Monday, February 3, 2014 —
I have a memory, all fuzzy around the edges, of being in a salon.
I imagine I was 4 or 5 at the time. Maybe younger. But I’m sitting there, watching a fountain outside. My mom’s under one of those alien-helmet hair-dryer things and there aren’t any coloring books.
Oh yes, and my bangs had just been cut.
That is my one and only memory of being in a salon.
So when Luna Salon and Spa in Albemarle offered to do my hair, I have to admit I was a little leary.
It’s not that they were unfriendly (on the contrary, they were quite welcoming and had very comfortable couches) but as my mom always says, we are creatures of habit.
Barring that salon trip of ancient memory (and a single ill-fated attempt by my dad), the only one who has ever cut my hair is my cosmetologist aunt.
To me haircuts are sitting at her kitchen table talking about the family and then lounging on the sofa with my cousins afterward.
Change was a looming and uncomfortable shadow.
But I’ve dealt with a lot of change this year. New job, new place, new friends.
To be honest, with my aunt now living over six hours away, it’s become a massive migraine of a headache to get my hair done.
So I said yes. Journeyed off the edge of the map.
Consider this my account of what I found.
First of all, there is still a complete lack of coloring books in salons.
However, seeing as I no longer carry any crayons around on my person, I must admit I no longer find this terribly disappointing.
Secondly, the alien-helmet hair-dryers are no more. (Or at least they have gone into deep hiding.) I was happily spared what, I am sure, is the most insidious brain washing device on the surface of the earth.
All joking aside, though, it was a rather revelatory experience.
For one, facials are actually magical spells involving massages and warm towels that are meant to lull you to sleep. (I resisted only through sheer curiosity of what would happen next).
Waxing your eyebrows is not as painful as people lead you to believe.
Oh, and apparently I have great eyelashes. (Who would have guessed?)
Even more astonishingly, though, I discovered that it is possible for a salon to be just as comfortable as your aunt’s house.
While the air didn’t smell of fresh-cooked turkey tetrazzini, it did smell of chamomile and mint and that was just as pleasant.
The shampooing chairs were just as comfortable as any sofa (with the added bonus of having auto-massagers).
The additional hand massage while my hair was getting rinsed topped thumb wrestling with my cousin.
Like my aunt, they filled me in on their family news and wanted to know more about my own.
They could take my lack of hairstyle direction (“Um, I don’t know, I just don’t want it any shorter.”) and turn it into something amazing.
But most of all, they were excited about it. Probably more excited than me at first.
They plotted out highlights, midlights and lowlights for my hair like it was a grand architectural scheme. Checked under the foils with baited breath. Grinned like the Cheshire cat when it turned out just right.
Honestly that enthusiasm was infectuous, and you know someone’s good at what they do when they can get you excited about it, too.
Which led me to another realization. The beauty industry isn’t what I thought it was.
Like many women who don’t frequent salons, I think I harbored, in the back of my mind, this notion that salons were about no more than hairspray cemented hairstyles, and plastered on make-up.
Love yourself for who you are, we say, and dismiss the beauty industry as artificiality.
But I found it wasn’t that way at all.
Forget cemented hairspray. Tatianna Garmon, head cosmotologist, was too focused on making sure my cut fell right on its own to use anymore than a couple of sprays from a can that smelled more of hibiscus than hairspray anyways.
Mary Vette, who did my facial and make-up, spent almost an hour caring for my skin and less than 10 minutes covering it with a light make-up.
They were the ones who wanted to keep my eyebrows thick and full, who noticed my “great eyelashes,” who wanted to find the right colors to compliment my hair.
It was never about covering up what I had. It was about revealing it.
And so I’ll leave you with this final thought: They must see us as nice houses.
That’s right. Nice houses. Trust me. I’ve put a lot of thought into this.
You see, if someone has a really nice house, one that they value, they cut the grass, sweep the porch, touch up any peeling paint.
They don’t let it get overgrown because, hey, it’s got great architectural lines people will recognize no matter what.
No, they keep it nice. Not as a way of bragging, but because that’s what a nice house merits.
The ladies at Luna, and probably most folks in the beauty industry, must realize it’s the same with people.
Everybody’s beautiful, they’ve got great lines, and that merits a little showcasing.
They’re just the lucky one’s that get to spruce us up.
To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynews press.com.