Sunday, January 8, 2012

Liar, Liar, Hair On Fire?

Holy crap. My head is about to light on fire. And I don’t mean that metaphorically. Let me explain.

I have frizzy/curly/kinky hair and I hate it. I long for straight/smooth/shiny perfection, but apparently it is not to be. Or is it?

After learning of my struggles with my wild do, an acquaintance who happens to be a hair stylist invited me to a local beauty school to be the model for a chemical hair straightening demo. Free hair straightening? Sign me up! The only drawback was that I was required to show up with my head in full puff ball mode so that the students could see the dramatic transformation from crazy bag lady hair to silky smooth perfection. This made me cringe because I normally never leave the house without painstakingly going over ever strand of my hair with a red hot straightening iron. But it was a free chemical straightening, so I was willing to bite the bullet and leave the house looking frazzled.

When I arrived at the school, the instructor performing the demo asked me a few questions. How long did I normally spend straightening my hair? About an hour. Did I have any open sores on my head? Dear god, I hope not. Were my highlights done at a salon, or were they homemade? Miraculously, they had actually been done at a salon. (Confession: when I was a teenager, I used to highlight my hair with that bleach that women use to lighten their mustaches. Good god, the damage I must have been doing.)

With my interview done, he plunked me in a chair, gathered the students around him, and started working. He and his assistant began applying the chemicals to my hair all the while explaining each step to the students as they went. He kept a running monologue about dos and don’ts, ideal clients, and contraindications. I was drifting in and out, staring into space (my glasses were off for the procedure so I couldn’t see anything), only vaguely listening to what he had to say.

“And never EVER use this on someone who has box color in their hair.”


“Even color that comes from Sally Beauty.”

What?!? I have box color on my hair! It came from Sally Beauty! He only asked about my highlights! Not my base color!

A girl in the front row raises her hand. “What will happen if you put this straightener on top of hair that has box color?”

Yeah, what will happen??

“Well, I’ve actually seen people’s heads start to smoke.”

The class gasps.

Holy crap!!! My head is about to catch on fire!

“Worst case scenario: your head will start smoking and all your hair will fall out.”

Oh god oh god oh god! My head is going to catch on fire AND my hair is going to fall out!

My heart is pounding and my eyes are wide. I’m hoping no one in the class can tell that I’m on the verge of panicking. It’s too late to confess and wash the stuff off my head. At this point, all I can do is grit my teeth and pray that the instructor is wrong and my head won’t start smoking. For the next twenty minutes, I sit there in the salon chair certain I can feel my scalp heating up, then trying to convince myself that it’s just my imagination.

Ok, ok. Don’t panic. So far, so good.

Finally, the time comes to rinse. As I lean back into the shampoo bowl, I have visions of clumps of my ravaged hair falling out and clogging the drain. But the instructor is silent as he washes. No gasps of horror, no shouts of dismay. He wraps my head in a towel and I blindly grope my way back to the salon chair. He dries and straightens my hair into a silky perfect bob. All the students come up to pet my head. They ooh and ah.

My heart rate finally starts to come down. I am shakey but at least I’m not bald. I touch my hair. Yep, it’s still there. I thank all that is holy that my follicles are still intact and reel out of the salon as fast as I can. I don’t think I’ll be chemically straightening my hair again any time soon.


  1. Funny story! I can totally relate to the crazy, frizzy, coarse thick hair. I lived in Korea for awhile and they did this permanent straightening thing that actually kept it straight for 6 months! I only had to blow dry. Plus it only cost about 70 dollars. Here in the US, that same thing would cost over 500. Sadly it's back to the straight iron for me.

  2. This made me laugh. Glad you are not bald. Takes me an hour to dry and flat iron my hair too. Therefore, I only wash my hair about twice a week. Besides the oil helps weigh it down, and it always looks best a few days after washing it. Would love to get a Brazilian blow out, but they are so pricey!