One of the things that made me the most nervous about study abroad was finding trusted professionals like my favourite doctor, dental hygienist, and hair dresser. After one fateful haircut that my mom and I like to call the “Christmas Tree,” I have reason to be suspicious. Away at school, I prefer to go months without a haircut than trust my hair in the hands of someone other than Alice or Rochelle. I’m perfectly willing to go after my friends’ hair in a dorm shower stall, but the idea of stepping into an unknown salon is terrifying to me. I considered never cutting my hair while I was in Paris, but I already had split ends. I considered cutting my own hair, but I remembered I’d promised Alice that I wouldn’t because I can’t see the back of my own head. Finally, I was forced to consider where to get my hair cut in Paris.
Me and my cousins circa 2004 rocking very special hairstyles.
After getting a recommendation from a friend who had studied in Paris previously (thanks, Frani!), scouring the Yelp reviews for red flags (the lowest review was from a man who claimed they did a sub-par job massaging his girlfriend’s hands), and memorising French haircut vocab, I felt prepared to walk into Serge Estel and ask for a shampoo and a trim. So confident was I that when they asked if I preferred to sit and wait for the English-speaking stylist, I said I was fine with French. I sat in the chair and requested what I thought was a small trim.
I first noticed that something might be wrong when Claudia started rasping off the top layer with a razor. I’ve never had my hair cut with a razor but I thought maybe that was just the French way. Who was I to judge her craft? Big chunks of hair were floating to the floor but I decided to focus on the positives — the cup of tea the receptionist gave me was extremely delicious. She finished the trim and asked if I wanted it blow dried. It seemed short to me but I thought maybe blow drying it would make it look longer.
Obviously blow drying only made the hair seem shorter. Now my hair falls just above my collarbones, with shorter layers all throughout. A wash at home revealed that it’s also quite curly, the most confusing part of the experience. I’m not sure how, but I think she cut my hair curly.
I was extremely jarred at first, but honestly I think Claudia knew what she was doing. My hair is no longer frizzy from the Paris humidity and it fits much better under my giant scarves. Overall I would rate this experience 8/10. My hair is much shorter, but if that’s the worst thing that happened I don’t have anything else to be afraid of.