I've been unbelievably blessed with great hairdressers. Of course I've had some bad run-ins and know people who have been the victims of terrible hairdressers, but for the most part, I've been living on Easy Street when it comes to salon treatment. As an actress, I had many a friend who happened to be a hairdresser. I would go to them to get my hair done because I trusted them and because, as their friend, I wanted to support them. And they would give me experience after amazing experience both because it's their job and because, as my friend, they wanted me to look good.
When one hairdresser would move or quit the biz, there was always another hairdresser friend dying to get their hands on my head. I don't recall ever having to explain what I wanted or bring magazine cut-outs of the latest style I was after. I never had to tell them what I liked or didn't like and I never left the salon unhappy. In fact, my only words to them pre-cut/color/wash/style was "just do whatever." Yes, I gave each one of my hairdressers complete free reign over my head. And why not? They knew my personality, they knew my style, and they knew what looked good on me and what didn't.
Everyone eventually finds a hairdresser they can do this with. One who knows them inside and out. Someone they trust implicitly. The one and only human alive they will allow to touch their hair. And when we can no longer go to them, for whatever reason, the search begins anew to find the next perfect hairdresser. But what happens when you're the one to go?
In this case, the issue is not only who you can trust to tame your locks. How will you communicate what you want? What if they try to impose the "in" style of your new country on you? And - worse - what if that style doesn't suit you? Most of the time, we find hairdressers based on recommendations. Who will recommend a good hairdresser to you in this strange land full of unfamiliar people?
Since living in the Netherlands, I have heard enough hair horror stories to put Freddie Cruger to shame. Tales that make Nightmare on Elm Street look like Disneyland. Sagas of purple highlights, uneven cuts, poodle perms, dye jobs gone wrong, and shaved heads (well, only parts of the head was shaved, but not exactly what the customer ordered). It's not just the Netherlands. Expat women all over the world have similar tales and similar reservations when it comes to finding a hairdresser in their host country (for more reading on this topic, visit How Hard is it to Find a Hairdresser in Your New Country on Expats Moving and Relocation Guide and Can You Get a Decent Haircut as an Expat at A Letter From the Netherlands).
So, as you can imagine, I never really jumped at the opportunity to visit a salon here. To be fair to myself, I was able to go back to visit my home country often last year due to my father's job (he's an airline pilot) and each time I went back happened to be around the time I needed a touch-up. But I still held on to an email from one of my husband's colleagues with a recommendation for a salon in Utrecht. Just in case.
Okay, so I lied up there. I didn't happen to go to the US every time I was in need of a touch-up. When I wasn't homeward bound at a time when my roots threatened to expose my natural hair color to the world I did what any other terrified girl would do. I did it myself. And I did a good job, if I may say so myself. Even my hairdresser back home was impressed with my ability to color my roots. It all worked out wonderfully well. Until one day...
I was multitasking - I'm a chronic multitasker - making dinner and letting the dye soak into my hair. As I'm sure you've already guessed, I got distracted and left the dye in just a little too long. Alright, a lot too long. The roots were white, the area where the new dye job met the old one was orange, and the rest was pretty normal colored except for the back which was ridiculously dark as I missed it entirely because I couldn't see back that far. This could absolutely not wait until my next US trip. I dug up the email, found the website address for the salon, and booked the earliest appointment they had.
The appointment scheduling process was easy. All I had to do was create a login name and password, check the availability of their three hairdressers and select which open day and time I wanted the appointment. Seconds later, I had an email confirmation. Appointments can also be canceled online. It was such a quick and efficient process and I was completely in control. For about a week I was forced to deal with the monstrosity that was my hair. The first few days I wore a hat. Everywhere. Then it started to fade and even out a bit, so I was able to do away with the hat as long as I made sure that I kept my hair pulled back.
Finally, the blessed day arrived. Hidden in a back street behind a parking garage, the salon was a bit hard to find. Pulsing music greeted me as I walked through the door into the spacious salon. Diez X is nothing if not trendy and roomy. I was shown where to hang my coat and moments later was greeted by my hairdresser Lianne. She got me a cup of tea and we discussed what I wanted before she got to it. We chatted while she dyed, washed, cut, and styled - the conversation never dragging.
The outcome could have gone any which way. What I asked her to do was drastic - a full return to my natural hair color and a layered cut. I was amazed. She did exactly what I wanted and it looked fantastic! Each time I look in the mirror I can't help but wonder why I ever dyed it to begin with and none of the hairdressers I've ever been to have gotten the cut so perfectly the way I wanted it. And I was in and out of there in the exact times set forth in the appointment confirmation email. Price? Very reasonable!
Though my time with Lianne was completely in Dutch, I have no doubt that any of the dressers can speak enough English to give their clients what they want. Because of scheduling, I went with Lianne, but my husband's colleague won't let anyone but Roy touch her hair and her mother and some of her friends prefer to give their scalps up to Revelino. So, it would seem that you can't do wrong at Diez X, no matter which hairdresser you chose.
So, can you get a decent haircut as an expat? Just as easily as you can in your home country. It's just a matter of asking and trying around until you find someone you trust and then sticking with them as long as you can!
To find out more about Diez X, check out their website at http://www.diezx.nl/
To read about finding the right style for your child's hair, click here
How have your hair experiences in your host country been? Have you found one you like that you would like to recommend? Or perhaps you have a scary story of your own to tell?