Sunday, September 16, 2012

My First China Haircut

Today I got my haircut for the first time in China.  It's funny that I have lived in China for six years and never had my haircut here, but most of the time I've had long hair, so I hardly ever cut it.  Most years I cut it once in Thailand (an inexpensive salon where they gave great hairwash/head massages, spoke a bit of English, and then finished off with some really good tea) and once in America (either by my mom or in a salon if I was donating - free haircut!).

My first few years in China I was afraid of hair salons anyway.  I had no ability to communicate what I wanted in a hairstyle, and I had seen that popular Chinese hairstyles were not exactly (or at all) what I had in mind.  Short and poofy on the top with a few long strands at the base of the neck was very fashionable at the time.

Now that I have a short haircut I actually need to maintain it a little more.  After just 7-8 weeks, it was already starting to look shaggy.  I know several foreigners who go to a hair salon not far away, but I decided to try out the little hair salon at the bottom of our stairs.  For one reason, it takes about 1.5 minutes to get there.  For another reason, we know the girls in the salon.   Juliana often hears the loud dance music they like to play as we walk past and wants to go inside.  The girls are always happy to see her and her dance moves.

Walking outside our building last spring.  The hair salon is in the background, a converted apartment.
Toward the beginning of last year my tutor and I went to chat with the girls as part of a tutor activity.  I found out the two girls working there at the time were sisters.  The youngest was 16 and had just come to start working.  I don't remember everything they told us about their family, but I know it included several more siblings.  I think they were from a relatively rural area in another province, so they were probably glad for the opportunity to come work in the city.

I immediately liked the girls because they were so friendly, especially the younger one.  She laughed at my stumbling Chinese but spoke very slowly so I could understand what she was saying.  She had a "fresh from the country" innocent, excited sort of look and a ready smile.  In the past year, she has adapted more to city life - gotten a cooler hairstyle and been through several dyes, bought a new wardrobe of fashionable clothes, and of course aquired a fancy cell phone.  She doesn't look quite so young and innocent, but she is still very friendly and usually looks happy.

So today I headed downstairs for my first haircut.  We had just been learning different words related to hair and hairstyles in class and tutor time, so I was prepared.  Mostly I didn't use them, but I also didn't accidentally end up with a perm or a dye or anything.  I told her I wanted it to look about the same as my current hairstyle, just cut a little bit and held up fingers to show about 1/2".
Inside the hair salon last fall, pretending to cut my tutor's hair for a photo scavenger hunt.

First she washed my hair and massaged my scalp for a bit, always the best part, then she led me over to the chair.  The salon had similar equipment as an American salon except it was very small and a good deal more dingy.  Pictures of various popular hairstyles were strung from the ceilings and lined the walls.  An old couch and a couple of folding chairs served as a waiting area.

The haircut ended up being about 2" shorter than I had planned, definitely shorter than my summer haircut!  She used thinning shears on the whole thing, since a feathery look is popular.  My hairstylist this summer used a lot of feathering as well, though.  After a quick run through with the hairdryer she was done.  I tried to pay but realized I didn't have small enough change for my $1.50 haircut, so I ran upstairs to get a 10Y bill, again appreciating the convenience factor.  (My tutor said the average price for a  haircut ranges from 10-50 yuan, so mine was definitely a bargain. They may have given a slightly lower price since they know me).

The haircut
It's definitely short but I like it, and it may turn out to be even easier to take care of than before! And the price is really hard to beat!  I came back home and Juliana actually sat still for about 30 seconds while I gave her a haircut too!  No layers, thinning shears, or fancy stuff, but I think it's mostly straight.


Mallary said...

I think it looks nice! I love China haircuts. So cheap and always a nice massage with the wash.

Nate and Molly said...

I like it too! Really cute and trendy.