How To Tell If You're Actually In A High-End Salon

Good hair costs money. Sorry, no offense, but it's true. Anyway, here are 14 signs your salon is for fancy bitches.
Publish date:
March 20, 2013
hair color, How-To, Sally Hershberger, haircuts, salons

I’m oiling myself up with some L’Occitane Huile Souplesse right now, so that any haters to the next thing I’m about to say can slide right off, but... **pumps twice, slathers oil onto collarbone** you need to spend money to have good hair.

This is especially true when it comes to cut and color. Product is a whole ‘nother discussion, one of which I can’t even start rambling about because Marci and Emily will just delete paragraphs of it and tell me to get to the point. (Joking! They are the wise, experienced editors. I was a non-famous tumblr “artist” six months ago. **Warning: Rambling** But seriously, how the hell do you use tumblr? You can’t just, like put up a picture. You have to tag and “follow” and stuff. And know what “soft grunge” means. I go to my dashboard, take a two-second glance and I’m like, nevermind. Can I get a tumblr intern? That would be a fun job, right? Our interns rule, by the way.)

Hair money, OK. I, for one, don’t mind people assuming that I’m a fancy bitch. I could go into a little spiel about “Oh, but I thrift, too!” but we’re all thrifting by now, right? “Thrift” just translates to “discounted vintage,” and there are neither where I live now.

ANYWAY. Fancy bitches spend money on things so that they can be lazy about other things. At least, that’s the type of fancy bitch that I identify with. For instance. Don’t wanna always do laundry? Buy expensive, DRY CLEAN ONLY clothes. On that same note: start accepting your own body odor! It’s ohkay. It’s natural!

Want to not ever have to do anything to your hair unless you actually, uh… want to? Drop lots and lots of money going to nice salons. My mom has taken me to the fanciest salons in Dallas since I was a toddler because my dad totally effed my hair up by launching me into the world of male modeling.

We followed this one stylist around as he changed salons, eventually opening his own with his business partners: Osgood O’Neil. I knew, even as a wee little fancy bitch, which of those interim salons were not, in fact, fancy. Frosted makeup. Eyelash clumps. These are two things that you don’t want to see on your salon’s receptionist.

I was pleased to see that Osgood O’Neil was up to par. I enjoyed a good decade there before something horrible happened: I had to move to Austin. I mean, Austin’s great and all, but it's really stressful for someone whose sole goal is to be as lazy as possible to not have a for-sure, promised, excellent experience at the salon I’d go to meh, maybe twice a year. Because if I didn’t get the most perfect of cut or blowout at those rare times, I’d have to try to make my hair look nice at home--you know, put in more effort in my free time beyond the occasional deep conditioning and a little serum in the ends. NO.

Plus, “doing” your hair every day is bad for it! Just take what you have and go with it, people! I can’t at all relate to MJ’s straightening regimen, and I really like her curly hair. Even if I just blow-dried my hair to avoid the horror of going outside with wet hair, I feel like I’d be adding more and more salon trips each year because I’d be splitting all of my ends, and thus needing them cut off. If I just let it do what it wants, it’s happier and shinier and lays better.

I get the problem with my philosophy: People have different needs when it comes to hair. This is a great money-spending opportunity. Go to a well-trained stylist who uses the best tools and products and is knowledgeable about your hair type. Bleach blonde? Go to a specialist. First pixie cut? You’re going to want that credit card swipe to hurt so good.

Some might argue that they go to some cheapy hole-in-the-wall shop or a chain fast-cut place, yet have the most expensive-looking hair. Congratulations, you rare birds! Come, let’s buy lottery tickets and an ironic Slurpee, and laugh like we’re just being silly and don’t think that we’d ever win, and that we’re really too fancy for Slurpees, while on the inside we really want a hundo million dollars. (You can choose my numbers since you’re so special and lucky, but since I bought the ticket, I keep the money.)

I thought that I could beat the system and try out a few random salons while in Austin, from a place with a high-end reputation to a trendy chain barbershop. Bad idea. Also, I was sort of losing it around this time, dying my virgin-ish locks of spun gold dark for the first time out of a box at 3 a.m. and writing this. Lol!

So even though I’d paid a good amount for a cut in the past, it wasn’t always the best. (Except at Osgood--that’s an albino dolphin salon. Every time I’ve gone in there I’ve come out wearing perfection as a hat. Except that time I asked for ombré in 2007. I was ahead of the times and ended up with some nice highlights instead. Whatever.)

I’m living in New York now. I don’t even know when I’ll be in Dallas next so that I can go and get a haircut. Just kidding, I’ll be there for a day or so in April right before Psych Fest. But I want to do what all Dallas girls like to do when they go home: have lunch at Neiman’s and think about going to some sort of public event or museum or something, but just end up shopping, or eating more instead.

Since I did that horrible thing to my hair with the dye or whatever, I’ve been having to take it’s color into account, which blows when it comes to lazy, but that’s OK. If you’re going to a super chic and high-end salon, the whole experience should feel blissfully lazy anyway.

So, I recently got the hookup at Sally Hershberger Downtown. My black-coffee brown was fading into the worst cheap-rabbit-fur brown, and I was getting too heavy in the flop-bang region, so something needed to be done by people who know how to do great things to fancy bitches.

I had a Saturday morning appointment with Justin and Rodrigo and oh my god I just read Rodrigo’s bio and this is where my how-to-know-if-your-salon-is-high-end tip list starts:

  • Has your stylist ever cut Joan Jett’s, Jane Fonda’s, and Uma Thurman’s hair? Yes? Game over. You’re definitely at a fancy bitch salon, no need to keep reading.
  • Complementary valets outside? This is a good indication that they don’t mess around inside the salon either. As far as I remember, all Osgood locations have them. Fancy bitches are way too lazy to park their own cars, let alone walk.
  • Retail: If they’re hawking anything other than hair products and brushes, meh, it’s not for me.
  • Robes: How swishy do they sound? I assumed Sally’s were made of silk but I couldn’t confirm this on the label because I was really hungover and squinting made me feel like barfing. Regardless, they made no annoying swishy/scrapey noises and felt like a sexy satin nightie. Many salons cut corners thinking that the rough polyester capes are NBD. They’re wrong and will probably screw up your hair.
  • Stylists’ personal effects: there are none. You don't want them getting distracted with photos of their family members or friends staring up at them. Your hair comes first!
  • Did the assumed-to-be-gay colorist talk about his girlfriend? Uhhh fancy straight dude? You’re in a hella classy salon.
  • Look around. How fancy do all of the stylists and clients look? They’re the ones who will be making semi-permanent changes to your appearance.
  • Refreshments: not only was I offered a cappuccino at Sally Hershberger, but “regular or iced?” Iced, duh! I’ve never had an iced anything at a salon, so this was just a bucket-list thing. I’ve raised my high-end salon standards so that all truly fancy salons must employ a barista full-time. The geniuses at Osgood have fancy-bitch snacks, like fruit, because they understand that you’re probably hungover and could go for a banana.
  • Assistants: The person actually cutting or coloring your hair shouldn’t really have to do any work beyond cutting or coloring, including reaching for a product or a comb. And shampooing, which should go without saying. Likewise: head massages.
  • The consultation: They should ask only the right questions, not all of them. Justin didn’t ask how long it had been since I had it colored last; he could tell by looking at the roots, kind of how a nature guy can tell how old a tree is by it’s trunk rings or whatever. Or how the detectives can tell that the body’s been there for three hours because of how the blood pooled. You’re supposed to be relaxing, not getting berated with math problems.
  • The cut: If they’re not “finishing” it dry, then something’s wrong and you’re already in too deep.
  • Do they make any sort of mention of the giant dreadlock tangles in the back of your head, because it’s obvious that you have an absolute-zero maintenance routine and there's also a folded up sticker stuck in your hair? Well, this just means that they’re cool and also nice people. Justin just calmly switched over to the heavy-duty mixed-bristle paddle brush and continued asking me questions about myself: another telltale sign of a high-end salon. If you’re not talking about yourself the whole time then…
  • …Your stylist has seen some shit. As in, they had a fabulous past life before. For instance, Rodrigo was, like, a professional ballet dancer. Did I mention that he styled for

    Vogue? Like, the clothing.

  • And finally, you should look better coming out than you did coming in. As in cooler. Like, sometimes I get a blowout and feel like I look like one of those fresh-out-of college young professional chicks that splurged on a Theory pantsuit. Remember, you NEVER want to look like you tried.

So, what’s the verdict? Do you go to a truly fancy salon? Did they offer you agave nectar as a sweetner option?