My One Beauty

I can’t really think about haircuts without thinking of Amy, from Little Women, saying to Jo, “Oh, Jo, your one beauty!” when Jo comes back from having cut off her hair to pay for a train ticket so Marmee can go take care of her wounded husband.

Anyway . . .

Might I preface this story by saying that a bad haircut is only funny quite a bit after the fact? That is, enough after the fact that your hair has grown back in again.

Right around the time we moved back to Texas, another girl moved here and she cut hair. And I needed someone to cut my hair. She did a fantastic job and I went back again.

And then she had a baby and it’d been a while since I’d gotten my haircut and I figured she wasn’t cutting hair for a while and one of my friends had said that she’d really liked this new little salon about two seconds from my house and also it was only $12.95.

(That ominous music is the sound of my cheapness coming to stab me in the back).

I decided I’d give it a shot because a) personal recommendation, b) regular stylist busy with a three week old baby and c) cheap! (Did I mention cheap?).

I took in this picture to give the stylist an idea of what I was going for. She suggested going slightly shorter with the bangs just so they weren’t quite so “in your eyes” which sounded reasonable to me.

She turned the chair around so I was facing away from the mirror and got to work (this should have been a hint – if she won’t let you watch her cut your hair, maybe this would be an excellent time to fake appendicitis and flee).

And then, when she turned the chair back toward the mirror, ten minutes later, I had the sneaking suspicion my bangs weren’t exactly even.

This suspicion was confirmed when she spent five minutes fussing with them and finally said (AND I QUOTE WITH ABSOLUTELY NO EXAGGERATION), “Well, if you flat iron this side and curl the other half, they should be even.”

. . . .

Yes. She really said that.

And then, like the enormous pushover that I am, I said it all looked fine, paid (I even tipped her a couple bucks. I am such an idiot) and went on my way.

My bangs on one side were WAY too short. I cried and made friends with my bobby pins.

I wrote an honest (unhappy) review on Yelp and wished that would make my hair grow faster.

Even Bart, who generally is extremely careful about making haircut comments admitted that it looked pretty lousy.

(Later in the evening, Bart asked me, “Did the woman who cut your hair have short hair?” I told him she did. “Did she have weird hair?” I admitted that, actually, yes, she did. “Did she dress nicely or was she kind of a slob or dumpy?” And once again, I had to agree that, in fact, he’d just perfectly described the woman who cut my hair.

“You . . . might want to keep an eye on that kind of thing next time you get your hair cut,” he advised).

The next day at church, I saw the husband of my regular stylist and he mentioned that, while she wasn’t up to a full schedule again, she was doing a few cuts here and there and would have certainly squeezed me in if I’d called. I resisted the urge to collapse on the floor in sobs.

Then he suggested that I go get a refund.

And you know what? I did. I felt a little better.

Now it’s been three weeks and while if you look closely you can tell how uneven and poorly cut my hair is, it’s not so bad you’d notice right off the bat.

I think.

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  1. After a terrifying incident at a Naval Exchange Beauty Salon (yep, I was cheap too) that took 6 months and hundreds of dollars to fix (note: never go from brunette to blond at a cheap salon), I learned my lesson the hard way. You usually get what you pay for and it's rarely worth the risk to go cheap. At least your bangs can grow back fairly quickly!

    And I never went back and got a refund, even though my hair was WHITE, crispy and would break off if you touched it. I wish I had.

  2. After a few terrible hair experiences, I made the same connections as Bart and vowed never to get my hair done by someone who a) has ugly hair (in my opinion), b) is an old woman, since they will cut my hair to look like an old woman's or c) has really thin hair, since mine is super thick and most thin-hair people just don't get what to do with thick hair.

    I violated rule C with my last haircut and deeply regretted it, despite the fact that it was half the price of the haircut before that.

    Lesson: stick to your principles, no matter how vain they might be

  3. Would it be horrible and insensitive to ask for pictures? Yes? Okay, I won't. But actually I really need a haircut but don't know anyone in the city to do it. What is the place not to go? Just so I can avoid it?

  4. In college, I got my hair cut at a beauty school ($7! No tips allowed!), and I never had any disasters. Sure, sometimes an instructor would have to come and even something out, but my hair grows like a weed, so I was never too broken up about something less than ideal. However, that was not the case for people who had color or anything chemical done. Horror stories, I tell you.

    Now, I pay through the nose for the best stylist ever, and that is yet another reason I can never move. (#2 is our awesome vet.)

  5. Well, I'm proud of you for getting a refund! That takes guts and courage.

    I hardly ever cut my hair, and it shows. Blame it on the fact that I am so curly and trust so few people and of course to get it cut well it costs $$. So I run around with split ends and pray no one cares.


  6. This one time, I got my hair cut at Great Clips by an older lady WHO HAD NO HAIR. She was practically bald, save for a few reddish wisps. Biggest mistake OF MY LIFE. (Well, it would probably make my top ten list.)
    So I feel your pain.

  7. Oh no! Bart is right though – I also learned the hard way that you have to pay close attention to the style and grooming of your hair stylist.

  8. I'm glad you got a refund! I had long hair forever, no bangs, no layers, just loooong hair that I trimmed every once in a while, or my non-stylist-never-spent-a-day-in-beauty-school sister would trim for me. It was easy!

    I have a cousin who is a great stylish and has the same hair as I do, she now cuts and colors it for me, and I am totally fine driving the hour each way to let her have at it because I know she'll do a good job.

    Hoping things grow out soon!!


  9. Oh dang. 🙁 I hope, though, that your brutal comment on Yelp was for the stylist, not just the salon.

    My sister is a cosmetologist, and really, it depends on the person—not the establishment.

  10. Ohhh dear. I so feel your pain. I accidently box-dyed my hair black (my stylist sister nearly killed me) and then spent 6 months and $350 getting it back to my normal color..though it took even longer to get it healthy again. Oh and then there was the time my nana cut my hair in Europe-three people on the flight home thought I was a boy. OUCH. And then there was the perm in second grade – luckily Halloween was just around the corner so I could make a great Frankenstein's wife. I digress….but know I feel your pain!


    I once went to get my hair colored. This was back in the day when I did a few blondish highlights in my brownish hair. I went to a woman whom I'd seen several times before. She did the thing where she gunked up pieces of my hair and put my hair between sheets of tin foil. And then she put me under the dryer. Then she went away to do whatever one does while one's client is under a dryer.

    When she came back, she peeked under the foil and said – and I quote – "Uh oh."

    My brownish-with-blonde-highlights hair was VERY BLONDE.

    I'm very glad you went back and got a refund. And I'm hoping the unevenness is growing out at lightning speed.

  12. Oh poor Janssen! I had that happen once. When I was 10-12, I kept my hair short, like at my jaw hinge. I went to go get it cut (place in the mall) and told her my jaw hinge. She made one side to my earlobe (too short already) and then cut the second side even shorter! My hair was shorter than my earlobes! It was terrible! I feel ya!

    North Meets South

  13. I feel your pain. I went to a cheap salon to get layers added but keep the overall length. I ended up with a she-mullet. Seriously. It was two lengths. Long straight across half way down my back and straight across above my shoulders in the front. The stylist also gave me bangs that were so short and uneven I could barely bobby pin them back to grow them out. I cried SO much. I wish I would have had the guts to ask for a refund.

  14. Your one beauty, my stinky feet. Because, My Dear "Jo", you are beautiful and my hair really is my only one beauty. Ha!

    Anyway and some kidding aside, getting a good haircut is next to impossible. I have learned that if the person is weirdly (un)dressed, has crazy hair, or is sloppy/dirty – Run. Thank goodness hair grows.

  15. I can't believe she said that. And I would have been way too chicken to ask for a refund. Luckily, I've had no such luck with stylists, but I have made poor choices all because I needed to do something crazy and different. But you are right, the best part is that hair grows back. Phew!

  16. I'm so impressed that you got a refund. I'm too much of wuss! I just moan and complain about it until it grows out.

  17. You're killin' me smalls. No pic of the uneven bangs? Did you get it adjusted at all, maybe with your cuticle scissors? Glad you got a refund.

  18. I actually laughed out loud reading this… not because I think your bad hair cut is funny, only because you did a fantastic job writing about.

    You are a riot.

    But I am truly so sorry about your bad hair cut. I still can't laugh about the REALLY BAD one I got oh, in 2003. It still haunts me. I still get anxiety about saying to please cut more than 1/4 inch for fear of what might become of my hair.

    Hang in there.

  19. BAH! Her quote is priceless! Oh man I'm so glad you got a refund, but it doesn't make up for it! I've shed to many tears in behalf of my hair! Don't worry, you look fantastic with or without uneven bangs!

  20. I think your hair looks fab (I even told you that), so I'm sorry that I have no sympathy for you and your fabulous hair.

    Also, when I get my hair cut, I look for the short-haired, crazy-styled hair stylists. I like when they have tattoos and bright pink splotches in their hair. Just what does that say about me, I wonder?

  21. You know how when you make the decision to get your hair cut you want it right that moment? I have this problem. One time I let it get to me so bad that I let my husband talk me into going to the place in the mall the same day I had that itch. Did you know that the people at these places are usually hair school dropouts or couldn't make it in a regular salon??? I didn't. Worst haircut ever! Luckily I don't have the face shape for bangs, so it was just a bunch of funky layers. Always ask the person how long they've been cutting hair for, and where they went to school. It's a MUST.

  22. I am also proud of you for getting the refund! I have a hair horror story from when we first moved to Houston. The stylist was a total prima donna, didn't listen to me, cut my hair entirely different than what I asked for (read: I haaaated it), and then charged me twice what the salon had quoted me when I called to make the appointment. I still regret to this day sitting there and taking it like a wimp.

    This story does have a happy ending. I'm much more outspoken now, especially when it comes to my hair, and I love, love my stylist. 🙂

  23. Sorry. That is such a terrible feeling! But it's not your one beauty. You have plenty more. And hair does grow. Yes, it does. So do babies. . . in a few weeks you can have your regular stylist back!

  24. I got a certificate for a free (clue #1) haircut at a place called Chop Tops (clue #2) at the medical center I was starting a new position at. Of course, the lady cutting my hair was completely funky with totally uneven hair (clue #3) but she obviously thought it looked good that way. Of course, being a schmuck, I also paid & tipped. So, you're not alone.

  25. Plus sides: This was a really good read; you still have the picture of what you'd like for when you see someone who can actually make it a reality; and Bart is awesome.

    Down side: You don't have curly hair that hides everything so that you can cut it yourself and be happy with it…for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. 11 years, I've been doing that…ELEVEN YEARRRS.

  26. Oh yes. I am still making friends with my bobby pins (but it was my REGULAR STYLIST, ack!) because of my last bad haircut. I'm…just going to grow my hair out for a few months.

  27. Hahahaaaa. I loved this post especially because she said that too you. I might also be laughing at your pain, just a little, but it is because I have obviously been there. I usually try and cut my own hair (HA) Sometimes it turns out, sometimes it doesnt. Luckily my hair growns pretty darn fast so within a month its workable.

    I have had a couple of bad dyes though. Dave always laughs at me because I will spend money to go get my hair done and then a week later redye it myself. I have done this quite a lot. But the last time I went to Utah, I went to this REALLY fancy salon and paid some big bucks to get my hair done and loved it. I guess you pay for what you get.

    Good luck with your new best friend. The bobby pin.

  28. I'm impressed that you went back to get a refund. Good for you!

    I admit to spending a bit of money on my hair every month. But after having it dyed purple instead of my reddish tone followed by the gal offering to fix it, which was painful (multiple dye jobs in the same day, burns), and turned into a lighter shade of purple, I was scared to get my hair dyed again. This was done at one of those salons at the mall. For my scalp and sanity, I now visit a hair stylist at a swanky spa. It's well worth the money.

  29. so sad! but the picture you have to show your girl when your hair is grown is really cute.

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