair and skip the whole perm-rinse or highlighting tricks of the time to create volume. Again, saving money and time for the client, earning kudos in the process — which they would often then happily apply their savings to their hair products and I end up with the same amount on commission sales as service sales anyway. Some of the techniques I came up with had willing Guinea pigs in other stylists, sometimes my clients would offer up their heads for experiments, knowing I’d go subtle enough at first until I found out if something worked. And then we’d go crazy.
There are few things I have a big ego about. One is my barista skills which, at the time, were uncommon at best (and arguably nonexistent these days except in boutique specialized cafes). The other was my ability to cut hair. Perms were meh. Highlighting? Better than average mostly because I didn’t rush and I took fine weaves for my foils. Color? I was experimental and I could usually hit the target with my knowledge of hair color theory at the time. Formal up-dos? SUCKED. Hair straightening treatments? Those chemicals scared the shit out of me, so I avoided them whenever possible; so, SUCKED.
Cutting? “Your ability isn’t as good as you think you are, but you’re pretty damn fucking good,” to quote the guy who then decided to hire me when I lived in Seattle. He helped refine some of my cutting techniques to be better without “cheating”, as he thought of some of my techniques.
So, why “Nerves” for the post title.
Well, I’m out of practice. Eyesight is not what it was. Thirteen year old daughter wants to go from natural dark blonde pony-tail approaching ass-length to a modified platinum blonde wedge/pixie tomorrow. No pictures of her hair, I’m sure you can imagine it. But she wants something like this in the end:
Now… I used to be good, but it’s been 20+ years since I did something like the above cut and my skills are not what they used to be. Plus: that’s extreme for a haircut. I’m honestly surprised she’s wanting to do it, as change-adverse as she has always been. But she is super gung-ho about it and doesn’t want to put it off even another week.
Now, she does have to put up with one demand from me and that we don’t do everything tomorrow for the simple fact that there is no way she can lose that kind of weight of hair and expect the hair to behave at all like the above picture for at least a week, maybe longer. In my experience, this drastic of a change is going to require a refining haircut next weekend as the hair quits spazzing out about the weight trimmed off the ends.
In a week, we’ll refine it closer to this look and THEN bleach and tone-wash the yellow left behind by the bleach to platinum, filling it will blue overtones to cancel out the yellow. Again, doing THAT has been over 25+ years, back when I was still doing it on my ex-wife so she could take a bit and color it violet or cherry red (usually her fringe/bangs).
I haven’t done anything this extreme to someone in ages and I’m suddenly more nervous than she is, hoping I haven’t forgotten something over the years and fuck it up.
Coming from something like this woman’s hair (her scalp hair is a similar color to my daughter’s, although she’s got some foiling going on with the rest):
Yeah… I’m scared as hell and can’t let it show. Wish me luck.