Reference photo only. Tom does not photograph clients.
Like the first episode from a new season of your favourite television series, let's begin this writing exercise with a strong opening statement; a thoroughly researched and well-considered observation distilled through an abundance of first-hand experiences. Ready? Cue the theme song and start the title sequence. Here we go. Hair salons that choose to curate and actively maintain a social media presence are pretty much all the same, regardless of their specific focus and supposed difference. There you have it. Now, without any further commercial interruptions, the following post will attempt to validate that statement by asking some important questions. The purpose of which is to shine some light on a fatal flaw regarding that which I believe to be of utmost importance for anyone who finds themselves reading this. That is, getting a damn good haircut.
To start with, let's initially consider two different, yet familiar scenarios. The first is a person who has just started to embrace their natural hair texture, is overwhelmed by what they've heard about or read online, and feels like they need some guidance to help make reasonable sense of it all. The second is a bit further along with this process. They, on the other hand, are well versed in all things curly and are simply needing an exceptional haircut to pull it all together. Despite their differences, each has needs which ultimately hinge on someone who is skilled with scissors doing something special for them. Here then, are the important questions which need to be asked.
If throughout a booking your hair was positively supported, then meticulously styled and photographed for an Instagram post, does any of that effort matter if the cut itself proves to be underwhelming when you get home and live with it day-to-day? If the cut requires more products, time and energy than you are willing to spend, does the fact the salon was curly hair supportive really make a difference? More importantly though, how is this result uniquely distinct from any other conventional hair salon? If both places performed a less than desirable haircut which was social media showcased in an unrealistic manner that you likely won't be able to replicate, aren't they effectively the same? Sure, one place may have offered a lot of useful information and didn't touch your hair with a flat iron, but if their haircut didn't deliver exceptional results is this enough to provide you with lasting contentment? Regardless of the haircut though, salons that choose to spend an impractical amount of time and effort flawlessly styling their work to assist with promoting their business online are not actually helping you and this is yet another reason why I believe they are all the same.
More important though is that a hairdresser should not be setting an unrealistic expectation for you or your hair by engaging in styling which primarily seems to support their social media habits.
I have found that for many of my first-time clients this exact situation is all too familiar and unfortunately, regardless of hair type, tends to define the salon hairdressing experience for a lot of them. Sure, curly hair education and product knowledge are definitely important but without a high-functioning easy living haircut, things will consistently fall flat. Yes, both literally and figuratively. Some puns are, indeed, intentional. The problem appears to stem from a short-term creative focus on the version you leave with instead of a thoroughly vetted consideration of the days, weeks, and months ahead. Let's not kid ourselves here, a haircut which doesn't start out as high-functioning doesn't magically get better as time passes. This particular facet, above all else, is paramount and has been the subject of numerous articles written over the years. It bears repeating here.
As we continue, it must be stated that there clearly are many, many individuals out there who absolutely love the salon-styled, Instagram-ready results they get and that's wonderful. Absolutely, to each their own. I believe the community needs every one of the various options they currently have available to them. Despite the arguments made in this article, there are some salons that cater to a specific types of client and that is really important to maintain. That said, from the unending queue of clients outside my studio door, it is obvious that there is a growing number of individuals who are clearly seeking an alternative to what is typically offered. If you're reading this, you may be one of them. To that end, my entire practice and professional philosophy are all about discovering and exposing the practical failings of conventional salons and providing something better. This is especially vital in our current era of obsessive smartphone camera influenced hairdressing. The following is a point I will continue to repeatedly make on this website. The benchmark of a great haircut is one which is both functional and flattering - independent - of the styling efforts and tools a hairdresser opts to engage with inside their salon.
It's really quite simple. If a haircut is reliant on things like clamps, heaps of products and time-intensive ritual in order for it to look good, it isn't a great haircut. End of discussion. Too, how is any of that different from standard salon haircut which promotes a flat iron-dependent aesthetic? As was written in an earlier article, both are impractical and unrealistic beauty expectations. Yes, an agreed-upon and reasonable amount of effort at home can make a great cut really come to life, but it should never, ever, require it. More important though is that a hairdresser should not be setting an unrealistic expectation for you or your hair by engaging in styling which primarily seems to support their social media habits. We instead need to actively encourage and embrace a more natural, low-fuss, and realistic aesthetic which is better aligned with the reality that is a busy, modern life. We are all born with an abundance of natural beauty, both internally and externally. Let yours shine. End scene. Fade to black. Roll credits.
As always, if you've got something constructive and well-considered you'd like to communicate regarding this post, feel free to get in touch.
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