Hair, Music, Youth, Freedom

The further I dive into the beauty industry, the more I see how many enthusiastic, ambitious and passionate hairdressers have connections with the music industry. It is one of those fascinating ideas that should have been obvious, but never fully clicked until this past year and now I can’t stop seeing the connections. So many of the iconic hairstyles of the last fifty years have been made famous by different music icons (The Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, even Justin Bieber…)

Thinking about music and hair and all the connections brings me back in time to my teen years. Now, I have little musical talent, but music was always extremely important to me. I was by all accounts a pretty nerdy kid growing up. And more than a little weird. I had a uniform of band shirts with collared shirts underneath and jeans. Dressed up was the same outfit, but with a plaid skirt, knee socks and a bow tied around my calf. I chopped at my own hair with reasonable success. I was a quiet, straight-A student and this was as rebellious as I got. I had a quiet angst that expressed itself through looking completely oblivious to fashion trends (other than sort of looking like an indie boy sometimes). I felt most alive at small shows at the WOW Hall in Eugene, OR, letting my epileptic dance moves writhe free.

I never thought of myself as “into” fashion, but I was always intrigued by it, studying Vogue imagery in waiting rooms and admiring the perfection, even though at the time I found no connection to it. My “fashion” came out of nowhere. Like the questions of whether something was relevant or appropriate never popped into my head.

In college I was constantly covered in paint, duct tape, clay, etc, and dressed in jeans and oversized men’s shirts and the occasional sundress. I had the artsy/quirky look down and showered rarely, especially in Pittsburgh winters. I let my hair grow wild.

But eventually I graduated and went to beauty school, graduated that and began a desperate search to find my professional image as a hair stylist.

Long story short, the further I get in my career, the more I feel myself grow in confidence and revert back to some of my old gut feelings and style impulses. A little over a year ago I was in Berlin and the style there was so inspiring to me. To see how effortless and sort of dirty these people looked, yet they still had an unmistakeable sense of style and confidence. Now I am not back to band shirts by any means, and admittedly, I am a bit of a fabric snob, but I feel like a grown up version of who I used to be, as opposed to the beauty professional I imagined myself to be.

Part of this has also been a return to music. I’ve been back at shows for the first time in years. Back in tiny rooms packed with sweaty people, where the music is raw and the music is LOUD and I yell along and feel this surge of emotion and it is inspiring.

Music events also happen to be the best place for hair gazing. There are a lot of do-it-yourself hack jobs that are kind of inspiring to me, either because they are awful or because they have something interesting going on. So many textures and so many shapes. The kinds of shows I go to the people usually don’t do much to manipulate their hair texture so everything is real and it is all about the cut. You get people with a sass and spunk and they aren’t afraid (or don’t want to look afraid) of anything. I remember loving the hair gazing at shows well before I was cutting anyone else’s hair, and far, far before I ever even considered it as a profession.

In the world of music, especially indie music, image is important, but in a way that doesn’t feel superficial, but rather an outward expression of where we are on the inside. There is a confidence and a ease present. An awkward, yet solid, sense of identity. It is no wonder to me why so many musicians have awesome hair and why some of them eventually end up as hairdressers.


Enjoy these photos of me as an angsty teen.

Again, Posting About Male Hairdressers

Today I was reading an article about the most famous male hairdressers throughout history.

It got me thinking again about the differences I see in how men treat their clients. I admire their authoritative style when it comes to consulting and recommending. I may be a small human being, at only 5’1″ but it is amazing the respect I can command with just a good hand shake and the right tone of voice. I don’t claim to be on my A game every day, but I keep getting better. Male hair dressers watch out because I have been studying very closely… It’s not a competition, I know. But there is the charming, precocious, tiny female personality within me and there is the authoritative, intelligent, yet charismatic personality and that is the one that cuts hair.

Check out my take on why clients prefer male hairdressers.

On Why Clients Prefer Male Hairdressers

This isn’t the sort of topic that has a ton of data to back it up, but hairdressers, male and female, don’t deny that men tend to rule the field despite making up a very small percentage of the hairdressing population. Many of the world’s top stylists are men. There are a lot of factors that probably go into that, but today I am just focusing on why some clients seem drawn to male hair stylists. Obviously, there are way more women working and so most people have a female hairstylist, but it seems like the men fill their books faster and have more enthusiastic clients.

Also, it is important to note that these reasons are NOT reasons women can’t be successful!!! I think it is interesting to analyze and study these specific interactions between clients and hairdressers and this is just one cross section. Also, stereotypes exist, they do, and they will be addressed not because male hairdressers all fit into certain categories but because sometimes clients make assumptions and their understanding of their hairdresser is based around those stereotypes, so even after the stereotypes are deflated, their shape may remain in the foundation.

Reasons why men might prefer male hairdressers

More likely to talk business. And less likely to have a ditzy, fluff conversation that makes some men feel very awkward. Also, while some men like to be flirted with by a young, pretty stylist, others would rather avoid that interaction. Although a somewhat sexist viewpoint, I believe some men would view a flirty and beautiful stylist as being less competent than a man who has a more similar mindset… and they are more likely to assume they have common ground with another man even if it isn’t true. Not to say that there aren’t flirty male hairdressers, but I think this argument holds true for a subset of male hairdressers.

A man feels like another man will understand male hair and style better. Sometimes a man just trusts another man a bit more in terms of giving them a haircut that will be respected by other men. They want to look masculine, not pretty.

Reasons why women might prefer male hairdressers

The inherent competition amongst women. For some women, the idea of spending an hour looking in the mirror at a young, stylish, beautiful stylist is nothing short of torture. Especially because no one looks their best with their hair soaking wet. Really, this is just an issue for those that are more insecure or judgmental. And the problem isn’t just if the stylist is too pretty or young. It is also an issue if they want to have a stylist with long flowing hair and they have short edgy hair or if they want their stylist to be blonde and she’s brunette. Women don’t hold men to the same style standards. They don’t expect their male stylists to look exactly how they want to look. Looks aside, even with personality you’ll see that women are more likely to dislike a woman with different attitudes and opinions than a man with different attitudes and opinions.

Trust that a man will know how to make them attractive to men.

Subtle flirtation and the desire for male attention. Who doesn’t like flirting? Well, honestly, I don’t… But most people love it. It’s just fun and harmless.

More hair talk, less girl talk. This is an interesting one. Of course, women that have girl talks with their hair dresser probably enjoy it most of the time and it is difficult to know when a client wants to gush about men or their lives, etc., and when they want you to do your job as a professional. Sometimes with female stylists their clients become their girlfriends and down the road, the client may feel like there isn’t as much of an attention to detail or like they can’t ask for a change. They get afraid of hurting their stylists feelings or they know when the stylist is having boyfriend troubles and assume their hair is being cut as well. This is a big complex issue that is both good and bad. Sometimes having a male stylist is just simpler.

In the case of gay hairdressers… who among us has not heard the stereotypes that gay men are just more fashionable? And what about the idea that every woman needs a gay best friend? To some women, a gay man is the ideal hair stylist: someone who understands their desires and pressures to look great, someone who is sensitive, someone who knows what men think is attractive, someone honest and straightforward and witty. Like having a woman stylist but without the inherent competition. Of course, these are all stereotypes, but don’t they make gay hair stylists sound absolutely perfect?

Reasons both genders might prefer male hairdressers

Men tend to be more confident, dominant and assertive. This is often the case because men need to prove themselves in the industry since it is considered less natural.

Men are seen as more passionate about hair. Otherwise why would they be doing it?

Many of the top hairdressers are men. This is shifting, somewhat, but we have yet to have a female hair stylist as incredible as Vidal Sassoon.