Gettin' Schooled, part 1: Hair
Being such a fan of school and academia and learning and whatnot, it's hardly surprising that I'm also a fan of beauty schools. Not in the sense that I want to attend one, but rather in the sense that I love submitting myself as a guinea pig for their students.
I know, I know... you've probably heard horror stories of friends-of-friends who have had their lives ruined by rogue beauty students. But for every bad experience you hear about, there are probably 10 good experiences that fly under the radar. Quite often, you'll walk away with near-professional results at stoopid-low prices.
Since I've only moved here recently, I really had no idea where to even get my hair cut in the city. Turning to the (sometimes) trusty internet, I found a great article on various hair & esthetics schools in Toronto. With the aplomb that only a beauty-obsessed bargain hunter with too many split ends can possess, I plunged right in. So far, I've been to 3 different schools, all for different things, all with very satisfactory results. And so, because Hot Docs was just in town and everything, I'm going to do a 3-part mini-series documenting my beauty school experiences. I'm pretty sure Cannes is going to be calling any minute now.
First up: Haircut
I have the simplest haircut in the world. Basically all one length, with a bit of angling around the face. Easy peasy! Or it would be, if my hair wasn't so darn thick. It's also really hard -- I have baby pictures of myself where I have crazy crazy hair... like a human scrub-brush. It's pretty rad -- I was, like, a Rock Star Baby! However, I like to stay away from Kramer-esque hair nowadays, which makes having a skilled stylist crucial. Those not in the know just do a blunt cut across the back, which leads to something I like to call "Triangular Hair Hell".
Anyway, I had high hopes for the Marca Collge of Hair and Esthetics. I'm not sure why I had such high hopes; it's probably because I liked their website colours. (Yes, I am democracy's worst nightmare) Also, the site looked professionally done, which is usually a good thing. Besides, it was 7 bucks a chop. Even if they screwed up big time, I could just call it a learning experience and go get it fixed by a 'real' salon.
The great thing about student salons (other than the price) is that you usually don't have to book in advance. In fact, some schools don't even take appointments, which I guess could be upsetting to you if you're one of those Highly Effective People who live their lives according to some semblance of a schedule (I envy you). Anyway, upon walking in to Marca, you'll find rows of hair-dressing hopefuls wielding hot irons and hairspray, or carefully snipping away, sometimes under the watchful eye of an instructor. There are no fancy cappuccinos or cushy waiting areas here: while clean and orderly, the settings are strictly functional and the seating is tight. Gotta make that space fit all the bodies in the room!
I got called in by my stylist within 10 minutes of arrival. After introducing herself, she settled me in and asked me what kind of cut I wanted. I mentioned wistfully that I'd like long layers, but wasn't sure if they'd work for me. After examining my hair briefly, the stylist (correctly) pronounced that with my hair type, any layers at the back would just flip up and out in a most unbecomming manner. We settled on my usual cut (conventional, but works!) after I made certain to stress that I'd like some tapering at the back. I even pulled out a pen and drew pictures to make sure we were on the same page.
My stylist was really friendly and chatty throughout, but not obnoxiously so. I asked her to straighten my hair after the cut (at an extra cost) because I had to go out afterwards. Hoo boy, I sure got my money's worth -- she spent like 40 mins running that iron through my locks (it usually takes me about 10 minutes to do it at home)! In fact, the whole process took much longer than I'm used to. I was in that salon for the better part of 2.5 hours. After my stylist was done with the cut, she had her supervisor come over and examine her work. He made some comments and suggestions, pointed out a misstep, and left her to correct it. This happened once more, after which the supervisor was satisfied with his student's work. Time consuming? Yes. Re-assuring? Definitely.
The end result was quite good. I mean, it wasn't as nice as the cut Sam -- a senior stylist at Angles who was just a little bit creepy, but then was forgiven for the stellar cut he produced -- ... um, produced. But it was a solid cut, and it was hugely better than suffering through Triangular Hair Hell. The cut, plus a shampoo, conditioning, style, and a bottle of Biosilk cost under $40 including taxes. Both my wallet and I were sittin' pretty!
[EDIT 10/30/06: I went back to Marca College for another haircut, and this time it was HORRIBLE. She (a different student than the first time; I think this was a first year) took too much off, and accidentally cut a chunk out of the front. And then, she had to even that out on the other side, but didn't take enough. So now I have lopsided half-bangs, and I can't get it fixed because it's already shorter than I want. BOOO!!!!]Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of the great Beauty School Adventure!