By CARLY SNIDER
As soon as I spoke those last four famous words, I knew I was in over my head.
“It’s only hair, right?” Niagara College’s Hairstyling Techniques program opened its salon to the public on Jan. 22 for cuts, colour and chemical treatments at a discounted price.
I boldly picked up the phone and booked an appointment. Anything for a story.
I had seen the students practice on mannequins and each other when I had visited the program for past coverage. They seemed to do all right then. I was sure it was completely safe.
Other people weren’t so sure when I told them I was letting the students not only cut my hair, but do “whatever they thought was best.”
“Wow, that’s brave,” said my mother.
“Are you sure about that?” asked my boyfriend. “You’re so picky about choosing hairdressers.”
“I have a wig,” said one of my instructors. “It’s about the same length as your hair is now.”
That didn’t stop me. On Jan. 23, I walked into the salon, sat in front of Natasha Avramovic, 19, and said, “I don’t know what I want. What do you think?”
Avramovic and instructor Patricia Dobbs began discussing what to do in a language I didn’t understand.
“What level is her hair?” asked Dobbs.
“Probably a five,” replied Avramovic.
“Yeah, it’s pretty mousy,” said Dobbs.
After more discussion and my insistence that I had no idea about or preference for what they decided to do, I was told that they were going to “warm up my colour and highlight and lowlight with blonde and mahogany.”
Soon they were slathering a yellow-coloured cream on my hair. Dobbs told Avramovic they’d be performing a more advanced colouring technique for my highlights, one that Avramovic had never tried before. She didn’t know that it could be done. I got a little nervous.
Dobbs left with another student, Ashley Brown, 22, to mix the colours for my highlights, and Avramovic chatted with me while she kept applying more colour.
Soon they were adding the highlights and lowlights with foils. I had a silver Mohawk down the middle of my head, surrounded with the less-than-attractive yellow goo.
As I waited for the colour to process, I began to worry. What if this was a bad idea after all? Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but why did my scalp itch so much?
Fifteen minutes later, my head was in the sink and Avramovic was rinsing the dye from my hair.
“I didn’t realize how personal this job is until I started working with clients,” Avramovic said as she leaned into my face. “There is really no such thing as personal space anymore.”
Other students milled around to see how my hair was processing.
“Lots of compliments,” I thought, “very reassuring.”
After my favourite part, the shampoo and conditioning, I was led back to the chair in front of the mirror.
It was light. Blonde streaked through my hair with red bands breaking it up.
“Do you want me to stick around for the cut?” Dobbs asked Avramovic.
“No, I’ve seen you do a 45 before. You’re fine.” She answered her own question and walked away.
My hair was short to begin with; there was no room for error.
Avramovic went to work. I could tell by her careful, calculated snips that she was being very precise.
She explained the technique of cutting a 45-degree-angle bob, which I had requested. I didn’t realize quite how technical hairstyling could be.
More quickly than I was prepared for, Avramovic was blow drying my new ‘do. I watched intently in the mirror as it took shape and colour.
After Dobbs performed a few quick snips to my bangs, it was time to reveal the new look. My heart was pounding, and I think I was holding my breath.
Avramovic held the mirror behind me so I could see the way the back of my hair fell into perfect layers.
I tilted my head to admire the new colour that, true to their word, was much warmer than the mousy colour I had arrived with. The cut was exactly what I wanted.
Yes, they are students.
They are students who have studied hard to learn their trade and they are now open for a business.
And besides, if you’re a little nervous, it’s only hair, right?