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About a two years ago, I decided I wanted my hair to be orange. Not ginger, or red, but neon orange. Because I believe I can do anything given enough YouTube tutorials and gumption, I bought some boxed dye and a bottle of wine and camped out in my tiny unventilated bathroom. This might surprise you, but it actually turned out pretty good! I loved the way it looked, so I kept that routine up for about a year until I realized my hair just...wasn't curling anymore.
I went from having ringlets to having limp hair with a halfhearted flip at the end. This can apparently happen if you bleach your hair repeatedly, which was what I was doing once a month.
As much as I didn't want to admit it, I knew I needed help of the hair professional variety, even though I'm categorically against paying someone to do my hair. I needed to get back to a color I could maintain at home without crazy damage or weirdo roots, and I needed it cheap.
Which is how I ended up on the Craigslist of hair care, SalonApprentice.com. SalonApprentice is basically a classified section for hair models, complete with sketchy-sounding listings ("FREE MAN CUTS"). I think there are a few big misconceptions around hair modeling, the main one being that you have to be a model. You don't. You also don't have to get a big change, try an ~experimental haircut~, or be friends with a lot of stylists to get into the game. All you need is a relatively flexible schedule and an open mind about the stuff on your head.
Hair models work with stylists trying to hit certifications, get promoted, or practice news skills in their salons, and they're generally overseen by a "master stylist" — which is to say, if you ever end up with a lopsided bob because your stylist was nervous, there's someone there to fix it.
I was looking specifically for color correction (it helps to know what the technical name of a process is) and a single-process color, so I would check in on the board every few days until I found something promising, under the name of a salon I recognized (which in my mind increased the chances of the stylist being legit, but a solid Yelp search would also help).
When the stylist asked if I was interested in fantasy color as well, I figured sure, why not, as long as it was concentrated on the ends of my hair so I could maintain the base color myself. I don't think the best way to go into hair modeling is with a super-specific idea of what you want. If you're jonesing for long layers and blond balayage, you're probably not going to find both. But, if you really want a cheap American Wave, you might find that with a bonus protein treatment or something.
I left the salon with a deeper red that wouldn't require bleaching my hair anymore, plus some pink and yellow highlights, and I only had to tip on the estimated price of the service — around $30, which my budget could actually handle! Sometimes there's a small sitting fee for the model, and sometimes you actually get paid — it just depends on the salon.
A few salons run their own training programs — I think Bumble and bumble is probably the most well-known one. I got a really cute Karlie Kloss–inspired bob there for $free.99, but their time slots are generally in the middle of the day on weekdays, so it doesn't quite work with my schedule anymore. Ouidad has a modeling program specifically for curly-haired models, and I am constantly getting emails from Aveda about coming in for cuts and color.
Now, tell me: have you ever well and truly FUBARed your hair with home dye? How'd you fix it?