Overthinking it at the hairdressers

I recently had my hair-cut. It’s an experience that is in theory very relaxing – an enforced hour of peace and quiet. Time spent reading magazines or Twitter, drinking coffee, and being looked after – being the centre of attention.

So a functional pampering – like going for a manicure or a facial, only less indulgent; it’s necessary after all. A need rather than a want – guilt-free me-time. So what’s not to love?

Office Mum post: Russian Vogue hairdresser photo
image: hairromance.com

And I do enjoy a trip to the hairdressers, but it’s not without its tribulations. Just little things. Like the having the gown put on me by the staff. Perhaps I have personal space issues, but I wish I could just put the gown on myself, instead of having it held up for me, trying to find the arm-holes, which I can’t see behind my back, and usually miss on the first and second attempt. Then having the receptionist tie the ribbon just below my chin, hoping my breath smells fresh, casually looking into the middle distance.

Then there’s the coffee question. On my recent trip, the nice guy from reception tied the bow of the gown under my chin, then sat me down and offered me coffee. I declined politely, then regretted it. Actually a coffee might be nice – why had I said no? The girl who was due to cut my hair came over to see what I wanted done, and she offered me a coffee. I accepted, then regretted it, as I saw her walk towards the receptionist. I imagined her telling him to get me a coffee, and possibly asking him why he hadn’t offered already. And then he would throw me a dagger look for getting him in trouble with my bizarre fickleness. No doubt nothing like this happened, and yes, I was over-thinking it. But still.

Office Mum post: Jennifer Aniston photo
Jennifer has no such hangups

Then there’s the chat. I don’t really like chatting at the hairdressers. By now I’m sure you’re thinking I’m very anti-social, what with the personal-space-gown issue and now a dislike of talking. But believe me, under normal circumstances, I love talking. I talk to my husband all evening, no matter how often his eyes glaze over. And to friends, and family, and work colleagues. And to shop assistants (I enjoy the “that’s lovely isn’t it” sales conversation at the till and always play my part with gusto). And to mothers in the baby-changing room in shopping centres and mothers at the school-gate. And on the internet until way past bed-time. So I do love chatting. But for some reason, not so much at the hairdressers. Maybe it’s because it’s a precious hour of me-time, and I want to hoover up as many magazine articles as I can. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to be a burden to the person cutting my hair – she’s probably not all that interested in how my six-year-old is getting on at school or the latest insult about my cooking from the five-year-old. So, while I’m always friendly, I usually start reading my magazine after the first “So are you going anywhere nice tonight?” conversation is done. And then I worry a little that it seems odd that I don’t want to talk. Over-thinking.

And then there’s the tipping crisis. After years of haircuts, I still don’t know how much to tip. So I usually err on the high side, rather than risking giving too little. And I’m never sure whether to hand it to the person who cut my hair or not, so I usually leave it with the person at reception. And I always think they give me a funny look – I’m either tipping too little or too much or breaking some serious etiquette rules by giving it to the receptionist. And yes, I know, I’m over-thinking. But I’m doing it with (temporarily) nice hair.

Office Mum post: gorgeous hair
A bit like this…ish…
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26 thoughts on “Overthinking it at the hairdressers”

  1. The tie a ribbon under your chin? UNDER YOUR CHIN? I am freaking out just thinking about that. The gowns in my hairdresser tie at the back, where it is acceptable. That would hugely bother me. I feel uncomfortable just thinking about it

  2. This is so me, literally. Although I recently found out that my next door neighbour is my hairdresser which requires more chat unfortunately. .. She spent at least twenty minutes apologising for all the loud house parties when we first realised ..also I never tip. To be honest I don’t see why i should as they are all on minimum wage at least and they certainly charge enough . I’m sure they curse me as I’m walking out

  3. Under your chin??? That’s odd! The weird eye contact in the mirror bothers me, or when they ask me something and I don’t hear them so I just smile.. God I’m so awkward.. I don’t go often lol
    Sara recently posted…Can you hear me?My Profile

    1. You and me both Sara – I go about every four or five months, and only if my hair is really, really dragging me down with it 🙂

    1. If so many of us are confused about the tipping, someone should make up a rule and post it somewhere and spread the word – it would be so simple!

  4. Hate having to talk to the hairdresser! Often wonder if there is a market for a chat free hairdressers- that and a 20 min blow dry bar!

    1. I honestly think good hairdressers totally understand that not everyone wants to talk – in the salon I go to, I get my hair cut by different people each time, but they do seem to be able to tell I’m there for the magazines!

  5. Oh my god I thought I was the only one! When will they realise it’s not relaxing having your personal space invaded that much AND being expected to make random inane conversation! Hate the hairdresser sooo much, hence my hair 🙂

    1. The place I go is lovely, and not chatting is totally fine. I still feel a bit awkward about not chatting, but that’s totally my own over-thinking. The hairdresser is probably glad of the break too!

  6. Oh no! I never realised you are supposed to tip the hairdresser! How did I not know this and how am I going to go back to my hairdresser now??

    1. Well, if you check out the comment from Ellie below, you’ll see she’s done some studies on this – she reckons 60% of people don’t tip – so you’re fine! I tip because I’m afraid of doing the wrong thing mostly 🙂

  7. The hairdresser conundrum. I’ve had so many one visit stands, awkward small talk, jerky attempts at getting into the gown, coffee I couldn’t drink because I couldn’t tilt the cup to the angle my head was at, rushing out of there with relief that the transaction was over and it would be 2 months before I had to go through it all again.
    Then I finally found a hairdresser I feel comfortable with and the gown is an over the front tie at the back job so fine for the receptionist to help. They give me coffee (sometimes wine) and I read my book and we chat a tiny bit but she seems perfectly happy to leave me in peace. I’m happy with the hair do too but really it’s the comfort level I like best.
    And now she’s pregnant. We only have 3 more haircuts together! I’ve queried whether she might be thinking of keeping her maternity leave nice and short, maybe come back to work after 6 – 8 weeks, having left the day after she has refreshed my style…. Apparently all her customers have suggested this to her, she said she will take it under consideration.

    I people watched for ages to figure out the tipping and there didn’t seem to be any pattern. I would say (in my current salon) it’s 40/60 on tips/no tips and for the most part they are handed to the stylist, it’s a small place so you don’t have to seek them out. I probably looked like a weirdo/ potential thief eyeing up the activity at the till through the mirror but it was a question that plagued me for years. I think repeat business is a good tip in itself though and wouldn’t worry that they expect anything more.

    1. I forgot about the trying to drink the coffee and tilting the cup and annoying the hairdresser by moving my head and attempting all this while my hair was hanging in a big wet curtain over the front of my face – nightmare. Your surveillance has provided excellent data for the rest of us – I won’t worry so much any more that I’m not tipping enough, now that we have solid information that says 60% of people don’t tip at all – on behalf of all of us, thank you 🙂

  8. Ah yes I’m not a fan of the hair dresser chat either, I much prefer to just relax. I love people at my hair so going to the hairdressers is a great treat, I just want to switch off and enjoy the bit of pampering. I’ve never had the gown tied under my chin though, that would freak me out slightly!
    Louise (@TattooedMumsy) recently posted…Me & Mine JulyMy Profile

    1. Yes – that’s it – I love getting my hair done (I love playing hairdressers with the kids 🙂 ) – it’s just the rest of it that’s tricky!

  9. God I hate the inane chat – especially since a lot of the time its “So, plans for tonight?” and my answer is “Pray the child stays asleep for more than four hours at a time”. I think I was a lot more tolerant of it pre-baby – now I relish my quiet time to read very old magazine articles about celebrities getting together (they’ve often broken up by the time I get to them) and what was fashionable in Autumn Winter of last year. That said, silence is definitely better than talking to one stylist I had about 6 months ago – 5 months pregnant, recovering from an accident which had left me with whiplash and she tells me my hair is crap, and goes on about how crap it is for a total of five minutes. In such cases should she not just hush and fix it and then give me fabulous hair, instead of giving out to me for letting it get that bad? I tend to tip if I really like it, but with such stylists, I’ve resented even paying full price, because it hasn’t been the relaxing atmosphere I came for!
    Lisa recently posted…How is it August already?My Profile

  10. All of this, ha ha ha, there is nothing relaxing about going to the hairdressers at all. You should do what I do and cut your own hair (disclaimer: the reason your hair looks fabulous and mine doesn’t is that you don’t cut your own hair!!!!)

    1. I cut my own hair for ten years after a scarring incident at the hairdressers when I was sixteen – of course, not actual scarring – just the psychological kind, so I hear ya!

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