Today I went to chop off some hair, some few weeks past due according to recommended advisors.
I actually tried last week, but time being short as it was, I waited for about 45 minutes and still “10 more minutes”, so I decided to come back this week.
Some of my foreign (i.e. non-Chinese) friends have had not-so-good experiences with Chinese guys cutting hair.
I actually have no complaints, overall.
I say guys, because it seems like 99% of the hairstylists are men here.
Young men, with a standard uniform of skinny black pants, black button down shirts, and some chains dangling around the waist.
Shoes vary from shiny black dress to black knockoff-converse hitops to white hitops.
Hair–more interesting that the average Zhou you see on the sidewalk.
Usually cut into dusty layers, blow dried into a frizz and standing in all directions.
Sometimes with maroon or blond highlights.
I’m still talking about the hairstylists.
They’re really big on blow drying, I’ve noticed.
One cold winter day last year, I walked into the ultra-trendy Cool Cuts just after they opened at 9 am.
All the stylists, hair washing/head massage girls, and every other employee in the place were sitting at their own mirror, intensely blowdrying their hair and inspecting their reflections with great interest.
After a few tries, I found a small place next to Cool Cuts where I was pleased with the outcome.
The stylist’s name is A-Le. Maybe a Chinesified version of Al, with the Le character meaning “smile.”
So the usual protocol, with minor variations depending on the shop–and let me tell you, there are more hair salons per side street and main city block than there are any other business–is not too different from the US.
1) No appointments. Walk-ins only.
2) They will ask you for the 15 or 30 RMB cut. (I figured this out about my 3rd time getting a cut). The 30 RMB version is supposedly with the “super-ultra haircutting expert”, although I have found no real difference.
3) You lock up your stuff in a locker, then get hair washed, usually includes a 10-15 minute head massage by a friendly young lady.
4) The guy spends at least 90 minutes cutting, trimming, blowdrying, adjusting.
5) You watch the client beside you (20-something male) getting a perm. It must be a really good spiral perm, judging from the number of rollers placed.
6) If you thought getting a haircut would be a quick ordeal, and (foolishly) brought your two girls along, you listen to them scream as employees with nothing better to do chase them around the facility, and reassure them that they can stand next to you if they don’t want the grown ups to torture them. I have learned my lesson and go alone now.
7) You pay you $2.15 and hop on your bike and face the vehicular traffic on the sidewalks on your way home.