Once upon a time, way back when, in my old life, I could go to the hairdressers and do whatever I liked, whenever I liked. And, just like any other woman who wants to look and feel beautiful, I would use any and every product under our golden sun that was ever advertised to me. That is, until my own adored perfumes, lovely nail polishes, and favoured beauty products began to effect my health. Now, for the last nine years, since developing this stupid pain in the
arse sinus sensitivities to chemicals, I’ve had to be very careful. I’ve had to learn how to live a fragrance free life. And, in regards to going to the hairdressers (and, once, doing my own hair at home), I’ve a had a couple of disastrous experiences, which although unpleasant at the time, now, looking back through my retrospectoscope, they were really great lessons preparing me for the present day and this happy, happy blog post: My Walk on The Wild Side @ the Hairdressers!
Now, I was going to title this blog post: ‘How to Go to The Hairdressers, When You are Sensitive to Chemicals’, but I don’t think that’s appropriate or responsible, considering that different chemicals affect different chemically sensitive people in a myriad of ways; therefore, it’s actually about my walk on the wild side at the hairdressers: what I did, how I did it, with who, where, and with which products. Please be aware that what I’m about to share could actually turn out to be a complete disaster for you and your health. So please be careful if you try this. However, having said that, my hairdresser, Cody, is amazingly thoughtful, careful; and he gives GREAT HAIR! I could never go to another hairdresser, or another salon, even the hair colours are natural; however, today I just had a bit of a cut and a style. A bit?!
Is it just me? Or does my hair look lovely? (Yes, I know, the colour has grown out.) Perhaps, I’m so stoked about this style and cut because it’s been a long six months since I have had anything done. And I was beginning to think that, perhaps, I should just stop going to the salon for a few years like I did back in 2004 when I was first tested and diagnosed as sensitive to chemicals. (Cause I recovered somewhat and all, and in my well thought out plan to recover again, by following the same steps as what I did back then, just so I can get the hell out of this Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities, it seemed like the logical thing to do–to just stop going to the hairdressers!) But, at this point in my life, not going to the hairdressers, is a depressing thought; and when you’re already showing the tag along signs of depression that, often, lag their sorry-woe-is-me-arse along with any long-term illness… it is, well… depressing.
So, I put my Bravery hat on, and I planned this appointment with the Precession of a Military Attack called Fix-My-Bloody-Mop-Will-Ya?
And I’m so glad I did, because with all this ‘Military Precision Planning’ it was way worth it. The old cliche’ of “I-feel-like-a-million-bucks,” that women have squealed out ever since the first hair salon opened its doors, is true, because that’s how I feel: I went from feeling like my whole world was a disaster zone, to my whole world is a disaster zone but it’s inside a field full of a kaleidoscope of gorgeous coloured daises where we all have perfect hair (but we still wear face masks and practice avoiding chemicals)!
This is how I did it:
- I made sure that my booking was the first hair appointment for the day;
- I booked my daughter in at the same time; this way the other hairdresser, Stephanie (who my daughter adores), was kept busy with a non hairspray/colour using client;
- I asked the staff to please not wear perfume, or aftershave, any hairspray or spray deodorant (while emphasising that roll-on deodorants are fine–now we all know that not all roll-ons are guaranteed to be fine, but I’m not about to offend people by asking them not to use any personal hygiene products at all. And hey, if it doesn’t come out of a spray can, I’ll go with it.);
- I rang the day before, to confirm my booking and to remind the receptionist to remind the staff to please not wear fragrance products (these guys are awesomely accommodating, so I didn’t feel anxious when asking them to do this for me);
- I had my own shampoo and conditioner to use for myself and my daughter;
- I took my own towels to use: three in total, two large towels, one to go over each of the chairs I sat in (the chair at the wash tub, and the chair that the cutting took place in), one for drying my hair after the wash (so as to avoid using the washing-powdered salon towels, and another smaller hand-towel to go over my shoulders (so as to protect my clothing from the salon sheet they place over when cutting the hair), and another set of three towels for my daughter’s visit;
- I knew exactly what I wanted before I went in;
- I wore a 3M Carbon Filter mask, which I had to hold to my face because, Cody wouldn’t have been able to cut my hair if I had the masks’s second elastic, the top one, over my hair;
- I wore Breathe Ezy Nasal Filters in my nose (Note: these do not protect against chemical exposures; however, they do offer some protection to the eyes, nose and upper respiratory system. My eyes, nose and sinuses suffer inflammation on the inhalation of fumes, so they help with that. Sometimes, due to dryness, my eyes are affected when I breathe in certain odours too, so they guard against that as well.);
- the staff at this salon always wash their hair styling equipment before each new client;
- I have a good relationship with my hairdresser, and the staff at the salon; they know the nature of my sensitivities, and they know not to use any product in my hair. Besides, this salon uses only Aveda products, which are organic and natural (however, scented with pure essential oils) but like I said, I used my own:
- this time, I took baby steps by only getting my hair cut; I decided to hold off on the colour to see how this salon experience went before deciding to use colour again (When I look in the mirror, I say to myself: “Oh, my hair looks like I’ve had Balayage done on it”.);
- I took a change of clothes to change into immediately after the appointment;
- I went for a long walk on the beach, in the fresh air, after my appointment;
- I washed my hair as soon as I got home. Pity, because those gently flowing curls were so lovely!
The products used to cut and style my hair:
Amare Salon @ Geelong West, Geelong (Victoria, Australia)
Their slogan: Create Defining Beauty, Naturally
More from the Amare website:
“Amaré’s master stylists and colourists offer the highest standard of service and a relaxing atmosphere.
Come in to our salon and experience a complimentary Aveda sensory journey and scalp massage prior to your haircut or enjoy a hand massage with Aveda spa products whilst your colour processes.
We are Geelong’s premier Aveda Concept salon offering not only specialist styling but also the best skin, body and make-up advice that Geelong has to offer.
Working with up to 99% naturally derived colour and products that are plant and flower based and where possible organic. All with up to 98% post consumer recycled packaging.
Don’t just have your hair done … Have an Amaré experience.”
Amare use all Aveda products (although they will happily use customers special products on request); furthermore, Aveda products are 99% natural. More on their stance on the use of chemicals, sustainability, and animal testing (or lack of animal testing, which I’m a HUGE fan of):
1. 90% of the tonnage of essential oils we purchase for use in manufacturing our products is certified organic or biodynamic. 89% of our raw herbal materials are also certified organic. 2. complete traceability of certified organic ingredients, from the raw source to our finished products. 3. shampoo bottles made with a minimum of 80% post-consumer recycled content, are made from recycled milk bottles, and can be recycled after use. 4. over 14 million dollars raised to date for environmental causes through its annual Earth Month campaigns. 5. no petrochemicals where possible. 6. the first beauty company to manufacture with 100% wind power. Aveda’s funding generates enough wind energy to offset 100% of the electricity used by its primary manufacturing facility, distribution centre and corporate offices in Minnesota, USA. 7. no animal testing. 8. the first beauty company in the world to receive a Cradle to Cradle (C2C) sustainability endorsement, with seven Aveda products achieving Gold Level C2C certification. The C2C endorsement recognises Aveda not just for its products, but also for the company’s overall commitment to ingredients, materials and processes to create a positive environmental footprint.
My Rockstar Hairdresser, Cody
137a Pakington St
Geelong West, 3218
Ph: (03) 52210077 or (03) 52210073
My Daughter’s Hair (or what I’m allowed to show of it)
More Chemically Sensitive People’s Adventures @ The Hairdressers
Update: I’ve just found out that Alchemy Very Gentle Unscented Shampoo and Conditioner is sold as ‘Akin’ in the US
And this is the new hairspray I got for my daughter. It comes from the US but can be shipped to Australia; we bought it from Iherb, here; but it’s also available here. (Cause, you know, teenagers need ‘stuff’ for their hair.)