A quick trip to the grocery store. A night out meeting a few new people. A binge session on Netflix. Do these things have anything in common for you? Before this gets too weird let me explain a phenomenon of the Hairstylist Life: Hair Contact before Eye Contact. Yep – that’s right – those of us who live, eat, breathe and sleep our careers as hairstylists know this debilitating problem all too well. Basically it boils down to Hair Contact before…well….anything!
For most of you this may not seem like such a big deal. ‘So what? You notice the hair?’ Just for interests sake let’s have a look at the definition of ‘notice’:
Notice [noh-tis] verb: To pay attention to or take notice of
Believe me when I tell you – we don’t ‘notice’ the hair. We painstakingly, obsessively, analyze, overanalyze, formulate, recolour, recut and restyle the hair all within the first 30 seconds of setting eyes on it all while appearing in the throes of a catatonic state. Seriously. This is the Hairstylist Life.
Let’s take the example of a quick trip to the grocery store. True story. I was running in quickly to grab some bananas and as I’m approaching the produce section a beautiful haircut catches my eye. I don’t know whether I’m still walking or have now stopped dead in my tracks in danger of being cart rear-ended but I don’t even care. I am transfixed by this haircut. I’ve already broken down the first 3 steps of how I would replicate it, thought of two different clients with the right hair type that I could give it to and rolled over the possibilities of who the stylist was that created this beautiful piece of art. I have taken memory still shots, calculated my cut angles and I’m only coming up on 25 seconds. The haircut turns to the left, I reach the 30 second mark and I am quickly transported back to the real world where I will now make eye contact (or simply notice that there is a head and body attached to the haircut). Huh. That’s when it hits me that it’s a client. I just made hair contact before eye contact with a client whose hair I have been cutting for the last 4 years. I was to my car before I even realized I forgot the bananas.
One of my favourite things to do is binge watch on Netflix. Whether at 2am when sleep won’t come or on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the dangerous autoplay keeps me tuned in far longer that I should be. While I’m sure lots of you love a good Netflix marathon, I doubt your partner, in the throes of desperation, screams ‘can you STOP talking about the hair!!’ while trying to coexist in your viewing space. For instance – did you wonder how long Gemma’s hair could stand up to those highlights during the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy and notice the exact episode when she had to start using extensions for those blonde pieces? Your hairstylist did. When Joey and Dawson had their emotional breakup while standing on the dock of the Creek were you thinking about how much James Van Der Beek needed a haircut and that he was dancing precariously close to the edge of mulletville? Your hairstylist was. Or lets see…..while the entire school was chanting ‘Donna Martin Graduates!’ were you obsessively fantasizing about flat ironing Donna’s frizzed out, desperately in need of a trim hair? My guess is no – you probably weren’t but your hairstylist definitely was! Just a side effect of the Hairstylist Life!
We won’t even get into the embarrassment of being introduced to someone for the first time and spending the first 30 seconds of hair contact time mute, left eye twitching, right hand reaching out to touch said strangers hair and suddenly snapping out of it to realize you violated their personal space before even saying hello.
Hair Contact before Eye Contact is simply part of the Hairstylist Life.
Being a hairstylist isn’t something we can shut off when we leave the salon – it follows us, invades our minds and inevitably makes us better artists because of it. Inspiration can and does strike anywhere.
So be kind – we realize we are a special breed and that those who love us have a special appreciation (or tolerance) of our constant obsession. And really – even with the embarrassing experiences – I would change a thing. It’s the Hairstylist Life.
Thanks for listening,