The Hairdressers

Posted on August 6, 2015


There is no distance a woman won’t travel to use a good hairdresser. I have a friend who will drive from London to Southampton to get her hair cut. I myself have been using the same guy for the last 20 years.

When you put your barnet (cockney for hair) in the hands of a someone you trust the several hours spent in that chair are pretty painless. But if like me, you venture into the unknown, every second is excruicating! It’s worse than going to the dentist. You are at the mercy of whoever is behind you.

I’ve started presenting on air this week. Apperances matter, especially in this business. I am supposed to be having a consulation with a “stylist” which has filled me with dread. What on earth are they going to do to me?? 

“Give you the full Turkish!!” my colleagues have joked.

I am praying I don’t end up looking like a tranny or Lady Gaga. I’d like to think my look is polished, which is one of the reasons I was picked I was told. During a meeting with my new editor last week he said to me, “You ‘pop’ on screen,” he motioned to the ceiling. “They upstairs liked your reel and the way you look, that’s why you are here,” He said. I was hugely flattered and a tad embarrassed at the same time.

So in order not to let the side down I decided I had to get the barnet done asap. The month in Africa has bleached my hair. My grey hairs are now showing again and split ends have appeared after being in the salt water from diving. I needed to get them hacked off. I spied a local, posh-looking salon which was busy and popped in. I asked to see their colour chart and they use L’Oreal professional dye same as my hairdresser in London. Brilliant. I was elated.

“Great,” I thought. I’ll get my colour numbers from home and all will be well, right?! WRONG!!

The day I walked in the only man in the salon to speak some English was off. I should have taken this as a sign to turn on my heels and walk out. But oh no, not me…..”It’ll be fine, they can’t mess up colour, right?” I thought to myself. WRONG!!

The guy doing my hair is called Atak – and it does indeed sound like attack because that is exactly what he did.

He has no English. Me, no Turkish. So I reverted to drawing. I am no artist but I explaied I need dark colour on my roots to cover grey and highlights “effects” on top half of my head.

I was worried. His blank expression and the use of Google translate did not fill me with confidence. So I called my hairdresser in London, who happens to be Turkish. I passed the phone over to Atak and they conversed for several minutes.

“Did he understand what you were saying?” I asked my longtime London hairdresser earnestly.

“Yeah, don’t worry, he gets it. Let me know how it goes,” he said far too confidently.

What happened next is a mixture of comedy, panic and disbelief.

Usually dye is applied, left for 45 minutes and washed out. Atak started applying what I thought was colour randomly to parts of my head. He didn’t partion the hair properly. Some strands were thicker than others. So much for the natural look. He wrapped them up in foil. Then he kept coming back to open them up and adding more blueish paste.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “Why? Leave please.” 

“No, no, must! Shampoo soon,”

“Aye? Shampoo and then do roots? Not together?” I motioned with sign language.

“This is going to take forever,” I thought. I’ve leave for work in less than 2 hours. What I didn’t realise was he was applying peroxide. He was bleaching my hair before applying colour. If peroxide is left on hair for too long it will first turn orange, then blonde before finally going white and falling out!!!

After washing my hair I looked in the mirror and to my horror my hair was orange!! Yes Orange. I was less than amused. I still hadn’t twigged he had used peroxide.

“What the f***!!!!!” I thought. “Orange!!!!” I screeched at him. Not colour I want,” I said jabbing the colour chart. I thought perhaps he’d used a different colour. At the start of the consulation he had motioned to lighter colours, blonde-ish saying “good, better”. My response was simple. NO!

Seeing me distressed he started babbling in Turkish. All lost on me.

I grabbed the phone and called my hairdresser. “I’m gonna dye all of it dark if he can’t do it properly. Plan B.” I consoled myself.

My hairdress said, “Was the paste blue?”

“yeah?” i replied still confused.

“Asha he’s used peroxide,” he said flattly.

“WHAT?? You’ve never applied that shit to my hair. That’s bad, christ! Can you pleeeeeeease speak to him to correct this. I am presenting tonight I can’t go on camera looking like this!!” I said whining.

Despite every urge to want to get up and walk out I had to let him finish the job because the barnet was a mess.

After three very tense hours I eventually emerged looking semi normal. I braved the cutting as I was already anaesthetised from the whole experience. But I won’t be going back. I now have to find another hair salon in Istanbul that speaks English, won’t rip me off and won’t use peroxide.



Posted in: Istanbul 2015