As a long term traveller with short hair there is one thing that strikes fear in my heart.
Getting a haircut.
In Australia I had Rae. Rae is able to snip and chop my hair like an artist, and turn my scraggly bedhead into something stylish and funky… every time.
But when I travel I don’t have a little Rae hiding in my bag. There is no Rae in small town Latin America, because women wear their hair long about 99.9 percent of the time until they are ready for a blue rinse that is. There are no more Rae days!
3 signs you are going to get your hair butchered
- You are informed that your wash, cut and dry will be $7
- Your big scary hairdresser looks extremely nervous to see you
- You can’t speak a word of the local language
On point 1, don’t get me wrong… I love a bargain, but a $7 haircut screams “I’m gonna mess you up”.
I have had 5 haircuts in a year of travel. I would have had more except that it is now quite a stressful experience!
The worst haircut
The worst haircut I have ever had, I had in Santa Marta, Colombia. At the time my Spanish didn’t really exist, which only made worse the fact that she would stop every few minutes to ask what she should do next… in Spanish.
Using sign language to explain the design of the back of my head to a woman with a meat cleaver is something I find hard to forget.
After I dragged my sorry self out of there and shed a little tear, I retrieved my big fat headband out of the bottom of my bag and wore it proudly through the next few weeks of regrowth. When you are volunteering for kids from the slums, your hacked locks tend to pale in importance!
The best haircuts
In Costa Rica and Mexico City I had technical “nice” haircuts that were about as edgy as a beach ball.
But I have had two winning experiences that have made me happy.
Firstly in Utila, a little island off the coast of Honduras I found a gem – a lovely Canadian woman called Christine who was as happy to get the opportunity to cut short hair as I was to enjoy her experience and expertise.
And today a second super star stylist came in the form of Julie at Elixir in Berkeley. I knew that the standard would be better in the US as women here sport short hair all the time, but then again you never know when you go to see someone new!
I wasn’t sure what to expect by looking at the website but from the moment I walked in I breathed a sigh of relief.
Staff = welcoming
Décor = spacious and cool
Tea = herbalicious
Julie = brilliant
So today was a Rae day… only the second Rae day since I left Australia and today is a happy day!
Top tips for getting short haircuts in foreign countries
- Take a picture of the haircut you want, or keep one from a previous good haircut
- If you see them about to do something that seems really bad, say something
- Learn the basic phrases in the language you need to explain in
- Keep a head band or scarf for emergencies!