For most of my five and a half years in Austin, I have gotten my hair cut at Sophia's $6.99 Haircut on Guadalupe (recently renamed Sophia's $7.99 hair cut due to the rising costs of providing haircuts to college kids). Sophia is great -- she cuts hair really fast, she doesn't really talk to you (and when she does, she has an awesome Turkish accent), and she doesn't do any unnecessary washing or spritzing. You are in, and then you are out. Back when it was $6.99, I would give Sophia a ten, and she was always very impressed with the tip.
The problem is: the other people in the salon aren't as awesome as Sophia. Most of them are a lot slower, try to talk you into unneeded hair treatments (one tried to get Josh to get highlights -- I could not possibly think of a man who would look more ridiculous with highlights than Josh). Also, now that I'm working on the other side of campus, it is a hot and sweaty proposition to get over there, and parking is not so great.
Lately I've taken to getting my hair cut at the hair place by the HEB near my house. The hair cuts there are about $15.00, so with a tip I usually would pay $20. I had maybe two really nice hair cut experiences there, and about five frustrating ones. Since it's first come first serve you would never know if you would get a nice stylist or a stoner dude that would take an hour to trim one inch off your all-one-length hair and then put your part back on the wrong side of your head. Plus there would always be way more stylists than people there, and a bunch of them would just sit around and gossip really loudly and watch you get your hair cut. I had a nice stylist the last time I was there, and she put some long layers in my hair that I liked, but then she moved to Las Vegas. I really needed a haircut, but I didn't really want to go back there, and I didn't want to risk not getting Sophia at the $6.99 store.
So: I went to a salon. Wow. I have not gone to a real salon since I was 16 or 17 and I would go with my mom to get my haircut by her stylist. Ever since then I've been a Supercuts kind of gal. And what changed my mind? First, Carrie recommended this new salon that opened up right by my house (the JR Salon on Burnet), and noted that the cuts were only $30 and they didn't accept tips. Then Amanda wrote a post about going to a salon where they gave her coffee and treated her all nice and that sounded like it could be all right. The appointment was made.
Here is what I got for my $30:
1. First, confusion. The receptionist lady walked me around the store and pointed out different areas, and then pointed to a little room and told me I could change in there. Change? For a haircut? I went in the little room and realized I was supposed to leave my coat in there and put on a smock thing over my clothes.
2. Once I was in the waiting room, a woman came up and offered me some coffee or tea. I had coffee in a real cup with a saucer, and then later a glass of water in a neat glass. The dude next to me somehow scored a glass of wine, but I think it was because his stylist was running late and he had to wait a bit.
3. I met my stylist and we talked about what I wanted done to my hair. Then she took me back into this darkened room and gave me a head massage with good-smell oils, washed and conditioned me, and even put a hot towel over my eyes and ears for a few minutes. Nice.
4. Hair cut was accomplished quickly. I really liked my stylist, who provided just enough chit-chat without asking me my life story or telling me hers. The 20 minutes she spent blow drying my hair reminded me again why I don't own a blow-dryer.
5. After the haircut, she gave me a hand massage. Hand massages kind of weird me out, more than any other kind of massage, because they are so intimate. All intertwining fingers and rubbing of palms. It felt nice, though, and the super-strength lotion she used helped my dry hands.
After all that, I did end up buying the special magic hair serum that she recommended because it was only $10 and I liked the way it smelled. So the experience really cost more like $40.
The next time I need to get my hair cut, I'm totally going back. And next time I'll try to score a glass of wine.
[And I know the picture up at the top is a little blurry, but it came up when I Googled "hand massage" and I think the little face on the thumb is both cute and disturbing. Ditto for the tiny drawings of organs.]