I got my haircut this weekend. It was my first trip to the salon since the move, and I was really anxious about it. I did not have stellar hair salon experiences the last time I lived in Europe.
Mind you, they weren’t awful experiences, but they weren’t awesome, either. I could never find the right one for me. Not only was I literally speaking a foreign language to the stylists, but even when I was able to translate what I wanted or brought pictures, their interpretation of my requests were just … off.
It’s a bit of an oxymoron, to be disappointed by European style since they are usually setting the bar when it comes to fashion and style. But, alas, European hairstyles tend to be pretty bold, at least compared to my American sensibilities. And I didn’t fully appreciate that at the time.
So, after two really severe cuts and color while at Ramstein Air Base, I decided to just save my money and stopped going to the salon altogether. I colored and cut my own hair, or had Martin help me with very precise directions. (He was the one who colored my hair before our wedding!)
After I delivered Miss C, though, others convinced me to treat myself to a salon visit in Italy. Perhaps it was the new-mom exhaustion, and a little bit of denial, but I forgot about that thing about European hair. So, when I requested a hairstyle with some layers, something that was cute and manageable, my hair was cut off.
I mean, seriously cut short.
I didn’t HATE the cut. It was, after all, a layered look that was cute and manageable.
A few months later, I actually had extensions put in to make up for the loss, and my hair looked amazing. High-maintenance, but it was an extreme hair situation, so of course, those European stylists were ALL OVER IT.
I looked fabulous.
But eventually, I got tired of having to care for the extensions so much, so I got them removed.
But finally, towards the end of our time in Europe, I went to get highlights with my sister-in-law. She took me to her trusted stylist, one of the best colorists in the region who studied in Paris. Armed with pictures of my desired look, and the correct German words and phrases to articulate what I wanted, I was confident I would end up with soft caramel streaks to complement my natural brunette hair.
Instead, my hair was dyed jet black with blonde streaks added around my face.
That stuff was not washing out, either.
Again, I didn’t hate the look, but I was in the military, and could not have my hair be faddish or jarring. And that style was both. The second I got home from that visit, and before I showed up to work, I went to the BX and bought a box of hair dye to do what I could with it. It removed the blonde streaks, but my hair remained unnaturally dark for awhile after that.
THIS TIME, when it came to finding a salon here in Germany again, I went on a mission. I cornered every female in my office building, and asked about their hair care. I took names, addresses, and spent hours looking up salon websites. I translated dozens of reviews.
If the stylists were sporting magenta, skunk, or candy-colored hair, they were out.
If the website had photos of women with geometric hairsyles or mohawks, they were out.
If the salon didn’t have a web site, they were out.
I was precise. I was focused. And it paid off.
Two women in my office separately named the same salon, and the salon’s website, photos, and reviews passed muster.
So I had Martin book me an appointment, and then traveled with the entire family to downtown Stuttgart to get it done. My cell phone was loaded with images of the hairstyle I wanted, and I insisted Martin stay at my side to act as my interpreter.
However, once I met my stylist, Jenny, I was put completely at ease. After the first ten minutes, Martin left with the children to get lunch. He didn’t need to translate so much after all, as Jenny studied for a time in Australia and New Zealand. Where my German fell short, her English made up for it. Not only was I able to explain what I wanted for my hair, we also chatted about jobs, travel, fashion, and living internationally.
One thing that fascinated her, too, was my gray hair.
This trim removed the last few inches of my last coloring from almost two years ago, which she pointed out. While most of my hair is my natural chestnut brown, the gray hair is pretty noticeable along the sides.
And apparently, I’m the youngest person she knows who isn’t covering it up.
When I explained that growing out my SILVER hair was an intentional decision, and that it’s a growing trend in the United States, she couldn’t believe it.
But as she dried my newly-trimmed layers into a neat, traditional style, I warned her that the trend was going international, and she’ll probably have more clients embracing it.
Because, you know, going gray is sooooo bold. And Europeans love bold.