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.
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.