It seems you can’t walk more than a few feet without spotting a barber shop in Beijing, or almost any city in China for that matter. We were warned that anyone and everyone thinks they can cut hair here. There are supposedly less than one hundred professional salons in this largely populated city. The rest are unqualified people who own scissors.
Check out this advertisement we saw in a salon window. I guess it is supposed to entice people to come in for a new look?
After getting a recommendation from an expat travel forum we chose a shop that looked like a quality place. It was certainly more professional looking than the make-shift barber shops we had been passing by in alleyways. You know the type of place that sets up with a homemade sign hanging on the exterior and may not be operating the next day.
The lady that recommended this particular place may have had a good haircut here, but it certainly was not the experience I had. There was no way the stylist I got had ever received formal training for hair cutting.
The Nightmare Haircut Begins
My sense of panic set in almost immediately after sitting in the styling chair. My hair was still dripping from being washed. The gentleman started right at my head with the scissors without even so much as running a comb through my hair. This wouldn’t be good at the best of times, but I have naturally wavy and unruly locks.
Then the hacking began. He grabbed at random chunks of my hair with his hands and cut at it. It was like a scene out of Edward Scissorhands. I didn’t know what I should do. No one in the salon spoke English other than the original lady that greeted us and she was no where in sight. I fell into some sort of shock and just let him continue. He was done the massacre in less than fifteen minutes.
The attempt to style it was no better. He had no clue what to do with curly hair, understandably not being used to dealing with it. He tousled it all about while blow drying it. This is not something you can do with used to working with that type of hair texture. The more you mess around with it, the bigger it gets. By the time he was finished it looked like a frizzed out clown wig. At this point I started to feel a bit of sympathy for the guy. I could see the look of panic in his face and he appeared baffled by what the hair dryer had done to my hair.
I saw the English speaking lady and thought this would be a good time to flag her down. I felt bad as I knew it was going to embarrass the young man, but I was going to have to go out in public after this. I politely explained to her how my hair needed to be dried with a brush being run down it at the same time as the hair dryer to make it smoother. She appeared to understand. I thought perhaps he would wet it and start again. After she exchanged some words with him I thought he might wet it and start again. However, the result was the stylist trying to pat down my hair with handfuls of pomade.
Voila! He was done his masterpiece. He said the words “OK,” and it took everything in me to not burst out in either tears or laughter. When we were heading up to the counter to pay, (yes I actually paid for this) Jack looked at me with his eyes bulging to the point that the whites were showing. After we excited the salon he knew not to say a word.
Jack had been getting a haircut at the same time as my massacre. His results were not as bad. Luckily he wears his hair short enough that it makes it more difficult to screw up. They did leave a large long patch on the front that slightly resembled a “Flock Of Seagulls” look. Back at our hotel a quick trim with our small first aid scissors quickly rectified it.
Sadly there was no fixing my hair, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Random sections of it were longer than others. Over the next few weeks with a piece of fabric tied over my head daily, I would be become known as “bandana girl.”