The Nice Girl

Rain by La Parera

Last Thursday I got burned, literally. I went in to get a routine highlight and cut, and I left with chemical burns to my ears, nape of my neck, hairline, and scalp.  I am also sporting a new electric-copper colored, frizzy hair-do, and no offense to my beautiful red-headed readers, but I don't make a good ginger.  As I settled into my chair at the reputable salon in town, a place I've been to 3 or 4 times since moving here, I told my stylist that I wanted to go a little sunnier than last time, "like Heidi Klum", and I wanted to cut my long-long hair into a long bob.  What happened next was something that I hold myself at least a little responsible for.  I think maybe my massive amount of hair made her do it. It can take nearly two hours to properly apply bleach to my hair. She pushed aside the tray of foils and began to paint bleach, layer by layer, directly onto my scalp and the length of my hair.  It tingled, it stung, but I was assured that it was normal, not to worry.  I smiled and decided she was right, after all, she's the professional. Then after what seemed like an hour, with bright hair yellow peaking from beneath the bleachy foam, I was moved to the sink for a shampoo then toner.  The toner was cool and felt kind of wonderful on my hot hot head. My hair was wrapped in plastic, I sat for another half-hour. Once rinsed out, I was brought back to my chair, where in the mirror was my face, with Lady Ga Ga blonde hair.  

I kind of didn't know what to say. I like my hair blonde, but this was maybe a little too crazy. The top of my head was rental apartment white. Gasp. I didn't say anything of course. I'm a lady, which means I'm so polite I let this kind of thing happen to me and don't really do anything about it for fear of offending or confronting a stranger. My stylist sort of mumbled to herself while deciding she was going to tone it again to make it more "sandy". I was on board with this concept, though I was privately thinking that another round of chemicals on my head was probably a terrible idea. I continued to be agreeable, only saying that it was a little bright. This is the cool/expensive salon in town, and I was working with the owner. I knew she f'd up, but I said nothing. As she dragged the pointy metal end of the comb horizontally across my scalp, separating layers to paint another round of toner on me, I winced.  It stung so badly I tasted metal in my mouth. I did at this point get a little panicky and told her it hurt a lot, but she said it would be okay, so I bit the side of my cheek and thought about how bad it felt when I had a baby with no epidural.  That hurt worse, right? After a brief eternity the second round of toner was washed out.  I went back to my chair; my hair was now a deep auburn. She said it looked so much better. I had just wanted to be a little "sunnier". My head was starting to throb. I sat through a half hour of blow drying, straightening, and a cut.  I was there for 5 1/2 hours.  I had short brassy-red hair and my head felt sweaty. She made me an appointment for Saturday for highlights to give it more dimension.  I decided that I had no choice, because my hair was not blonde anymore. I paid her $306 including a 20% tip (of course I did), got into my car and drove home.  When I walked in the door I looked at Adam and said "I am so mad, look at my hair!"  I can yell at him, he's not a stranger.

Then I noticed my scalp.  It was weeping clear fluid.  It was sticky.  My ears were hot, I felt like I had a fever?  We ate dinner at 10 o'clock at night, went to bed and when I woke up my hair was separated into a series of crunchy dreadlocks. My ears and neck were red, and my scalp was covered in bumps.  My nose felt inflamed. I looked in the mirror in the light of day at my freckled beige skin, and I had electric copper hair. Though she had told me not to, I got in the shower and rinsed it with cool water to calm the burning sensation, and to break up the dreadlocks. I contacted my former stylist back in the East Bay and told her what had happened. She was flabbergasted, and started talking me through the next steps.  I called an advice nurse and she determined that I needed to be seen.  I gathered the boys up and drove to the doctor.  Sitting in the waiting room with two kids for your own doctors appointment is almost as bad as getting a 5 1/2 hour hair botch.  While the kids got into a fight over who got to sit in the one seat in the exam room, the doctor inspected me and determined that I had chemical burns on my ears, neck, hairline and scalp. The fluid my head was weeping was white blood cells. I got a a prescription for this and that and went home to start repairing the damage. 

I know you're just dying to see my hair.  Keep in mind the gross stuff is taking place beneath my hair. Let's start with what it looked like before:

she's crafty!

Here's what it looked like when I got home after the appointment:

Heidi Klum

I don't have pictures of my burns to show you. The skin on my ears and neck was hot, red and itchy. My eyes and nose were irritated. My hair felt like it was made out of plastic, then straw. My scalp is now dry as sandpaper and covered in tiny clear scabs, and I have a swollen lymph node on the back of my neck. Yummy.

After several washes to get out the chemical residue, deep conditioning treatments, loads of hydrocortizone, antihystamine, polysporin, ibuprofin, and some light retail therapy here I am 3 days later:

much better, but the scabs!

The reason I wanted to share this story, besides the fact that my vanity has the best of me right now is that I felt like I needed to out myself as a girl who sometimes thinks that being nice is more important than being honest. I would never let something of this magnitude happen to one of my kids. I would step in at the first sign of a problem. What's wrong with me? This wouldn't have happened if I'd called her out on her technique, her miscalculations, my pain level, her lack of attention to the mess she was making. I paid her a lot of money to hurt me, which kind of makes me a fool. 

I had to confront her at that appointment on Saturday.  I decided to tell her that she was not only not going to dump more chemicals on my head, but she was going to refund my money, pay for my medical expenses, and give me product to treat my damaged hair and scalp on my own until my scalp heals enough to have it corrected by someone else who knows what they are doing. If she didn't comply I was prepared to sue her. I was still polite about it, I didn't yell or make a scene, but I didn't give her a chance to make excuses. I got my money, my restorative products, and I left. 

I'm not going to say that I'm glad this happened. I mean, I'm resisting the urge to scratch my scalp off right now. I am glad that I didn't just blame her, as easy as that would have been.  I play nice too much when I should just speak my mind, and I get burned, figuratively and now literally. Perfectly wonderful people take advantage of this, because I make it obvious that they can. I can be overly accommodating; when it comes to people beyond family and close friends I almost always say yes, and I go out of my way to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Now that I have scabs all over my head, I think it's probably time to reassess, to start being more considerate of people who actually care about me, and worry a little less about the feelings of people I don't even know.