Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is This What They Call More Fun?

I've been coloring my hair for over ten years, and until I moved to Mexico I'd always let a professional handle the foils, pastes, and whatever magic goes on inside that little plastic bowl. Once I arrived south of the border I opted for magic in a box and, for the most part, I've been happy with that arrangement.

Until recently.

My hair has become increasingly darker over the past year and a couple weeks ago I decided to go back to blond. I'd already purchased a box o'magic when I stumbled upon pictures of me with boxed blond from a couple years ago. I don't remember looking quite so... brassy. Needless to say, I wasn't keen on repeating that look, so I informed Ibis I wanted to find a hair stylist.

There are stylists on nearly every corner but I've always been hesitant to venture inside. My hair isn't special or anything, but it is different from typical Mexican hair and I've been more than a little concerned about letting an inexperienced (with American hair) person pour chemicals over my head.

Turns out a woman from Ibis' gym owns a salon across the street from the gym, and after a two-minute consultation where she "examined" my hair (and I supposed deemed me able to handle her chemicals) I scheduled an appointment for the following Saturday.

I was more than a little nervous in the day leading up to the appointment, but I figured as long as she didn't burn my hair off, it could always be fixed. Right? Right. Saturday at noon sharp I plopped into her chair and watched as she mixed her chemicals in the little plastic dish.

"What's that?" I asked. (This is all in Spanish, but I'll spare you the translation exercises.)

"To prepare the hair for the color." (At least I think that's what she said.)

"And mine?" I asked, lifting the box of color I'd brought from home and told her during the consultation that I'd like her to use.

"Yes, we'll use that too."

Hmm. I wasn't sure if she meant the mixture she was dutifully putting on my hair was to PREPARE for the color I brought, or if mine would be added on top, or what. Meanwhile she'd started the foils and I was grateful to see she did it exactly the way every other stylists has ever done my color. Two points for her.

Midway through the foiling process she had to run across the street for another box of tinfoil.

"I have a lot of hair," I said sheepishly.


Yes, our conversation was scintillating.

THEN she reached for MY box (which I'd already opened) and prepared THAT in her little bowl.

"Is this the same color as your roots?"

"No. It's lighter."

"Okay." She shrugged and carried on.

Now I'm panicking. This whole time I've been wondering if she's put bleach on my head because Mexicans tend to have dark, coarse hair (in comparison to mine anyways) and they need to bleach their hair before applying color. Why oh why oh why didn't I demand to know what was in her magical goo?

Before I can say another word, she starts squirting the boxed color onto my roots and the pieces in between the foils. A few curse words bounced around inside my head, but I figured it was too late now. Hopefully I wouldn't have to dye it black to undo the damage.

When my entire head was coated she shuffled me to a bench to wait the requisite 20 minutes. I'm used to a little tingling during this process, but my scalp was BURNING. Again, my fault since it was MY boxed pixie dust that was doing all the damage.

Twenty minutes later she led me to the sink to rinse, and as soon as she had the foils off she sprinted from the sink to the shelf with all her chemicals. She slathered something on my head, her hands rubbing furiously while my bowels dropped.

"What's that for?" Not that I wanted to know at this point.

"To stop the yellow."

[insert F word really long and drawn out]

She finished rinsing me, slapped a towel on my head, and placed me back in my plastic chair (no swivel action here). I was afraid to look, but I figured I'd have to get it over at some point.

The majority of my hair looked exactly the same -- what the hell was she doing with those foils for thirty minutes?? -- and my ROOTS -- the part at the TOP OF MY HEAD -- were GLOWING yellow.

[insert F word really long and drawn out]

I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything.

"It's very strong on your hair."


"Do you want me to blow dry it?"

I nearly laughed. "Sure."

Ten minutes later my dripping hair was only mildly damp, and the blond tones had started to balance out. She dragged another gooey product through my hair and declared me finished.

I still wasn't sure how I felt about it when I left, but I thanked her and handed her my money. By the time I got home the Mexican heat had dried it the rest of the way and I could finally see that the highlights she'd put in looked nice. Kind of buttery, if you may. The only part that I wasn't thrilled with was the color I'D brought.

In the end, I'm happy with how it looks and will definitely go back to her again. But next time I'm leaving the magic to her.

Total cost: under $40 USD.


Stacey Graham said...

It looks great!

You're braver than I am, I get a twitch going to *any* hair stylist lately!

june said...

Funny! I have always done my own - that would scare me too! It does look great - glad you found someone :)

Allen said...

I let God change the color of my hair. He has chosen a slightly lighter shade of gray for those hairs still clinging desperately to my head.

I think your hair is beautiful. That said, I am not much of an expert on hair colors. But I like it.

great adventure, though. You should film the next trip.

Melanie Avila said...

Stacey, someone royally jacked my hair in high school so I cut my own hair all through high school and college. It wasn't until I decided to chop it all off that I started going back. I understand the twitch.

AB, I'm so relieved it turned out alright. It's still a little odd in direct sunlight, but I figure people already stare, so whatever.

Allen, that's part of the reason I decided to go lighter again -- the grays have greatly increased in number!

Anonymous said...

You got robbed.

Love Always,


Stacey Graham said...

I hear that. Part of the twitch comes from having my hair cut in London after an archae. dig (needed it badly) and it took years for it to grow out and look normal. No wonder my hair is so long, I get flashbacks!

Anonymous said...

I went on a student exchange program to the States and because I did not know what I was going to tell the barber (instructions wise) I didn't cut my hair in a year.

The results were not pretty. Had a friend of mine shave most of it off. Not entirely bald, but as close as I ever got!

Janna Qualman said...

I think it looks fantastic! I like that it appears to have highlights and lowlights. Goh-jus.

I'd have been like that, too. Sitting still, not saying anything but boiling up inside. Gar.

Melanie Avila said...

Q, I included the part about the box just for you.

Stacey, that just terrifies me. Nadine has a scary story about her hair too. Hopefully she'll share when she wakes up.

Ralfast, see, that's where I would start cutting it myself. I don't know why I get so adventurous... although I still haven't cut bangs.

Thanks Janna. I realized when I saw this picture that I should really trim the ends. Oy.

Elana Johnson said...

It looks totally normal. Not like radioactive glowing or anything. And I love (LOVE) coloring my hair. My husband did my latest round, and he wasn't too thrilled. But it turned out great.

Nadine said...

I'm excited you got your hair done, but the burning scalp didn't sound fun.

Ahh yes, my hair story - the great hair knot of 2008. Nearly waist long hair + three scuba dives (including taking the mask on and off) + salt water + wind + sun = worlds biggest dreadlock. Five hours in a salon by the most talented and patient hairdresser ever and I managed to leave without bald patches. (though I did have a lot of layers). Can provide pics if you are interested. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

Looks great, Mel. I once had the burning scalp experience and I was certain all my hair was going to fall out.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Ha! I remember one of my cousins got the brilliant idea to bleach her own (VERY red) hair in high school. Somehow she conned a clerk at one of the beauty supply shops (the kind you're supposed to have a beauty license to buy from) to sell her professional grade bleach. She went home, mixed it up in her mom's kitchen mixing bowl (it's just like what they use!!!) and slathered the stuff on her head.

Twenty minutes later, she had a banana yellow bob.

Your hair, however, looks wonderful.

Robin said...

It looks nice, Mel! I was scared when I read the part about it burning. Maybe it's a "no pain, no gain" sort of thing.

T. Anne said...

It looks perfect! That's the color I strive for too.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

You look adorable as always:)

Pam said...

Your hair looks great, Melanie!

Great story - both entertaining and suspenseful. Have you considered writing a suspense novel? I was on the edge of my seat! :)

Melanie Avila said...

Elana, did you post pictures someplace? I remember you talking about the new color(s) but I somehow missed it.

Nadine, I still can't believe they were able to salvage your hair!

Wendy, that scared me more than the unidentified bleach product. On the plus side, I figured it killed any ticks that were hanging on.

Hi Josin! Gah! I think we all know someone who did that in their teens and hopefully they learned the lesson for us. I wore a barbie-colored wig for Halloween one year and it's not a good color on me.

Robin, you may be on to something there...

Thanks T Anne!

Aww, thanks Lisa. :)

Pam, as long as it's humorous suspense, lol. I do have a novel idea for something like that -- it would be semi-autobiographical but then would run off in it's own direction.

mary said...

Great story Mel, you lucky, lucky girl! I also cringed when she slathered your normal home highlighting color all over your hair and again with the burning scalp sensation, but have to admit, it does look beautiful. Also loved her running to the shelf for additional toning products!! I have done that, although happy to say not often in my 17 years of doing haircolor. I think your right, just leave the box at home next time!

PS..She must have used bleach because a highlift haircolor wouldn't come up in 20 minutes. If it gets to brassy over time before you need highlights again, just have her do another toner over the whole thing. Shouldn't cost much I am thinking.

Melanie Avila said...

Mary, I may ask you to repeat that in a couple months... :)

Natasha Fondren said...

What an adventure! You're brave!

I think it looks fantastic! But that would freak me out.

Erica said...

Wow - that's crazy, but really it looks great :o) I can't even imagine what was going through your mind when she said yellow!!

Great pic :o)

Amy Mullis said...

You either have wonderful self-control or you were paralyzed from fear. I would have run screaming into the street. Not tactful, but a natural reflex I'm unable to control, sort of like saying "Bless your heart" right before I say something ugly. Your hair looks terrific!

Aunt Sue said...

From the picture, it looks great! It's always disconcerting to try a new stylist, let alone one in a different country. My stylist up and got pregnant and is home on bed rest, so I had to try someone new in December. As someone who's been artificially blond for 10+ years to hide the gray, it's the only way to go!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Natasha. You know... you could try this yourself. :P

Erica, yes, "amarillo" was NOT something I wanted to hear right then.

Amy, you're hilarious. Yes, I'm missing the gene that makes me speak up.

Aunt Sue, I'm so glad you understand. I tried showing gramma my gray hair while I was there and of course she thought I was ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It looks really nice, Melanie. :)