My Walk on The Wild Side @ The Hairdressers

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:

GHD Gold Hair Straightener (no hair straightening products were used with this because, at this stage, there are not any brands that I know of that are an option for me)
Cody used his own scissors, combs and hairbrush
And I bought my own towels from home
My daughter used Magic Botanicals Fragrance Free Hairspray (in a pump pack)


The Salon

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

Their Location: 

Amaré Salon

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

Allergictolifemybattle: A Girl Just Wants Her Hair To Look Good

Anne Lipscom: a Paris Hair Salon with a Purpose

Voiceless Wonder: My Birthday Came Early this Year

And, here is  ‘Cleaner Indoor Air’s list of Fragrance Free Hair Products

Update: I’ve just found out that Alchemy Very Gentle Unscented Shampoo and Conditioner is sold as ‘Akin’ in the US

And here is a post on fragrance free hairspray available in Norway

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.)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. I’ve been cutting my own hair all my life, not that it looks like I wanted, but I would be terrified to go into a salon. Why not ask Cody next time to come to your home?

    Question about your mask. I tried on one of those and they hurt. Have you tried any others. I stick wet cotton balls up my nose when I have to go out for a Dr appts….I change it a few times and I wear a hat in the cooler weather. Keep my hair up other times. I also use the cotton when I shower, because smelling my own hair after exposure can send me over the edge. I usually end up sick for 2-3 days with pounding relentless migraine, depression & brain fog & insomnia. If I use the cotton it helps the recovery time.

  2. Hi lovely lady. Just found this when Googling the old salon!

    Great write up!!

    Just so you know, my name is spelt with a ‘D’, Cody.

    Haha. Thanks for the publicity.

    Cody xo

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Rockstar hairdresser, Cody.

      Thank you. So glad you like it.

      Oops… My speciality is misspelling names (or forgetting them entirely!?). Oh, and I did it to yours like, four times! All fixed, and thanks for visiting.

      I could do with some expert colour. My hair was so great last time. Beauty without sickness is a wonderful thing: I love Aveda!

      Miche xx

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      PS: drop a link to where you’re at. Yes?

    • Mischa van Loder says:

      Hi Cody

      Can you please come and cut my hair on the balcony at St Leonards? I can pay for your services and petrol both ways. If so, please contact me via my contact page. I’ve lost your number, Amare is closed I suppose you know. Anyway, I need a real professional haircut and I’ve not had one since 2014, which was a year after you last did mine I think.

  3. Two Tea Cups says:

    Wow, what a great post! I haven’t been to the hairdresser’s for a year because I don’t know how to approach this issue! Last time I went, I finally realized why my face was beat red and tingly, and there was an odour on my clothes and in my hair, even though my hairdresser doesn’t put anything in my hair (she cuts it dry) – it was the washing machine & dryer in the other room! I figured out that she washes all the towels in fragranced laundry detergent, and I remember she was doing a load of wash when I was there last. So I stopped going because I didn’t know how to tell my hairdresser that her detergent bothered me… isn’t that sad?? She knows my sensitivities too, and I hate to have to go through a journey of finding someone else who will work with me… Your list is really helpful – I think perhaps I could go on a day that she doesn’t do laundry, but even so the salon is small and the smell is probably saturated in everything! I’ve seriously considered trying to cut my own hair but I don’t think I could live with the results lol

  4. I LOVED this post. I’ve had a post in the works for a while specifically about women dealing with illness of all kinds, and getting a hair cut is truly one of the best things a girl can do for herself. It just makes a gal feel good! And I love that you’ve laid out the details of how to do it even with chemical sensitivity! So, since you follow my blog, may I ask a favor? I would LOVE to link to this in that post, but it won’t be up for a long while – I’m very behind. So if I post it and forget to link to you, please please PLEASE comment and remind me about this post! It’s invaluable!

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      I’m glad you liked it. Beauty does not discriminate on the grounds of sickness but be warned, it can cause sickness, which is oxymoronic if you think about it… Because if a person is sick, and they want to muck around with beauty products so as to feel better, you know? Besides, if I didn’t have the desire for this unattainable thing called ‘beauty’, then perhaps I would not be sick (I was the Queen of False Fingernails once. Oh well, lost that title…)
      You are so right about getting a haircut. In some ways, it’s terrible that I’ve laid out a map of how to go to a salon when a person has sensitivities to chemicals, but at the same time, I know many women struggle with it. And we should be able to do it. I think the best thing for a person to do would be to ask if the hairdresser can meet them and cut their hair outside in the fresh air.
      Sure, I can do remind you! Happy too. I have an eye for detail so it’s something I’ll remember for you.
      Hey, where do you get those little movie things that play on repeat that I keep seeing on your blog. They are too funny! I like the Labyrinth one with David Bowie that you have. Are they like a .gif image or something?

  5. You have beautiful hair!
    I’ve taken to buzzing mine right off, like the Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns do.
    Needs less shampoo, washes quickly, it dries faster, no need for salons or hairdressers, easier to cover up to keep it from absorbing chemicals (smoke, fragrance, whatever) should I ever go anywhere those are issues… and, until it starts to grow out too much, there are NO bad hair days!!!
    I did have long hair as a teenager, and had shorter hair with occasional perms in my 20’s, but it was difficult finding people who could cut it well, it’s not easy hair to cut. I used to joke to myself that I’d only grow it long again when I had a rich husband to support me… but even if I did, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to growing it long, or short, even if I could get it styled to make it look good as it grew… it gives me so much less grief when it’s buzzed off!
    Now I just have to find a way to get my buzzer sharpened so it doesn’t make me sick when I get it back.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Thank you :)

      There must be so much freedom in having your buzz cut? My daughter had long hair for ages and she just had it all chopped off. She says that she has never felt so free but her neck does get cold. I’m at an age where women are supposed to have short hair, so mine is an act of rebellion; even though, these days, most would not judge a woman because of their hair (besides how can they when they can’t look past the mask on my face).

      Cheers to NO bad hair days ♥

  6. Hi Miche, The Cutrin Sensitivism Hairspray is actually available in several countries. I think it is just to ask, and maybe they are willing to expand territory. :)

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Yes, I will do that. Thank you. You are lucky to have a hairspray you can use. And one that does not make others sick. ♥

  7. Thank you for sharing. Yes I like your haircut. And you are so right about what can and cannot be used by others.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Thank you. Yes, it’s surprising how a tidy up can lift my spirits. The curls were a surprise though, not something I’d do normally. I think, Cory, my hairdresser wanted to make me feel better as I’d told him how sick I’d been, and that having daggy hair didn’t help.

      I’ll put a link to your hair post at the bottom of this post.


  1. […] both titles could suit: My hair is pretty long now, due to it ‘maintaining itself’. My favourite hairdresser moved to a salon smack bang in the middle of upper-class-polluted suburbia: an Aveda salon in South […]

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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