Sunday, January 19, 2014


I did my grade 6 speech on hair and I still remember my ultra-cheesey opening line.  I would like to start this blog entry the same way:

*Enter 11 year old child with enough hair to provide an entire nation with weaves*

"Classmates, parents, and teachers, I would like to talk with you today about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind: my hair!"

Return to present day:

I have never run into this in Canada, but in Hong Kong, stylists always rudely tell me that my hair is damaged.  It’s not (well, it wasn’t before they got their hands on it).  I have naturally curly hair.  Like, REALLY curly.  That means its texture is very coarse.  Coarse hair tends to be dry.  I’m just never going to have shiny, silky, Chinese hair… and I’m ok with that.  I usually like my hair (just not lately).  The great thing about my hair is that I can douse it in Moroccan oil, straighten it and then leave it for a few weeks.  Or I can let it dry naturally out of the shower and end up with fancy curls that people would pay good money for.  My hair is very low maintenance and rarely needs washing.     
I’m not a natural blonde.  (Shocker, right?)  The whole blonde thing happened as the result of a series of major changes in my life.  I guess I was just ready for a new start.  However, I did have more fun as a blonde and was not ready to give it up yet.  And it was certainly not my intention to chop over a foot of hair off my head, leaving me with an unflattering bob.  (Some people, my sister for example, look great with short hair.  I am NOT one of those people.  I hate having short hair.  It makes me cry!)  So, why did I do it?  Read on and find out.

Naturally, I'm a regular ol' Shirley Temple.
Salon Shaming

All you have to do is search “blonde in Hong Kong” on Google to find that salons here have no idea what they’re doing.  Even people who have worked in western countries for years manage to mess it up.  My very talented husband usually did my blonde roots at home, using salon quality products, NOT Blondissima.  Unfortunately, after my husband had to return to Canada for a while, I had no choice but to explore the lesser of the evils myself. 

I looked long and hard for a salon that didn’t have blonde horror stories posted all over the internet.  I settled on Tala’s Hair &Beauty Centre (now closed in Central, only in Sai Kung).  The idiot there managed to strip my hair of absolutely all colour.  My hair was white as the fresh fallen snow, but in patches.  He told me it looked fine and completely matched the rest of my hair.  The salon was closing for the night so they attempted to send me on my way saying that I could make an appointment to have it fixed the next day.  I refused to leave and the store owner stayed an extra three hours that night to fix that disaster.  She did a good job, but the result was severely over-processed hair because she had to dye over my entire head several times.  I also had chemical burn all over my scalp.  She gave me free products for the burn and I never went back.    

This is a problem, right?

Gee, Steph... I didn't know you were on Firefly!

Again, through a lot of research, I found another salon:  Paul Gerrard.  Now, I don’t usually like getting a blowdry finish in a salon because unless you use a roundbrush and know what you’re doing, you’re probably going to make me look like a clown.  So, after the first time at this hair salon, I left with my hair in a wet ponytail.  By the time I got home, I couldn’t help but notice that my roots were sunshine yellow.  How had I not noticed this in the salon?  So I called them and had to go back in the next day for a fix, which involved not just toner but more bleach.  Hmmm, double bleaching the same hair… that sounds healthy. 

Ruin my hair once, shame on you… Ruin my hair twice… shame on … Dame Edna?  Thinking they’d now know that they need to leave the bleach in longer, I returned to Paul Gerrard because I was just too afraid of what might happen in yet another new place.  I returned only to find the place abuzz with news of Dame Edna coming to town and hiring a hairdresser, MY hairdresser, before her show that evening.  That’s right.  I had been double-booked with Dame Edna.  Now Dame Edna is a funny lass, and I can see myself getting a hair-do much like hers when I’m an old lady.  However, on that day, her makeup and purple locks (wig?) took precedence over my sad blonde roots so my giggling, fanboy stylist disappeared without actually communicating anything about me to the other stylists.  Someone promptly confused me for Dame Edna and turned my hair into an orange and yellow disaster by rinsing my bleach too early, despite what I insisted.  Consequence: another round of bleach over the same weakening roots.

In case you have lost track, there were now three severely weakend, double-bleached sets of roots growing out in my hair.

Dame Edna thinks I look ridiculous

Luckily, at this point, my husband came home and we went back to doing my roots in our living room.

Long hair, don't care!

Enter the Brunette

Though those sections of my roots had long grown out, the most recent of which was near the tops of my ears and the first ones near my chin, those strips of hair were feeling weak and weird.  When I’d wash them, they’d get an almost elastic-like texture and when my hair was dry, they felt brittle.  I decided that Tala’s Hair & Beauty Centre and Paul Gerrard had done so much damage that it was time to give my poor hair a break.  I contacted a stylist friend from home who did an excellent job coaching me on exactly what store-bought shades I could use, with the limited selection here, to go from blonde to brown without going green.  She did an excellent job.  (Thanks, Cerah!)

After the job was done, I was pretty pleased with it.  But within hours of being a brunette, my hair began to fall out in large chunks in the EXACT spots where the weakened roots had grown out.  When all was said and done, I looked like a ragdoll who had been ravaged by rats after being forgotten about in the attic for years.  I knew I’d have to get a cut.  I went to a salon that I had come to trust with scissors (though I’ll never trust anyone in Asia with bleach again).  They salvaged what they could and confirmed that those former roots were horribly damaged, courtesy of the Tala’s Hair & Beauty Centre and Paul Gerrard handiwork.

Immediately after the salon.  This is the only time my hair ever looked both short and respectable. 
Note the ironic beer that I clearly needed after such an ordeal.

Never before have I felt so much like a Disney princess.

The Aftermath

I hate, hate, hate, HATE my hair short.  I try to put on a smile, but somehow that only makes my hair look more stupid.  Short hair is just not me.  Luckily, I’ve been using organic horse shampoo (yes, you read that right… horse shampoo) and it’s making my hair grow out shiny and quickly.  (I’ll be “best in show” in no time!)

In the meantime, I’m running into problems.  The biggest problem is that my hair is defying gravity.  I talked to my mom and she said that my hair did the same thing when I was a baby and just growing it in for the first time.  I’m sure this look is adorable on a toddler, but it’s soooo not good for a woman in her 30s!

The other problem is that Hong Kong is a VERY humid place.  This transforms my ordinarily springy curls into complete frizz that makes me look like I’ve just touched one of those electricity orbs in the science centre.

Gravity, Schmavity.
I'm trying to rock this afro-esque do.
Hairmageddon 2013 for the win!

And then there's the comments...

Drunk stranger on the street to my friend who looks great with short hair:  Wow, your hair looks awesome!
Drunk stranger on the street then turns to me:  Ewww, yours… not so much.

In my head: I know!  I've been looking at my beautiful friend all night.  I don't need you to tell me that!!!!!  Besides, it's raining!

Someone upon looking at my passport:  That girl was hot… what happened?

In my head: Is 'hot' a visa requirement for Scotland now?

Co-worker, after I spent hours straightening my hair and spent the night with a toque on my head: 
It looks much better that way.  Less is more.

In my head: Really????!!!!  You think I have actually been TRYING to look like a cat in heat on a stormy night?!


Well-meaning friends: You’re still so beautiful!

In my head: Well, thanks... that's really sweet, but no thanks… your pity makes me uncomfortable.  Tell me that again when my horse mane grows past my shoulders.  But until my hair concerns itself more with Newton’s Law and less with Murphy’s Law, I just don’t want to hear it. 

2016 Update:  I got pregnant in late 2014 and it turns out that hormones were the magical elixir my hair needed!  It grew so fast and is back to normal now, but I'm still in Asia so, therefore, still brunette.  However, I've found an amazing British lady, Becky Flynn, who does keratin treatments in her home.  My hair is now relaxed and silky all the time, straight out of the shower.... absolutely no effort at all.


1 comment:

  1. This isn't a pity comment... at least you have a super cute face! What a horrible nightmare!